Frequently Asked Questions
NOTE: Re-Opening Specific FAQs. As we slowly re-open in the face of COVID-19, practices have been put in place that may not align with the below answers. Please see our recent announcement for specific FAQs before your visit.
About the Organization
What is Royal Botanical Gardens?
Royal Botanical Gardens is a living, interactive museum filled with natural wonders, including 1,100 hectares (2,700 acres) of breathtaking gardens and spectacular nature sanctuaries. We have the world’s largest lilac collection, a magnificent iris garden, 3,000 rose bushes, 100,000 spring bulbs, 32 kilometres of trails, and Cootes Paradise—a vibrant wetland at the westernmost tip of Lake Ontario.
Why is RBG called "Royal" Botanical Gardens?
In December 1929 the Parks Board approved the suggestion that the name Westdale Park be changed to something more grand, Royal Botanical Gardens. This change was prompted by Thomas Baker McQuesten, a lawyer who eventually became the Member of Provincial Parliament for the City of Hamilton, who was a frequent visitor to Royal Botanic Gardens, in the town of Kew, in the south-western area of metropolitan London, England. Royal Botanic Gardens, also called Kew Gardens, has been a model for many botanical gardens around the world since the 18th century. McQuesten was authorized by the City of Hamilton to approach the Government of Canada for permission to use the term “Royal” in the name of the park.
A Royal Charter was granted by King George V of England for the name “Royal Botanical Gardens” in 1930. RBG is the only botanical garden in Canada with the right to use “Royal” in its name.
Before You Visit
When are the gardens open?
RBG is a year-round attraction with various facilities and areas open throughout the year including holidays. RBG Centre, the Mediterranean Garden and Hendrie Park (weather permitting) are open every day of the year except January 1st, December 25th and December 26th. Hours and dates available vary for other garden areas. See rbg.ca/visitus for a list of up-to-date hours by garden area.
All trail heads are open year-round. The parking lot at Rock Chapel is maintained seasonally and is closed throughout the winter.
Visit rbg.ca/visitus for up to date hours of all our facilities and garden areas.
What are the addresses of your garden areas?
- RBG Centre (main entrance) 680 Plains Rd. W. Burlington, ON
(43° 17.423′ N, 79° 52.514′ W)
- Hendrie Park 1104 Plains Rd. W. Burlington, ON, enter through RBG Centre at 680 Plains Road W.
(43° 17.535′ N, 79° 52.582′ W)
- Laking Garden 1221 Spring Garden Rd. Burlington, ON
(kiosk: 43° 17.545′ N, 79° 53.141′ W)
- Rock Garden 1210 York Blvd. Hamilton, ON
(kiosk: 43° 17.322′ N, 79° 53.433′ W)
- Arboretum 16 Old Guelph Rd. Dundas, ON
(kiosk: 43° 17.640′ N, 79° 54.279′ W)
Click here for more information.
Is it possible to walk from garden to garden?
Walking from garden to garden is possible but please be aware that our property is spread out over 1,100 hectares of gardens and nature sanctuaries, with kilometers between the cultivated gardens. Please consider driving or biking between locations, or using the shuttle service when available (weekends, spring to mid-summer).
You can find a map of our properties and the distance between gardens here.
Do I have to pay to park my vehicle during my visit to RBG?
Parking at any of the cultivated garden areas is included in your General Admission.
Pay and Display parking is in effect at all trail heads as well as Laking Garden and the Arboretum when garden kiosks are not in operation. There are five main trailhead locations, Princess Point, Westdale, the Arboretum, Cherry Hill Gate and Rock Chapel, as well as two canoe launch sites, Princess Point & Valley Inn. These lead to 27km of trails within the sanctuaries as well as links to multiple other regional trails. Pay and Display fees are $1/hour to a maximum of $5 at all sites except for the Arboretum which is $3/hour to a maximum of $15.
A daily parking pass is issued with each general admission purchase. Please place this parking pass on the dashboard of your vehicle for the duration of your visit. RBG members park for free at all properties by displaying their members’ parking pass in their vehicle. Paid parking is not required at RBG Centre or Rock Garden.
Do you provide transportation from garden to garden?
A shuttle bus is available weekends from spring to mid-summer. Access to the shuttle is included in your general admission or membership. Find a full schedule and more here.
How long should I plan to spend at RBG?
RBG is home to 5 cultivated garden areas and 27km of hiking trails. The length of time you spend is up to you! Those who are looking for a brisk walk through the gardens could complete them all in a few short hours, while others wishing to stroll at a leisurely pace and read through all the interpretive and educational displays, enjoy any tours and activities happening in the gardens that day, or add a hike to their visit may not be able to complete their visit in just one day.
See the daily calendar to see what’s happening the day of your visit.
What will be blooming during my visit?
Plants of interest are ever-changing in RBG’s five cultivated garden areas, and in the nature sanctuaries. See the blooms calendar for a rough estimation of what to expect in each season.
Bloom time is often influenced by many natural events including temperature and climate. As these can vary from year to year bloom times are influenced by these factors.
Enjoying the Gardens & Amenities
What is included in General Admission?
Tickets are available for purchase online, or when you arrive to any of our garden areas. Your admission includes:
- Access to all five RBG garden areas (note seasonal hours below)
- A parking pass for use in the metered lots at RBG gardens and trailheads
- Any Discovery activities and tours scheduled for the day
These tickets do NOT include access to all RBG events. Please check rbg.ca/events for more information on ticketing for individual events.
Can I re-enter the garden if I leave?
General Admission includes a handstamp that allows access in and out of all 5 garden areas for the day, simply show your stamp at the garden kiosks for entry.
Do I have to start at RBG Centre to purchase day tickets?
General admission tickets are available to purchase at any garden kiosk during that garden’s regular operating hours.
If you wish to purchase a membership, please visit the Membership Desk at RBG Centre.
Do you have wheelchairs available for guests to use?
We have a limited number of wheelchairs available for our guests to use on a first come, first served basis at RBG Centre and Rock Garden. We do not charge a fee for wheelchairs, but we do require a piece of photo identification in order to sign one out. Please note that in order to best serve all our guests we do not take advanced reservations for wheelchairs.
Do you have strollers or wagons available for guests to use?
Currently, we do not have strollers or wagons available for our guests to use during their visit.
Is there anywhere to purchase food and drinks at RBG?
Can I bring my own food and drinks to the gardens?
You are welcome to bring in your own picnic and snacks to enjoy during a general admission visit to RBG. Outside food and drink is not permitted at select special events, including Garden Music Nights.
When bringing your own food to RBG, please be courteous of the environment and other guests by cleaning up after your meal and disposing of any litter.
BBQ’s and other similar open flame appliances are not permitted on RBG property.
Is photography permitted at Royal Botanical Gardens?
Hobby photography is welcome. We invite you to share your photos with us on social media @RBGCanada by using the hashtag #RBGblooms.
Please note that paid permits are required for professional photo shoots such as wedding, engagement, family, etc. Please visit RBG’s Photography page to request a permit.
Can I take a guided tour of the gardens? Do I need to book in advance?
Guided tours and other discovery activities are available seasonally, included in your general admission or membership. See rbg.ca/discovery to learn more and for a general schedule.
Looking for a private tour? Pre-booked tours are available for groups of 15 or more, booked at least 4 weeks in advance.
Can I ride my bike / skateboard in the gardens?
Please note that the use of recreational scooters, bicycles, skateboards, etc. is prohibited in all garden areas, as well as on RBG’s trail systems. Wheelchairs and motorized scooters for accessibility purposes are permitted.
Is smoking permitted?
Effective January 1, 2012, Royal Botanical Gardens and its property is smoke-free. Smoking is prohibited in all properties owned by Royal Botanical Gardens. This includes all buildings, common work areas, garden areas, natural lands, trails and parking areas including vehicles. All visitors to Royal Botanical Gardens must leave Royal Botanical Gardens property in order to smoke.