A group of people, kids and adults, walking on a paved path through Longwood Gardens.

Family Nature Strolls: Your Family, Our Gardens

By Emily Gerber, on

The weather is starting to warm and with it we’re offering new opportunities for family exploration and fun in our Gardens. With our new 30-minute Family Nature Strolls designed for adults and children, we welcome you to discover the sights, sounds, and scents of the season while exploring our Gardens with one of our educators. Not only do these fun strolls engage the senses, but they welcome children and adults to have fun together and experience our Gardens through a new lens while using discovery tools that allow hands-on exploration.

Free with Gardens Admission and operating on a limited-capacity basis to allow for a more personal experience, our Family Nature Strolls are offered every Saturday at 10:30 am and 11:30 am through June 8, with additional weekday offerings beginning June 10 through August 16. Meet us at the Topiary Garden entrance, where our educators will take your family on an engaging adventure throughout the Gardens, highlighting seasonal points of interest. 

With our strolls this spring, for example, we will embrace the budding, blooming, beautiful new growth of the season. As we wander, we'll explore such questions as “What do you notice as the seasons change?”, observe some of the first plants to bloom, and take notice of stirring wildlife. Our educators may guide you through such areas as Oak and Conifer Knoll and Flower Garden Drive based on what’s there to see the day of your visit—but wherever we may lead you, we'll be sure to point out the beauty of each unique space. 

An adult showing a child a pinecone.

Young guests compare different types of pine cones and leaves we encountered as we walked through Oak and Conifer Knoll. Photo by Carol Gross.

While the focus of the strolls may change throughout the seasons, you can always expect to use your senses to explore our Gardens. Using the thoughtfully selected discovery tools that our educators are equipped with, observe the Gardens near and far with magnifying glasses or binoculars; use your sense of touch to compare the textures of plant parts like leaves, seeds, and bark; identify seasonal scents using herb sachets and the plants we encounter along the way; and listen closely to the sounds around us. 

Our educators also enjoy incorporating activities that result in a fun takeaway item related to the topics explored during the stroll—getting to take something home makes an adventure extra memorable! For example, if along our stroll we compare different types of trees, we may have everyone look at the ground and find their favorite fallen leaf. We can use these leaves to make a leaf rubbing with paper and crayon. It’s exciting to see the exact shape and texture of the leaf transferred to the page. Leaf rubbings are a great way to investigate different kinds of leaves and come away with a special memory of the Gardens.

A young child doing a leaf rubbing while an adult watches.

One of our young guests intently creates a leaf rubbing using a leaf found along a path as the group explored the Gardens. Photo by Carol Gross.

A child in a bright red shirt counting tree rings on a small slice of wood.

Other favorite takeaway activities include using your very own tree slice to count the rings of a tree and determine its age (like our friend pictured above is doing) and exploring a plant’s need for sunlight by making a solar bead bracelet. Our activities change by the day and season. Photo by Carol Gross.

A young child in a yellow shirt holding a small magnifying glass up to a tree.

We let our guests’ interests guide us and lead the exploration; in this case, it looks like someone wanted to take a closer look at this tree’s needles. Photo by Carol Gross.

After your family explores the Gardens through a Family Nature Stroll, head over to the Lookout Loft or Birdhouse Treehouse to continue the fun. You can find our team of family volunteers there most Thursdays through Sundays from April to October in the morning and early afternoon with activities and interactive tools. Listen to bird calls, compare different types of leaves, build towers out of natural tree blocks, and more!

Our educators love sharing the wonders of nature with our young guests through these strolls. Whether it is your first or fiftieth visit to the Gardens, we’d be happy to have you join us.

Editor’s note: In addition to our Family Nature Strolls, we offer a number of other family learning opportunities both here in our Gardens and from home. Designed for children ages 10 to 16, our Youth Workshops focused on topics ranging from the arts to plants help our young guests explore the beauty of the natural world—and get a special look at the Gardens before we open—while learning alongside expert instructors. Looking for something the whole family can do together? Join us for a Learning Together family workshop online or here in the Gardens and participate in activities such as seed starting, making a moss terrarium, and more!

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