If your summer has been so go-go-go that you haven’t had a chance to stop and smell the roses, pack your day trip bag and make a bee line to Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens near Richmond, Va. With 50 acres of spectacular blooms, there’s a reason it’s considered one of the top 10 botanical gardens in the nation. But it’s not just a beautifully landscaped setting, there are art exhibits and family-friendly activities to enjoy along the way. See for yourself!

Photo: Lewis Ginter via Flickr

Gardens Galore
Enjoy more than a dozen themed gardens, including a Children’s Garden, Rose Garden, Asian Valley and Cherry Tree Walk. The Children’s Garden lets youngsters get down and dirty with the outdoors by observing wildlife, digging in the dirt, and climbing a 100-year-old Mulberry tree. There’s also a gorgeous Tree House that sits 13 feet off the ground, but is easily accessible by a series of sloping ramps. From the top, you’ll have a bird’s-eye view of the lake and surrounding gardens.

Photo: Lewis Ginterna

Explore Some More
Spend time exploring exotic pathways and secret spaces where you’ll discover natural works of art. The kids can play in a huge sand box and cool off at a water play area with plenty of fountains and sprays. Check out a classical domed conservatory, the only one of its kind in the mid-Atlantic. And delight in the beauty of a butterfly house where you’ll get up-close-and personal with a room full of free-flying butterflies. They will land on your shoulder or your head, especially if you happen to smell sweet.

Photo: Lewis Ginter via Flickr

Save the Date
Be sure to check the website when planning which day to go, because different days offer different family activities. On Mondays during the summer in the Children’s Garden, you can make your own ephemeral art using natural materials. On Tuesdays, you can take a guided family walk and talk to learn extra details about a variety of the garden’s sculptures. On Fridays, there’s an art-themed story time in the garden. And on the first Friday of every month there’s watercolor painting for the kids. On any day of the week, you can take your own self-guided tour to a hidden treasure in the garden. Just grab a map at the admission’s desk.

Photo: Lewis Ginter via Flickr

Eat Up!
After you’ve worked up an appetite from all the activity, y
ou can enjoy lunch at the Garden Café, which has sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts; or have a fancier meal at Robins Tea House where you’ll dine in the midst of the Asian Valley among azaleas and camellias. We recommend that you save time for a spin through the gift shop. It’s not your typical display of trinkets and souvenirs (though there are plenty of those  too), you’ll also find unique gardening books, tools and seeds, as well as educational toys and even garden-themed jewelry.

1800 Lakeside Ave. (Henrico, Va)
Online: lewisginter.org

Have you visited Lewis Ginter Garden? Tell us about in the comments section below.

–Jamy Bond