Monday, October 29, 2012

Tips for Visiting Dow Gardens with Kids


"Another vacation, another botanical garden."

So groaned my husband on our way to Dow Gardens in Midland, Michigan when we spent a week in the area this summer. I sort of have a thing for public gardens like this and they always find a way onto our itinerary everywhere we go. He's not quite as enthusiastic as I am about it.

I tried to convince him that this was a way to relive his youth. His grandparents lived in Midland when he was growing up and they took him to this 110 acre garden on the estate of the Dow Family (think Dow Chemical) a few times.

"They dragged me there," he said. Hmm. No points for nostalgia, apparently.

Luckily, Dow Gardens has upped the fun factor in recent years for visitors who might not have a deeply rooted desire to visits spots like this. The addition of a Children's Garden meant Big Arrow had as much fun as I did.

One of the reasons I like visiting gardens like this one is that they're so easy. Just show up, walk around and enjoy your beautiful surroundings. But here are a few simple tips to ensure your family enjoys your time at Dow Gardens as much as we did.

1) Grab a map. It's a large space and if you have a limited amount of time, you'll want to make sure you hit the highlights and not get too far off track. Plus, Big Arrow loved looking at it and directing us.



2) Choose when to visit the Children's Garden. This is a really fun spot for kids and will be their favorite part of a visit to Dow Gardens. We find that Big Arrow does better when we let him do fun things right off the bat, and then he'll (typically) happily ride in the stroller while we do more adult-oriented things later. But for some kids, you might save the Children's Garden for the end as a special treat. I'd plan to spend at least an hour in this part if you've got kids 8 and under.

More info on our time in the Children's Garden can be found here.

3) Note the "plants in bloom" sign at the entrance. For older kids, it would be fun to find some of them within the gardens.



4) You don't have to stay on the sidewalks and paths. At least that's what we were told by a friendly gardener working on the day we visited. So if you spot a beautiful flower or waterfall that you've just got to get closer to, go for it.




If You Visit:
Dow Gardens
1809 Eastman Avenue, Midland, Michigan
Adults: $5; Kids 6-17 or college students w/ ID: $1; 5 and under are free
Hours vary seasonally, check the website.

This post is a part of Travel Tips Tuesday at Suitcases and Sippy Cups and Walking on Travels.