In a nutshell:
- What a relaxing oasis indeed! We’d recommend planning your visit around breakfast or lunch to enjoy a meal at Edna’s Eatery.
- What we ate: the Arizona Orange Smoothie and the Avocado Toast.
- Our Plant Scavenger Hunt Challenge for you: Try to find… The “scaredy cat” plant,… the plant that smells exactly like curry,… the plant that was used by Native Americans to weave baskets,… and the oldest tree in the Gardens!
We pulled into the Tucson Botanical Gardens parking lot bright and early on a Sunday morning. I was immediately filled with excitement and anticipation, even the wildflowers in the parking lot were gorgeous… a sign of what was about to come.
Another sign of what was about to come, my daughter freaking out over a bee. (She was stung by a wasp about a year ago and has never emotionally recovered… just about any flying insect sets off a threat level red.) I began to worry this might be a LONG morning.
We walked in the entrance, scanned the digital tickets we had bought, and got right to exploring. Lucy and I both noticed the almost immediate feeling of relaxation that washed over our bodies as we walked further into the gardens. We daydreamt that the gardens were our yard, what a life that would be! We passed patios surrounded by blooming flowers, cacti, and succulents.
That’s when we saw it, the cactus car… in all its bright yellow, Volkswagen-y, cactus-stuffed glory. I was infatuated… I am a self-professed cactus lover. Put a cactus on just about anything and I WILL want to buy it. (As you can probably imagine that made my trip to the gift shop a little tricky.) We continued walking down a path lined with all different kinds of cacti. My personal favorite, the saguaros, stood tall and majestic, contrasting perfectly against the solid blue sky.
At this point we decided to make a pit stop for breakfast. Edna’s eatery just opened a few weeks ago and is an exciting addition to the Tucson Botanical Gardens. The breakfast menu featured a few fresh (and fittingly garden inspired) drinks and dishes. We decided to go with smoothies and avocado toast (both of which were delicious). They also offer a lunch menu, we noticed it had a little more in the way of options and those options sounded very tasty. Edna’s eatery is run by Westward Look Resort. The chefs from the resort’s restaurant take turns rotating into Edna’s Eatery at the Gardens. (We thought that sounded like a fun job perk.) We took the remainder of our smoothies to go so we could enjoy them while we finished exploring the Gardens.
The Botanical Gardens include so many great attractions, I almost don’t know where to begin. Some of our adult favorites were the herb garden, flower draped gazebos, and plants of the Tohono O’odham path. The Gardens do a good job incorporating fun things for children as well. Each time my daughter was starting to get restless we would come upon something new that would capture her attention and imagination. Some of her favorites were the motion-activated tiny train/village, the butterfly enclosure, and the word garden (where she spent 20 minutes creating rock poems).
We found a plant called a “Scaredy Cat”… I let my daughter know that must be her spirit plant seeing as she continued to fearfully point out every bee within a 10 meter radius . We sniffed a plant that smells EXACTLY like curry (it was crazy). We stumbled across the “prehistoric plants” section and brushed against plants that lived alongside dinosaurs. The section even included a life-like dinosaur statue.
We admired the creosote bush, and I learned that if you rub its leaves between your fingers it smells like soap. This bush is also what causes that distinct desert smell when it rains (mmm, I love that smell). And don’t forget about the gift shop. I could have done some serious damage there, they sell a TON of cute merchandise!
This was the perfect way to spend a morning enjoying the ideal weather and company of a good friend. Lucy and I had a seriously great time. There are so many hidden gems scattered throughout the Tucson Botanical Gardens, we highly recommend you go explore and find some of your own!
- Edna’s Eatery is kind of a big deal for me seeing how as long as I’ve visited the Tucson Botanical Gardens, there’s never been a restaurant open on site. I am more delighted still because the food was light but DELICIOUS and I was able to walk around the Gardens with a fragrant smoothie in hand. What a dream!
- I love hanging out with Sam’s daughter! I too was a little worried she might not be entertained by the trip, but it is safe to say she had just as much fun as we did. And she definitely worked harder than I did on her poems in the Word Garden.
- The entire walk around the Tucson Botanical Gardens was such a relaxing experience. I’m coming back with a sketchbook!