The Kentucky Children’s Garden is a great family fun spot in Lexington!  Built beside the Arboretum, State Garden of Kentucky, the KCG features great areas to explore for all ages.


Purchased in the Visitor Center

$3  individual (under 2 years receive FREE admission)

$10 family/household (up to 5 people)

$90 season pass (up to 5 people on each visit)

$75  season pass (Friends of The Arboretum)


Admission ends at 4:30 each day

Spring, Summer & Fall 2020

April 1 to October 31
Wed/Thu/Fri/Sat: 10 am to 5 pm
Closed: Sun, Mon, Tues, and UK home football game days.

Closed the following dates for UK home football games:

September 5, 19, 26
October 10, 17

For your safety, The Arboretum closes during inclement weather or if we see lightning or hear thunder. Hours of operation are subject to change without notice.

Train Hours

Daily: 11:30am-12:30pm, 1:30-2:30pm and 3:30-4:30pm

Educational Programing

 Daily: 11-11:30am, 2:30-3pm 

Daily Events (*Watch for 2020 Calendars)

Each program aims to deliver a fun and engaging way for children and their families to get to know the children’s garden better. On weekdays, our programs focus on topics such as ‘Trees of the Garden’ or ‘Pond Life’. On weekends, we garden!  Weekday programs may include a variety of activities such as exploring the garden, reading a book, or working on a craft, to name a few. Weekend gardening programs typically begin with a hands-on planting project, followed by harvesting and tasting produce, and end with planting a seed to take home.

Recommended for ages 3+

Free Admission Days (*Watch for 2020 Dates)

Arbor Day

Addie’s Day

The Kentucky Children’s Garden is a safe 1.85 acre outdoor learning environment designed to help children 2-10 years old discover plants and the environment.

There’s an integrated combination of various “child-scaled” theme gardens and garden-like elements for experiential play: gardens planted and maintained by children, a small amphitheater for presentations, interactive educational exhibits, inter-connecting paths and comfortable benches.


My family has enjoyed a family membership for many years and we’ve enjoyed many spring, summer, and fall days at the garden.  The programming offered each day is always a fun way to enjoy some learning along with the fun.

ky children's garden 1

ky children's garden 2


Our Lex Fun Writer, Katie, has a great review for you if you’re planning a trip!

The Kentucky Children’s Garden at the Arboretum is one of our favorite Lexington outdoor spots. Every year, we ask the grandparents for a season pass for Christmas, and my kids are so ready to visit when the gates open in March. This garden is a special place where kids can be kids, interact with nature, and enjoy being outside in a beautiful, safe space.

During the summer season, the garden is open from 10 am-5 pm, Wednesday through Saturday and 1 pm-5 pm on Sundays. (Check the website for March-May and September-October days as they are more limited.) Admission is $3 per person or $10 for a family of five. If you fall in love with the garden as we have, a season pass is worth considering for $90.

When you arrive at the Arboretum, park near Visitor’s Center – you’ll need to head in there to get your tickets. Then you can head outside and you’ll see small building with restrooms over near the entrance to the garden (which you’ll appreciate later!). When you enter the gates, you’re greeted by beautiful flowers and plants native to Kentucky. At the very front of the garden, you’ll find spray misters and a butterfly garden. This is a great place to come back to and cool off occasionally, and there are benches where the grownups can take a break.

Just behind the butterfly garden, you’ll see the raised beds of the fruit and vegetable garden. This is a great place for children to begin to understand where their food comes from. If you visit several times during the season, it’s exciting to see how the plants are growing and changing.

Beyond the garden is the train exhibit. If you have a train enthusiast or a Thomas fan in your group, have a seat on the benches and get comfortable. You’ll be here for a while! The kids really enjoy watching Thomas, Percy, and friends move through the upper and lower railroads. The train only runs for a few hours per day. So, plan accordingly. (Train runs from 11 am-12 pm (except on Sundays), 1:30-2:30 and 3:30-4:30).

As you move further into the garden, you’ll find a dirt digging pit, a spider labyrinth, and a “fishing” pond with a boat. It’s refreshing to see how much time young children can spend digging and hoping to catch a fish with a pole that doesn’t actually have a hook. Hours of fun for all! As the season goes on, a maze of grasses and tall plants grows just behind the boat area. My kids get a real thrill heading into the maze where the plants are much taller than they are, and I listen for the squeals of delight as they find their way through the challenge.

In the very back of the garden, there is a cabin with old fashioned tools and kitchen items. It’s a sandy mess, but is a great place to sit in the shade and watch their imaginations at work. Just last week, I was served a delightful pot of sand soup in that very spot.

In the structure with a red roof and a water wheel, children gather for activities and story time. Activities take place at 10:30 (except Sundays), 1:00, and 3:00 each day. (Wednesdays – game/experiment, Thursdays – craft, Fridays – story time, Saturdays – planting in the gardens, Sundays – hike.) The staff members at the garden are absolutely lovely and very talented. They all have such a natural way with children and explain important concepts in a kid-friendly way. Each staff member is open to answering questions and offering information as you move through the garden. They are truly exceptional.

Finally – the creek! This is generally our last stop. It’s the perfect place to cool off and wash off the dirt, sand, and grime from the day. The creek is a crowd favorite and children generally want to spend plenty of time here. So, head this way before everyone is exhausted and ready to have a meltdown. You’ll be glad you saved extra time for this splashy activity! Children must wear shoes in the creek. I advise a water shoe with tread if you have them. We’ve found that these shoes give a good grip on the wet stones, but dry quickly. Flip flops and crocs will work, but tend to lead to more falls and tumbles.

Important Tips

1. Bring a change of clothes, a towel and a plastic bag for the ride home.
More than likely, you’ll leave with a wet, muddy, and exhausted child. We head to the restroom building near the front entrance, dry off with a beach towel, and change them into clean, dry clothes before getting in the car. We throw wet, dirty clothes in the plastic bag, and everyone feels better!

2. Bring sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and bug spray with you.

3. No food is allowed in the garden.
We often pack sandwiches and take a lunch break during the day. However, no food is allowed in the children’s garden. They ask that you exit the garden and eat near the picnic tables and large tree logs outside. We do bring drinks into the garden, especially on hot days.

4. Water Shoes are perfect for the garden!
Children must wear shoes, even in the creek. We’ve found that waterproof shoes with tread (like Keens) provide the best traction on wet rocks.

5. Pets are not allowed in the garden.

6. Strollers are allowed in the garden.
For any child under 18 months, I’d suggest taking your stroller. It’s easy to maneuver around the garden, but not all areas are accessible by a paved path. So, a stroller with sturdy wheels is easier to handle than an umbrella stroller.

7. Birthday Parties are excellent.
They do rent the garden for private parties after hours. We’ve attended one party at the garden, and it was fantastic. The “no food” rule still applies. So, the birthday girl blew out her candles and shared her cake outside the gates before we entered the garden. The dates for birthday parties fill quickly. So, call early in the season if you are interested.

8. Garden is closed on UK Home Football Game Days.

9.  There are FREE days twice each year.  Arbor Day and Addie’s Day are special events so watch the calendar in early spring for a chance to visit for these days.

10.  Check out special programming like Celebrating the Seasons, Party for the Pumpkins and more!  Find their calendar HERE.

  • Katie, Lex Fun Writer   Reviewed Summer 2016


  • Lisa Wayne , April 10, 2017

    My boys love digging in the dirt at the Children’s garden! That’s the part the send the most time at, but they also love the train, the creek, the fishing, the play house and the gardening!

  • Jessica , April 10, 2017

    We love the Children’s Garden! My kids’ favorite part is the creek.

  • Heather Kidd , April 10, 2017

    We love the Children’s Garden. Especially the creek and the train!

  • Megan Cook Crawford , April 11, 2017

    Can’t wait to visit this season for the first time! My kiddos will love the water features!

  • Kristi , April 11, 2017

    We love the children’s garden!

  • Julianne Vantland , April 11, 2017

    We love the stream! My kids can (and have!) play for hours there, especially on hot steamy days. We would love to win a membership so we can go more often this year!

  • Sarah , April 11, 2017

    We love everything about the Garden! We always take the kids of out-of-town guests. The creek is, hands down, a fan favorite. You’ll see kids working together to build dams, playing in the waterfall, jumping and splashing, or even just sitting and enjoying the peace of being out in nature. So much better than public pools! (yuck!) It’s always a great day at the Children’s Garden!

  • Kristin R , April 11, 2017

    My kids love to watch the trains. There was a man there doing repairs once and he took lots of time to explain what he was doing. It was really neat.

  • Allison , April 11, 2017

    We haven’t been yet but we live nearby, and with four kids, we need to check it out soon. I bet they’ll love it.

  • Christy Mercado , April 11, 2017

    My family has never been so we are looking forward to exploring this spring!

  • amy m , April 11, 2017

    Playing in the stream is always the favorite

  • Lauren , April 11, 2017

    Love everything about the children’s garden! My daughter’s favorites are the creek and the cabin

  • Bridgit , April 11, 2017

    Location! It’s such a gem only a few miles away.

  • lesley , April 11, 2017

    My kids would LOVE to go more often!

  • Britanie Myers , April 11, 2017

    The Children’s Garden is basically our favorite place on the planet! My kids spend a lot of time on the boat and in the creek but the also love the little house in the sand over by the boat and the gardens and pretty much everything!

  • Kare Adams , April 11, 2017

    My daughters are 9 & 5, we went for the first time last year–loved it!! What a hidden gem in Lex! ?

  • Kim bogart , April 11, 2017

    My son loves the train and my daught we loves the boat! Oh and obviously they love the splashpad and the creek!

  • Heather , April 11, 2017

    Our family loves the children’s garden! Can’t wait to play this summer!!

  • Diane , April 12, 2017

    What a great place for kids to explore!

  • Jeanie Kincer , April 12, 2017

    My daughter loves the cabin with the wood blocks and the train.

  • Emilee , April 12, 2017

    My family loves the Arboretum, but we haven’t been to the Children’s Garden. That is on our summer Must list.

  • Amanda Ecklar , April 12, 2017

    We have never been. But, I think I saw the word creek mentioned. That’s where you would find my son. My daughter would enjoy any of it. We go to the arboretum often but never the children’s garden.

  • Sarepta , April 12, 2017

    I keep meaning to try. My kids love the outdoors. A location specific to their age group would be wonderful!

  • Anastasia , April 12, 2017

    We love the model trains and the water play areas

  • Alanna B , April 13, 2017

    My boys love the story/activity times…As well as the water play area 🙂

  • Tanesha , April 13, 2017

    This is a great giveaway!

  • Kelsey , April 13, 2017

    My kids love the children’s garden! We could spend hours there. ?

  • Geri Zakharia , April 13, 2017

    We LOVE playing in the creek!

  • Hannah , April 13, 2017

    We love the stream!

  • Christine , April 13, 2017

    My 3 year old LOVES the creek!!

  • Kelly , April 13, 2017

    My kids like playing in the stream, and the splash pad!

  • Nikole M , April 14, 2017

    It’s so hard to just pick one but I love the water area. So much fun to be had!

  • Ruth Corman , April 14, 2017

    My children love your creek and fishing boat area! We love The Children’s Garden!

  • Dana , April 14, 2017

    We love the creek!

  • Sarah , April 14, 2017

    We loved visiting last year and can’t wait to go again!

  • Traci , April 15, 2017

    My son is turning two next week and we would love to take him to the children’s garden all summer!

  • Mary T , April 15, 2017

    My boys like making a sand and dirt stew near the little cabin in the back corner!

  • Andrew Safie , April 15, 2017

    We like the stream with the teepee by it.

  • Darlene Pettibone , April 16, 2017

    Our grandbabies all love the stream and the little shed to play in. Have hundreds of photos of them there.

  • Holly Miller , April 16, 2017

    We have been once, my daughter loved everything about it. Her favorite part is the log house.

  • Judy , April 17, 2017

    We love the Children’s Garden. In the heat of summer that creek and the sprayers are the best. We also can’t get enough of the little gardening section with the little self filling buckets of water.

  • Ashley Johnson , April 17, 2017

    Playing in the water is definitely our favorite! The children’s garden is so much fun!

  • Nancy , April 17, 2017

    My boys love the creek (moving rocks) and the boat!

  • Megan , April 17, 2017

    My boys love it here!

  • Natalie S. , April 18, 2017

    Since moving to Kentucky last spring, we’ve enjoyed the learning, activities and water fun that the Children’s Garden provided us! I believe my 2.5 year old would say that the garden and water areas were most enjoyable to her!! We will be back this season!

  • Kim , April 19, 2017

    I would love to take my 3-year-old daughter to the garden! I think she’d be thrilled with all of it, but especially the model train!

  • Michele Mykytuk , April 19, 2017

    My kids would love this!!

  • Joshua M Moore , April 19, 2017

    My kids love playing in the stream in the hot summer!

  • Barbie , April 19, 2017

    My kids love the stream and the train!

  • cindy vasquez , April 20, 2017

    My kids love the water the plants, splash in the stream, and day craft! we would love to get a membership this year!

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