One of the things I always look for when visiting a new place is whether there are any parks and gardens nearby. I’m not sure why I do this, but I’d guess it has something to do with my grandad’s influence on me; he was an avid gardener and always had a beautiful garden full of blooming flowers, bees, and various scents. Part of me enjoys that, and part of me loves exploring. It only makes sense to combine the two.A logical place to start is to begin looking online to see what is nearby. During my time in Sydney that lead me to learn about the Royal Botanic Gardens, and I quickly added them to my list of must-see things, up there with the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and Bondai Beach.From Circular Quay, the botanical gardens are just to the south. They’re within walking distance and they border Sydney CBD and the coast. It’s free to visit the botanical gardens and they’re open from 7am until anywhere between 5pm and 8pm depending on the time of the year. The grounds are quite large, at 74 acres (30 hectares) , so I’d certainly advise wearing suitable footwear if you’re going walking. Alternatively, thongs and a picnic basket can be a great choice for lunch, general relaxation, or even (dare I say it) a date.For the most part the gardens are open and grassy, but there are a number of different areas/regions whic are home to different displays and different kinds of plants. The vast array of colours likely change depeding on the time of year, but when I visited during Aussie winter they were still vibrant, albeit it was slightly cooler than you might expect in January.A large portion of my time in the gardens was in the company of Travis, which is how I managed to get these shady looking photographs after escaping from the clutches of a large group of Japanese tourists. Note that I cropped my face out of it!We also managed to find only the third spider I found in Australia, after one in the Daintree near Cairns, and a runaway redback in Melbourne. Poor little fella didn’t get a word in before I papped him.Around the gardens are a whole host of signposts which help you to figure out where you’ve been, where you’re going and if you’re going round in circles. Pretty handy. There are a multitude of places to head to, including this cactus garden – of which I only have terrible pictures complete with a red train. Neither of these I expected to encounter when I first planned to come here.If you’re planning to spend any time in Sydney for New Years Eve, it’s definitely worth finding the time to explore. As with most of the coastline, you’ll need to get in early or risk losing your space. You can see what happened in 2017, and register any interest for NYE 2018. I’d suggest taking a morning stroll and boarding a boat the celebrate but you needn’t wait for NYE to visit the gardens.All in all, there is plenty to do and even more to see. Their own website does a much better job of explaining it than I do, so you should check it out. As always, feel free to share your stories and pictures, and if you have any recommendations on the ‘best bits’ then let us know!