My husband and I have lived here in the Wichita area for going on 9 years and during that time I heard little snippets about the Bartlett Arboretum south of town. I'd heard of weddings being hosted there, that it was pretty, that lots of family portraits are taken there. Sadly, I admit it took until this past weekend for us to visit. Almost 9 years it took us! We regretted waiting that long as soon as we walked inside the gates. Therefore, I'm sharing our morning there in the hopes that, if you were like us and haven't visited, or if it's been awhile since you last visited, you will pay the Bartlett Arboretum a visit sooner than later! Here are my 4 reasons you can't miss visiting!
Even before you pass through the gates, the brief views you can see inside from your car window before you park let you know this is going to be a beautiful space. Flowers blooming around every corner, beautiful bridges over the pond, neat little trails that lead to manicured garden after garden, fountains, cute cottages - the list goes on. There is no shortage of beauty. It took me a little bit to stop trying to figure out which pictures to take and just enjoy the beauty. It's everywhere.
Creative Play Spaces
This one is for the kids 10 and under, I'd guess....but there are so many creative play spaces. Our favorite was Teeny Tiny Town. A little replica of a town from the Pioneer days built just for little kids! They can go in houses, pretend to be a school teacher and more. Don't miss the "box" turtle or the neat swings that create a sculpture garden of movement. In case you don't find enough photo opps on your own, there are several provided for you in Teeny Tiny Town.
There's also a neat story trail. Each page of a book is on a sign and as you find the signs in order, you get to read the story. It's like a treasure hunt and story time all in one! Also - don't miss the unique places to sit and enjoy snack time or lunch time. We did snack time in a fun treehouse!
A Chance To Pause and Enjoy the Moment
You're in nature. As long as you commit to putting away your phones....there's no internet or "real world" to disturb you. You can connect with your family as you explore, or sit and take in the beauty and peace around you on your own. Watch a family of geese swim by, notice the muskrat swimming in the pond, count the turtles, see some frogs, take in the smell of Bridal Veil Hydrangeas. One of my favorite spots was under a weeping willow tree right by the pond. It's like a scene from a Disney movie. If you take the time, you will see so many things that you would miss during the busy day-to-day.
Garden Fresh Produce
The Bartlett Arboretum has an amazing vegetable garden. And, a little tidbit here - they sell their produce on Saturday mornings! I'm told Belle Plaine is about 27 miles from the nearest fresh produce (read: grocery store) so the Bartlett Arboretum is partnering with the community and helping provide local fresh produce! They gave us a sneak peek at their state of the art greenhouse and Fletcher ate a carrot right out of the ground. It's a great place for kids to learn where food comes from....and a great place to support your local community while eating fresh fruits and vegetables.
A couple last tips....admission is done by donation at the gate (look for the mailbox once you're inside) and also online for you techy folk. Nearly all the beauty you will see is provided by volunteer workers, so support them with your dollars so they can keep providing such an amazing place to visit!! Look for outdoor concert series. COVID-19 has changed that a little this year, but this coming Sunday (Father's Day 2020) at 4PM will be their first outdoor concert of the season...in fact a couple different bands will play for your enjoyment so bring your picnic basket and lawn chairs, and social distance while enjoying the music! Finally...you'll park in the grassy lot across the street, walk across the road and enter through the green gate. We missed that memo and ended up driving all the way to the back of the arboretum. Oops!
I'm sharing a few of our pics here but they really don't do the place justice. Follow them on Facebook here....and do yourself a favor and put the Bartlett Arboretum on your summer bucket list....then share your pics with Brevity!!! You won't regret your visit....and if you're like us - you'll only regret that you didn't visit sooner!