If your kids love to explore, and I don’t know a kid doesn’t, you’ve got to check out the Wegerzyn Garden at MetroPark in Dayton. Bring the swimsuits and pack a picnic. I can’t think of a more appropriate name for this natural playground set right in the beautifully landscaped MetroPark. All ages will have fun discovering the surprises at every turn.
I could hardly keep up with my 4-year-old and 2-year-old daughters one morning while they explored the garden. Luckily for my infant son (and me!), a paved path makes the park is very stroller-friendly. Don’t forget to look down to see the leaves and animal tracks etched into the pavement.
Along the path, the girls discovered a foliage covered tunnel that led to a secret meeting place for kids. They found an old canoe nestled amongst the flowers. Several trees had long, drooping branches that created shady hiding spots. We found a small pond, an old water pump and big digging hole.
There must be a pirate theme going on this year because we saw some funny flamingoes in different costumes hiding among the plants. And we even ran into a pirate ship! (After we got home, I found more info about this online. Check it out before you go, so you don’t miss these activities.)
My girls got lost in the music maze that twisted through hedges and tall red flowers. They found a big xylophone to bang on and a noisy wheel to turn. Large sand tables at varying heights dominate one area of the garden that is mercifully covered by big shade structures. I took a break in one of the chairs provided to feed the baby while the girls made castles with the sand toys provided. I let them get as sandy as they wanted without worrying about the clean-up because one of the best parts of the Discovery Garden is the water feature.
Cool water runs over a man-made cove and through a winding stream, just begging to be stepped in and explored. It was almost 90 degrees the day we went, so even the baby got to splash around. At just a few inches deep with a gentle current, the stream is great for little ones to dip their toes in. Older kids will enjoy ducking under the waterfalls, and all ages can explore the fossil cave where the water ends.
Next time I’m bringing water shoes for the kids since the bottom of the stream is a little rough and rocky. Sunscreen and bug spray are good things to throw in your bag too. A permanent restroom makes getting in and out of swimsuits a breeze.
In the middle of the garden is a big pond. It’s not for swimming, but the girls took a breather on some adorable kid-sized rocking chairs and looked for fish in the water. There also is a sensory garden with different plants to touch and smell. Most of the plants and flowers are well labeled if you’re interested in learning more.
We sat at tables just outside the children’s area for a picnic lunch. There are several beautiful areas to walk through, and we spotted a family having pictures taken. I’m saving that idea for later.
Throughout the summer, Wegerzyn Gardens (website) is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The water feature is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Labor Day. Admission is free. Activities including story time are offered at various times. Go online at https://www.metroparks.org/discovery-garden/ for more information.