The Arnold Arboretum is a free, safe environment to experience the wonder of nature with children. Explore the Arboretum with a variety of self-guided family activities. Sign up to receive family event notices.
In honor of our sesquicentennial, we curated 16 contenders that help tell our story. That is one plant per decade since 1872, including a species still under production in our greenhouses. Each tree chosen represents a milestone in the Arboretum’s history. Together, they bring to life stories of plant discovery, collection, and collaboration across time and space.
Wonder Spots give Arboretum families an opportunity to explore the landscape through seasonal investigations about the natural world. Learn about plants and animals in locations throughout the Arboretum, getting to know our grounds while discovering and observing living things in new ways.
StoryWalks are a wonderful way for families to read and talk about nature in the Arboretum landscape. Walk from page to page, learning about season, plans, and animals from a children’s book.
Take a Haiku Hike then write your own haiku. Find out about haiku, and what you can do to submit your own haiku to be included on the Arboretum’s Haiku page. You may just be a poet and don’t know it!
The seven son flower is a year-round delight. The name “seven son flower” is a translation of the Chinese name and refers to the number of flowers in each cluster. Considered rare in the wild, this plant was not grown in the United States until 1980. The Arboretum’s specimens are among the oldest. In spring, the tree grows heart-shaped leaves. In late summer, the distinctive flower structures begin to grow in clusters of seven. The flowers’ white petals give way to striking crimson sepals. They last until the fall, when they develop into round fruits. In winter, the paperlike peeling bark—remarkable year-round—is fully visible. If you are visiting, use ArbExplorer to locate the seven son flowers in our landscape.
A new twist on the scavenger hunt. Grab your digital camera or cell phone camera and start the photo hunt! Caregivers can download the instruction guide plus maps for your kids.
The Arboretum is a great place to observe wildlife. Check out the wildlife image galleries, then print Wildlife Bingo cards and search for critters in the landscape. As you find each item on your bingo card, cross off the square. The first person to cross off four in a row, wins! Remember, please do not disturb plants or wildlife when you visit.
Discovery Packs are not currently available but will be available again once the Visitor Center re-opens. Check out the Arboretum’s free Discovery Packs, supported by a gift from the Arnold Arboretum Committee. Join the Explorer’s Club and go on an adventure in the Arboretum. Living Museum or Science Lab backpacks can be borrowed from the Visitor Center and are suitable for families with kids over the age of three.
Engineer backpacks are not currently available but will be available again once the Visitor Center re-opens. Check out the newest addition to the Visitor Center! This backpack is for the budding engineer. Let your imagination and creative mind guide your way as you build a creation with bamboo sticks and stick-lets. This backpack can be borrowed from the Visitor Center and is suitable for families with kids over the age of three.