Tired of your kids being cooped up this winter? Turn off the video games and leave the scarves and mitts behind as you travel to one of the southern most points in Canada. Leamington Ontario is home to Colasanti’s Tropical Gardens which, even in the dead of winter, is filled with cactuses, greenery, mini golf, rides, and…an alligator.
This is the perfect winter escape for children under the age of 10.
Situated on a 35-acre farm and boasting 15 indoor green houses, Colasanit’s Tropical Gardens started off as a cactus and tropical plant nursery and has expanded to include 3.5 acres of indoor family amusements open 363 days a year.
Depending on the season, you’ll find various flowering plants including poinsettias, Christmas cactus, mini roses, Easter lilies, potted bulbs, asters, hydrangeas, and exotic fruit trees. The cactus and succulents selection includes aloe vera and the flowering fairy castle cactus. Indoor tropical plants that will wow visitors to your home include the venus fly trap and the pitcher plant.
On weekends in particular, the building is buzzing children excitedly running between the various sections at Colasanti’s:
• 18-hole mini golf (with interesting obstacles like sand traps, water fountains, and a koi pond with red-eared slider turtles
• amusement park rides (like bumper cars and mini-coasters)
• a garden centre with cacti and other plants, as well as pots and potting material
• an arcade with about a dozen games
• inflatable obstacle courses and castles
• a small section of home décor and fashion accessories
• a petting zoo with a 10-foot alligator, lemurs, snakes, and llamas
All this activity is sure to work up an appetite for the whole family, and Colasanti’s you covered. The cafeteria is conveniently found in the middle of the building. The plentiful seating is in keeping with the tropical greenery theme, including round tables found under tiki huts and bench seating below a forest of twinkle-light-adorned faux lemon trees. Start your meal by choosing from a kid-friendly menu of pizza, burgers, or – their specialty – broasted chicken. This 50s favourite combines pressure cooking with deep frying for (according to advertising) a more healthy, juicy piece of coated chicken. Wash this down with their famous peach drink (also available in jugs to go). If you’re looking for something sweet to finish off your meal, there’s a candy parlour with homemade fudge, chocolate-covered marshmallows, ice cream, and bulk candy.
Admission to the building is free, with tickets available for rides and mini-golf or an all-day children’s pass for $13.99 and the adult pass is $10.99. The petting zoo is $2 a person. Colasanti’s is open 8am-5pm Monday to Thursday and 8am-6pm Friday to Sunday.