When most people think about outdoor spaces and gardens in the Cleveland area, they most likely think of the Cleveland Metroparks, the Cleveland Botanical Garden, or maybe even Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
But there’s another nature lover’s paradise not far away: the Holden Arboretum.
The Holden Arboretum is located in Kirtland, Ohio, about a 30-minute drive from downtown Cleveland. It covers more than 3,500 acres in both Lake and Geauga counties, making it one of the largest arboreta/botanical gardens in the United States.
The Holden Arboretum has been around since 1931 after a permanent endowment was left to create it by Albert Fairchild Holden. And yet, many northeast Ohio locals don’t even know about it!
Well I’m here to tell you that it’s worth knowing about the Holden Arboretum. Not only is it a beautiful outdoor space with a huge variety of plant life, but it’s also kid-friendly, dog-friendly, and accessible for all.
Below you can read about 5 unique things you can do and see at the Holden Arboretum, followed by everything you need to know about visiting.
5 things to do at the Holden Arboretum
1. Explore the different gardens
With more than 3,500 acres of gardens, forests, lakes, and other outdoor space, there’s plenty to explore at the Holden Arboretum. Over 200 acres of the arboretum is dedicated to cultivated gardens and special collections, with something different in bloom almost every season of the year.
Popular gardens include:
- The Display Garden – A 9-acre four-season garden including a lotus pond and large weeping willow.
- Eliot and Linda Paine Rhododendron Discovery Garden and Helen S. Layer Rhododendron Garden – Two connected rhododendron collections. You can see them in bloom usually in April, May, and June.
- Arlene and Arthur S. Holden Jr. Butterfly Garden – Located behind the Corning Visitor Center, the butterfly garden is filled with plants loved by pollinators like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Peak bloom is July and August.
- Myrtle S. Holden Wildflower Garden – A beautiful 5-acre garden that includes more than 400 native Ohio species.
And you can use the arboretum’s handy guide to peak viewing months to know what you can enjoy in which seasons.
2. Take a walk on a nature trail
The Holden Arboretum features over 20 miles of nature trails that traverse through both the cultivated gardens and acres of native forests. The trails are all well-maintained, with some being paved and others being gravel.
Some popular trails include:
- Conifer Trail (1.5 miles through the arboretum’s conifer collection)
- Corning Lake Loop (1.5 miles around Corning Lake and across Fordham Island)
- Woodland Trail (1.5 miles through the woods with a stop at Meditation Point)
For those who want more of a workout, the 2.9-mile Old Valley Trail traverses the Pierson Creek Valley and the Offutt Memorial Boardwalk.
3. Canopy walk and Emergent Tower
You can’t come to the Holden Arboretum without visiting the Murch Canopy Walk and Kalberer Emergent Tower.
The Murch Canopy Walk is an elevated walkway 65 feet above the forest floor. You can traverse several suspended bridges up in the trees, learning about the flora and fauna that calls this part of the forest home.
This is also one of the best places in the Cleveland area to admire the fall color!
The Kalberer Family Emergent Tower is a wooden tower that stands 120 feet tall, with views out across the forest and surrounding landscape. Getting to the top does require you to climb up 202 steps, but the views at the top are worth it.
Visiting the Canopy Walk and Emergent Tower requires an additional ticket to your Holden Arboretum entry. It’s only $4 extra to visit these sites, though, so it’s a good value add-on!
4. Take a tram tour
From May through October, the Holden Arboretum offers daily guided tram tours through the central gardens. Tours usually last about an hour and touch on the arboretum’s history, as well as what’s currently in season.
Tram tours cost an additional $5, and reservations are strongly recommended since these tours do sometimes sell out.
Tours are offered at the following times in 2019:
- Tuesday – 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm
- Wednesday-Friday – 1pm, 2pm, 3pm
- Saturday – 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm
- Sunday – 1pm, 2pm, 3pm
5. Check out a seasonal event
The Holden Arboretum is a year-round destination (yes, it’s even open during the winter!), meaning there’s always something new to see depending on the season and what’s currently in bloom.
The arboretum has lots of events throughout the year, from night hikes to yoga classes.
In the fall, pick up a map at the Corning Visitor Center and travel the Leaf Trail to learn about native trees, or bring the kids to Goblins in the Garden.
Check out the Holden Arboretum’s calendar for a full list of events and classes.
Holden Arboretum info
Here’s everything you need to know about visiting the Holden Arboretum:
Address: 9550 Sperry Rd, Kirtland, OH 44094
Opening hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day)
The Canopy Walk and Emergent Tower are open daily from April 1 through November 1. In 2019, there are extended fall hours for both of these attractions: they’ll be open on weekends from November 1 through December 1, and also from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Black Friday (Nov. 29).
General admission: $12 for adults, $8 for kids (3-12)
Admission with Canopy Walk: $16 for adults, $10 for kids
Is the Holden Arboretum kid-friendly?
The Holden Arboretum is incredibly kid-friendly. Most of the trails are stroller-friendly, and there’s a whole kids’ area called Buckeye Bud’s Adventure Woods (open through October). Parents can also borrow Discovery Packs for free from the Corning Visitor Center, which kids can use to learn more about pond environments, stream life, and trees.
You’re also encouraged to bring food to the arboretum for a picnic lunch. There’s a picnic area near the visitor center complete with picnic tables and even a few grills.
Is the Holden Arboretum dog-friendly?
The Holden Arboretum is also very dog-friendly. Dogs are welcome in almost every part of the arboretum, with the exception of the Corning Visitor Center (inside), the Myrtle S. Holden Wildflower Garden, the Murch Canopy Walk, and the Kalberer Emergent Tower. Otherwise, leashed dogs can go anywhere.
You’ll find water bowls near the visitor center, as well as Mutt Mitts throughout the arboretum to make cleaning up after your pet easy.
The Holden Arboretum is a great place to visit for the whole family. If you’ve never been, what are you waiting for?
Have you visited the Holden Arboretum?
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Amanda was born and raised in northeast Ohio, and has always been a fangirl of the state. Now, she wants to share her love of Cleveland with the world, highlighting all the best things to do, see, and eat in the CLE. She’s been running Cleveland Traveler since January 2019.