arboretum = second home

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Sometimes I think the NC Arboretum is our second home. It's my default go-to location for when we need to get out of the house, walk, run, explore, see cool sculptures, watch the birds and the butterflies, rock in rocking chairs, and see what's blooming in a garden run by people who know what they're doing.

So when Maia had a no-nap day recently, and I was at my wits end, I put her in the car and headed to the arboretum. Frankly, I was hoping she'd fall asleep on the drive down and I could spend a quiet hour reading in the car before we explored. But she didn't, and we had fun anyway.

We usually enter through the garden gates with the bird and fish sculptures on them, but these days we have to go through these hoops (coming and going). The hoops are part of a newish exhibit there called Kaleidescope: Contemporary Landscape Sculpture. Another favorite sculpture is a large metal circle depicting butterflies and chrysalises.


We've developed our arboretum rituals over time. Maia always wants to play the gong and we usually have a little snack in the cafe. We pet the lizard sculptures, smell the flowers, run criss-cross through the quilt garden, walk along a certain ledge, pick up little rocks in the bonsai garden, toss a coin into the pool… I don't know that each visit is all that memorable in itself, but I think they add up to a pretty good collective arboretum memory bank.

And, most of all, our trips are a reminder to me to slow down and let her experience her world.

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  1. molly says

    That looks like an amazing arboretum, what a great second home! I love places like that where memories and little rituals grow, even if they are just a small part of every day life.

  2. says

    I’ve tried that “take a drive/walk and hope they fall asleep so I can get me time” trick, too – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t!
    What’s neat about these types of trips/traditions is they get you out of the house and all the tasks you have to do, letting you just enjoy time with your baby in a relatively stress-free environment. And this looks like a cool arboretum!

  3. says

    Oy, the no-nap days. My one-year-old hasn’t had one in a long time, but I still fear them. I’m glad you have such a fun place to let Maia run around and be herself. =)

  4. says

    Mmmm, sounds like a great way to turn the day around. If you ever make a trip to the big city (DC) make sure not to miss the National Sculpture Garden by the National Gallery of Art…you will both love it. Also Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown…it’s a HUGE sprawling arboretum-type-place, absolutely gorgeous, and I could never figure out how the place FIT into the middle of residential Georgetown…(kind of like Narnia)!
    We’re off to Florida for a little vacation in the morning. I’ll have lots of catch-up reading to do here upon my return!
    Take care, everyone.

  5. wesleyjeanne says

    Okay that’s it! My mom has been trying to get us to come and go to the arboretum for months. You are now the second blog that has mentioned it as a place to take kids. I can’t take it anymore! We’re going this week.
    (I’d like to see the photography and landscape art exhibits on now, too, and I’m hoping my little ones will enjoy the sculpture as much as yours).
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. says

    I love places like that. The city we used to live in had a fun botanical garden and exploratorium that I am sure Beeper would love now . This city has nothing like that.

  7. Jeannette says

    Aww. We have the same relationship with our local arboretum, too. Though it’s probably a younger relationship, since I just got our membership in April. It’s such a wonderful place.