July 6, 2012 by Melissa
Last week a friend of mine wanted me and my two kids to go with her and her two kids to the Landscape Arboretum in Chaska (right on Highway 5). If you haven’t been there, go. Go now. Especially if you have little ones. I can’t believe that I’d never been here before. It was fantastic. It was well worth the admission cost of $12 for anyone 12 and older. That’s saying something coming from someone on a very tight budget. They also have memberships available for those that would like to go more often. I’m honestly considering it.
The Arboretum is run by the University of Minnesota’s Department of Horticultural Science. It’s over 1000 acres of gardens, landscapes and natural areas. There’s a restaurant on site, a tram ride you can take, a three mile long driving tour, and lots of displays to wander through. You could spend days here and be gloriously lost. In fact, we spent all morning there and never left the new area they’ve opened for kids 5 and under called the Green Play Yard.
The Green Play Yard is awesome. Whoever designed it had kids on the brain or was a kid at heart. There are three different areas for separate ages but it all is cohesive. The Infant Area has a crawl along garden, a peek wall, and a bridge with grass that tickles the kidos, among other things. Isn’t that incredible? The Toddler Area has a vine tunnel, sand play (with water faucets that the kids control), log and stump dirt play, and a wood play house. The Preschool Area has a dramatic play stage, a fort building area (really awesome), and sand and water play as well. There are wheel barrows everywhere, buckets of water, paintbrushes that kids can use to “paint” water onto the playhouse, the trees, and the stumps, to name a few. The whole area is really fabulous to inspire kids to play and explore and be curious about their surroundings. I had to drag Lucy away and Alice had a great time just touching, and listening to it all. There is also a building on site that we had to wonder through to find a restroom and there were classes going on for kids of all ages in there and every teacher we came across was friendly and interested in my kids.
There are also weekend family activities all summer long that are included in your admission cost if you go on the weekend so check out their website to plan your adventure. They also have a Summer House/Apple House where you can get locally grown produce during the summer and several varieties of locally grown apples in the fall. I’m definitely going back for that.
What a gem of a place just a few minutes away. I really hope you all put this on your list of things to explore. It would be a great place to bring guests to as well. They open early (8am!) so for those of you with early risers like me, get there early and make a whole morning of it before the kids collapse in utter happy exhaustion.
Have a great weekend, everyone! Hope your adventures are wonderful!