Yes, it is probably un-Canadian of me to complain about the cold, especially when the wintery weather arrived so late this year. But for those of us who may chose tropical over ice, the City of Toronto has a few locations it keeps warm and green even during the winter months.

It’s no Bahamas, but Toronto’s three conservatories and greenhouses – Allan Gardens, Cloud Gardens and Centennial Conservatory – let you step into warmer climates any day of the year.

CentennialGardensGreenhouseWe went west on a chilly January day to Centennial Gardens Conservatory in Etobicoke – a pit stop on a trip from Pearson Airport. It’s free to wander the 12,000-square-feet of gardens spread over three rooms — a tropical house, an arid house and show house. We saw the seasonal Christmas display of poinsettias. While plants, flowers and trees may not be show-stoppers for all kids in TOw, the chirping will definitely get their attention. It actually sounds tropical. 

There are two bird cages. The star among them is a cockatoo named Angel. Between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. he explores outside his cage, and apparently if you sing Twinkle Twinkle, he’ll dance.
CentennialBirds CentennialBirdAngel

Getting thereCentennial park is located west of Hwy 427 and south of the 401. Accessible by public transit from the Royal York subway station via the 48 Rathburn bus west to Elmcrest Rd. Driving, there is free parking located north of the conservatory.

Low-down: Open daily 365 days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free admission and wheelchair accessible.
Hands-off: The plants are not for picking. Stick to the path. There are a number of benches along the way.

Potty time: Yes, bathrooms near the main entrance.


Playground south of conservatory

In the hood: Centennial Conservatory is part of a much larger park (an area that used to be a dairy farm.) It’s definitely worth return visits for exploring. The park is home to Etobicoke Olympium (indoor pool with diving towers), a ski hill (on what was once the municipal dump), an arena, a BMX bike park, sports fields, playgrounds, outdoor wading pool and picnic areas. Mini-Indy Go Karts is open seasonally as of April and Diamond Beach Sports has beach volleyball courts and lit baseball diamonds and batting cages.

151 Elmcrest Road