Children are instinctively drawn to nature – it relaxes and inspires them. Admire stunning displays of color, from pink cherry blossoms to yellow, red and orange fields of tulips. Take a walk on winding paths past ponds, bridges and sculptures as you listen to the songs of birds and take in the scents around you. Several of the parks on our list are world-famous, while others are smaller, with unique designs and layouts. These family-friendly gardens offer spaces and activities designed for children where younger visitors can learn about plants, insects and energy conservation.
1. New York - Brooklyn Botanic Garden
2. Texas - Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
3. Pennsylvania - Longwood Gardens
4. Atlanta Botanical Garden
5. Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay
6. Ohio - Cleveland Botanical Garden
7. Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden on the Big Island
8. Alabama - Huntsville Botanical Garden
9. Florida – Naples Botanical Garden
10. Callaway Gardens
What are the 10 Best Botanical Gardens for Families?
The 10 Best Botanical Gardens for Families according to local experts are:
- New York - Brooklyn Botanic Garden
- Texas - Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
- Pennsylvania - Longwood Gardens
- Atlanta Botanical Garden
- Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay
- Ohio - Cleveland Botanical Garden
- Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden on the Big Island
- Alabama - Huntsville Botanical Garden
- Florida – Naples Botanical Garden
- Callaway Gardens
Attraction Spotlight: Brooklyn Botanic Garden
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden was founded in the era where the towering buildings and intricate roads of New York City were beginning to develop. Although it became evident that New York City would eventually become one of the largest and busiest cities in the world, the New York State legislation wanted to ensure that the landscape wouldn’t limit itself to only skyscrapers and paved roads, and that some flora and fauna would be preserved. So, in 1897 the New York State legislation set aside 39 acres of land for what is known as the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
In just a little over ten years, the Olmsted Brothers paired their site plan with Charles Stuart Gager’s directorial vision to build the garden. On May 13, 1911 the Brooklyn Botanic Garden opened with the main display being the Local Flora Section, which is now known as the Native Flora Garden. Visitors saw a showcase of native plants, including a vast amount of gorgeous wildflower beds. After the opening of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, new exhibitions and designs for the garden emerged every year. The advancement of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in the early years can be largely contributed to the landscape architect, Harold Caparn.
One of the first innovations that Caparn and his team made was the Children’s Garden program in 1914. One-acre was set aside for this program, which allowed children to grow any food plant they wanted to. Stimulating a small portion of country life through this program became popular, and other botanic gardens would recreate the idea. One year later, a landscape designer named Takeo Shiota, designed and completed the first public Japanese garden in the United States with the creation of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. Then, in 1917 one of the most popular landmarks, the Laboratory Building and Conservatory, was built. The McKim, Mead & White firm designed this Tuscan styled building, which is now known as the Administrative Building and Palm House.
New designs continued to emerge throughout the early 1900’s, and in 1945 the owners and designers of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden decided to take their revolutionary botanic garden worldwide with the creation of a book, Lillies and Their Culture: Use in the Garden, which would ultimately become a book series. The same drive and passion for horticulture has continued throughout the years. In recent years, the garden has expanded its acreage to fit new astonishing exhibitions, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden was even awarded the National Medal for museum and Library Service.
Spread across 52 acres, it’s no surprise that the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has a vast amount of exhibitions to explore. You have the choice of visiting nearly 30 gardens and conservatories that showcase breathtaking arrangements of flora and fauna.
Discovery Garden encourages children to learn about and explore garden wildlife in a fun and hands-on way. This interactive exhibition allows children to interact with plants and animals across its five sections; meadow, marsh, woodland, food garden, and four seasons garden.
Children’s Garden is the first program of its kind. Founded in 1914, the Children’s Garden allows people from age 2 to 17 plant and care for crops and flowers of their choice. Garden instructors help guide the children, so children learn sustainable practices in a safe and fun way. For visitors over the age of 17, they get to view the wonderful harvest that the children of the community created.
Herb Garden integrates the art of cooking into botany. This garden showcases classic culinary herbs, as well as vegetables, fruit, and flowers. Visitors will leave this garden with a new insight on how botany has influenced cooking throughout the years.
Rock Garden is home to some of the most vibrant colors in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Unlike the other gardens, the Rock Garden is built upon boulders. One of the most astonishing historical facts about the Rock Garden is many of the boulders used were found during the original construction of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and date back to the last ice age.
Plant Family Collection occupies approximately one third of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. This scenic exhibition takes visitors in a stroll that goes throughout time. In other words, the exhibition starts with the earliest and most primitive plants, and works its way up to modernized plants.
Compost Exhibit was created in 1993 and renovated in 2012 to demonstrate the art of composting. This interactive exhibit allows visitors to learn about the benefits and usefulness of composting at home, as well as in businesses.
Aquatic House and Orchid Collection displays an intricate combination of orchids, rockwork, and waterfalls. This exhibition is home to the largest orchids in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. While this exhibition is truly breathtaking to walk through, its purpose is to demonstrate how plants have adapted to live in wet areas.
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Desert Pavilion is an exhibition that includes plants from all over the world. By combining Old and New World plants, the Desert Pavilion showcases the variety of flora and fauna that have adapted over the years to be able to withstand a desert climate.
Tropical Pavilion is a 6,000 square feet magnificent arena filled with trees that soar to 65 feet high. This indoor exhibition does a fantastic job at recreating a tropical forest environment, full of waterfalls, streams, and plants that come from the Amazon, African rainforest, and Asia.
Warm Temperate Pavilion focuses on the diverse plants of the Mediterranean basin, west coast of the United States, and west coast of South America. One of the most popular plants in this attraction is the Wollemi pine, an extremely rare olive tree.
Bonsai Museum is known as the second oldest bonsai collections in the United States, largest public bonsai display outside of Japan, and one of the prettiest in the world. This exhibition holds a large collection of bonsai plants which total to over a whopping 350.
Bluebell Wood is a truly magical experience during late April. Bluebell Wood is home to over 45,000 bluebells that live under a variety of trees, such as oak and birch.
Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden integrates Japanese architecture with native plants from Japan. This exhibition is among the oldest and most popular Japanese gardens located in a place other than Japan. Some of the features include; winding paths, artificial hills, an island, wooden bridges, and popular cherry blossoms.
Fragrance Garden was founded in 1955 and is the first garden in the United States that was created for people who are sight-impaired. Walking through this exhibition will stimulate all of your senses. Braille labels are placed in front of each species, and visitors are encouraged to interact with the plants.
Shakespeare Garden is inspired by English cottage-gardens and features the plants that Shakespeare mentioned in his work. The name and Shakespeare reference or quotation is included on the display labels for each of the 80 plants in this exhibition.
Cranford Rose Garden was founded in 1928 and is home to one of the largest rose collections in North America. This attraction is especially popular in June, when the roses have fully bloomed across the arches, lattices, pavilion, and formal beds.
The Brooklyn Botanical Garden is home to various education programs, such as the Children’s Garden. The garden has a community program housed in the GreenBridge building, where people of all ages can take a variety of classes. These classes include; art, floral design, food, gardening, health and wellness, and nature. You even have the option of obtaining a horticulture certificate, which is beneficial for a future career in horticulture.
The garden also travels to elementary schools through the Urban Advantage program, where kids learn about plants in a hands-on experience. If you’re currently in college, or a recent graduate, the garden also has a phenomenal horticulture internship program which is spread out across nine months. It’s important to note that the internship program requires participants to be comfortable with doing physical labor outside, and they must have a valid driver’s license.
The beauty and enchantment of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden is the perfect location for weddings and celebrations. You have the option of utilizing the Palm House or the Atrium. The Brooklyn Botanical Garden even has a culinary partner, which will make the catering process as easy as possible. People can also hold corporate events, events, and have professional photoshoots at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.
Aside from the special events you can hold at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, the garden is home to a variety of events throughout the year. One of the most popular events at the garden is the seasonal highlights tour, where a tour guide walks you through the exhibits that have changed the most throughout the season. It’s important to note that events change monthly, so if you’re looking for a unique and interesting experience at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, check out their events calendar prior to visiting.
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990 Washington Ave, Brooklynn, New York, 11225, Phone: 719-623-7200
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