Hope Botanical Gardens

This 20-hectare (50-acre) oasis of beauty in the middle of downtown Kingston is the largest botanical garden in the West Indies and features pleasant paths that meander past manicured lawns and tranquil gardens, including a cactus garden, orchid house, a forest garden and an ornamental pond. The gardens are situated next to the campus of the University of the West Indies, and also contain a small zoo and interesting aviary. The zoo is simple and may disappoint those who have been to large zoos in other countries but if you are travelling to Kingston with children they will enjoy the little petting zoo, where you can touch some birds, snakes and other little animals. It is ideal to combine a quick exploration of the zoo with a picnic in the lovely gardens, which you can enter free of charge. In early 2013 the zoo has been undergoing renovations and not all of the animals can be seen, but it is still open to the public. The gardens are often included in birding tours of Jamaica because they offer an interesting collision between an urban environment and a lovely natural habitat. Although parts of the gardens can get crowded at times - and there are frequently weddings and other events at the venue - it is always possible to find a peaceful nook.

Address: Old Hope Road

Telephone: 927 1257

Opening times: Gardens: open daily from 8.30am to 6.30pm; Zoo: open daily from 10am to 5pm

Admission: Gardens: Free admission; Zoo: JMD 20 (adults), JMD 10 (children 4-12)