Autumn at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
Fall is the most extraordinary time to visit the renown Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. This world-class attraction opened in 1984, making it one of America’s newest gardens. The arboretum is repeatedly ranked as one of the top in the world, thanks in part to the staff & generous volunteers continuing dedication to preserving history and nature.
The 66 acre garden is located on the shores of gorgeous White Rock Lake, and thus, the ambiance is really tranquil despite being located so close to the city. If you only have limited time in Dallas, a stroll around the Arboretum should easily top your to-do bucket list.
A bit of history on the Dallas Arboretum origins
Everette Lee DeGolyer was an oilman and geophysicist, referred to as “the founder of applied geophysics in the petroleum industry” and “the father of American geophysics. ” He was also the founder of Texas Instruments, the technology company most well-known for their TI graphing calculators. He was a collector of rare books (the recreation of his extensive library collection is quite stunning) and unique artifacts.
In 1944, DeGolyer served as President of the Dallas Arboretum foundation. The city of Dallas eventually purchased the home as the official location for the arboretum, thus making his dream for a city arboretum a reality. Many of the original features of the 4.5 acre DeGolyer garden remain including the Magnolia Allee, the Sunken Garden, and the Octagonal Fountain.
The beautiful Gardens
The arboretum is divided into 19 gardens, all of which are incredibly beautiful, colorful, and well maintained. Each and every garden is extraordinary. The standouts include the Crape Myrtle Allee, The Rose Mary Haggar Rose Garden, the McCasland Sunken Garden, the Lay Family Garden (yes, the garden was named in honor of the founder of Lay’s potato chips!) and the Margaret Elisabeth Jonsson Color Garden.
As you stroll around the various gardens, you will take in lovely views of the lake, enjoy the soothing sounds of tranquil fountains & waterfalls, marvel at colorful Koi in the ponds, and even catch a glimpse of the Dallas skyline. The arboretum is the perfect place to escape the cluster of the city and suburbs, if only for an hour or 2. They also offer a free narrated tram ride, which really is a treat on hot sunny summer days. If you are new to Dallas, I recommend taking a tour for the history lesson alone.
A brief photo tour around the various gardens…
Award-winning annual events
The garden puts on a number of festive annual events including a 12 Days of Christmas festival, featuring a collection of elaborate Victorian style gazebos showcasing memorable Christmas scenes, and the Autumn festival which includes elaborate pumpkin displays set to a new theme each year. The maintenance of the gardens requires 30 staff members and at least 12,000 hours worth of horticulture work for each event!
The theme changes every year for this award-winning event. Autumn at the Arboretum theme for 2018 is “The Adventures in Neverland.” The beloved story of Peter Pan has been incorporated into a festive display via the use of thousands and thousands of pumpkins. The extravagant Pumpkin Village includes more than 90,000 pumpkins, plus 4500 Chrysanthemums and 150,000 more fall blooming plants. This annual fall festival has been named the best fall event in Dallas as well as “one of America’s best pumpkin festivals” by Fodor’s. Past themes have included “The Wizard of Oz” and “Cinderella.”
Take a look at all those pumpkins!
You will notice many familiar sights at this year’s display including Captain Hook’s pirate ship, the Lost Boy’s hideout, and the Darling’s London home. The kids have a blast playing around the youthful setup, while the adults marvel at the artistic creativity. Photo opportunities abound at every turn.
Also taking place this fall, from September 24th-November 21st, is a special Harvest Tea celebration, with seatings at 11am-2pm. A special 3 course afternoon tea is being held in the gorgeous DeGolyer Tea Room, although 26 hour advance reservations are required.
There are cute fall photo opportunities throughout the arboretum, making the arboretum a great place for family photos. The theme changes every year, so you can return and create new memories each season!
Tours of the historic DeGolyer house
The DeGolyer house was built in 1939 on the grounds of the arboretum and has been recently renovated to recreate the look it had in the 1940’s. The Spanish Colonial Revival style home was, at the time, designed to appear 100 years old. On an interesting side note, this was the first house in Dallas to have air conditioning. Imagine suffering through a stifling Texas summer without air!
Tours of the luxurious 21,000 square foot home are available daily and last about an hour. This extravagant home has been listed on both the National Register of Historic Places as well as the Texas Register of Historic Places.
The DeGolyers loved art and incorporated design elements from their travels around the world into the overall theme of their property – the end result is both eclectic and mesmerizing. There are many rare and unique decorative pieces throughout each room in the house, some original, others recreations.
A few photos below of unique design elements and artifacts found throughout the house…Note: the house was very dark, and thus, the photos did not come out as well as expected. I recommend exploring the beautiful property for yourself as pics do no justice!
Overall, I highly recommend a visit to the Dallas Arboretum. Whether you have time for a half day outing or are simply looking for a place to escape the city congestion for an hour or so, the Arboretum lives up to its’ reputation as a refreshing oasis in the middle of a bustling city. After just a short stroll around the manicured grounds, you will easily see why locals call this outstanding garden “the crowning jewel of Dallas.”
Location & Pricing info
The Dallas Arboretum is located at: 8525 Garland Rd, Dallas, TX 75218. Hours are 9am-5pm. Tickets can be ordered online or via the ticket booth. Adult admission is $20, seniors $16, and $12 per child aged 2-12. Entrance to the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden requires an additional small fee. Tram rides are free, although first come, first served.
Parking at the arboretum is $15, although cheaper parking can be found in nearby garages. Also, you will receive a discount by booking online.
Discount admission on various dates. Check the website for further details.
Free tours of the DeGolyer house area available every half hour beginning at 10am. You will ring the doorbell a few minutes prior to the tour start time.
The arboretum offers a Rainy Day policy where you receive free entry (with 3 months) if rain falls during your visit. This is nice as you do not have to lose out after paying a hefty admission fee.
Dining options include several casual cafes and a more formal experience at the Restaurant DeGolyer. Afternoon tea requires an advance reservation of at least 26 hours. Call 214-515-6511 or email [email protected] to reserve your spot.
Even better, check out a local restaurant while you are in town. A fabulous casual lunch option known as Torchy’s tacos is located just minutes away. This popular casual Tex-Mex restaurant first opened in Austin and has expanded to include several locations in Texas, Colorado, and Oklahoma. They offer a huge menus of tacos which are all a la carte so you can mix and match to your heart’s desire.