Plan to spend a mild winter day taking a day trip to the South Texas Botanical Gardens and Nature Center in Corpus Christi, located at 8545 S. Staples St.
The 182-acre gardens and nature preserve offers nature and birding trails along with 11 floral exhibits and gardens.
The gardens are open to friendly, well-behaved and leashed dogs everywhere except at parties or in the flower beds.
Visitors may view the rose garden, orchid and bromeliad conservatories, the sensory garden, the butterfly house and meet the resident reptiles, tortoises and the exotic parrots.
Visit the gardens on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 7 and 9, for “Holly-Days,” which will feature a 20-foot decorated and lighted Frazier fir with photo opportunities with the resident reptiles, tortoises and parrots. The event will include kids’ holiday crafts and storytelling. Enjoy holiday music and caroling while strolling the gardens. Santa is rumored to be making an appearance.
Visit the Joan Bateman Nature Boutique through Tuesday, Dec. 31, to find some holiday gifts.
The gardens offer extended hours for viewing the Holiday Lights display. The gardens will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 23.
The gardens also offer a winter lecture series every Wednesday, Jan. 22, through Feb. 26, from 10 to 11 a.m. Experts on horticulture, wildlife, photography, bee keeping and outdoor cooking are scheduled to speak.
In February the gardens offers workshops with tips on getting ready for Spring gardening on Saturdays.
The botanical gardens operating hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Admission is $9 for ages 13 to 59; $7 for seniors over 60, active military and college students and $5 for children ages 3-12. Children under 3 are admitted free with paid adult. The entry fee is payable by cash, check, MasterCard or Visa.
Visit the website, http:// stxbot.org/, to find out the latest information on upcoming events and to sign up for free monthly e-calendar reminders or call (361) 852-2100.