Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Escape to the tropics in Minnesota at Como November 15, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Sunken Garden at the Como Park Conservatory.


WHETHER HE SOUGHT A RESPITE from single digit temps or whether he wanted to see the bonsai trees, I’m not sure. But the son wanted to visit Como Park Conservatory before his return flight from Minnesota to Boston on Monday.


A section of the conservatory features bonsai trees.


So after an early lunch, we loaded his luggage and that of his girlfriend into our van and headed north an hour to the Twin Cities metro. Our oldest daughter and granddaughter joined us at this St. Paul site they frequent. Izzy’s comfortable familiarity showed as her two year old legs ran more than walked. On a slow day at Como, no danger existed of separation from the five adults.



I could take photos at my leisure without worry of stalling foot traffic winding through lush greenery inside the balmy conservatory. It was a luxury not to feel hurried or pressed by crowds at Como, which ranked as the third top tourist attraction in Minnesota in 2017 with 5.3 million visitors.


Heading to the animal exhibits.


And it was a luxury to escape temporarily from the cold and snow of Minnesota. With temps dipping to six degrees overnight, winter has arrived way too early. We have a brief respite this week with the temp pushing back up to 40 degrees during the day.


A close-up of a mum inside the Sunken Garden where flowers are changed out seasonally.


Yes, we dwell on the weather here in Minnesota. My son claims everywhere. He’s probably right. Conversations too often begin with weather. If they stick on that topic, then I’m concerned.




While inside the conservatory, I pulled off my winter garb and focused instead on the florals,



the greenery,



the art, the water.



Anything but the weather.


Lovely orchids.


These tropics offer an ideal escape if you can’t afford a real escape to warmth or the tropics.


As I photographed this bird, I was cognizant of the possibility of mice.


When the daughter warned me about mice inside one section of the conservatory, I hurried. I wish she hadn’t told me about the varmints I detest. “I didn’t want you to scream if you saw a mouse,” she explained. Alright then, that makes sense.


Art outside the primates building set against a backdrop of snow.


And later, when I commented on the stench of manure in the Como Zoo primate and giraffe buildings, she said, “You grew up on a farm.” Yes, I did. A dairy farm. But, in my memory, cows don’t stink.



Cold temps and construction shortened our time at the zoo. And that was OK by me. I could see the son wasn’t thrilled with viewing caged critters. I, too, felt a certain sadness for these animals. Izzy kept telling us she didn’t like the monkeys, then stood watching them. Next week she might love monkeys. I admired the mama gorilla who turned her back on me when I stepped up to the viewing window.



Soon enough, we exited the zoo and conservatory complex, bending into the frigid wind on our way to the parking lot. For a short time we’d escaped winter. And now, as warmer temps ease into Minnesota for several days, the cold air moves east, toward Boston.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


14 Responses to “Escape to the tropics in Minnesota at Como”

  1. I love visiting places like this and the tropical flowers are always so wonderful to photograph. My favorite place around here is the conservancy at the Biltmore where there are always tropical beauties showing off their colors. Looks like the perfect spot for your family to hang out for awhile.

  2. I have never visited Como Park Zoo. Friends always tell me I should. It has been on my list for a very long time maybe 2019 I will get it off my list.

    Cool pictures Audrey! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I have fond memories of Como and was glad to share it with my nephews when they were little. Beautiful Captures 🙂 Happy Day – Enjoy!

  4. Valerie Says:

    Lovely photos that bring warmth looking at them. I will have to get to the Como Zoo this winter. It is a special place.
    I am looking forward to warmer temperatures for a few days…this cold spell was cold! Too bad it’s moving towards Boston!

  5. Almost Iowa Says:

    We like to visit the conservatory in January, preferably on a weekday. There is nothing better than a short (affordable) trip to the tropics on a bitterly cold day.

  6. Philip Holum Says:

    As an elementary school kid in the northern suburbs, our annual field trip included an educational component, such as the old Cloverleaf dairy, the State Capitol building, Science Museum, but then the fun began on the second leg and it was always a trip to the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. It was heaven. Phil/Eagle Bend

  7. We were there one year ago at Thanksgiving. Such a beautiful place.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.