Our Top 7 Garden Destinations For Families
Parent’s Day takes place on the fourth Sunday of July every year, and while it’s usually not as celebrated as Mother’s Day in May or Father’s Day in June, we think it’s an excellent opportunity to spend time together– and what better way than to spend time outside in the summer, with nature at its peak?
In honor of Parent’s Day 2016, we’ve gathered our top garden spots for families– places kids and parents can both enjoy. Some are famous gardens that invite leisurely walks and relaxing picnics, while others are informative nature explorations that call for a pair of sturdy hiking boots. No matter what your family enjoys, you’re sure to find the perfect garden destination for you. Check out our list below.
Hershey Gardens was originally built in 1937 at the behest of Milton Hershey (yes, that Hershey), who wanted to “create a nice garden of roses.” Today, the gardens encompass 23 acres, full of many rare specimens, including a butterfly atrium and a dedicated children’s garden. Lil’ Sprouts will love the 32 themed gardens designed especially for kids, and parents will enjoy the spectacular estate, which look like the grounds of a lost European palace.
The Butchart Gardens
Now over a hundred years old, The Butchart Gardens, located in Victoria, British Columbia, began as the home garden of Robert and Jeannie Butchart. The two ran a cement quarry and plant next to their home, but as the area’s limestone was exhausted, Jeannie undertook transforming the empty pit into a sunken garden. The Butcharts continued to expand the gardens, adding a Japanese Garden and an Italian Garden, before eventually passing the gardens on to younger generations. In 2004, the gardens became a National Historic Site in Canada. For visiting families, there are a multitude of gardens to explore on your own, and a host of activities you can sign up for. (Plus, you can even bring your dog!)
The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens
We visited The Living Desert earlier this year while we were in California and absolutely fell in love. Located in Palm Desert (just a short drive from Palm Springs), Living Desert has a little bit of everything– informative talks, exotic animals, and more types of cacti than you ever knew existed. The park’s attractions occupy only 200 of Living Desert’s 1,200 acres– the rest opens onto wild land in its natural state, which is inviting for the more intrepid adventurers. Just make sure you pack your best sunhat!
Your Local U-Pick Farm
Even in the most metropolitan areas, there’s usually a u-pick farm not far away– and right now, farms are in their prime season. For New Yorkers, Terhune Orchards (a local favorite) is just a ten minute drive from Princeton University, which is accessible via train. For harried parents looking for an easy day trip out of the city, u-pick farms offer the right balance of relaxing, bucolic sights and structured activity, making family trips a revitalizing– rather than draining– experience. Not to mention you can skip grocery shopping and bring the (literal) fruits of your labor home for dinner.
We’ve professed our love for Joshua Tree many times— but trust us, it bears repeating. The national park is unlike any other place on earth and is definitely worth the slightly-out-of-the-way drive (stop by Crossroads Cafe if you’re hungry!). For the adventure-inclined, there’s camping and rock climbing, world-renowned for its intensity– but even just walking around the park is an incredible experience, one everyone (no matter their age) will remember for a long time.
Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center
Founded in 1982 by the former first lady, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is located in Southwest Austin and exists to introduce people to native plants and wildflowers. There are plenty of unstructured activities for kids and parents– walking the trails, watching for butterflies in the butterfly garden, climbing the San Antonio Tower for an unparalleled view, relaxing on tree swings under giant Texas oaks. For those looking to add some learning to their afternoon, statues of tadpoles in the Metamorphosis Garden offer a kinetic lesson on the animal kingdom, while a grove of historic trees– each significant in some part of Texas’s history– offer an organic perspective on the history of the area.
Your Local Farmers Market
A long day trip isn’t always feasible– but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to enjoy the outdoors nearby. Beyond visiting your local parks, farmers markets offer a way of bringing the garden into your home (or plate). We love farmers markets all over the world for the sheer diversity of products you inevitably find– not to mention the interesting people behind the counter. Bring Lil’ Sprouts along and have them pick out easy-to-serve ingredients (like stone fruit or fresh cheese) that they can help prepare in the kitchen for a simple celebration of Parents Day at home.