Dawes Arborteum is open from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. but the Visitor Center and gift shop are closed due to Covid. There is no programming going on right now and you have to wear a mask in the restroom. But, because most of the good stuff is outside, it is a great place to visit right now. Cost is $10 per adult to get in, but a family membership that lets six people in for unlimited visits is only $60. You do have to have reservations in advance in order to go. After reading about everything there is to see and do at Dawes, I got a family membership.
The Dawes Arboretum is 2,000 acres of gardens, meadows, and forests. There are miles and miles of trails to hike. The arboretum was established in 1929 by Beman and Bertie Dawes for the study and promotion of trees and other plants of Ohio. Today Dawes has seven distinct areas, five of which have names but all of which have trails to wander and gardens to explore.
We walked the Parklands Trail which is paved and handicapped accessible. Along the Parklands Trail were wonderful plants and flowers: some that were familiar and some that were new and exotic-looking. We especially liked looking at the big, beautiful trees. Most trees and plants are labeled, which is wonderful when we want to know what they are. It must take a barn-full of gardeners to keep the grounds so well-maintained.
We saw the Dawes house and the Education building, which are currently closed to the public. I especially enjoyed the gardens by the education building that were labeled for specific purposes: pickling garden, taco garden, melon garden.
The highlight of the Dawes Arboretum was the display of wind sculptures by artist Lyman Whitaker. Each one is beautiful, moving in the slightest wind. I was fascinated, watching them move individually as well as a group. Eleven sculptures are along the Parklands Trail, which meant that there were plenty for us to see and enjoy. The Lyman Whitaker wind sculptures are only on display through December 15, so if you want to see them, you should go soon.
After a picnic lunch, we drove around the rest of the grounds. We stopped at the observation tower because we wanted to see the hedge maze we had been driving by. It seemed an odd maze because it was so open. After climbing the observation tower, we realized that it was hedges spelling “Dawes Arboretum” over five acres. Huge letters! Very cool.
Dawes Arboretum is an excellent place to visit for the day. Wear your walking shoes and enjoy the extensive trail system and beautiful gardens.