Morris Arboretum is a 92-acre arboretum located in Chestnut Hill. It’s open daily year-round with the exception of a few major holidays. The incredible trees, flowers, fountains, and more make it a beautiful destination for all ages no matter the time of year. In fact, we found that we were visiting enough that it made sense to get a family membership this past year. (It was actually made for a great “experience gift” from my in-laws at Christmas!)
When I talk about places I like to take my kids (currently 4 and 5), I find that a lot of people haven’t taken their kids to Morris Arboretum, but there are so many things for them to see and do! In this post, I’m going to focus on a few highlights for Summer 2022, but I encourage you to check out the Arboretum any time of year. (Christmas was actually when we visited the first few times!)
Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post for a FREE printable scavenger hunt. I made a similar scavenger hunt for Grounds for Sculpture (another favorite place of ours), and my kids really enjoy doing it when we visit. I thought it would be fun to make one for Morris Arboretum just to add another activity when you go!
GARDEN HIGHLIGHTS SUMMER 2022
The Garden Railway is always the main attraction for my train-loving family. It is typically on display during the holiday season and then again from the end of May through mid October. The current display will be open through Monday, October 10. Watch a variety of both new and vintage model trains zip through tunnels, over bridges and along a quarter mile of track … all within the beautiful garden area. The theme for this season’s display is America’s Roadside Attractions, featuring miniature replicas of some of our country’s most iconic roadside attractions such as the Jolly Green Giant, Lucy the Elephant, and the World’s Largest Pecan. In addition to the replicas that are all made out of natural materials, you’ll find a bunch of little figures and other elements hidden within the display. Many of these are featured in the Scavenger Hunt I created!
Summer of Swings
This new exhibit started just after our most recent visit, so I don’t have any of my own photos. But it’s running through September 5, so I hope we get back to see it. There are 10 different swings located throughout the grounds, encouraging guests of all ages to have some fun and see the Arboretum in a new way.
Every Tuesday through August from 11 a.m. to noon, the Azalea Meadow (right next to Garden Railway) is covered with a flurry of bubbles! We got to check this out on our last visit, and I have to say, the bubble machine they use puts out a very impressive amount of bubbles!
The trains are my son’s favorite part, but my daughter is ALL about the Fairy Woods. Follow signs (or look at the map) to find a little area hidden in the woods with baskets full of natural elements like stump pieces, log slices, sticks and stones – perfect for creating little homes for fairies to visit when they come out at night. The idea is so simple, but the setting (and a child’s imagination) make it feel pretty magical!
On our last visit, there was also a toss game set up just behind the Fairy Woods that my son and nephew enjoyed.
Out on a Limb
This area of the Arboretum allows you to get a bird’s eye view of the forest as you play and explore from 50 feet up in the trees! There’s a huge rope net area to climb around, a giant bird’s nest, and binoculars to take a closer look around.
Wear comfortable shoes! (Preferably ones that you don’t mind getting dirty.) You COULD stay on the paved paths during your visit, but there are a lot of areas that require walking in the grass/dirt.
If you’re bringing very small children/babies, bring a stroller. There are a few areas that are harder to get to with a stroller, but you can definitely access the highlights.
Bring water, snacks, even lunch. While the cafe area recently reopened, it was still only offering outdoor seating and a limited menu when we were there in June. There are plenty of shaded areas that are great for stopping for a bite to eat, so I think it’s a lot easier (and cheaper, obviously) to bring your own. And you will definitely want cold water walking outside this much.
Don’t try to do it all in one visit! It’s a huge place, and there’s so much to see and take in. We pretty much always visit the main kid-friendly attractions (I’ve listed above), and then we just explore a bit in a few other areas. I’ve found that my kids have the most fun here when I let them lead the way and linger in the areas that interest them that day rather than try to rush them through it all. For example, we noticed on our last visit that there was a box of Lincoln Log-type toys in the log cabin! My son spent 15 minutes building with these while my daughter and nephew skipped stones in the stream just outside the cabin.
Overcast days can be the best to visit! We visited on a cloudy day at the end of last summer where it was sprinkling here and there throughout the day. I worried that we made a mistake driving out there when it wasn’t nice and sunny, but it was actually beautiful! It wasn’t as crowded, we weren’t hot, and many of the gardens and other structures looked even more spectacular all shiny with the rain. (Just be sure to check before going if they’re closing the Garden Railway, which they occasionally do if it’s really raining.)
Check your local library before purchasing tickets to see if they offer free passes! There are also Student discounts and ACCESS discounts. If purchasing regular admission tickets, tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, $10 for children 3-17. Kids under 3 are free. They do not check proof of age.
If you visit once and love it, you can upgrade your day pass to a Membership that day and just pay the difference in cost. A Membership typically pays for itself in 3 visits.
FREE PRINTABLE SCAVENGER HUNT
For easy printing of this scavenger hunt, click HERE.