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.

Norfolk Botanical Garden–Norfolk, Va

See the seasons via blooms at the Norfolk Botanical Garden. Divided up by spring, summer, fall and winter, kids can get a front row seat to the wonders of nature in the gardens before heading over to World of Wonders: A Children’s Garden. The three acre space created just for budding botanists is home to Imagination Circle, Discovery Peak, the Dirt Factory, the Tree of Life treehouse, and Exploration Station. Another popular stop—the Sensory Garden—is year-round. Kids of all ages are encouraged to explore the different qualities of each plant and enjoy their sights, textures and smells.

Good to know: Kids can splash their way around the world and discover the Earth’s major waterways (summer months only) in the children’s garden, so bring extra clothes and be prepared to get wet!

Online: norfolkbotanicalgarden.org

photo: Rain0975 via flickr





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

— Amber Guetebier, Christal Yuen & Gabby Cullen