Known as a warm reprieve from Toronto’s colder days, Allan Gardens Conservatory is a Victorian-era greenhouse in Toronto that houses a lush ecosystem of plants. Best of all, it’s free to enter and open all year round.
Underneath a soaring glass dome are sky-high palm trees, warm-climate cacti, and banana trees, a far more tropical environment than Torontorians may be used to seeing.
The Allan Gardens Conservatory first came to fruition in 1858, with a five-acre plot of land donated to the Toronto Horticultural Society by the politician George William Allan. The goal was for the observatory to be used as a free and accessible public space which was used to host events and flower shoes. In 1902, the building was actually destroyed by a fire, although restorations to parts of the greenhouse were started approximately 8 years later. In 1910, a new classically proportioned palm house conservatory building, designed by Robert McCallum opened. Over the years, the conservatory has been expanded in 1920 and in 1957 with the 4 show house wings. There are still restorations being done to the heritage building as well.
If you visit this indoor botanical garden, there are 5 featured greenhouses to visit:
- The Arid House hosts succulents and cacti
- The Tropical House has a mix of plants from equatorial regions
- The Palm House is closed but the plants have been relocated to Cloud Gardens and Centennial Park Conservatory
- The Orchid and Bromelied Houses are located on the southwest side of the conservatory and display equatorial plants with showy orchids and colourful bromeliads
- The Temperate Show House is on the southeast side and showcases seasonal flower shows and a koi pond.
If you happen to head to Allan Gardens Conservatory during December, you’ll be welcomed with a beautiful array of Christmas decorations like red felt bows and strung garland, making for a festive and tropical activity to beat the cold.
Allan Gardens Conservatory is open from 10am – 5pm daily.
Where: 19 Horticultural Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5A 2P2