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Urban Outdoor Adventures: Visiting a Children's Garden
My childhood was surrounded by trees, quiet neighborhoods, and 30MPH speed limit signs.
The Upstate New York town I grew up in had a population of 600. (For real!)
Fast forward to the present, and I now live in the largest city in South Carolina with a population of 130,000. That's a pretty big jump!
I totally love being a mile away from Target, and HomeGoods, and some delicious eateries, but I caught myself thinking, Where are the trees? Why is the grass brown?! I need to get out and do something!
Luckily, the house we bought is on .25 acres of land. You're probably laughing at my use of the word "luckily" but this is the largest backyard of any of the 15 houses we looked at...by far! So while I'm thankful for the yard we do have, there is so much more I want my toddler to experience about the outdoors and nature than what a quarter of an acre can offer.
Getting Outside When You Live in the City
Driving on those big highways and busy city roads doesn't allow you much time to spot signs indicating parks, playgrounds, or other places.
You'll never know what your city has to offer without digging into it!
After some research, I discovered that there were many places around the city where we could enjoy the outdoors.
Google is a great tool, of course, but you can also ask your co-workers and locals - a big resource for me has been a local mom's group on Facebook!
And when you've found a spot, make conversation with another person visiting that location. This is an awesome way to discover even more awesome outdoor activities and ways to connect with nature.
The Children's Garden
This past weekend, we headed to the Carolina Children's Garden. It was totally free and nature was abound! I knew it would be a great spot when we turned down a dirt road to get there - the best places are at the end of dirt roads.
We had a lovely little picnic before setting my toddler free into the gardens.
My favorite part about this spot was not having to worry about him running free. There were no streets and there was nothing he couldn't touch (alright - except for the fire ant mounds! Eeek! But such is nature.)
Despite the highway and a huge shopping center being a mile away, we felt like we were in the middle of a magical forest.
He climbed on benches, played in little wooden houses and other structures, learned how to say "pine cone", smelled the flowers, stumbled and climbed his way through large tree roots, and played on the slide. There was an amphitheater, the Three Little Bears Homestead, an alphabet garden, a sandbox, a bird garden, and much more!
He had tons of fun having his own outdoor adventure with basically no intervention (unless he was nearing an ant mound.)
Locating Children's Gardens Near You
Children's gardens are the perfect way for kids to experience nature in the city. To find a children's garden near you, use the search terms "(Your city here) Children's Garden" in your favorite search engine. Often, these children's gardens are located within larger gardens or owned by universities.
I've also compiled a list of children's gardens in various cities here:
Toronto, Canada - Franklin Children's Garden
Los Angeles, CA - The Arboretum
San Diego, CA - Hamilton Children's Garden in the San Diego Botanic Garden
Thousand Oaks, CA (Near Los Angeles) - Kid's Adventure Garden
Sarasota, FL - Sarasota Children's Garden
Chicago, IL - The Morton Arboretum Childen's Garden
Chapel Hill, NC - The Children's Wonder Garden
Camden, NJ - Camden Children's Garden
Ithaca, NY - Ithaca Children's Garden
New York City, NY - Everett Children's Adventure Garden
Columbia, SC - Carolina Children's Garden
Dallas, TX - The Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden
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Have you visited a children's garden yet?