The North Carolina Arboretum provides children with the opportunity to enjoy a variety of unique experiences while they discover the wonders of nature in a safe, high-quality and enriching environment. Whether it’s hiking along Bent Creek or geocaching through the woods, the Arboretum offers an array of fun, educational and kid-friendly activities.



An adventure awaits young naturalists at the Arboretum! While your child enjoys the gardens and trails of the Arboretum they can also join our crew of ecoEXPLORERS, young citizen scientists who help professional scientists study the plants and animals that call North Carolina home. Begin your journey at the Arboretum, and then continue the adventure in your own neighborhood by sharing photo observations of butterflies, lizards, wildflowers and more! To register for free visit



Families can pick up a TRACK Trail guide at the kiosk behind the Baker Exhibit Center and write down their encounters as they walk along the Arboretum’s Natural Garden Tail. Current options include “What’s at Willow Pond” and “Let’s EXPLORE!”, an introduction to ecoEXPLORE. Families can log their hike online to earn free prizes via the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s Kids in Parks program.

Rocky Cove Railroad

Families can learn about the coming of trains to Western North Carolina at the turn of the 20th century at the Rocky Cove Railroad, which features up to four G-scale (garden scale) model trains running at a time. This model railroad runs Saturdays and Sundays, from 12 noon – 4 p.m. (April – October*).

Student Field Trips

The Arboretum’s popular guided field trip programs are offered Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The schedule opens in late August for field trips in September through May. Scheduling several months in advance is highly recommended.

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Nature Discovery Room

Visit the Arboretum’s Nature Discovery Room on the ground floor of the Education Center and observe live animals in realistic habitats. Test your powers of observation in the forest diorama and learn how to contribute your observations to real scientists.

Youth & Family Programs

Looking for more activities and programs for your child? The Arboretum offers nature and science programs suited for all ages.