I have been to several botanical gardens, but to date, Lewis Ginter is my favorite. Setting out early my daughter and I took my husband to the botanic garden on Father’s Day. He is man enough to appreciate the simple things in life or so I like to think so.
Lora Robins Tea House
I only caught a glimpse of The Lora and Claiborne Robins Tea House which I have heard has an amazing lunch with Southern specialties. The cheerful chirping of goldfinches, blue herons and cardinals along “the bird way” made for such a calming visit. My eyes caught the Rose Garden immediately. The romantic Belvedere and Terrace Lawn were covered in various shades of coral, red, pink, purple and white. Chairs were set up for a wedding to take place later that afternoon. With more than 1,800 roses and 80 varieties, you can’t help but make a stop here.
Keeping in mind that I also had to focus on other family members, my daughter saw the tree house in the Children’s Garden off in the distance. We skipped, well, my child raced across the Lotus Bridge. A loud “wow” erupted from her mouth as she succumbed to the awesomeness that is the Children’s Garden. A bright welcome sign in over a dozen languages greets you.
The first area in the garden is the East part of the International Village. The exhibit is like a museum with three play houses and plants representing different cultures. There are descriptions for each dwelling and names of native plants such as Patty Pan Squash and Mexican Hat Flower. Children can role play with tools such as brooms and baskets while being in a tukul or African shelter, a casita representing a Latin American structure and a Native American longhouse.
What’s Closed What’s Not?
WaterPlay is closed for the season due to needed maintenance. The Garden did not host Butterflies LIVE! this year due to the pandemic. Last time we visited at the Butterfly Corner kids could make their own butterfly using coffee filters, pipe cleaners, and markers. Learn more about butterflies by working on puzzles and looking at books and fact cards.
There are hula hoops here for some fun exercise and sidewalk chalk to draw your own inspiration from nature and you can even form a human sundial. Nearby is a water fountain and accessible water play area that operates during the summer months from 8am to 4:45pm. A swim diaper and water shoes are required. On Tuesdays it’s open until 8:30pm during Families After Five. Parents can keep an eye on their kids via an adjacent shaded picnic area.
Explore the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Venture deeper into the Children’s Garden via the Hidden Tunnel. Located under the Leafy Overlook discover a chalkboard, paintings and neat artwork. Stop at the Weird and Contrasting Plants display to see Venus Fly Traps. Past here is a partially shaded sand boxÂ with tools for digging. The west part of the International Village has Everyone’s House and a Teahouse. We were unimpressed with the International Village west portion of our visit.
On our way to the Leafy Overlook we passed the whimsical Bird and Butterfly Meadow. The Overlook is a partially covered deck with wooden rocking chairs and a panoramic view of the garden. From the accessible ramp, continue up to the Tree House. My child kept racing around the giant tree house with delight. The view from the iron windows over Sydnor Lake is spectacular.
Visiting the Conservatory
Complete your family trip with a stop in the Conservatory. Kids can look for frogs roaming amongst giant lily pads outside the building or peek inside Peter Rabbit’s Cottage. The main attraction is the Butterflies Live! exhibit where you can enter a room surrounded by these beautiful insects. Waterfalls, orchids and a few roaming geese greet you as you exit the Conservatory.
Things to note
- Guests no longer have to prepurchase tickets online–you can walk in and purchase tickets at the admissions desks.
- The Garden is open daily from 9am to 5pm. It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
- Bathrooms are very clean and have changing stations. A gift shop and library of nature related titles and paintings are also on site.
- Fully vaccinated guests can enjoy the Garden inside and outside without wearing a mask or physically distancing.
- Check out their Visit Planner page to make the most of your visit
We finished our three hour visit with lunch at the garden cafe located in the visitor center. The food is creative and delicious offering soups, a salad bar, sandwiches, snacks. A $5 kids meal includes choice of turkey and cheese wrap, chicken fingers, mini corn dogs or grilled cheese and is served with applesauce and teddy grahams and a beverage.
Take a day trip and consider visiting the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond.
Photos by Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens website.