blossoms52698130 Guide To The Dallas Arboretum

(credit: Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Dallas Arboretum
8525 Garland Road, Dallas
Hours: 9 a.m. – 5p.m./daily
Ages 13-64: $12
Seniors (65+): $10
Ages 3-12: $8

If you’re a parent living in the city, especially if you grew up in a rural area like I did, one of the things you always feel your kids are missing is the joy that comes from learning in the great outdoors. Kids spend so much time indoors – in the classroom, playing video games, watching TV. You want them to get out and enjoy the fresh air! But is a backyard twenty feet from asphalt and the hustle and bustle of the city really the best place?

If you want your kids to have a fun and educational outdoor experience, take them to the Dallas Arboretum. With a multitude of structured and unstructured activities throughout the year, you’ll be able to find something there no matter what your activity or educational goals.


If it’s your first time at the arboretum, try a self-guided tour. The arboretum’s 66 acres on White Rock Lake, with its soaring trees, lush green grass and colorful, fragrant gardens, is hailed as the most beautiful classroom in Dallas.

Pack a picnic lunch and plan to spend some real quality time together as you tour the Dallas Arboretum at your own pace. You’ll visit the fossil walls in Lay Ornamental Gardens, experience the tranquil mist in the Palmer Fern Dale, and take a trip back in time in Texas Town. (Admission: Under 3: free, 3 – 12: $8, Adults: $12, Seniors: $10; Parking: $7 onsite; School teachers check website for special pricing for groups and guided-tour opportunities.)

Family Scavenger Hunt

If you’d like a more structured visit, there are two additional educational opportunities currently available at no additional charge. Both require that you go to the Dallas Arboretum’s website before you go.

For a little extra fun for your 5- to 10-year-olds, copy the scavenger hunt challenges for Fairy Tale World from the website. While this activity was originally scheduled as an event held during March and April, the scavenger hunt questions are still available and Fairy Tale World is open until December 2011, so your family can still join in the fun!. You can get the scavenger hunt challenges here.

Kids of all ages will enjoy the Crow Family Texas Wildlife Bronzes. To ensure your kids get the most out of the experience, download and print the kid’s discovery guide. As you use the guide’s map to go through the garden, you can point out specific points about the animals depicted in the statues (the guide comes with an answer sheet for adults). Your kids can mark their answers as they go through the exhibit, ensuring they learn about each of the indigenous Texas animals featured in the display. 

dallasarboretum Guide To The Dallas Arboretum


Lunch or Tea at the Gardens

The Dallas Arboretum has several dining options to choose from. Have an elegant dinner at the Restaurant DeGolyer (which also serves British-style high tea twice daily, see website for details) or choose a more laid back option. The Lula Mae Slaughter Dining Terrace and the Cafe on the Green serve picnic-style sandwiches and salads. I recommend taking your kids to the new Green Basket. The Green Basket serves 100% organic food to help you teach your kids about healthier, more environmentally friendly (and delicious) food choices.

Make It Fun!

Kids are naturally curious about nature. The main reason the Dallas Arboretum is such a great educational opportunity is that kids can have so much fun they won’t know they’re learning. Get everything you can out of this exciting opportunity by tailoring your trip to your kids learning style, whether they like structured or unstructured learning, every child loves the Dallas Arboretum.

Heather Barnett is a freelance blogger who has written for DFW City-Guide She is an expert on all things family and travel.


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