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State Botanical Garden Of Georgia: Tips For Bringing Kids

You don’t have to be a botany expert to enjoy the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. They’ve got something for everyone, which includes children of all ages. It’s one of our favorite things to do in Athens, GA with kids because there are so many different ways to explore the gardens. It’s hands-on fun, an educational opportunity and a great place for kids to run around. If you’re planning a trip to this NorthEast Georgia attraction, here are my best tips for experiencing the State Botanical Gardens of Georgia with kids.

Tips for visiting the State Botanical Gardens of Georgia with kids.

The best part of the visiting the State Botanical Garden of Georgia is that it’s absolutely FREE for everyone. It’s open all year round and even if you go in the winter, there’s plenty of vegetation and beauty in the gardens. They also provide free parking for guests, so it’s an amazing addition to any budget conscious traveling.

The gardens are part of the University of Georgia and it’s one of the many ways they partner with the community to give back. Students at the University use the gardens for projects, some work or study there and they have access to the gardens as part of the campus bus route. 

Tips For Visiting The State Botanical Garden Of Georgia With Kids

The gardens are stroller-friendly and there’s a visitors center with bathrooms and another bathroom area that’s located in the children’s garden area. Both bathroom areas offer a changing table. Wear comfortable clothing and athletic shoes (especially for the kids). There’s a little bit of walking in the path areas, but a whole lot of play areas that the kids can explore. Also bring sunscreen and water to stay hydrated in the summer months.

Allow 2-3 hours of time at the Botanical Gardens depending on what time of year you’re visiting. Families can experience everything the garden has to offer in several hours, but you might want to allow time for something special on their events calendar. 

Here are my can’t miss things to do at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia with kids:

Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden Area

I’ll admit that I started with the biggest highlight of visiting with kids – the children’s garden. It’s an immersive area that combines hands-on learning with themed play areas. The kids can climb on top of giant lady bugs, run across wobbly bridges, go down slides and even learn about the different regions of Georgia.

The garden is surrounded with beautiful native plants to Georgia. They can learn about underground root systems, cloud structure and the world of earth worms. Kids will have so much fun playing throughout the garden that they won’t even realize that they’re learning too.

My best advice is to save this area for last if you’re planning to explore the entire areas that the Botanical Gardens have to offer. You’ll have to pry your kids off of the play area and they’ll be begging to come back. It’s so much fun for families!

State Botanical Garden of Georgia in Athens

The children’s garden at State Botanical Garden of Georgia has an amazing play area for kids.

Take Family Photos At The Heritage Garden & Flower Garden

We scored the best family photos during our trip to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia with the kids. The gardens make beautiful backdrops for family photos. Naturally, the gardens will be more crowded during the spring and summer season with foot traffic.

You’ll experience less crowds if you go during the winter months and there’s still plenty of greenery for the photos. I love the symmetry of the Heritage Garden and the gazebos of the Flower Garden. Take some photos of the kids that you can cherish forever.

Family Photos at Botanical Garden of Georgia

The Botanical Garden is great for shutterbug parents.

Join The Sweet Pea Club At The Botanical Gardens Of Georgia

Designed for children ages 3-6 years of age, the Sweet Pea Club is an interactive event where families can join one another for a morning of adventure in the garden through songs, puppets, stories, hikes, activities or games. Each week highlights a new theme such as water, soil, foods we eat, pollination, plants or trees. Ask the visitors center for more information or call ahead for details prior to your visit.

Garden Gnomes Program

This hands-on activity is located in the children’s garden and offered multiple times per week. It’s a free 5-10 minute activity that gets kids involved and engaged in garden activities – like maintaining the areas. Look for designated tables during your visit to participate. 

toddler activities at Botanical Garden of Georgia.

Your little gnomes can find many reasons to have fun in the children’s garden.

Plan Your Visit During A Family Festival Weekend

Throughout the year, the Botanical Gardens of Georgia offers free festivals that are family-friendly. There’s all types of festivals – like one to celebrate the welcoming of spring and even one to learn more about insects! Find music, crafts, games and educational classes during the festivals. Check the State Botanical Garden of Georgia event calendar for festival dates.

Sign Up For Special Garden Adventures and Tours

If you’re looking for a special adventure, there are two very unique ways to explore the gardens. Families can pre-register for Full Moon Hikes where kids can learn more about moon, constellations and nocturnal creatures. It’s a two-mile hike, with a specialist, where you can see the gardens after dark. Parents are encouraged to use baby carriers for young children instead of strollers.

Secondly, if you want a more in-depth garden experience (or you’ve got older kids), sign up for Garden Earth Explorers. It’s a 90-minute program that include games and activities that lead you through the gardens and trails, focusing on the natural world and the magic of the forest. Up to 15 people can participate. Each program explores a different theme and parents are required to stay with children during the tour.

Touring the gardens

Tour the heritage, flour or international garden areas.

Winter WonderLights Event During Christmas

The newest yearly event – the Winter WonderLights – is the perfect way to see the State Botanical Garden of Georgia with kids during the Christmas season. There’s over one-million lights that illuminate the gardens after dark for the holiday season. 

This is a special ticketed event ($15 per adult) that runs through the new year, but children under 3 are free. Guests can purchase tickets for allowed times that continuously run from early evening until 9pm to explore the half-mile fully accessible trail through the lights.

Cookies, s’mores and hot chocolate are available for purchase at select locations throughout the garden. Parking is different that normal garden hours, with the regular lot listed as VIP. Free parking is off-site and shuttles are available. So bundle up your kids and attend the Winter WonderLights as a family.

Winter WonderLights in Athens at Christmas

Kids of all ages love the Winter WonderLights. Photo Credit: Shannah Montgomery

Whether it’s seeing your child experience the scent of a rose for the first time or watching them climb at the children’s garden with a huge smile on their face, there are so many great reasons to visit the State Botanical Garden of Georgia with kids. It’s such a delightful and unexpected destination for families to enjoy. The gardens are a great gift to the local Athens community, but worth traveling for.

Want more information about visiting Athens, Georgia? Get more info at Visit Athens


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