Visitors to The North Carolina Arboretum connect with plants in personal ways that are as diverse and rich as the land itself. Whether you enjoy strolling through gardens, exploring exhibits, enriching your mind or hiking and biking, the Arboretum offers activities for all ages.
This was a wonderful side trip. We camp right down the road from here and decided to see what exactly it was. Beautiful flowers, and lots of trails. Their are fountains and everyones favorite was the bonsai display. They were amazing but bring your walking shoes because you will not want to miss a thing in this beautiful area.
The North Carolina Arboretum is adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 393 inside Pisgah National Forest near Asheville. Gorgeous is the first word that came to mind when we visited. Parking fees are the only charge for visiting. We thought the fee of $8/car was fair when divided by the number of people in the vehicle. In our case that was 5 so we basically paid $1.60 each to visit this 434 acre public garden. Commercial vehicles and buses pay more for parking. According to the website, parking is free the first Tuesday of every month.
Flowers were blooming everywhere when we visited (late May). The quilt garden and bonsai collection were favorites for our family. The whole place is beautiful and there are benches just waiting for you to sit and drink in the beauty around you. You really don’t want to forget your camera when you visit the North Carolina Arboretum. There are terrific places to pose the kids for photos…assuming they cooperate. We got some wonderful pictures of our 3 daughters. We spent a couple hours just exploring the gardens. I noticed there weren’t many empty tables near the café but we didn’t eat there so I can’t speak for the food. One thing I found a tiny bit unsettling was unattended/forgotten wine glasses. We saw at least 3 with drink still in them and no one anywhere close to them. If your kids are the kind who would pick up a cup and take a drink, you’ll want to keep that in mind.
The North Carolina Arboretum offers more than 10 miles of hiking and biking trails. We didn’t take any of the trails on our first visit since we had combined the Arboretum with another attraction for a full day.
There are Discovery Day Packs available for loan from the Baker Exhibit Center and Education Center. You’ll need to leave a drivers license or Arboretum Membership Card with them while you use the day pack. Packs are free to borrow and include a notebook, binoculars, insect net, magnifying jar, seasonal activity and kid’s guide to discovering the arboretum. We didn’t use one on our visit but I wanted to point out the availability. There’s also an interactive learning space on the ground level of the Education Center.
We’ll return to the North Carolina Arboretum. I’m sure it’s gorgeous there in all seasons.
We visited the NC Arboretum with our 2 children, ages 6 and 3, in October. The fall colors were really spectacular, and there were walking paths/hiking trails that were suitable for young children. The visitor center also has a few displays and a cafe. We spent our last morning in Asheville at the Arboretum, and it was a nice way to end up the trip. The fall colors were really beautiful, and we got a lot of great photos here, while the kids burned off some steam before the return home.