Montréal Botanical Garden

During a quick trip to Montréal a few weeks ago, we accidentally stumbled upon what we like to call Montréal’s Best Kept Secret. I have no idea if this is actually a secret or not, but I certainly didn’t find any mention of it on the botanical garden’s website. Are you ready to hear it?

In the summer, the outdoor grounds are free from 6pm until nightfall. Free! Gratuit! Gratis! 

Sounds too good to be true, right? As far as I can tell, it’s for real, but if anyone from Montréal could let us know for sure in the comments, I’d appreciate it.

In any case, we did not know The Secret when we arrived, so we paid our entrance fee – discounted to $15 for Québec residents – and the $10 parking and spent several hours wandering the grounds. They were lovely in mid-May, especially the fragrant grove of blooming lilacs. We never made it inside the insectarium or the greenhouses, which are actually what the entrance fee covers. No one ever mentioned to us the part about where you can pay nothing and still see the same thing but with way fewer people around. Hmph!

Once we’d seen enough of the gardens, we hopped on the métro to explore a bit more of downtown. When we came back to collect the car in the evening, we noticed the gates were still open even though the gardens were supposedly closed. Curious about why there seemed to be so many people still inside, we followed them in and found families picnicking, couples strolling and children playing as if they owned the place!  As frustrated as we felt for paying when we didn’t need to, we were pretty excited to discover this insider’s tip. And now we know for next time.

So if you’re just interested in the outdoor grounds, which are quite expansive, or don’t have time for a visit during the day, I would suggest heading over in the evening with a blanket and a picnic. Next time we’ll certainly be prepared!

The website may be useful in planning a visit. Montréal Botanical Garden

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