Soak Up Some Warmth at the Botanical Center at Roger Williams Park
The region's largest indoor display garden boasts tropical plants, water features and — our favorite — balmy 70-degree temperatures all year round.
Escape the winter doldrums in the heart of Providence. The Botanical Center at Roger Williams Park is a balmy 70 degrees inside and it feels like a summer day even when it’s 16 degrees outdoors. “It is the biggest glass house indoor display garden open to the public in all of New England,” says director Lee Ann Freitas. Inside the conservatory, visitors can view exotic, tropical plants like a Bismarck palm tree from Madagascar with its enormous six-foot leaves, a rare mahogany tree, carnivorous plants such as Venus fly traps and cacti.
“The carnivorous bog has a lot of plants in there, and it may seem like nothing as first, but if you really look closely, you’ll see tiny Venus fly traps and sundew plants eating insects just like in Little Shop of Horrors,” Freitas says. There’s also wildlife including frogs and turtles and a pond filled with giant koi fish. The Botanical Center also has its own flavor lab where chef Benjamin Sukle of birch and Oberlin grows herbs for his restaurant, and there are indoor gardens cultivated by Met School students and URI master gardeners. Freitas recommends using the center as a workplace. There are tables available and free Wi-Fi. “It’s the best place to come, sit and bring your laptop and get some work done,” she says. “It’s your own mini staycation for a day.” The Botanical Center is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children ages six to twelve. rwpconservancy.org/explore/botanical-center