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The Essential Gardens in Indiana to Visit with Kids

Are your kids complaining about boredom?

You can nip boredom in the bud by taking them to visit some of the many beautiful gardens in Indiana. The Centers for Disease Control recommends getting outdoors for some fresh air. And you’ll find plenty of fresh air at any of the essential gardens to visit in Indiana. Grab the kiddos and check out these alluring gardens in the Hoosier State.

Please note that during the Coronavirus pandemic, many of these facilities are closed or have limited access. If you’re unable to get to some of these, write them down and stick them in your Wish Jar to enjoy when they open up again!

The Essential Gardens in Indiana to Visit with Kids:

Indianapolis

There’s no shortage of natural scenery in Indiana, and that includes gardens at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields. The 100 acres include rain gardens, water fountains, and arbors. It’s a chance for the young ones to learn about perennials, annuals, evergreens, shrubs, stately deciduous trees, and flowering bushes. Spring tulips and daffodils paint stunning colors of red, yellow, orange, and pink. 

White River Gardens at the Indianapolis Zoo showcases more than 3 acres of flowers, butterflies, and native wildlife. Don’t forget about the miniature train. And what kid doesn’t enjoy a trip to the zoo? 

Garfield Park Conservatory and Sunken Garden features a 10,000-foot tropical plant greenhouse. Check out Blake’s Garden, a dedicated space for kids. Pollinator gardens, habitats, a decomposing log, and other attractions are teachable moments for kids and their parents. Beyond the conservatory, the Sunken Garden contains European-style fountains and a staircase sure to tire out the little ones.

Smaller gardens and entryways in downtown Indianapolis are blooming each spring and summer. The nonprofit civic group, Downtown Indy, updates its “beautification calendar” each season.

Garfield Park Conservatory

Arboretums and Gardens

Gabis Arboretum sits on the Purdue University Northwest campus near Valparaiso. The 300-acre preserve has the largest collection of oak trees in Indiana. You’ll find an award-winning garden railway, hiking trails, wetlands, prairies, educational activities, and events. The Treesong Musical Garden and its array of xylophones lets kids get tunefully creative.

Purdue is also home to the Jules Janick Horticulture Garden with a half-acre of herbaceous perennials.

Indiana University Arboretum sits on 10th Street and Fee Lane in Bloomington. Enjoy the sculpted landscape, native plants, trees, walking, and cycling paths. The kids will get a kick out of the pond and waterfall. 

Hayes Regional Arboretum is located on Elks Road in Richmond. Check the schedule for nature scavenger hunts, hiking club activities, bird walks, and Family Earth Day. 

Taltree Arboretum and Gardens is located on West 100 North in Valparaiso. Wetlands, woody plants, prairie, and savanna make up the area’s diverse environments.

Azalea Path Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is on the Gibson-Pike counties border in Southwestern Indiana. Kids love the wooden chainsaw carvings featured throughout the grounds. More than 4,000 azaleas start blooming in April.

Jules Janick Horticulture Garden

Botanical and Strolling Gardens

Wellfield Botanic Gardens in Elkhart offers programs, bird walks, classes, and workshops — even yoga in a natural setting. There’s a new children’s garden with a meadow crawl, water cannons, garden growing section, and treehouse to keep your young ones busy.

Friendship Botanic Gardens is situated on East Highway 12 in Michigan City. Take the kids trail creek fishing and on a walk to view the park’s stunning flora and fauna. A special children’s garden is under construction where kids can draw groundwater from the earth. Dog walking trails, bird watching, outdoor concerts, and educational (but fun) activities are ready for you! 

Take a walk through the charming Japanese style Shiojiri Garden on East Mishawaka Avenue. Greenery, sculpted landscape, large boulders, fountains, bridges, and a teahouse pavilion add to the eastern flavor of this stunning botanical layout. 

Indiana’s public parks and gardens have their share of colors, scents, and sounds. Your kids won’t be bored at McCloud Nature Park. The 232-acre park in Hendricks County has 6 miles of hiking trails and activities like geocaching to keep them busy. The biggest reward? Getting out of the house and into the garden!

Photo courtesy of Azalea Path Arboretum


Connie Pelton is a retired teacher who spends most weekends gardening with her grandchildren. Together, they built and planted an indoor vertical garden wall taller than all of them.

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