Updated for 2020.
If it weren’t for your kids, would you still take time to stop and smell the roses? Treat your little nature lovers (and yourself) to an idyllic escape via a visit to the gorgeous Reiman Gardens, where in addition to the blooming flowers and butterflies there are an abundance of activities geared especially for little outdoor explorers.
Know Before You Go
- Hours of Operation: Open daily year-round. May 1 through September 30 – 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, Rest of the year – 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.
- Cost of General Admission: $9 for adults ages 13 to 64; $8 for seniors ages 65 and up; $4.50 for kids ages 2 to 12; FREE for kids ages 2 and under.
- Parking: There is plenty of FREE parking available. Reiman Gardens’ parking is located in the Jack Trice Football Stadium lot. You’ll want to note that there is NO guest parking available on ISU home football game days.
- Food: Outside food and beverages are permitted and it’s a great place for a picnic. The Gift Shop, located at the Main Entrance has a few snacks available.
- Restrooms: There are a few restrooms throughout the site. Two are located near the Main Entrance and the other is in the Hunziker House.
- Prior to your visit check out Reiman Gardens’ website where you’ll find everything you need to know.
While You’re There
Located on the Iowa State University campus in Ames, Reiman Gardens covers 17 acres with 26 distinct garden areas and several structures including the Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing and the Conservatory. This horticulture garden offers an ever-changing kaleidoscope of colors and has up to 800 butterflies that enchant visitors in its tropical sanctuary. Reiman Gardens welcomes everyone, especially children.
We have visited Reiman Gardens a few times and always look forward to our next visit. You enter the complex at the Main Entrance where you can purchase tickets, grab a map and information about each of the gardens. There’s also restrooms and a nice gift shop located here. It usually takes us two-three hours to walk around the entire attraction.
The Gardens are spread out and you’re in for a lot of walking. You will want to bring a stroller or wagon along if you have small kids. You will also want to note that the terrain can be uneven in some areas. There are paved and crushed rock paths that wind around from garden to garden. You’ll want to be sure to wear good walking shoes and don’t forget to bring along a hat and sunscreen.
Seven Fun Activities for Kids at Reiman Gardens
1. Explore the Flowers and Gardens
Of course, the main reason to visit Reiman Gardens is to behold the breathtaking array of flowers and ever-changing landscape. Kids can meander through several different themed gardens including an herb garden, three different rose gardens, test gardens, a hillside garden, water garden and more. There are lots of colorful plants, fountains, bridges, stepping stones and other fun features that children will love exploring.
2. Hangout in the Children’s Garden
With agriculture as its theme, the Children’s Garden contains elements reminiscent of Iowa’s agricultural heritage. Features include a hideout, a maze, tumbling mounds, a butterfly bench, and a stock tank with hand pumps to squirt water at unsuspecting friends. Hangout in the amphitheater that often features youth programs. Or walk through the covered bridge and say, “Hello” to the bronzed sculpture “Shep”, the barnyard dog. Remember to rub Shep’s nose for good luck!
3. Flutter Into the Butterfly Wing
This tropical paradise is home to up to 800 live butterflies representing up to 80 different species. Reiman Gardens is permitted to display almost 1,000 different butterflies of native and exotic species, so there’s always something new to see. While visiting, notice how the structure of the Wing resembles a butterfly. Apart from its unique architecture and colorful butterflies other notable plants and features include the travelers palm (Ravenala madagascariensis), fishtail palm (Caryota mitis) and tranquil waterfall and pond.
4. Visit Elwood
Be sure to visit and check out Elwood, the World’s Largest Concrete Gnome. He keeps watch in the Home Production Garden which is located in the area surrounding the Hunziker House called the Town & Country Garden. This fifteen-foot gnome is a unique and delightful recreation of the traditional and much smaller garden dweller. Of course, Reiman Gardens is much larger than a typical home garden and it takes a big gnome to keep it neat and tidy! Elwood loves to have his picture taken, so don’t disappoint him.
5. Check out the Latest Exhibit
Reiman Gardens continually features fun exhibits that both kids and parents will enjoy checking out. “Wild and Whimsical” is Reiman Gardens’ 2020 theme. At the start of this year, Reiman Gardens hosts “Magical Fairy Woodland” in the Hughes Conservatory. “Nature Connects: Art with LEGO® Bricks” runs from May 16 – July 5, 2020 and “Ribbit the Exhibit” July 8 – October 4, 2020.
6. Take in a Story
Reiman Gardens hosts children’s story time throughout the year. Currently, Caterpillar Club, takes place every Thursday at 10:00 am until April 2, 2020. Each session features a theme with two or three books read aloud followed by a related craft or activity. The books, crafts and activities are intended for children ages five and under. FREE with admission, registration is recommended.
7. Give Your Kids the Camera
Hand your camera over to the kids. Reiman Gardens is a great place for kids to learn and practice photography skills. There is beauty in every direction, so they’re likely to bring home some fun photos, no matter what.
1407 University Boulevard
Ames, IA 50011
What are your tips for a family fun day at Reiman Gardens?