Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kid-Friendly Attraction: NC Arboretum

There is a local attraction that really doesn't get mentioned often in the kid-friendly category, but it's one of our favorite places to go with the kids: the NC Arboretum. People don't automatically think to take kids to an arboretum, but this one really has lots for little ones to do.

There are a few reasons why we love taking the kids there:
  • It's cheap. It costs $6 for the whole family (as long as they fit in one vehicle, since the only charge is for parking). Better yet, it's free on Tuesdays.

  • It's a semi-contained area to let the kids run free. There are a few places, like the bonsai garden, where it's a series of walkways and bridges with railings, so for those of you with multiple kids like us, you don't have to worry as much about each kid sprinting a different direction. In fact, the Arboretum was the first outing where we took the kids and let the twins go stroller-free when they started walking.

  • They have kid-friendly hiking trails as short as a half-mile tound-trip.

  • It's one of the few attractions I've seen anywhere (not just Asheville, but in all my travels in seven countries) that actually caters to toddlers and preschoolers. They have a Wee Naturalist program for kids age 2-4 to encourage parents and kids to explore.

  • They always have a cool, hands-on or personal experience type of exhibit that kids love. Currently, it's an exhibit on bats. One of the coolest was a greenhouse filled with real live butterflies that the kids could walk into and experience.
The coolest part is probably that adults can actually enjoy this. With maybe the exception of winter, the arboretum is, beyond all the things I listed above, a very cool attraction for moms, dads, grandparents and pets, too. (I see lots of people walking their dogs there.) Each season is unique. Even in winter, it's a great place to visit for a hike on a nice day.

nc arboretum spring

But my husband and I, and the kids, love the bonsai collection (the largest in the Southeast from what I have heard). Here's a cool thing some people don't really think about either, but these bonsais go through the seasonal changes as well. If you get a chance, I definitely recommend checking out the Arboretum during the fall color change.

arboretum fall color bonsai

Here are several other pictures I took during visits in spring and fall:
Bat coloring at NC Arboretum Bridalwreath Spiraea at NC Arboretum Jane Magnolia Purple flower Jane Magnolia Learning about bonsai Ethan creating a bonsai design Roan Mountain in Bonsai Bonsai at NC Arboretum Dwarf forsythia Mt. Mitchell in Bonsai Flowering bush Western Redbud Western Redbud Western Redbud Twins at the Arboretum DSC00516 Fall Color in Bonsai at NC Arboretum Fall Color in Bonsai at NC Arboretum Fall Color in Bonsai at NC Arboretum

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