Heading out on a trip to the botanical gardens can be a fun and exciting way for a family to spend a day, but you need to do some planning to ensure it is a success. When you have children, virtually every place you go requires a bit of planning. Some parents try to wing it, and inevitably spend the day thinking about “I wish” moments that would have made the day easier. The botanical gardens are meant to be enjoyed, so take the time to consider some things ahead of time. Below are some common tips that might help you get the most out of your trip.
Tips for Visiting Botanical Gardens with Kids
While some children are naturally excited by the botanical experience, others aren’t so sure. They may have no interest in plants or no natural inclinations towards the outdoors. Don’t get frustrated. Everyone is an individual with their own tastes. You might want your child to be outside more, but they might naturally just prefer the indoors. There can be many causes for this. Sometimes there can even be allergies so you might investigate this before taking them to a place like the botanical gardens.
Create Excitement About The Plants
You can create excitement by sharing some of the facts about plants. A good example of this would be their defense systems. For example, some plants have thorns to protect them while others excrete toxic chemicals. It’s a good idea to research the plants you will be seeing so that you have some details to share with your children. Kids are naturally fascinated by things like this.
Find the Children’s Garden First
Most botanical gardens have areas just for kids. These areas allow the children to enjoy a hands on experience so that they can better enjoy the gardens. This experience is also a learning one, so parents are as satisfied as children are by it. Talk about the things your children do at home for their plants around the yard. Discuss how those plants differ from the ones you are going to see. If your children have pets, you can talk about how good some plants are for pets and how toxic other ones can be. For example, lavender is soothing to most animals while poinsettias are poisonous to cats.
Prepare for the Trip
The most important consideration, as mentioned above, is to be prepared for allergies. Make sure your children take their allergy medication before they leave. If your children don’t have allergies that you know of, you may want to bring some OTC allergy medication for children just in case you inadvertently discover a new allergy. Some kids should probably avoid botanical gardens if their allergies are severe enough.
It’s also a good idea to apply some natural insect spray before you leave. Insects are a natural part of the ecosystem of plants so they are bound to be present. You don’t want to pollute the area with toxic chemicals…or your child’s body for that matter.
Try to avoid colognes, perfumes, and sweet smelling deodorants so that you and your family can enjoy the natural fragrant experiences of the botanical gardens.
Eat before you leave so that you don’t have to spend money on food when you came for the botanical experience.
The important thing is to have fun at the botanical gardens with your kids. You may be able to create a lifelong learner when it comes to plant life. You may even be able to show your indoor-loving child that there are wonders to see if he or she is only willing to step outside the front door.
Here is my list of some fantastic gardens in Florida, so you can start crafting your own family garden adventures:
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
811 S Palm Ave | Sarasota, FL 34236 | 941- 366-5731
Selby Gardens is focused on the research and conservation of epiphytes- world’s largest collection. This beautiful garden offers a fun and interactive children’s rainforest garden full of waterfalls, bridges and huts with games.
Alfred B. Maclay Gardens
3540 Thomasville Rd | Tallahassee, FL 32312 | 850-487-4556
This historic site and botanical gardens take up 1,176-acre of a Florida State Park. Unlike the other gardens on this list, Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park has numerous activities to create a full family day; you can hike, bike, take a picnic or even go swimming.
Bok Tower Gardens
1151 Tower Blvd | Lake Wales, FL 33853 | 863-676-1408
This 250-acre contemplative garden also is home to a 205-foot tall Singing Tower with its carillon bells, Pine Ridge Trail, the Pinewood Estate, and the most magical children’s garden,Hammock Hollow. These gardens allow families to explore nature and art in a tactile and meaningful way.
Edison & Ford Winter Estates
2350 McGregor Blvd | Fort Myers, FL 33901 | 239-334-7419
If you enjoy sharing history with your kids, as well as enjoying its aesthetic beauty, Edison & Ford Winter Estates is a must see. Families can stroll back in time through the Estates twenty acres of gardens. Today among the gardens, there are more than 1,700 plants representing over 400 species from six continents.
Naples Botanical Garden
4820 Bayshore Dr | Naples, FL 34112 | 239-643-7275
The Garden consists of 170 acres of cultivated gardens and preservation land, representing seven distinct natural habitats and ecosystems, and featuring over 1000 species. The Vicky C. and David Byron Smith Children’s Garden is an interactive world of flowers, vegetables, butterflies, and native landscapes that the child in all of us will enjoy. While on the garden path, your kids will enjoy stopping to create a masterpiece with sidewalk chalk, climb to the top of the treehouse, and explore the river of grass from a spider’s perspective.
Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens
4000 Morikami Park Rd | Delray Beach, FL 33446 | 561-495-0233
This authentic Japanese Garden will provide a unique garden experience that cannot be seen just anywhere. And bonsai garden there are two museums on the campus that provide an authentic look into Japanese history and culture.
3600 W Sample Rd | Coconut Creek, FL 33073 | 954-977-4434
Being the largest butterfly park in the world, kids will love the feeling of being surrounded by over 20,000 live butterflies.
3750 S Flamingo Rd | Davie, FL 33330 | 954-473-2955
Flamingo Gardens is a 60-acre, not-for-profit wildlife sanctuary, aviary, and botanical garden. Being one of the oldest gardens and attractions in South Florida, its is home to the largest tree in Florida. Each day there are live shows where visitors can have up close encounters with the unique wildlife that live in the gardens.
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
3251 South Miami Ave. | Miami FL. 33129 | 305-250-9133
These European-inspired gardens are among the most elaborate in the United States and great for kids who love history. Art collections are placed throughout the gardens. Reminiscent of gardens created in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Italy and France, the design of the gardens landscape is arranged as a series of rooms. After you explore the garden you will be able to take in the grandeur of the mansion.