Central Ohio family fun + Avian Avatars
Our family loves The Dawes Arboretum. Located just outside of Newark, Ohio in Licking County, Dawes Arboretum has quick access to I-70 and is a convenient road trip from Columbus or Zanesville. The Dawes Arboretum is one of our favorite family-friendly attractions for visitors to Central Ohio.
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 miles of hiking trails and many nooks and crannies.
The Arboretum was founded in 1929 by Bertie and Berman Dawes.
New to the Arboretum are the Avian Avatars. These large bird sculptures are made of bamboo and other natural materials. Each bird represents a story within the context of the State of Ohio or the Arboretum.
For instance, the Great Owl sits on a knoll that has a great view. This was once the homeland of the Hopewell and other Native Tribes. The owl is made to honor the lives of our Indigenous people.
The peacock is named Bertie’s Peacock in honor of one of the founders, Bertie Dawes. The Peacock is an extravagant bird that means different things to different cultures. Bertie’s Peacock includes three rows of feathers that are designed to be tunnels for visitors to walk through.
There are currently 6 birds on display.
Things to do at Dawes Arboretum
Dawes Arboretum has several different gardens to enjoy.
One of my favorite areas is the 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 Daweswood House Museum, 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 observation tower to view the 2,040-foot-long hedge lettering that spells out “Dawes Arboretum.”
What is there to do with kids at Dawes?
This year’s Story Trail is We Planted a Tree by Diane Muldrow. The short, wooded trail is easy for little ones to navigate while reading this engaging story. (Love Story Trails? Check out this nearby Fairy Trail.)
Little Buckeyes Imagination Station is a way for children aged 3-8 to explore nature through guided activities. This Friday program is included with admission, but you must pre-register. See the link above.
The Children’s Nature Center within the Visitor Center is one of our favorites. Make sure you visit this area to read books, watch for birds and butterflies, and do other nature-themed activities.
How much does it cost to go to Dawes Arboretum?
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 auto tour encompasses most of the Arboretum. Designated parking areas allow visitors to explore more.
Tips for visiting Dawes Arboretum
Check out the Dawes Arboretum website for more visitor information.
- 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
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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