Hear that? It’s spring approaching. The daffodils have broken ground, and they’re a relief to see! Not to push things along too much, but it’s a good week to revisit our trip to the Montréal Botanic Garden. It’s not the world’s largest — that title belongs to the Royal Botanic Gardens (or Kew Gardens) in Great Britain – but it’s the world’s second largest botanic garden. Perfect for our “Biggish” category!
Where we went, and who was coerced into going:
We went to Montréal last summer, mainly because Matt had a business trip, and it’s only a five hour drive. This was the kids’ first international travel, and this small, bilingual city was the ideal destination; a perfect combination of fun and cultural immersion. While we were there, we risked our lives (not really) riding to the top of the world’s tallest inclined tower, and discovered the secrets of poutine in the world’s largest underground pedestrian network.
WHY did you go there, exactly?
I had my doubts that the kids would be jazzed about the Montréal Botanical Garden, with nothing remotely virtual, electronic, or 4-D to offer. We all enjoyed it though, mainly because we didn’t try to push our luck to see all 180 acres, 10 exhibition greenhouses and 30 outdoor gardens.
I must also point out that the weather was – surprisingly – perfect, and this further convinced us to spend the day outside.
Okay, what was so cool about it?
Within this immense garden are several smaller themed gardens; each more fascinating than the one before. The kids would tell you that their favorites involved water features – how surprised are you? Given the “all clear,” The Girl would have immersed herself in any one of the pools within the Aquatic Garden.
The Chinese Garden, surrounded by a bright blue koi pond, was also a hit, especially with its opulent walk-through pagoda and an exhibit of impossible-not-to-touch bonsai trees. (Me: “Don’t touch those. Please don’t touch them. See the sign that says “don’t touch” in both French AND English?! DON’T TOUCH!!”)
Then, there was the Alpine Garden, which may have been the unexpected highlight of the whole place.
It offered the perfect stepped landscape to pretend we were explorers, winding our way up, over, around and through a path of stones, shrubbery, and flowers, and finally, alongside a captivating waterfall.
Let’s face it; sometimes large attractions and little kids don’t mix, especially when there’s a lot of walking involved. These gardens are expansive, but luckily there is a free tram which circles the entire space, making frequent stops. All I had to do was call it a “ride,” and The Girl couldn’t board it fast enough.
Unfortunately, in order to make the tram, we had to forgo visiting the Tree House, but this was probably a good thing. This kid-centric attraction was swarmed with field trip groups.
We also had a lovely lunch on the stone patio outside the cafe, facing a fountain and a colorful wall of Mediterranean tile.
If you’re into insects – I do not judge – you’re in luck. The Insectarium sits on the grounds, offering an up-close look at 160,000 insects, an art farm, bee hives and other vivariums. Outside the Insectarium is an “entomological discover space,” which was a huge playground with funky equipment and interactive educational displays. While the Insectarium was closed when we visited, we did spend a lot of time in the playground.
The Boy got tangled up in a huge rope spider’s web:
And The Girl wouldn’t let us get off the three-way see saw.
How it rated on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = snoozefest, 10 = add to your bucket list):
9. If you’re in Montréal, you must go. Just remember a stroller if you have little ones, and bring the good camera.
Hey YOU! Go BIG:
4101, rue Sherbrooke Est, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H1X 2B2
The Insectarium and parts of the Botanic Garden are open year round. Everything is open from May to October.