Each visit to the Tyler Arboretum is a chance to discover something new. It has a wild, natural feel that gives it a more casual layout than other arboretums. That more approachable feel goes hand in hand with the fun structures and historic buildings that dot the grounds. Whimsical and wild, the Tyler Arboretum has always been a favorite with Daily Vacationer.
The story of the Arboretum began in March of 1681 when Quaker Thomas Minshall purchase 625 acres of land from William Penn right after he had been given his colony from King Charles II. The land was passed down generation to generation until 150 years later, Minshall and Jacob Painter began planting trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants on their land systematically. In 1944, Laura Tyler bequeathed the property to the public. Now known as the Tyler Arboretum, the first director, Dr. John C. Wister, spent the 1940s through the 1960s developing new horticultural exhibits on what had grown to 650 acres.
550 acres of the Tyler Arboretum can be explored through its extensive 17 mile trail system. A trail for all different walking and running levels, they vary in distance from the 1.4 mile Middle Farm Trail to the 7.4 mile Minshall Trail. Discover an abundance of natural points of interest from streams, meadows, and forest, as well as historic ruins from farms and homes of past years. A trail map can be picked up at the Visitor Center.
The remaining 100 acres of the Arboretum is protected by deer fencing and is home to various gardens and horticultural exhibits, as well as more modern day additions such as the Totally Terrific Treehouses and the Butterfly House. A separate map for just this section of the Tyler Arboretum can also be picked up at the Visitor Center. There's a lot to see, so Daily Vacationer recommends plotting out your visit ahead of time, otherwise you'll get so excited to explore the treehouses that you'll miss finding out who lives along the Magical Path and under the old wooden door up in the North Woods or discovering the smells, sights, and sounds of the Fragrant Garden and Bird Garden next to the Barn. And don't skip the treehouses assuming that they are only for kids! We had a great time scrambling through Hobbit Hollow, braving the swaying heights of Outlook, and imagining a cozy winter living in the brand new Tulip Tree House.
Other favorite points of interest of ours were the Giant Sequoia along the Scenic Loop, Thoreau's Cabin overlooking the Pond, the Vegetable Garden, and the Stopford Family Meadow Maze. We were also big fans of the generous hammocks we stumbled across behind the Butterfly House - don't be afraid to wander off the path!
Even with as much time as we spent at the Tyler Arboretum, we still didn't get to explore everything - and that was just in the smaller, fenced in section! This is the kind of place where you're really going to want to keep coming back again and again. We highly recommend purchasing a membership, so you can enjoy and discover all year long. Memberships start at only $60 and also enroll you in the reciprocal benefits of the American Horticultural Society. We also love how members with grandchildren can bring them along for free! The Tyler Arboretum also offers a variety of volunteer opportunities for ages 14 to 80+.
On top of the changing seasons and permanent exhibits, the Arboretum also hosts numerous special exhibits, events, tours, and programs throughout the year. From lectures and children's programs to fitness classes and hikes, there is something for everyone. Their schedule is also packed with fun festivals and seasonal celebrations such as the incredibly popular Pumpkin Days (Oct 18th and 19th!), the Pancake Breakfast and Maple Sugaring Celebration, and the Fairy Festival. The Arboretum is also a participant in National Public Gardens Day with free admission with special coupon every year in May. This beautiful location is also available to rent for weddings, corporate events, and private parties.
Follow Daily Vacationer: