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Matthaei Botanical Gardens – Wednesday Activity Review

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This review of Matthaei Botanical Gardens is part of our Summer Series: Wednesday Activity Reviews.

While visiting this weekend, my mother-in law suggested visiting the Matthaei Botanical Gardens. My daughter had just been on a Girl Scout field trip which she loved. She loved her field trip and couldn’t wait to show us everything that she had seen in the Conservatory.  We had been to the Botanical Gardens a couple of times when she was a toddler or preschooler, but it had been so long that she didn’t remember our prior trips.

About the Matthaei Botanical Gardens

The Matthaei Botanical Gardens are part of the University of Michigan. They are located on Dixboro Road between Plymouth and Geddes. 

The Matthaei Botanical Gardens includes an indoor conservatory and outdoor trails and gardens including the Gaffield Children’s Garden, the Azalea Bonsai Gardens, and much more.


We started our visit in the Conservatory. The Conservatory features three rooms with different environments – tropical, arid, and temperate. My daughter enjoyed seeing plants such as chocolate, vanilla, and the sausage plant in the tropical zone. In the arid zone, she was particularly fond of the “living rock” section to locate the plants in a rock garden. Kids will love the Kaleidoscope exhibit to look at flowers through a kaleidoscope.


In winter, the Conservatory provides a nice “tropical” afternoon. Come escape the cold and let the kids wander among the plants.

Gaffield Children’s Garden

Outdoors behind the Conservatory is the Gaffield Children’s Gardens. The children’s garden offers shaded outdoor fun for kids of all ages. There is a nature trail, butterfly garden, garden maze, stage, sandbox, and more.

Bonsai & Penjing Garden

The Bonsai & Penjing Garden was one of our favorite areas. Many of the bonsai plants are azaleas which were just starting to bloom during our visit. The garden is in full sun so it is best visited early in the day before it gets too hot.

Matthaei Botanical Garden - Bonsai & Penjing Garden

Visiting the Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Location: 1800 N. Dixboro, Ann Arbor
Hours: Indoor: 10a-8p, Outdoor: Sunrise-Sunset
Cost: Free Admission (donation suggested), $1.50/hr for parking
Suggested Ages: There is something for everyone from toddlers through adults

Upcoming Events at Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Matthaei Botanical Gardens offers a number of fun youth events year round. Upcoming events are listed below:

No Events

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