Got $6.50? Sick of Winter? Take a trip to the tropics, without leaving Vancouver

Photo credit: karen_neoh | Flickr

Photo credit: karen_neoh | Flickr

Ready to escape winter, already?

After a mild fall, cold weather has arrived in Vancouver.  The North Shore ski mountains are open, there’s frost on the sidewalks in the morning and the scarves and parkas have come out of the closet.

If a tropical vacation for the holidays isn’t in the picture, consider another option: Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park.  Housed in an enormous 21-metre high geodesic dome, the conservatory is a little bit of the tropics – complete with birds and exotic plants – plopped down in the middle of Vancouver.

Enter through the sliding doors and you’re greeted with a rush of warm, humid air and the smells of the forest.  A narrow pathway leads into the leafy green jungle.  Overhead, giant India figs, magnolias, eucalyptus and bougainvilleas climb toward the ceiling.  In total, some 500 exotic plant species from all corners of the world thrive inside Bloedel.

Ahead, a hanging wooden bridge crosses a small river running through the conservatory, leading to the home of two of its star residents.  Carmen and Maria, two giant macaws with brilliant red bodies, perch on a branch near a small pond.  Native to the Amazon, the birds have adapted well to the balmy climate of Bloedel and spend their days eating seeds, preening and chattering away under the canopy.

And they’ve got plenty of feathered friends.  Blue macaws, a rainbow of different parrots, sulphur-crested cockatoos, elegant pheasants with long tails and nearly 100 other colourful birds fly free throughout the conservatory.  At a fork in the pathway, past a riot of orchids, a twisted tree limb sprinkled with plenty of birdseed provides a popular avian hangout.  Dozens of tiny finches, each one splashed with brilliant blotches of purple, green and yellow, flit from branch to branch.

A circuit of the entire conservatory can take as little as five minutes or as long as an hour, depending on how long you stop, linger and soak up the tropical scenery.  It’s popular with kids, but there are plenty of quiet benches where you can sit back, close your eyes and imagine you’re in a warmer clime – a few thousand miles from the blustery cold just outside the doors.

Not to mention the price is a little more accessible than a trip to Hawaii.  Admission is $6.50 for adults, $4.50 for youth and seniors and $3.25 for kids 3-12.

Any fans of the Bloedel Conservatory out there? Let us know below.  

For more updates on Vancouver and beyond, follow me on Twitter @RemyScalza.  

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