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.


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. Children will explore the Arboretum through the eyes of Shelly, the Arboretum’s resident eastern box turtle, and learn how turtles find food, water and shelter to survive. Families can log their sightings online to earn free prizes.

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*).

*Last Day of Train Operation for 2020: Sunday, November 15

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

The Nature Discovery Room is currently closed to the public; we apologize for the inconvenience.

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.