Revisiting the Montreal Botanical Gardens has been on my “summer bucket list” for a couple of years now, so this past weekend we finally got to cross it off!
It was a scorcher of a day, so to get around the heat (sort of), and make it home for nap time, we arrived at the gardens right when they opened at 9am. We came packed with camera, snacks, water, bandaids (always), and lots of energy.
It was easy to get to from the West Island and we took the 20 all the way to Pie IX and then up Sherbrooke to the large parking lot across from the Olympic Stadium. Parking is a hefty $12 for the day, and since we had some extra people and had to take two cars…Ouch. However, the ticket is valid for all three parking lots – the Biodôme, Botanical Garden and Insectarium. (Always remember to give someone coming in your ticket when you leave! The people I gave mine to at noon were THRILLED 🙂 )
There are different ways to save on the cost of admission including the family pass, or because of Quebec Residency or CAA membership so check HERE to see if there’s something you can use. Our littlest was free and the rest of us from Quebec but it’s still fairly pricey. BUT, you could spend the whole day here and it includes access to the Insectarium.
In short, everything is beautiful. I’m pretty sure I said “It’s just SO. PRETTY.” about 300 times while my husband rolled his eyes. The paths are wide and almost all stroller friendly and there is even a path painted with green dots that marks the wheelchair accessible path.
The boys really liked the water gardens, while I was amazed at the lotus flowers. We checked out the playground beside the Insectarium and it’s a nice place where kids can slide, climb and spin. There’s a “hive” they can walk through, a living tunnel, a trio of spinny seats, a triple-kid teeter-totter, the slides on a rubber base and a spiderweb rope climber.
Though it wasn’t open yet, the outdoor restaurant is just a few steps away.
We all loved looking at the peaceful Japanese gardens with the Koi fish and friendly ducks, and the Chinese gardens are gorgeous though it has some harder to walk on stone paths. While it was super crazy hot, we found lots of shady spots and the trees really cool you down. The are ponds and lakes, lots of benches and adirondack chairs, and picnic tables in the “children’s garden”.
The thing we found the most interesting was the vegetable garden! I’ve never seen an artichoke growing and we were intrigued by the poisonous plants area. Hold onto those hands lest they wander towards the poison ivy!
I found the whole place to be quite kid-friendly as there are many signs that you can turn and read, interesting Trompe-l’œil in the forest, things to touch and smell. Along the trails and paths are drinking fountains, and there are signs and guides.
We were running out of time (and had only seen about 1/4 of the whole park), so we walked back to the lion statue near the main gates and took the FREE train/bus on a 20 minute loop. It doesn’t stop, so if you want to see more of the park instead of coming back to the starting point, there is a shuttle that can drop you off near the far end of the park.
We took almost three hours to see a fraction of the park, and we didn’t touch on any of the inside greenhouses, the insectarium and hardly any of the forest areas. And we were exhausted! It’s a LOT of walking so a stroller is recommended (but you can’t take it on the shuttle or train).
We’ll save up some money and do this again in a couple of years. Or even better, ditch the kids and spend the day on our own 😉 I’d also love to see the Lantern festival and the pumpkins at Halloween. There are always all sorts of festivals and tours that you can check out on the calendar.
If you plan on visiting often, or are interested in seeing all the Space For Life Museums, you can purchase this package which includes access to the Biodôme, Botanical Garden/Insectarium, and the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. Or buy the “À la carte” package which includes access to two sites of your choice.
Note: I highly recommend the lemonade with basil that is sold at some of the bicycle carts. So. Good. And a decent $3!
You can read all about the hours, rates, activities etc at the official website