Central Ohio destination that’s perfect for families
Our family loves The Dawes Arboretum. Located just outside of Newark, Ohio, and easily accessible to I-70, it’s an easy road trip from Columbus or Zanesville. The Dawes Arboretum is one of our favorite family-friendly attractions for visitors to Central Ohio.
What is there to do with kids at Dawes Arboretum?
The Dawes Arboretum is over 2,000 acres of gardens and trees! It’s basically a museum for trees. Visitors to the Arboretum can get lost exploring its many nooks and crannies.
Our first experience at Dawes Arboretum was as a couple when we went on one of their night hikes. After Jackson was born, I would take him for walks in the stroller and sometimes meet up with a girlfriend for a long chat during our stroll. Once our family was a little older (i.e. the youngest was still in diapers) we began attending the Storybook Science and Homeschool programming.
Our boys absolutely adore the Dawes Arboretum, and I enjoy the scenery almost as much as I enjoy watching their youthful adventures of running races on the paths and looking for critters. Children thrive when they get out in nature, burn off some energy, and learn a new thing or two. I’m always learning something, too!
Things to do at Dawes
Head to the basement of the Visitor Center to find the Children’s Area. The Children’s area includes a live turtle and snake, a large viewing area to see the wildlife coming into the garden, numerous science-oriented books and puzzles, and even dress-up materials! (See above photo)
Dawes Arboretum has several different gardens for adults, too. One of my favorite areas is the newly renovated Japanese Garden. This area is a peaceful oasis where you can attempt to find your inner zen (leave the kids at home for that one. Lol). The pond always offers peaceful reflections and there are plenty of benches for sitting and taking a load off of your feet.
Another popular area is the Daweswood Garden. The northern end of the arboretum (towards Newark) is where you can tour the Dawes House, enjoy the large collection of maple trees, and enjoy quiet reflection by the Dawes Memorial. The maple trees are breathtaking in fall, and I always enjoy the solitude found in this area.
One of the most memorable photo ops is near Dawes Lake, at the south end of the Arboretum. Visitors can climb the 36-foot tower to view the massive shrubbery that spells out “Dawes Arboretum.”
How much does it cost to go to Dawes Arboretum?
No, admission to Dawes Arboretum is $10/adults and $5/child over 5. Family memberships begin at $60. Some of the local libraries offer free admission passes, so if you are a local – call the library!
Can you drive through Dawes Arboretum?
Yes! The Dawes Arboretum offers a driving tour that encompasses most of the Arboretum. Designated parking areas allow visitors to explore more.
Tips for visiting Dawes Arboretum
- Dawes Arboretum offers amazing walking & hiking paths, both paved and unpaved. I actually once trained here for a 10k. Be prepared, there are hills!
- There are numerous educational programs for adults, children, scouts, and homeschoolers. Check the calendar before your visit!
- Dawes Arboretum is the perfect place to find spring blooms and fall colors. If you’re able, don’t just do the driving tour.
- Don’t miss the bonsai garden – this is a little slice of paradise for those who love bonsai trees
Check out the Dawes Arboretum website for more visitor information.
Looking for more to do in the area? Check out my list of things to do in Newark, Ohio; this amazing vacation rental at nearby Buckeye Lake and while in town, make sure you visit the Newark Earthworks or this Fairy Garden! Also- things to do near Mt. Vernon, Ohio, or free things to do in Columbus. Franklin Park Conservatory would be a similar destination for those who like plants and flowers.
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