Free March Break Fun: Greenhouses and Conservatories

Shake off winter's chill this March Break (without getting on a plane!) with this simple idea that won't break the bank

flowersIf your March Break plans do not include a trip somewhere tropical this year, a visit to a public greenhouse or conservatory may be just the spot for your family to shake off winter’s grey chill.

In addition to guaranteed perfect weather, families can take in the fragrance of floral displays, check out the exotic plants and take advantage of March Break programming. Plus the facilities listed below all offer free or minimal admission…which is way cheaper than a flight south (and no Zika virus to be seen!).

British Columbia:

Victoria Butterfly Gardens:
1461 Benvenuto Ave., Brentwood Bay, B.C.; 877-722-0272.
Victoria Butterfly Gardens offers a unique opportunity for people of all ages to experience the beauty and curiosity of a tropical jungle up close. With surprises at every turn, the gardens is home to a wide variety of rescued tropical animals including ducks, flamingos, rare tropical birds, poison dart frogs, tortoises, turtles, giant koi and thousands of tropical free flying butterflies.

Bloedel Floral Conservatory:
Off 33rd Avenue between Cambie and Main Sts., Vancouver; 604-257-8584.
Bloedel Conservatory is a domed lush paradise located in Queen Elizabeth Park atop the City of Vancouver’s highest point. More than 200 free-flying exotic birds, 500 exotic plants and flowers thrive within its temperature-controlled environment.

Alberta:

Muttart Conservatory:
9626 – 96A Street, Edmonton; 780-442-5311.
Inside the pyramids, three biomes are in the Conservatory’s year-round displays. A fourth pyramid houses creative feature displays, changing up to eight times a year. As an accredited museum, the Muttart Conservatory preserves and grows one of Canada’s largest botanical collections, and shares knowledge and enthusiasm with visitors.

ENMAX Conservatory at the Calgary Zoo:
1300 Zoo Rd. NE, Calgary; 800-588-9993.
Create a unique experience every time you visit by taking in some of their free daily programs. Check out the schedule to plan and customize your zoo day.

Devonian Gardens:
400, 317 7 Ave. S.W., Calgary (4 floor in the CORE Shopping Centre)
Step into a garden of tropical plants and natural light. Meandering walkways lead guests past water fountains, over tree-decked plazas, to ponds teaming with fish. There is also a “living wall” within the Gardens – a favourite spot for photos. Children can enjoy the indoor playground or take in various drop-in programs.

Saskatchewan:

Regina Floral Conservatory:
1450 B 4th Avenue, Regina; 306-781-4769.
Their displays change regularly to offer visitors the opportunity to experience both a tropical and seasonal environment. Experience the tranquility of lush greenery, the therapeutic scent of moist air and the soothing sounds of a gentle waterfall.  Open daily from 1 to 4:30 p.m. from September to June.

Manitoba:

Assiniboine Park Conservatory
460 Assiniboine Park Dr., Winnipeg; 204-888-5466.
The palm house has a tropical jungle and the floral display gallery offers more than 10 annual displays, including orchid and bonsai shows and a special holiday lights display.

Photography by Ernst Vikne, via Flickr (CC)

Photography by Ernst Vikne, via Flickr (CC)

Ontario:

Centennial Botanical Conservatory:
1601 Dease St., Thunder Bay; 807-622-7036.
The Centennial Botanical Conservatory is a fascinating place to visit. Opened in 1967 by the Fort William Parks Board as a Centennial project, it is a legacy to the citizens of Thunder Bay.

Niagara Parks Floral Showhouse:
7145 Niagara Pkwy., Niagara Falls; 905-371-0254.
View orchids, succulents and other tropical plant species along with seasonal floral shows and colourful tropical birds.

Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory:
2405 Niagara Pkwy., Niagara Falls; 877-642-7275. This attraction features more than 2,000 colourful tropical butterflies floating freely among lush, exotic blossoms and greenery in a rainforest setting.

Gage Park & Tropical Greenhouse:
Lawrence Rd., east of Gage Ave. S.., Hamilton; 905-546-2424 ext. 7598.
A meandering flagstone path runs beside fish-filled ponds and tropical borders with more than 100 exotic plant species, culminating in a large waterfall.

Royal Botanical Gardens Mediterranean Garden:
680 Plains Rd. W., Burlington; 800-694-4769.
This garden under glass brings together plants that have adapted to the world’s five Mediterranean climate zones: the Mediterranean Basin, Cape Province South Africa, south and southwest Australia, central Chile and southern California. Special seasonal displays are featured in the bulb room.

Centennial Park Conservatory:
151 Elmcrest Rd., Etobicoke; 416-394-8543.
This breath of summer includes a large tropical house, two display houses, six growing houses, a potting shed and a bulb cellar. In addition to coffee, banana, fig, palm and pomegranate trees, there’s also a special Christmas display.

Oakville Municipal Greenhouse and Conservatory:
1100 Cornwall Rd., Oakville; 905 845-6601 ext. 3076.
The facility showcases tropical plants with a pond and waterfall. Tours for children can be arranged.

Allan Gardens Park and Conservatory:
19 Horticultural Ave., Toronto; 416-392-7288.
Established in 1858, Allan Gardens features six greenhouses with permanent plant collections plus Christmas and other seasonal exhibits.

Cloud Forest Conservatory:
Between Richmond St. W. and Temperance St., east of Yonge St., Toronto; 416-392-7288.
The Cloud Gardens Conservatory is like a tropical cloud forest nestled between the office towers of Toronto’s busy downtown core. It sits on land given to the city in the 1980’s when the Bay Adelaide Centre was constructed. Recognized with a Governor General’s Architectural Award, it features elaborate award winning design and a monument to Toronto’s construction workers. This unique little park is a true urban oasis.

Tropical Greenhouse:
Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa; 613-230-3276.
The tropical garden features 500 different plants. Highlights include a dwarf banana tree and an Arabian coffee tree, as well as an adjacent cactus and succulent display.

Quebec:

Exhibition Greenhouses, Montreal Botanical Garden:
4101, rue Sherbrooke Est, Montreal; 514-872-1400.
The greenhouses are home to permanent and thematic exhibitions highlighting seasonal plants and flowers. Some 36,000 specimens represent 12,000 species, varieties and cultivars.

Nova Scotia:

Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens Conservatory, Acadia University
32 University Ave., Wolfville, N.S.; 902-585-5242.
Enjoy plant species indicative of each habitat of the outdoor botanical garden, as well as those of the coastal plain, year-round.

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