By Jeannine Haffner
When spring has sprung in Texas, one fun way to enjoy all the glory of the season (and explore a bit more of this big state) is to take a day trip away from the hustle and bustle of the Austin area and visit the lovely and relaxing Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. It’s about a two hour and 45 minute drive from Austin. If you plan ahead, you can leave home late morning and stop for lunch halfway up in Waco. There are plenty of good spots to eat right along I-35.
This way, you end up at the Arboretum around 2 p.m. or so and still have several hours to wander around and explore the gracious gardens… and get in a little low-impact exercise while you’re at it. They close at 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The site is spacious but not huge — so two and a half to three hours is just right.
The Arboretum sits next to White Rock Lake in the northeast corner of Dallas, which makes for a very scenic backdrop that you can see from just about anywhere in the park.
For families, there is a large section of the park devoted to the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden. My only child has four legs and a tail, so… I stayed in the main section and there was plenty to explore right there.
The park is easy to navigate. Start on the west end (closest to the parking lot) and work your way along the winding paths to the east. No matter which path you follow, it’s really tough to get lost. If you go too far to the south, you’re in the parking lot, and if you go too far to the north, you’re gonna start to feel a bit wet… as you’ll be in the lake.
The gardens are gorgeous. I’ve never seen so many tulips blooming all at once. The Netherlands probably has more but this was a pretty impressive display. There was so much color everywhere, I kept forgetting I was in Texas. Nothing against Texas, but I’ve gotten kind of used to the desert-y feel and look of this part of the country and am really just happy to see any green at all, most of the time. I felt spoiled with all these pinks, yellows, oranges, and purples everywhere!
As I wandered amid all this beauty, I started thinking that this would be such a perfect setting for a wedding. Just as that thought crossed my mind, I noticed a bride and groom being photographed off in the distance. Soon I realized there were several bridal parties as well as a few debutantes having photo shoots all over the park on that perfect Saturday. Who can blame them? The Arboretum makes a gorgeous backdrop for any special occasion pic.
The parking and admission added up at $15 per person and $15 for the car. But you can get the parking for $8 if you plan ahead and buy it online. The price is worth it, though, as the relaxing stroll through all the gently trickling streams and delicate blossoms just melts away your cares and worries and transports you to a better state of mind… and soul.
Now, if your body gets hungry while you’re trekking through the park, there are a bunch of dining options for you. This info is straight from the website: “Stop by the Children’s Adventure Garden Café to grab a tasty prepared lunch, or have an elegant seated meal at the historic DeGolyer House. Various food options and dining areas are located throughout the Arboretum to provide flexibility for your meal experience. Visitors are also invited to order food to-go and picnic anywhere on the grounds (except in restaurants).”
I love that picnic idea and I did see lots of folks lying around on the big lawn areas doing just that.
For such a serene setting, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is actually a very busy place with fun events happening all the time. They host a Cool Thursdays Concert Series in spring and fall, lots of kids’ programs, art shows, a Spring Food & Wine Festival, private events (like the weddings I mentioned), and on and on. Aside from all that, a visit to this lovely place is really just a fantastic way to spend an afternoon soaking up the beauty of nature in sunny Texas… and getting your “steps” in. Bonus!
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