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Are the Elizabethan Gardens in Outer Banks, NC a Good Place to Take Kids?

The gracefully manicured Elizabethan Gardens is the perfect getaway for families. Visitors from various parts of the world come here to have a one-on-one experience with different species of plants and wildlife.

The Elizabethan Gardens is a place created for utmost fun and enjoyment, especially for those interested in history, shopping, art, and architecture, but is it a good place for young kids?

Yes, the Elizabethan Gardens is a good place for kids, thanks to the endless fun-filled, inspiring, and educational activities available. You don’t have to break the bank when visiting the gardens because there are plenty of free things your kids can do and make lasting memories.

If you’re headed to the Outer Banks for a summer vacation, or happen to live somewhere on the eastern seaboard, you should consider taking your kids to the Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo, NC.

In this post, I will discuss a bunch of activities for kids in the garden and what you need to know before visiting. Also, I will guide you on how you can plan your visit and make the most out of it.

What Kids Activities Are There At The Elizabethan Gardens?

Experience Arts in The Gardens

Let your kids see what the North Carolina art community offers by visiting the Elizabethan gardens. They will love seeing how different jewelry is made, and how watercolors, acrylics, and oils are used to create unique paintings.

If your kids love arts and are interested in showing their work at the gardens, they are allowed to do so, but you must first fill out a visitor’s participatory form for them. This will be a great way to motivate your budding artists.

Little Diggers

This is an activity full of fun for kids aged between 3 to 5 years. Little Diggers is a cottage for hands-on learning where your kids are taught about gardening and treated to arts and crafts and some snacks.

Make sure you sign up in advance to reserve your space and accompany your little one to the little digger session. The freedom to play with soil without worrying about getting dirty or messing things up is something the little ones will appreciate during the trip.

Grand Butterfly Release Experience

Your young ones will have a fantastic time as they release butterflies into the skies of the beautiful garden.

The release is usually done at 10.30 am. Make sure you get to the Gardens early, so you don’t miss it.

Sometimes the activity may be postponed because of weather factors, but that shouldn’t worry you because you will be able to use your ticket on another date. The only disadvantage is if you don’t live within because coming back might be tricky.

The Winterlights Event

Begin the holiday season in high spirits by experiencing the winter lights at the Elizabethan Gardens. During the event, the 10-acre garden is transformed into a beautiful sight with lights illuminating the gardens.

The hundreds of thousands of lights are beautifully scattered all over the place, making the gardens a magical winter land. It’s a sight your kids will be sure to remember years afterward.

The Butterfly Festival

Visit the Elizabethan Gardens and let your kids have an experience like no other by celebrating the magical butterfly festival. The festival is held at the John White Butterfly Center and runs for a month.

There are plenty of games and activities and different alluring events for all ages that your kids can’t afford to miss. The festival is also a perfect way to help your kids learn all about butterflies.

The Harvest HayDay

This is one of the best fall fun traditions at the Elizabethan Gardens. It’s a day where colors, flavors, and fun are combined.

During the event, the little ones can stuff a scarecrow, take a hayride around the gardens, enjoy twisting and turning through the hay bale maze, or make educational crafts.

They can also have their faces painted, listen to stories and music, and many more. If the weather is chilly, the visitors can snuggle up to a bonfire and keep warm as they sip a hot cup of cocoa with a pumpkin pie slice.

Visit The Sunken Garden

This is a historic gem at the heart of the Elizabethan Gardens, and for over 100 years, it’s been home to a collection of rare tropical plants in North Carolina.

You will be guided through the meandering paths tucked in between a living collection of over 50,000 tropical flowers and plants. The garden also features waterfalls and lots of flamingos.

What You Need To Know About The Elizabethan Gardens

Lunch and tour program

The tour program package includes your entrance to the Gardens, lunch, and a fantastic informative session, if desired. You will get a VIP tour around the garden and enjoy a lunch served in any place of your choice.

The Royal Rose garden or the Great Lawn are the best places to take your lunch, thanks to the competent staff and various food options available.

However, this program is only for a group of more than twenty people, and you have to pay a deposit to book the package.


Visitors have to pay for admission, but this is worth every penny. Prices are very reasonable, especially if you’re taking kids along. Adult tickets are $12, youth (6-17) are $8, kids (3-5) are $5, and 2 and under is free.

Like in most places, tickets are non-refundable. You should note that the last tickets are sold one hour before the garden is closed in the evening. Any unused ticket is kept as a donation to the garden.

When to Visit The Garden

The Elizabethan Gardens are open from Monday to Sunday all year round except on Thanksgiving Days, the 24th and 25th of December, and the 1st of January. The park also remains closed during February.

The opening hours differ from time to time, but on normal days they open at 9:00 am and close at 6:00 PM.

These gardens are beautiful and will fit the entire family’s interests at any time of the year.

How To Prepare For a Visit to the Elizabethan Gardens

If you want to visit the Elizabethan Gardens, get yourself a ticket. Contact the customer service, and you will be guided on how to do it. Tickets are also available online. In certain cases, you can find some good offers, especially if you’re coming with a large group.

If you are one of those who prefer homemade food, you can make a snack and bring along a bottle of water. This tip comes in handy if you have a child who is picky or allergic to some foods.

However, the garden has all kinds of food and snacks, so if you want to pack light, you can get whatever you want for your family within the park.

This is how memories are made! Remember to carry a camera and capture some photos of blossoms, flying butterflies, soaring birds, and playful squirrels, and especially the looks of delight on your kids’ faces as they experience this beautiful place with you.

Tips On How To Relax At Elizabethan Gardens

Once you get there, plan how you will visit each site and enjoy yourself to the fullest.

Here are some tips on how you can enjoy yourself (and guide your kids) as you stroll around.

  • Take a seat on one of the cast stone seats. Keep your eyes closed and take a deep breath of the fresh air as you therapeutically unwind and forget the bustle of daily life for a moment.
  • Keep an eye out for birds! The gardens are located along the North Carolina Birding Trail.
  • Take a moment to admire the spreading arms of the Ancient Live Oak tree.
  • While strolling along the dappled-shaded trails, take note of the sunlight points above you created by the tree tops.
  • Pause to artistically frame some great photos of all the blooming flowers, the rose garden, and the Great Lawn.

No holiday trip to North Carolina is complete without visiting the Elizabethan Gardens. Whether you’re visiting for work or want to have fun with your kids, this garden should be on your travel list.

There is no reason why you should not visit the Elizabethan Garden. This garden is an excellent area to reconnect with nature. Make plans to visit during summer and enjoy the garden’s beauty and refreshment.