Explore Nature’s Playground at Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Stop and smell the flowers with these fun activities for kids at this University of Michigan botanical garden.

A trip to Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor is the perfect way to enjoy a family day surrounded by nature, vibrant plants and fresh air. With free admission for all ages, it’s an affordable option for family fun that everyone can enjoy. 

Explore tropical rainforests, arid deserts and more biomes housed in a glass-roof conservatory. The botanical garden — which is owned and operated by the University of Michigan — also boasts 10 beautifully manicured outdoor gardens, nearly three miles of nature trails and a hands-on play garden for children. 

Quick details about Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Photo credit: Joe Mooney

  • Hours: 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday-Sunday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday 
  • Cost: Free
  • Parking: Metered parking is $2.20 an hour, with a $6 maximum charge. 

One of our favorite things to do with kids at the Matthaei Botanic Gardens is to play in the Gaffield Children’s Garden. Designed just for littles, the outdoor space is filled with opportunities for hands-on fun. Kids can build fairy and troll gardens, read nature and gardening books, play by the pond and much more while enjoying themselves in the outdoors. 

The children’s garden is just one of the many highlights for families. Here are more of our favorite activities to enjoy at Matthaei Botanic Gardens.

Things to do at Matthaei Botanical Gardens with kids

Photo credit: Scott Soderberg

Tips for visiting with kids

Photo credit: Scott Soderberg

Other things to do nearby 

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Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts is the assistant editor on the Metro Parent team. She is always on the lookout for the coolest and trendiest new attractions, restaurants and events for metro Detroit families. Her newsletters, online family guides and exciting digital content keep families informed on all the latest happenings around town.


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