It may come as a surprise that one of the hidden gems in Des Plaines is a public park, but that is the case according to representatives of the .
The 30-acre park includes lush gardens, a walking and bicycle path, soccer field, playground, greenhouse, atrium, courtyard, rental facility and more.
Jacki Ley, center director, said many people that drive by the park’s sign on Algonquin Road everyday don’t look past that to the conservatory, which is set off south of the main thoroughfare.
“A lot of people that have lived here for years don’t even know this place exists,” Ley said.
Ley said the conservatory’s courtyard and atrium were popular lunchtime destinations for local workers looking for a midday escape.
Friendship Park Conservatory is part of the Mount Prospect Park District, but is located in Des Plaines, which may be another reason some residents are unaware of it, Ley said.
The conservatory rents space for a variety of events and hosts a number a programs throughout the year.
One of the center’s most popular events, the Holiday Open House, will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 1. This is a free event, open to the public, and includes lots of holiday-themed entertainment, treats and activities. Each year it attracts hundreds of people, Ley said.
Other upcoming events at the conservatory are an electronics recycling day, from 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 2 and Nov. 3, and a Holiday Market from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 17 featuring candles, Tupperware, dips and dressings, baskets and more.
Friendship Park Conservatory’s rental banquet space can seat up to 120 people for dinner. A wide variety of events are hosted there including weddings, showers, birthdays, graduations, bar and bat mitzvahs, corporate events, First Communions, Christenings, ceremonies, seminars, book club meetings and more.
A video tour of Friendship Park Conservatory is posted on Mount Prospect Park District’s website.
Related: Check out all the Underground Des Plaines columns. The last one was about a high-end Japanese caterer.