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Tips for Visiting the Dallas Arboretum

Dallas Arboretum is great for picnics. (photo by Tui Snider)
Dallas Arboretum is great for picnics. (photo by Tui Snider)

Quinceaneras Bloom at the Dallas Arboretum

A couple of weeks ago, I finally visited the Dallas Arboretum for the first time. What a fabulous place! On the day I went, the park was full of people, including several young ladies decked out in Quinceañera dresses. If, like me, you are new to Texas, you may not have seen these 15-year-old Hispanic debutantes before. With their tiaras and evening gowns, it’s easy to mistake them for young brides.

It was a gorgeous spring-like day in January, and I snapped a ton of photos, sharing some of them on Twitter via my beloved (How I love that app!) Now I’m going to share a few photos with you, as well as some tips for visiting the arboretum (you really should go!)

Dallas Arboretum crape myrtles. (photo by Tui Snider)
Dallas Arboretum crape myrtles. (photo by Tui Snider)

12 Distinct Gardens

The Dallas Arboretum spans 66 acres along the south shore of White Rock Lake. A series of well-kept pathways links to 12 distinctly different gardens throughout this well-groomed park, where a full staff (helped out by 400+ volunteers) makes sure there is always something blooming.

Dallas Arboretum frog. (photo by Tui Snider)
Dallas Arboretum frog. (photo by Tui Snider)

Open Every Day (almost!)

Another great thing is that the Dallas Arboretum is open nearly every day, which is perfect for those spontaneous, “what is there to do today?” moments. The garden only closes three days each year: Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Otherwise, its open daily from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Quinceaneara at the Dallas Arboretum. (photo by Tui Snider)
Quinceaneara at the Dallas Arboretum. (photo by Tui Snider)

Rainy Day Guarantee

If it rains during your visit, stop by the ticket booth and the attendant will give you a pass for free admission on your next visit, as long as your return is within three months of that rainy day. Of course, it doesn’t rain too often in Texas, so the arboretum can get away with a policy like that. Up in the Seattle area, where I hail from, this idea would put a park out of business pretty quickly!

A book & a bottle of wine at the Dallas Arboretum. (photo by Tui Snider)
A book & a bottle of wine at the Dallas Arboretum. (photo by Tui Snider)

Bring a Picnic…

Picnicking is encouraged and there are plenty of scenic places for you to set up, whether you sit right on the ground or you prefer a picnic table. Food, coolers, glass containers, and picnic blankets are all permissable. You may even bring booze – just drink responsibly, and clean up after yourself, but you already knew that, didn’t you?

Winter at the Dallas Arboretum. (photo by Tui Snider)
Winter at the Dallas Arboretum. (photo by Tui Snider)

… or Dine at an On-Site Restaurant

If you work up an appetite and don’t have a picnic basket with you, there are two restaurants located in the Dallas Arboretum.

The Lula Mae Slaughter Terrace Restaurant is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., and until 5:00 during festivals. The menu features seasonal soups, hot and cold sandwiches and salads. Dine on the terrace, or take it to go, and eat it picnic style at a pretty spot in the garden.

The DeGolyer Garden Cafeis open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. It is located in the historic DeGolyer Mansion (see below) and offers a variety of soups, salads, quiches and desserts in an elegant setting.

You might also consider dining at Kalachandji’s Restaurant & Palace before or after your visit, since it’s only a short drive away. That’s what I did on my recent visit. Here’s a review I wrote about it, Kalachandji’s Restaurant & Palace: Good Food Which Just Happens to be Vegetarian. I love that place!

January at the Dallas Arboretum (photo by Tui Snider)
January at the Dallas Arboretum (photo by Tui Snider)

Free Tour of the DeGolyer Mansion

Make sure you take a free tour of the DeGolyer Mansion,when you visit. Although built in 1939,this Latin Colonial revival styled house is meant to look much older. The Dallas Arboretum doesn’t allow photos, so I can’t show you the interior, but they don’t call it a mansion for nothing. This 21,000 square foot dwelling (the library alone is 1750 square feet) was once the home of a wealthy geologist and his wife. Interestingly enough, Mr. DeGolyer was born in a tiny sod house much like the replica you will see in the Texas Town section of the arboretum.

Tours (free with arboretum admission) are available Monday – Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and Sundays from 12:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. It may take the docents a while to answer the door, but don’t give up, they really are in there.

Family picnic at the Dallas Arboretum. (photo by Tui Snider)
Family picnic at the Dallas Arboretum. (photo by Tui Snider)

Getting around the gardens: free trams and wheelchairs

The Dallas Arboretum offers free trams, which are basically fancy golf carts, to zip people around. Even if you are full of energy, these can be a good way to get a feel for the layout of the gardens on your first visit. While they aren’t official tour guides, the tram drivers know a lot about the gardens and are happy to answer questions.

Wheelchairs are also available on a first-come, first-served basis for those with limited mobility, and wagons for toting kids (and picnic items) are available for a $5 rental fee.

Hours, Admission, Parking & Address

Admission Price:

Adults: $12
Senior Citizens (65+): $10
Children (3 – 12): $8
Children under 3 are Free

Members: Free

Parking: At $7 per car, parking is pricey here. During busy times, the garden provides free shuttle buses to take people from off-site parking directly to the ticket booth.


Dallas Arboretum
8525 Garland Rd
Dallas, TX 75218

Please note: While all the above information is accurate as of this writing, hours, prices and so forth are subject to change.

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Tui Snider
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Published inTravel Photo Essays


  1. Bettie41 Bettie41

    This is a perfect place to visit! I think I will have a great time having my family there for a picnic! Thank you for sharing the information regarding

    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Hi Bettie,

      The Dallas Arboretum is a great place for a picnic. Thanks for stopping by!


  2. I have to tell you that you are making me want to go to places I had never really thought I would want to go before. This looks very appealing, and wine and a book… Divine. :D

    This inspires me to go looking around for interesting parks and places of interest to photograph and send you a little walk through of something delicious in the Atlanta area. There is much to see here and I have only viewed a small part of it. They even have a monastery a bit outside of town. Hmmmm, I think it is time to pull out my camera and go exploring between my writing jaunts. Need to feed my brain anyway. :D

    Love visiting your blog posts Tui, Thank you for a lovely journey.


    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Hi Morgan,

      A monastery? I would love to see some photo essays from you. I know nothing about the Atlanta area. I hope your inspiration continues! :)

      I love exploring places wherever I am, taking photos, then writing about it. Guess that’s why I enjoy travel writing so much.


  3. I love the Arboretum! My church group would volunteer during the fall and my favorite part was working the Pumpkin Patch. I love helping the parents out while trying to make their kids smile for the photos!

    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Hi Sonia,

      I look forward to visiting the arboretum in all seasons. The photos I’ve seen of the pumpkin houses are impressive. Sounds like you have some really fun memories there! :)

      p.s. Are you getting snow in Torino?

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