We went to the NC Botanical Gardens a few weeks ago with some friends. This time our kids were a little bigger (ranging from 2-6) and ready for some hiking. So, we parked at the parking lot, met outside the building and headed to the left to check out the Piedmont Nature Trails. Fortunately for us, they have some great short hikes through the woods that were great for our little toddler and preschool set. They walked over some bridges, found some bugs, and were able to enjoy a very accessible, interesting hike that was safe and not to strenuous. Plus, most of it was shaded!
After the hike, the fun wasn't over yet. Just outside the hiking area is the Children's Wonder Garden, new within the past few years. It was built in 2011 and it was the perfect place to relax after our hike. First, we sat and had a drink of water in their birdwatching hut. From there we could all sit, somewhat hidden from the birds and watch them land on their feeders. Then, we headed through a maze of grasses to an area where there were a few activities for the kids. There was a digging area, a stump stacking station, and a little nook where you could write letters to fairies. While it might not have seemed like much at first, the kiddos had a great time and were occupied for far longer than we might have expected.
What we liked: We loved how the hike in Piedmont Nature Trails was short and manageable, but still felt like you were out in nature. Plus, everything at the Children's Wonder Garden made the excursion even more fun for the kiddos. In looking over their website to write this post, I can really see how much there is to the NC Botanical Gardens and how I will definitely have to head back to truly check out all that is there.
What we would change: Since there is so much, it can be a little confusing to find what is there when you show up. So, I might take a few minutes to look at the website and map (http://ncbg.unc.edu/uploads/files/PiedmontNatureTrailsMapV6_2010_edit.pdf) and pick your destinations before you head out.
Website and other important information:
Address: 100 Old Mason Farm Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27517
(No worries...pictures will come later when my internet connection is moving a little faster!)