Montreal Botanical Gardens (Jardin Botanique Montreal)#2 in Best Things To Do in Montreal
Thanks to 10 large greenhouses – each tailored to a specific theme – the 190-acre botanical gardens is home to more than 22,000 species of flora and offers scenic year-round respite from the metropolis' downtown core. Spend some time strolling through the tranquil bonsai trees in the Japanese Garden or learn about the principles of yin and yang in the Chinese Garden, which showcases designs from the 14th to 17th century Ming Dynasty. Outdoor gardens include a colorful rose garden and a stunning alpine garden.
Recent visitors called the garden a must-visit with lots to see. If you're visiting with kids, don't miss the ever-popular toxic plant garden. What's more, the Insectarium is one of the largest insect museums in North America, with more than 250,000 specimens of living and naturalized insects. Permanent exhibits include We Are the Insects, Atta Ants, Butterflies Go Free (a favorite among the garden's youngest visitors) and The BuzzGround, a fun discovery zone especially for kids. Reviewers say the variety is amazing and that kids love visiting.
Located in northern Plateau Mont-Royal in Parc Maisonneuve (accessible via the Green Line's Station Pie-IX métro station), the botanical garden and Insectarium are open every day at 9 a.m. and generally stay open until 6 or 7 p.m., depending on the time of year. Entry costs, which include access to both attractions, vary by age: tickets cost CA$20.50 (about $15.50) for adults; CA$10.25 (about $8) for kids ages 5 to 17. More information can be found at the Montreal Botanical Garden website.
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#1 Old Montreal (Vieux-Montréal)
As the site of the original city of Montreal, Vieux-Montréal (accessible from the Orange Line's Place-d'Armes and Champ-de-Mars métro stations) is the hub of the city's culture. Not much has changed in this neighborhood despite the city's rapid urbanization. Horse-drawn carriages traverse cobblestone streets and meander past such notable sites as the Basilique Notre-Dame, the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall), the Vieux-Port (Old Port) and the Marché Bonsecours (Bonsecours Market).
Here, you'll mingle with Montrealers at sidewalk cafes while overlooking the river, or enjoy the summertime street performers at Place Jacques-Cartier. This is also a popular shopping area (despite the kitschy souvenir shops), and numerous bars and clubs bring Vieux-Montréal to life come sundown. Recent visitors said this area is a must for strolling, eating and experiencing the history of Montreal and feels very European thanks to its beautiful architecture.
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