Monday, February 14, 2011

Leu Gardens Outing

I went to the Leu Gardens for the first time last week, and wish I'd gone sooner.  Although some of the color was missing (since it's still early February) and some plants got damaged in the unusual freezes from last month, the weather was absolutely perfect.  You can easily spend three hours or more meandering through the various garden areas, including tropical, citrus, and butterfly gardens.

Fun  If you've never been, you should definitely check out the Harry P. Leu Gardens, located just minutes from downtown.  Included in the $7 admission ($2 kids) are the optional tours of the Leu House Museum (every half hour).  Tips: avoid the hot season by coming in the early Spring or late Fall.  Also, free admission on the first Monday of every month!

Food  After a lot of walking, you'll be hungry.  Good thing all the great restaurants in Little Vietnam (Colonial & Mills) are close by.  I'm still working my way through them, but my favorite so far has been Viet Garden.  The food on the menu is delicious and very reasonably priced.  I like to start with the spring or garden rolls ($2.95) and then order the grilled beef with lemon grass, served on rice noodles with vegetables ($7.95).  They also serve Thai dishes. 

Dessert  Within walking distance of Little Vietnam is the Dandelion Communitea Cafe.  Specializing in organic, free-trade, locally-grown, quality ingredients, their menu features a good amount of vegetarian dishes.  But since you just ate, sit back in a big chair and enjoy some baked goods and tea (about $3) in one of many holistic businesses in this creative neighborhood. 

Total cost for a garden stroll, dinner or lunch, tea and dessert: $13.00 - $20.00 per person.

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