Taking your kiddos to the playground is one thing, treating them to a dose of nature’s playground is a next-level experience they’ll want again and again. The following botanical gardens across the country are not only bursting with rare blooms and exotic trees, they’re also centers for learning about everything from saving the bees to fishing to fairies. And as it turns out, there’s plenty of fun for mom and dad, too. Click through the gallery to find out 18 sweet spots for budding botanists.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens–Sarasota, Fl

We’re not sure what we love more about the Selby Gardens, the sprawling acres of lush gardens or the location right on the water in Sarasota Bay. If you’re in the mood for a tropical getaway just blocks from the charm of downtown Sarasota, the gardens are big enough to never feel crowded. After you’ve checked out the conservatory full of orchids, meander through the bamboo forest and peaceful fern garden before you take the path to the Ann Goldstein’s Children’s Rainforest Garden. Here kids can climb and explore the 100-year-old Banyan Tree while parents rest in the cool shade of its massive branches. Feel the cool mist from the 12 ft. waterfall and forest pool, take the canopy walk and rope bridge and more. There are ongoing programs and nature play in the Kids’ Corner and a lawn to just chillax and take it all in.

Good to know: Give yourself about two hours to really see all the gardens have to offer.

Online: selby.org

photo courtesy Selby Gardens 




What’s your favorite garden to visit? Let us know in the comments below! 

— Amber Guetebier, Christal Yuen & Gabby Cullen