Fall in love with the Cleveland Botanical Garden

September 17, 2015
Cleveland Botanical Garden

Denise Koeth

Garden lovers and wannabe botanists rejoice: fall is in full swing at the Cleveland Botanical Garden.

Located in the Cleveland cultural mecca of University Circle, the garden offers year-round beauty between its 10 acres of outdoor gardens and the 18,000-square-foot Eleanor Armstrong Smith Glasshouse (where visitors travel from the butterfly-filled Costa Rican rainforest to the spiny desert of Madagascar). However, autumn brings some particularly unique experiences as the garden celebrates ColorFall through Nov. 1.

Grab a sweater and a friend (or five) for Hoppy Hour at the Garden, held each Wednesday. Sip pale ales, dark lagers and other cool craft brews while discussing hops and horticulture with garden staff and local brewing experts. But don't drink too many samples, since you'll want to be steady on your feet for weekly flashlight tours, held each Wednesday evening.

ColorFall's other foodie favorites include Kitchen Garden Pizza Parties using seasonal ingredients every Thursday and savory seasonal food from the Garden Café served each day the garden is open, Tuesday through Sunday.

Families with little goblins will enjoy the Boo-tanical Bash trick-or-treat extravaganza, set for Oct. 24, as well as daily monarch butterfly tagging and special weekend activities in Hershey Children's Garden.

Plant purists can take in all the regular exhibits at the Botanical Garden, in addition to daily leaf walk tours and special harvesting by the Western Reserve Herb Society every Tuesday and Thursday. For hard-core enthusiasts, the society celebrates the herb of the year, elderberry, at its 70th annual herb fair Oct. 10.

Need even more plant beauty? If the weather is nice, enjoy a picnic at nearby Wade Park Lagoon, a garden paradise in its own right located just south of the Botanical Garden. Or trek north along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and East Boulevard to take in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, made up of 31 distinct gardens, each commemorating a different ethnic group whose immigrants have contributed to Cleveland's heritage.

For more foliage fun, head to Kirtland's Holden Arboretum, which recently integrated with the Botanical Garden. Two brand new structures - Canopy Walk and Emergent Tower - let visitors get a bird's eye view of the fall color. The canopy walk features 500 feet of elevated bridges, while the tower reaches 120 feet above the forest floor.

Once your legs recover from that heights-induced jelly-like feeling, check out the Arboretum's more than 20 miles of hiking trails, multiple gardens and sprawling natural areas.

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