I don't think it'll surprise anyone that Peace Corps volunteers can be some of the best budget travelers around, so when looking for activities in Medellin I had three questions in mind: Is it easily accessible, free (or a good value), and, perhaps most importantly, is there good food nearby?
After a leisurely breakfast with our AirBnB host family, we took the metro right up to the Botanical gardens (easily accessible- check). All areas are free and open to the public everyday (free!), and we were surprised to stumble upon the best meal we would eat from our entire trip (the best food).
The sprawling gardens are planned into multiple different themes ranging from dessert beauty to swampland, an orchid garden, and even a butterfly enclosure. You can also find a gift-shop, a small cafe, the amazing Situ restaurant, and even tree nurseries and greenhouses offering plants for purchase.
When we walked by Situ, we were sure it would be out of our price range. This is the type of restaurant that's incredibly gorgeous on its own, featuring an open floor plan so that patrons can enjoy the beautiful gardens and fountains in the midst of Medellin's perfect Spring weather. However, thanks to the strength of the American dollar during our visit, we realized that this was exactly the sweet, sit down meal we were looking for.
Most of the items of the menu were locally sourced, and many of the fruits, vegetables, and herbs even came from right there at the Botanical gardens. After we spent a fair amount of time trying not to drool over our options (this was not the type of restaurant for that), we finally decided to start out with two appetizers- a plate of homemade cheese, fried and served over a mixed berry compete, and a coconut lobster soup. Though I tried to convince my friend to get something different than me so that I could try two different things, we both ended up getting their specialty salad- local greens served with mango, serrano ham, feta cheese, green apple, pecans, tomatoes, sesame seeds, and rose petals. Every dish was just as amazing as it sounds and still only came out to just under $30 USD. Where else can you get a deal like that?