Horticultural festivals and gardens are spectacular places for a multigenerational family to visit. The young and young at heart can appreciate the dazzling colors and seductive scents. Nothing beats taking time to smell the roses while strolling winding paths, listening to birds, and communing with nature at its finest. Many of our favorite travel partners have guided tours of gardens, and river cruises make stops at these events.
Floriade is one of the most important events in the horticultural world and takes place once-a-decade in the Netherlands, with a different theme and venue chosen for each festival. With 2 million visitors expected, this year’s iteration is “Growing Green Cities,” and takes place in Almere, near Amsterdam, for 6 months, from 4/14/22-10/9/22. With 70% of the world’s population residing in cities, it’s more important than ever for urban centers to find creative ways to stay green, sustainable and attractive, and Floriade will be a hub of innovation. Visit the High-Tech and Experiential Greenhouses. Journey around the world in one day at the expo where 40 countries will be represented, each providing cultural programming to display their unique music, art and flora. Take a ride on the sky tram, learn about the future of food on Utopia Island (algae or crickets, anyone?), encourage the children to participate in the Kids Expedition for their age group, and experience five unique playgrounds.
Started in 1829, this is the oldest, biggest, and best annual flower show in the United States. This year it takes place from June 11-19, 2002, at FDR Park with the theme “In Full Bloom,’ which spotlights the restorative and health benefits of plants. There is truly something for everyone here. Check out Butterflies Live! or craft your own container garden at a Potting Party. Family Frolic is from 10 am-3 pm on Sunday, June 19th. Enjoy this day filled with a variety of floral, gardening, and craft activities for all ages. This is a great way to spend Father’s Day with your family.
Visit Disneyworld with your kids and grandkids from March 2-July 4 and get a special treat while spending a day or two at Epcot. Best known for its enchanting topiaries, the festival this year will feature one in the shape of a cake for Disney’s 50th birthday in addition to the regular favorites like Minny & Mickey, Belle, Elsa and Snow White. The Garden Rocks Concert Series features music to entertain all ages, and 18 outdoor kitchens will provide seasonal fresh food and drink. As you eat your way through the festival, pick up a passport to participate in Garden Graze, a returning food stroll featuring five delicious dishes from various outdoor kitchens. Get a stamp in your passport when you purchase the items and once you’ve compiled all five, simply make your way to Pineapple Promenade to receive your festival-exclusive treat. The little ones can get in on the fun too with Spike’s Pollen-Nation Exploration, a scavenger hunt for the whole family.
For families with older kids or teens interested in art, a day trip to Giverny from Paris would be ideal. You can tour Monet’s house to learn more about the man behind the canvas and explore the spellbinding magic of the flower and water gardens. If you have young children, private tours are available with a family-friendly art history guide that provides coloring books to let the kids explore their creativity.
Hersheypark gets a lot of hype, but you may not know that there is a wonderful garden that you can combine with your visit. One of my earliest memories is taking photos at the Hershey rose garden with my family. Your kids can run wild exploring the 32 themed areas of the Children’s Garden, which offers play areas, fountains and mazes for the youngest botanists. An education center provides informative displays about plants and ecology. Walk through Chocolate Lane and the Fragrance Garden to use all of your senses. The year-round butterfly atrium is one of only 25 in the country where you can see these colorful creatures, and don’t forget the BugZone to see other types of insects from around the world.
Though this is a sculpture garden rather than a botanical garden, it unites art and nature in such a whimsical way that I had to include it on my list of recommendations. This hidden gem is located in Solomons, MD, a charming waterfront town at the junction of the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay, about 1.5 hours Southeast of Washington, DC. What excites me most about this place are the whimsical “pops” of masterpieces painted in the tree knots throughout the forest. Imagine what fun you could have with your children or grandchildren teaching them a little art history as you meander through the woods trying to spy these miniature beauties. The 1/4-mile garden path features permanent and loaned sculptures, including over thirty works from the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art. The path is dotted with little fairy houses in Spring and Summer, and activities such as “hop like a squirrel” are painted on the pavement for the youngest visitors. In the Arts Center, children can dress up like fairies, princesses and knights. There is a wonderful walk-in art activity center where young and old alike can get creative and make some cool art projects that you get to take home with you. With spectacular views, a boardwalk, interesting shops, a terrific marine museum, and wonderful restaurants, Solomons is a delightful place to vacation. A visit to AnnMarie Garden would be a perfect addition to a visit to Southern Maryland.
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