I'll admit I wasn't thrilled with the North Carolina Botanical Garden the first few times we visited. The paths are overgrown (by design, not neglect), and it's confusing to get around if you aren't familiar with it. I preferred to take the kids to Duke Gardens (Durham) or the JC Raulston Arboretum (Raleigh) any day over the Botanical Garden, and here's why. The low visibility made me afraid the girls would step on snakes, and we also returned home with tons of mosquito bites each time we visited. And if they ran ahead at all, they were immediately out of sight due to the foliage.
But we recently discovered that a few newer (to us) and improved features near the Education Center make visiting the Botanical Garden with kids fun and low stress.
If you're standing in the parking lot looking at the Education Center, the Children's Wonder Garden sits on the left side of the building. It offers short paths through wildflowers, a fairy mailbox and letter writing station and a little natural playground. This portion of the garden is small, but when the kids are ready to move on, you can access the Piedmont Nature Trails from the gate at the end of the path for a short, shaded hike. I wrote about these trails in my last outdoors series post.
When you return from your hike, don't miss the stick sculpture by Patrick Dougherty, which you can walk (or run, in our case) through. It's located in the courtyard area in the middle of the Education Center complex.
Parking logistics & hours: There is a large parking lot in front of the Education Center. Check out garden hours here.
Strollers: A jogging or all-terrain stroller is a must for getting around the garden, though some of the paths other than those I described may be too narrow and overgrown for a stroller. The adjacent Piedmont Nature Trails are not suitable for strollers.
Bathrooms: There is an outdoor entrance to the restrooms at the Education Center next to the Children's Wonder Garden.
100 Old Mason Farm Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
Looking for more family-friendly outdoor activities in and around Pittsboro and Chapel Hill, NC? Click here for more Pittsboro-Chapel Hill Outdoors series posts. Click here to learn more about the series.
I'm Julia Soplop, writer and photographer. I believe there is something profound in bearing witness to moments of joy and pain in others’ lives. My husband, three girls and I live outside of Chapel Hill, NC. You can read more about me here.