I ditched a lot during my Junior and Senior years of high school (for various reasons I will most likely never reveal why) and one of my favorite places (EVER) to go to when the weather was nice was the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. image
They have some of the most beautiful and exotic plants you could possibly imagine, and it was one of the few places where I was able to work on my writing in peace and solitude. The walk from school to this place on hot, sticky and humid days (carrying a backpack weighing 15-25 lbs. AND sometimes a textbook or two in my hands) was excruciating but one-thousand percent worth it.
I will always be fond of this place and my heart is filled with a lot of beautiful memories: writing underneath a large rock in their exquisite Japanese Garden, sweating like a pig while strolling through their Tropical Encounters exhibit, and taking pictures and reading interesting facts posted on wooden signs within the conservatory gardens. There is something so magical about this place. If you ever get a chance to visit please do so. There is no entrance fee to the zoo and gardens and that is one of the many reasons I was able to go so much as a dumb and unappreciative (towards my education) teen. image
Near the entrance (by the parking lots) there is a tree with a funny face that always reminded me of what Strega Nona would look like if she was a guy. If you ever have a chance to go, try looking for it.