NC Botanical Gardens
As I was laying in bed last night thinking of this blog (lame, I know, but true), I was trying to find a way to compare this to Duke Gardens. But you can't, really. Duke Gardens is all about pristine, groomed landscaping and big open places to lay in the grass. NC Botanical Gardens is all about seeing plants and trees in their natural environment. They have a very different feel, but each are fun in their own right.
The Botanical Gardens have come a long way since I first went there a few years ago (pre-Baby). They have built a very large and gorgeous visitor center, complete with classrooms, local art, and educational displays. All very nice. I can't wait to see how it is landscaped in the years to come as I read that they have future display gardens going in on the grounds.
We enjoyed walking the babies around the display gardens currently in existence on the premises. They aren't large, but they are crammed with all kinds of plants. It is divided into different sections and areas. We liked the carnivorous plants section (although my attempts to get the plants to "eat" something were in vain).
The paths in the display garden are kid friendly: you could push a stroller through these and let your toddler, well, toddle around. But they are narrow and also not paved. Which means opt for the jogging stroller or carrier. Have you kids wear closed-toed shoes, and enjoy the challenge of keeping the rocks out of the mouth!
If you do choose to go on the various nature paths (these are different from the display gardens) that are on the Botanical Gardens' ground, though, you are definitely going to need your Ergo. There are many paths that are not accessible via stroller, and a baby carrier would give you full access. By the way, these paths seemed to be more hiking paths versus stroll along paths; they are in the woods with more intense walking.
There seems to be a lot to discover here, but, again, it is more about getting in touch with nature as opposed to the landscaped garden.
We actually picnicked here (nothing more fun than feeding a baby who is on the run, I love the challenge). But the picnic facilities are a little lacking. It is pretty much just picnic tables out in the middle of the parking lot. They are shaded, and it is nice to be close to your car, but it isn't a retreat. I look forward to seeing how this is changed as they finish out the new construction and landscaping.
C still liked it because he got to be outdoors, his favorite place! And the display gardens were very lovely. All of it even better because it is free! So worth a stop to check it out. But if you don't enjoy hiking, probably not a full day of activities here. C and I love to hike together, so we'll certainly be going back.
North Carolina Botanical Garden
directions and location on website