If you’re looking for some free, active, outdoor fun this summer, then Stamford’s Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens is the hidden gem you may have been missing! Tucked away in North Stamford, the Arboretum is home to 13 beautiful gardens and miles of easy to follow trails. So whether you’re a nature enthusiast or are just looking for a new outing, lace up your shoes and head out to explore. Read on for our tips on how to visit Bartlett Arboretum like a local.
Looking for more family-friendly activities in Connecticut? See our guide to 100 Things To Do with Kids in Connecticut Before They Grow Up. And be sure to check out all our picks for Free Fun Things To Do for Connecticut Kids.
Why Bartlett Arboretum is an Awesome Family Destination
The Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens is a spot you can stop by to spend an hour, or a whole afternoon. A meandering hike or a short walk, a visit to two gardens or all of them–it’s a perfect spot to enjoy the outdoors. We started our visit with a walk on Red Oak Trail and took a few minutes to escape the surprise rain storm in the covered pavilion at the edge of the parking area. We headed out on another trail, visited gardens, found a playground, and we could have continued exploring. Trees and flowers are well marked throughout the property, providing plenty of opportunity to learn and discuss as you go. You can find your favorite spots again and again, or every visit to the Arboretum can lead you to a new garden, hidden sculpture, or a different trail. They also host tons of different family friendly events throughout the year, including tours, concerts and festivals. (Don’t miss the Honey Harvest Festival, scheduled for September 18th this year!).
Visit Bartlett Arboretum like a local and see some stunning natural beauty.
Must See Things at Bartlett Arboretum
While the whole place is a treat to explore and experience, Pond Trail and its waterfall were our favorite. The sensory garden, where you are encouraged to engage your senses to smell the herbs, listen to the rustling plants, and even touch flowers, was also a hit with our crowd, and the large sculpture at the edge was a fun photo-op spot. We also loved the wildflower garden.
Kick back, admire nature, and smile for the camera!
Know Before You Go
Kids are welcome and encouraged to explore the grounds- our gang ranged in age from 5 to 12 years old (and a 7 year old dog), and everyone found something of interest! The Arboretum has this fun scavenger hunt online to search for hidden heads, engaging for slightly older kids. Some trails are smoother and more stroller friendly than others, but the central garden area is easy to navigate with a stroller, and a great area for little ones to explore on foot. Wear sneakers, and pack bug spray- some wooded areas were a bit buggy during our visit.
Eating at Bartlett Arboretum
A perfect picnic spot, the Arboretum doesn’t have food for sale on site, so bring your own or take a quick stop at Giovana’s Deli just down the road. (Giovana’s doesn’t offer an online menu, but has sandwiches, bagels, and typical deli favorites.) A little further away on High Ridge Road is Jersey Mike’s, which offers sandwiches and salads. A&S Fine Foods of Stamford at 856 High Ridge Road is a local favorite Italian deli with delicious prepared foods, fresh sandwiches, and the best chicken salad in town. Whatever you choose to bring along, be sure to pack drinks- kiddos will be thirsty after all that exploring!
You can stop to smell the flowers when you visit Bartlett Arboretum like a local.
Visiting Bartlett Arboretum
Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens is open daily from 6:30 AM – 8:30 PM, and admission is free. There’s ample parking close to the center of the Arboretum and the Silver Educational Center, which often hosts events and most importantly houses the restrooms, is open daily from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM. Maps are available from the kiosk in the parking lot, and are posted throughout the grounds.
All photos are courtesy of the Arboretum.