Friday, September 20, 2013

Totally Texas -- Adventure for the kid in you!

Children's Adventure Garden, Dallas Arboretum

8525 Garland Road, Dallas


For the past year, every time my family visited the Dallas Arboretum we looked longingly at the fence separating us from the then under construction Children’s Adventure Garden. So I was thrilled to get an email last month asking me to take a sneak peek at the new garden. Inviting my daughter, two grandkids, a friend and her grandson, we hopped on the shuttle at the Arboretum’s overflow parking lot at Garland and Gaston Roads, bound for adventure.

It takes a lot of action and a lot of wow to please our group of three early elementary school aged boys, but the garden surpassed our expectations. And after it opens to the public tomorrow, September 21, I think it will surpass yours as well.

Even for kids like ours, a little young to appreciate the science involved. But they grasped the basic physics of squirting water guns to turn turbines in the T. Boone Pickens Pure Energy pavilion. As well as kid-powering a classic Archimedes Screw to pump water into a bucket for a big splash, manipulating the over-sized kaleidoscope, and discovering the delights of life at tree level on the Texas Skywalk (with bouncy rope “nests” at the top of its manmade tree). There’s enough other education-friendly fun to entice kids of all ages, and adults as well.

The First Adventure area is labeled toddler-friendly, but it has plenty for even older kids to run through, climb through, and splash through. Seldom mentioned in pre-opening publicity are all the water features, beginning with the entry court’s in-ground fountain. While the weather’s warm -- which in Texas can mean into November -- dress kids in clothes they can get wet in to take advantage of all the water.

You will have to enter the Children’s Garden through the Arboretum. Generally, this means paying the Arboretum’s $15 admission charge plus $3 per person for timed-entry tickets to the Children’s Garden, as well as parking.

Save by taking advantage of discounted general admissions on Wednesdays, senior Thursdays, and through area Tom Thumb stores, and on discounted parking (available online).

I got confused over how to get my member’s free tickets to the new Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden at the Dallas Arboretum, opening tomorrow, September 21. The Arboretum’s newsletter stated members could visit the garden its first year without the additional $3 fee. But after logging into my membership account, I got too excited by the mere sight of the words to scroll down a notch further, to the link “ Member Benefit Children’s Garden Timed Admission.”

A call to the Arboretum’s customer service line got me straightened out. Clicking on the member benefit link zeroes out the fee for up to 12 reservations (depending on your membership type). You’ll need to reserve a time, and when I checked forty-five minutes before publishing this post, tickets were still available for the afternoon of opening day.

If you want to ease into the Arboretum experience, try the main gardens.  They're in full autumn mode with a freshly-built pumpkin village, hay bale maze, petting zoos, face painting, and other kid-friendly stuff.  music and more. For more information, see

(Next Friday -- it’s the State Fair of Texas, of course!)

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