Frequently Asked Questions
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 all our facilities and garden areas.
All trail heads are open year-round. The parking lot at Rock Chapel is maintained seasonally and is closed throughout the winter.
What are the addresses of your garden areas?
RBG is home to 4 garden areas in Hamilton and Burlington ON
- RBG Centre and Hendrie Park: 680 Plains Rd. W. Burlington, ON
(43° 17.423′ N, 79° 52.514′ W)
- Laking Garden: 1221 Spring Garden Rd. Burlington, ON
(kiosk: 43° 17.545′ N, 79° 53.141′ W)
- Rock Garden: 1185 York Blvd. Hamilton, ON
(kiosk: 43.2893° N, 79.8918° W)
- Arboretum: 16 Old Guelph Rd. Dundas, ON
(kiosk: 43° 17.640′ N, 79° 54.279′ W)
Learn more about getting to RBG at rbg.ca/directions
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. RBG’s shuttle service is not available during COVID-19.
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?
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 27 km of trails within the sanctuaries as well as links to multiple other regional trails.
Pay and Display fees:
Trail heads as well as Laking Garden: $3/hour to a maximum of $15
Princess Point: $10 parking flat rate applies Friday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Outside of these hours, $3/hour to a maximum of $15.
Arboretum: $30 parking flat rate applies during spring blooms season, May 5 to June 1. 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Outside of these hours, $5/hour to a maximum of $15.
RBG members park for free at all properties by displaying their members’ parking pass in their vehicle.
Learn more about parking and getting to RBG at rbg.ca/directions
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.
Am I required to be vaccinated to enter RBG?
As of March 1, RBG no longer requires visitors to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Do I need to wear a mask?
Effective May 5, visitors are no longer required to wear masks at Royal Botanical Gardens. Employees and volunteers will continue to wear a masks.
Enjoying the Gardens & Amenities
What is included in Garden Admission?
Tickets are available for purchase online, or when you arrive at any of our garden areas. Your admission includes:
- Access to all four of RBG’s cultivated garden areas for the day: Hendrie Park, RBG Centre, Laking Garden, and the Rock Garden. (note seasonal operation hours).
- Any Discovery activities and tours scheduled for the day.
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 OCT members get free admission?
Yes! OCT members receive complimentary admission to the four cultivated garden areas with proof of I.D.
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, and during winter exhibit Under the Canopy at RBG Centre.
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.
Can I bring my dog?
Leashed dogs are permitted in the gardens for a visit during regular operating hours. Please be responsible and clean up after your dog. Dogs must remain on-leash and on-trail at all times. Any pets found disrupting the garden other guests may be asked to leave.
With the exception of service animals, personal dogs/cats/animals are not permitted indoors, or during most special events. Please see individual event listing for details.
Pets are only permitted in RBG Centre while accessing Hendrie Park. Pets are not permitted in other areas of the building.
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.
Are water fountains / bottle filling stations available?
Water Fountains and bottle filling stations are available at all RBG garden areas.
- RBG Centre: Fountain available near the Auditorium, water bottle stations available just outside the main doors, and indoors by the Greenhouse Café. Combination fountain and water filling station is available outside the washrooms beneath the Mediterranean Garden (sometimes inaccessible to the public due to ongoing programming or camps).
- Hendrie Park: Outdoor bottle refill station available outside the Turner Pavilion Teahouse
- Laking Garden: Outdoor bottle refill station available by the washrooms
- Rock Garden: Indoor fountain / bottle refill station available by the washrooms in the Rock Garden visitor centre, with an outdoor fountain available by the washrooms in the lower bowl of the garden
- Arboretum: outdoor bottle refill available at the Nature Interpretive Centre
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.
Do you have a question that isn’t answered above? Find more detailed and department-specific common questions and answers at the links below.
Many events / programs have alternative requirements and guidelines. Find more information at rbg.ca/events and locate the specific event you are interested in.
Plan Your Visit
Select General Admission to visit for the day, or purchase a membership for unlimited visits all year long!
Hours and Map
Learn more about RBG's properties with current and upcoming hours, and a large-scale map.
Directions and Parking
RBG consists of four formal gardens contained within 1,100 hectares of nature reserve.