Autumn at the Arboretum {Family Fun in Dallas}

It's Pumpkin Time at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden!  Everywhere you look you are surrounding by autumn beauty.  There are pumpkins and beautiful fall plantings throughout the garden.  

However, the highlight of the Arboretum is Dallas' most anticipated fall festival, Autumn at the Arboretum.  For the 12th year, Autumn at the Arboretum includes the nationally acclaimed Pumpkin Village featuring pumpkin houses and creative displays utilizing more than 90,000 pumpkins, gourds and squash, along with hay bales and cornstalks.  The Pumpkin Village theme this year is “Pumpkins, Squashes and Gourds, Oh My!” based on the beloved book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  How fun!

It all begins at Autie Em's house which was picked up by a tornado and plopped down in Munchkinland.  My daughter had us all act out the story as we went along.

The house landed on top of one of those mean wicked witches.  These witch feet are just the cutest touch!

The best part?  We got to travel through Pumpkin Village on an actual yellow-brick road, spiraling through Pecan Grove with stops at each major occurrence in the story of Dorothy and her adventures in the Land of with pumpkins, squashes and gourds!

We met the Scarecrow.

We met the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion.

But watch out!  The Flying Monkeys captured us and flew us to the Witch's Castle.

We finally made it to the wonderful land of Oz which greeted us with more pumpkins.

We pretended to ride in a carriage carried by the colorful horses of Oz.

My kids both had fun re-living the magical story of Dorothy and her friends as they were surrounded by pumpkins.  What a delightful fall festival.  You really must check it out but have fun with your kids while you are there and let your imagination take you away to Oz.

Over the bridge that crosses the river of pumpkins and swan-necked gourds, lies more pumpkins galore and a great setting for those obligatory pictures of your kids surrounded in a sea of orange.

There really are pumpkins everywhere you look.

And there are more than a few great spots for posed family pictures.

I love that the displays of squash, gourds, and pumpkins are educational.  There are several of each kind so you can see variants in their appearance and they are nicely labeled.  Spend some time here with your kids.  Ask them what differences they notice between them in color, size, and texture.  Ask them why they think they are named the way they are.

Ask your kids which is their favorite and why.  Let them think about whether any of the squash, gourds, or pumpkins remind them of something else?

I asked my kids to look around the grounds and find the most unique item to show me.  Nicholas found a scary spider looking one and Rachel found one that looks like a tulip.  These kids are so very different from each other...and I love it!

Here are some fun stats on this year's Pumpkin Village.  Challenge your kids to look for some of these during your visit:

150,000: Fall blooming flowers and plants
90,000: number of pumpkins, gourds, and squash that make up the Pumpkin Village
12,000: Bricks along the yellow brick road
2,000: Square Feet of the Yellow Brick Road
3,000: Ears of corn
1,500: Corn stalks in the Pumpkin Village 900: Bales of hay 48: number of workers it takes to decorate the garden for Autumn Festival
22: number of pumpkin types
21: the number of days it takes to build the Pumpkin Village
17: number of types of squash
7: number of gourd types
4: number of pumpkin houses
3: Flying Monkeys
1: number of acres in the Pumpkin Village
Emerald City: Green Hexagon Pumpkin House
Witch’s Castle: Square Pumpkin House accented with dark plants
Munchkin Land: Circle Pumpkin House

Auntie Em’s House: Small Pumpkin House 

This little squirrel found his favorite pumpkin and was chewing heartily away at it!

The Arboretum will even amaze you in the parking lot....look at this giant oak leaf Rachel found!

A myriad of activities take place throughout the garden on weekdays and weekends during Autumn at the Arboretum:

Cool Thursdays Concerts
Thursdays, September 7 - October 26
7-9 p.m.
Dallas' premier outdoor concert series, presented by Wells Fargo, returns this fall with a fabulous band lineup. Gates open at 6 p.m. All concerts include some of Dallas/Fort Worth's favorite food trucks. Concerts are already beginning to sell out. To purchase tickets and view the band lineup, visit the Cool Thursdays Concerts page.

Oktoberfest Garden
11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Café on the Green
The menu at Café on the Green features traditional German cuisine, including various kinds of sausage and beer. Take a break and enjoy a delicious Octoberfest-inspired meal through November 22.

Mommy & Me Mondays and Tiny Tot Tuesdays
Mondays & Tuesdays through November 21
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Sponsored by: Kimberly-Clark
Enjoy fun, kid-friendly activities in Pecan Grove, adjacent to the pumpkin village. Activities include face painting, a petting zoo, silhouette artist and music by KinderMusic.

Harvest Tea
Monday-Friday (September 25-November 22)
11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Elegant seated tea service served inside the beautiful historic DeGolyer House, includes a seated, three-course high tea experience, while taking in the breathtaking fall displays. Tea prices begin at $49 per person and also include garden admission and parking. Add champagne service for $59 per person.  Reservations required.  Book online at or call at 214-515-6511.

Zumba in the Gardens
Wednesday evenings (September 27-October 11)
6:30-7:30 p.m.
Martin Rutchik Concert Stage & Lawn
Join high-energy Zumba instructor, Martha Palacios, for a one-hour Zumba class.

Dallas County Master Gardners in the Garden (NEW)
Thursdays (September 29-November 16)
11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Members of the Dallas County Master Gardeners are on-site to answer any questions guests may have regarding what's growing in the garden.

Every weekend:
Beer Tastings (NEW)
Saturday, September 23 and 30: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Sunday, September 24 and October 1: 12-3 p.m.
Café on the Green
Enjoy a beer tasting at Café on the Green, located centrally in the garden.  It is the perfect spot to take in the beauty of the garden while enjoying a beer. $10 per tasting, which allows each guest to try four 2 oz. pours of each beer.

Live Music
Saturdays: 12-3 p.m.
Sundays: 1-4 p.m.
Musicians specializing in a variety of music, such as Spanish guitar and folk guitar, play throughout the garden every weekend during autumn. Bring a picnic and relish in the music. Check the website for specific locations, line-ups and artists' bios.

Garden Sized Games (NEW)
Saturdays & Sundays
9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Pecan Grove
Enjoy giant-sized games like Connect Four, Yardzee, Corn-Hole and Jenga in Pecan Grove. Games are available to play on a first come, first served basis.

Special Weekends:
Urban Wildlife Photography Workshop
September 23 & 24
11:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.
Pecan Grove
Back by popular demand, Urban Wildlife photographer Chris Jackson will be conducting two workshops per day. No reservation is necessary and this activity is free with paid garden admission.

NEW Chula Hoop Performance and Class
September 30 & October 1
11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. & 3:00 p.m. each day
Chula Hoop USA Performance & Hoop Jam
Hoop Jam: Terrace at the Camp House
Join internationally renowned hula hoop group, Chula Hoop USA, for an Oktoberfest themed hula hoop performance, followed by a hand's on class on the Terrace at the Camp House.  While most hulahoops are one size fits all, Chula Hoop gives garden guests the unique opportunity to find the perfect fit, along with instruction from a seasoned professional.  This activity is free with paid garden admission.

Columbus Day Weekend
Eddie Coker Children's Concert
Monday, October 9, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Eddie Coker, sponsored by Dallas Child, performs children-friendly music on the Martin Rutchik Concert Stage.  Family fun activities, Friday-Monday, 10 a.m. - 2p.m, face painting and petting zoo in the Pecan Grove.

Live Music:
Randy Vradenburg, Saturday, October 7, 12-3 p.m.
The sounds of pop, country, rock, jazz, blues, adult contemporary, and classical. 

Tomás Sclar, Sunday, October 8, 1-4 p.m.
Named "Best Flamenco Guitarist in DFW" by The Dallas Observer 2012.
Pumpkin Carver Weekend (NEW)
Saturday, October 21 & Sunday, October 22
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Martin Rutchik Concert Stage & Lawn
Master Piece Pumpkins' Gene Granata carves pumpkins for all ages through live demonstrations. Purchase pumpkin carving kits in the Hoffman Family Gift Store and pumpkins at the Tom Thumb Pumpkin Patch.

Family Fun Weekend
Saturday, October 28 & Sunday, October 29
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Celebrate Halloween with trick-or-treating throughout the garden, face painting, a petting zoo, and a magician in Pecan Grove. Guests are encouraged to bring their own trick or treat bag.

Ghoul's Night Out (NEW)
Wednesday, October 18
6-8 p.m.
Crape Myrtle Allee
Join the Dallas Arboretum "Ghoul's Night Out," featuring fun activities such as palm readings, handwriting analysis and a caricature artist drawing guests in a "ghoul-y" fashion. No "Ghoul's Night Out" would be complete without wine, live music and food trucks. Wine will be available for purchase, and three food trucks will be on-site. Guests are also welcome to bring a picnic.

North Texas Gourd Association Demonstrations
Every Thursday in October, and November 2
10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Crape Myrtle Allee
The North Texas Gourd Association creates items, such as jewelry and decorative accessories, with gourds.

National Pumpkin Day
Thursday, October 26
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
There is no better place to celebrate National Pumpkin Day during the fall festival. Celebrate this holiday by indulging in pumpkin flavored foods at select dining areas; visit the website for more specific items.

Dia de los Muertos (NEW)
Wednesday, November 1
6-8 p.m.
Celebrate the "Day of the Dead" with activities located throughout the garden including, a face painting competition, a henna tattoo artist, a DJ and mask-making. Wine and beer are available for purchase, along with three food trucks. Guests are welcome to bring picnics.
Día de Los Muertos Face Painting Competition
Guests are encouraged to paint their faces in the style of the holiday at home and then celebrate the Day of the Dead by entering a face painting competition. Judges assess all competitors present by 6:30 p.m. and the winner is announced at 7:30 p.m. First place gets a great, Mexican-themed gift basket. See website for full competition rules and details.

Hoffman Family Gift Store Book Signings/Events:
Book Signing-Saturday, September 23
11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Join the creator of The Round Top Collection, Jeff Krause, to purchase a signed piece of art from this popular line of gifts and home décor.  Additional book signings and highlights include gourd craft demonstrations, Imported Gourmet Foods and Eating Well Seriesbook signings.  Visit website for full list of Gift Store events.

Book Signing--Saturday, September 30
11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Join author Diane Box for a book signing of Fred's Texas Stampede.

Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden:
Children's Adventure Garden Fourth Birthday Celebration
Friday, September 22
6-8 p.m.
$10 General Admission
Celebrate the Children's Adventure Garden's Fourth Birthday with a special guest, an OmniGlobe presentation, lively music and a Birthday Lab.

Evening Trick-or-Treating in the Children's Adventure Garden
Friday, October 28-Sunday, October 30
6-9 p.m.
$10 General Admission
Come in dressed in a Halloween costume for a spooky maze tour, glowing programs and a Halloween-themed Lab.

Johnny Appleseed Weekend
September 23 & 24
Throughout the Children's Adventure Garden
8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day with a Johnny Appleseed puppet show, apple-themed programs, and a special apple tasting.

TECH Truck
September 30 & November 11
The Moody Oasis
1-3 p.m.
Tinker, Engineer, Create, Hack! Join the TECH Truck staff from the Perot Museum for a hands-on experience where there is no limit to creativity.

Dinosaurs Rock
October 22
The Glade
11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m. & 2 p.m.
Explore the prehistoric world with DINOSAURS ROCK®! Get up close with life-size dinosaur fossils, eggs, skulls and skeletons. Learn amazing facts about the history behind these fascinating creatures.

National Chemistry Week
October 22-28
Throughout the Children's Adventure Garden
12 p.m. & 3:30 p.m.
Enjoy an entire week of chemistry magic in the Children's Adventure Garden. Explore the Plant Lab for Milk Macromolecules and a different chemistry program every afternoon.

BOGO Wednesday and Arboretum After Hours
Wednesdays (September 27-October 18)
9 a.m.-8 p.m.
Buy one, get one free admission every Wednesday; offer is valid for Arboretum After Hours.

C.C. Young Senior Thursdays
Thursdays (September 28-November 16)
9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Seniors can enjoy $11 admission and a 20 percent discount at the Hoffman Family Gift Store. Discount is only available at the ticket booth.

$2 State Fair Discount (September 29-October 22)
Present ticket stub for $2 off general admission.

Tom Thumb $1 off General Garden Admission (September 23-November 22)

Tom Thumb offers $1 off general garden admission tickets, available at area Tom Thumb and Albertson's locations. 

About the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden:  
The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is located on the southeastern shore of White Rock Lake at 8525 Garland Road, Dallas, Texas 75218. The Dallas Arboretum is also the home of the internationally acclaimed Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden. The Arboretum is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. General admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors 65 and older, $10 for children 3-12 and free for Arboretum members and children two and under. There is an additional cost of $3 per person for entrance into the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden. On-site parking is $15; pre-purchased online parking is $8.

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