Sitting on 66 acres (26 hectares) by the water at White Rock Lake, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is not just a pristine environment. It is a center built to promote the art and enjoyment of horticulture.
The attractions and activities here vary depending on the time of year. During the warmer months, it's worth the 15-minute drive from downtown Dallas just to walk amongst the native and foreign plant life and enjoy respite from the Texas heat.
Fall is an excellent time to visit too, when the flame-red Japanese maple trees of the Nancy Rutchik Red Maple Rill burst with autumnal color. If you are visiting later in the year, during November and December there is often a daily high tea, which for a set price combines entry to the gardens with a sit-down menu at the DeGolyer Garden Café. The menu includes sandwiches, desserts and a variety of teas.
An attraction that you can catch year-round is the former home of Everette L. DeGolyer, the original owner of the land that became the gardens. A pioneering geophysicist in the Texas oil industry, he had the 21,000-square-foot (1,951-square-meter), one-story mansion constructed in the 1930s for his wife and their four children. He long planned to create a public garden on the estate, and his ideas were the inspiration for what later became the botanical gardens. The home, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a startling piece of architecture in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. You can take a tour of the home and accompanying gardens. Tours run daily, every half hour, and are included in the cost of admission to the gardens.
One of the key functions of the gardens is to educate. The whole family can take classes, which cover a variety of topics. Learn how to garden with native plants and grasses, paint, make a scarf or grow herbs. For a less structured day, however, simply show up and wander.
The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is open daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s days. There is paid parking on site. Alternatively, you can park at the YMCA parking lot and catch a shuttle bus from there to the gardens. The DART bus has a stop close to the arboretum entrance.