Think a trip to the botanical garden is just for grownups? Check out all the exciting programs gardens around Georgia offer just for kids!
The Atlanta Botanical Garden has a Children’s Garden just for them, but be aware: it’s closed until sometime in June to allow for a fabulous renovation/play space construction project to be finalized. Once it’s ready, it’ll be a great way to get in some active play in the middle of the city – or be a fun jumping off point for exploring the Atlanta BeltLine.
But even with the Children’s Garden on a temporary hiatus, there are still lots of great programs for kids at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. May 14 is a special celebration of Endangered Species Day, with all sorts of hands on interaction and info about conservation efforts in Georgia. There are also lots of recurring weekday programs for preschoolers, like Garden Playtime, Garden Grooves and Storybook Time. All are free with garden admission (if you plan to go regularly, a family membership will pay off quickly). On weekends, Amphitheater Programs bring a variety of live performances from some of Atlanta’s best storytellers and musicians. They also offer some cool summer camps, but unfortunately all are sold out for 2016 (for other options, see our Summer Camp Roundup). Homeschoolers also have a special day set aside on May 25 (for more homeschool nature programs, check out our recent post).
The Atlanta Botanical Garden now also has a Gainesville location, with more great kids’ programs for the Northeast Region of the state. Train lovers will be thrilled by the Model Train Garden, and can even play with the boxes of trains there for sharing. Other regular kids programs include Story Time and Smiles, Budding Artists (a chance to make seasonally-inspired works of art), and Children’s Performances. Discovery Stations are set up every weekend to showcase different topics on the Garden’s natural environment, so you can go at your own pace to learn and explore.
The State Botanical Garden of Georgia, on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, GA, also offers a number of children’s and school outreach programs, including Family Festivals, field trips, Adventure Packs for homeschoolers and other self-guided groups, after school nature clubs and summer camps. There are also a number of short woodland rambles, with the option of connecting to longer hiking trails, if you want to stretch your legs a bit.
The Coastal Georgia Botanical Garden in Savannah is hosting an Astronomy Day on May 14, followed by a free Gazing in the Garden event that evening. Telescopes are provided by the Oglethorpe Astronomical Association, who will also be on hand to offer advice if you’re in the market for one of your own. They also host nature walks and educational programs for schools, scouts, and homeschool groups on topics like pollination, poetry in the garden, and the water cycle. They also offer strawberry picking while they’re ripe (check their website for availability and hours).
Woodlands Garden in Decatur hosts the M.A.Y.Fair (Music, Art & Youth) in spring and Fairies in the Garden in fall. It’s a great add-on trip to Fernbank Museum of Natural History, just a mile or two away.
Most nature centers around Georgia also have display gardens to give your family examples of native plants, butterfly gardens, and other plants that can help attract and feed wildlife in your yard. The Chattahoochee Nature Center has a particularly nice one. Once you’ve been inspired, take the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge and start one in your own yard (or even a container)!