At The Morton Arboretum, imagination lives, curiosity grows, and kids flourish in the Children’s Garden. Splash through secret streams, climb colossal acorns, and slide down giant tree roots all day long. Explore, learn, and play among trees and the natural world.
Beginning in the fall 2017, the Arboretum is expanding Wonder Pond (for an even bigger splash!) and updating the picnic pavilion where families participate in educational programming (or simply recharge and relax). We are touching up the Children's Garden’s entrance so it is even more visible and welcoming—a great place to begin your journeys. Tentative completion is spring 2018. Learn More About Children’s Garden Enhancements
The Children's Garden includes two main garden areas: Backyard Discovery Gardens and Adventure Woods, linked by a Central Plaza. The three areas incorporate ten themed gardens, each with engaging and interactive activities that children will find irresistible.
Download a copy of the Children's Garden map
Central Plaza is the entrance to the garden and serves as a space for orientation, gathering, public events and making connections to other areas of the Children's Garden. learn more
Kids' Tree Walk and Tree Finder Grove
Backyard Discovery Gardens
Backyard Discovery Gardens present familiar things that children might recognize in their own backyard, in a way that encourages deeper exploration. learn more
Bloom, Zoom, & Sprout
Every Which Way
Adventure Woods present the world beyond the backyard and show how the trees and plants in the Children's Garden reflect those of the Arboretum at large and the rest of the natural world. learn more
Under the Trees
Grotto and Secret Stream
Evergreen Walk and Lookout
March through October
9:30 a.m - 5:00 p.m. daily
Thursdays, open until 6:00 p.m.
Members only: Fridays and Saturdays, 9:00 - 9:30 a.m.
November through February
Daily, 9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Closed during severe weather.
Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult while visiting the Children's Garden.
Be sure to check out our giant watering can that acts as a mister. Learn how it feels to be a plant that is being watered. The mister will be active from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend.
Kid and Family Programs
Drop-in nature activities at the Children's Garden are just the beginning of The Morton Arboretum's educational programs to get the entire family hooked on science, nature, and trees. LEARN MORE
The tadpoles that hatch each spring in the Children's Garden are American Toads. This is a natural occurrence and their arrival depends on the temperature of the water.
Beyond the Children's Garden
To nurture you family's love of nature, we recommend you also explore beyond the Children's Garden. There are paths to bike or hike on, groves of trees to explore, and gardens with interpretation to enrich your experience. We've added two nature play spaces on our grounds! Near Parking Lot 20 you'll find Mud Kitchen, depending on the weather, children (and adults!) can make mud pies, dirt cakes or snow cones if you visit in the winter. Word Garden is near parking Lot 13, this garden features rocks painted with words, letters, and pictures. Our nature play spaces are designed for creative, unstructured, outdoor play!
Room to Explore
The entire Arboretum has been certified as a Nature Explore Classroom, rich with opportunities for healthy learning. The unique areas of the Children's Garden work as casual, outdoor classrooms that blend active learning and multi-sensory adventures. They include interactive elements like musical instruments made of natural materials, gardens designed to encourage home planting (some managed by students), and natural materials for visitors to build and create art. Research consistently shows that children who learn and grown in Nature Explore Classrooms exhibit enhanced concentration, develop creativity and problem-solving techniques, manage stress in healthy ways and develop skills across the spectrum of academic and creative learning.