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.

Missouri Botanical Gardens–St. Louis, Mo

The nation’s oldest botanical garden (and National Historic Landmark), is a hub for history, education and floral conservation. Visit the Doris I. Schnuck Children’s Garden for serious play time: there’s a steamboat, general store, limestone cave, treehouse and other pint-sized play equipment, or enjoy one of the many festivals and events—the Lantern Festival, Canopy Climbs, the Paper Kite Butterfly Festival, Family Science Night and more. The Japanese Garden and the Climbatron are also big hits with visitors, and history-buffs will get a kick out of the Victorian District & Tower Grove House.

Good to know: The children’s garden is only open April through October.

Online: missouribotanicalgarden.org

photo: courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden via flickr




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

— Amber Guetebier, Christal Yuen & Gabby Cullen