Take a Stroll Through Garvan Woodland Gardens

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Hot Springs CVB sponsored disclosureGrowing up in St. Louis, I loved visiting the Botanical Garden with my mom; I can remember being so excited to walk down mysterious looking trails that were filled with beautiful blossoms and colors. Last week we went on an outing near Hot Springs, Arkansas to Garvan Woodland Gardens. Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs, ArkansasWith its quiet, peaceful, paradise-like atmosphere, you'll find 210 acres of woodland gardens that make you wonder if woodland fairies really do exist.Garvan Woodland Gardens

We arrived to meet our guide, Susan Harper, who graciously ushered us out onto a large golf cart. Susan not only gave us a grand tour of the gardens, but she was so knowledgeable and gave so many interesting facts as we went along. She also outfitted the kids with their own borrowed backpacks full of goodies, like binoculars, a journal so they could draw pictures or write about something they saw, a Nature Bingo game (which they could redeem for prizes at the end of the tour, etc.Watching for wildlife with binoculars at Garvan Woodland Gardens

Just to give you a little history of the gardens…. Garvan Woodland Gardens were originally started by Verna C. Garvan in 1956. She laid out each path, chose each new plant, and selected locations for each plant. She planted many different specimens of plants, and you'll find the Garvan Pavilion right in the center of her original plantings. Garvan Pavilion at Garvan Woodland GardensShe eventually donated the property to the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture in 1985.

Strolling or riding through the botanical garden, you'll find several different types of gardens to pique your interest. Evans Children's Adventure Garden at Garvan Woodland GardensOur boys really enjoyed the entire experience, from watching the trains in the Sugg Model Train Garden to watching for birds and different kinds of plants. Susan included the kids at every turn, allowing them to get out to feed the Koi…. Feeding the Koi fish at Garvan Woodland Gardensand also to explore fossils in the cave, which was located in the Children's Adventure Garden. Fossil cave in Children's Adventure Garden at Garvan's Woodland GardensThe kids enjoyed visiting the peacocks too, as we left the Children's Garden.Peacocks at Garvan Woodland Gardens

There are so many trails and walkways through the gardens, as well as bridges, waterfalls, and more. Millsap Canopy Bridge at Garvan Woodland GardensOne of my favorite, most picturesque bridges was the Bridge of the Full Moon. Located in The Garden of the Pine Wind, this entire section of the Gardens is filled with about 300 varieties of Asian plants and trees.Bridge of the Full Moon at Garvan Woodland Gardens I could tell that Jacob was just itching to jump off the golf cart and explore to his heart's content in this part of the garden.

As we drove along, we noticed that holiday lights were beginning to make an appearance. Setting up for holiday lights at Garvan Woodland GardensWe're actually looking forward to visiting again during the Holiday Lights event. We noticed the Ice Palace,  tucked into a small tuft of forest.Ice Palace with holiday lights at Garvan Woodland Gardens

We also found several places to just sit and “smell the roses.” From benches surrounded by banana trees and beautiful flowers to small, tucked away places, this really is a place of quiet solitude for those who desperately need time away from the rush of every day life. Banana trees and mums at Garvan Woodland GardensSpeaking of mums, we learned that over 8,000 mums were planted along the paths…. can you imagine? It really was a beautiful sea of colorful blooms along the stone pathways.

Another feature that really caught my attention was the beautiful glass artwork throughout the gardens, created by James Hayes.James Hayes Glass at Garvan Woodland Gardens

We also caught spectacular views of Lake Hamilton and the Ouachita Mountains from Perry Wildflower Overlook, as well as glimpses through the woods as we drove along. View of Lake Hamilton from Perry Wildflower Overlook

Garvan Woodland Gardens has many locations that would make for a stunning, beautiful wedding. One location you may already be familiar with is Anthony Chapel. Anthony Chapel at Garvan Woodland GardensThroughout our visit, we could hear the comforting sound of bells ringing from the Anthony Family Carillon. Anthony Family Trust Carillon at Garvan Woodland GardensOf course, many beautiful outdoor wedding venues exist. Susan pointed out quarters for the bridal party, as well as walkways where the bride might come walking “down the aisle.” Gorgeous location if you know someone getting married in the near future…. And when you visit, you'll be able to acquire a complete price list for your wedding.

Garvan Woodland Gardens was, hands down, my favorite part of our entire trip to Hot Springs. We really want to go back and take even more time, walking all the different trails and exploring even further. Beautiful blooms at Garvan Woodland GardensAdmission is very affordable at $10 for adults, $5 for ages 6-12, and free for ages 0-5. They also offer an Annual Membership and Group Rates. They're open daily from 9 am to 6 pm. “Holiday Lights” begin in mid-November and run through December 31, from 12 noon to 9 pm. Also, just an added note…. restrooms are conveniently located throughout the botanical garden, and you'll also find snacks at the Chipmunk Cafe, as well as a gift shop, located at the entrance.

Be sure to stay up to date by following Garvan Woodland Gardens on Facebook. Safe and happy travels!

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