When you need a quick nature fix, want gardening ideas for your home, or need a fun and free family activity, look no further than the USU Botanical Center in Kaysville, Utah.
This article was written by my sister Andrea. She is an avid traveler and the favorite aunt to her nine nieces and nephews. She has a friend who works at USU Botanical Center and recently took her on a tour of all the fun things there are to do and see there.
Gotta say, it was impressive!
The Botanical Center is open from sunrise to sunset, every day of the year. It's home to many fun family activities. Best of all, most of the activities are FREE!
Here is our list of fun things to do at USU Botanical Center in Kaysville, Utah.
Edible Demonstration Garden and Orchard
One of my favorite places is the edible garden. This garden is to showcases non-traditional and new varieties of produce that can be successfully grown in Utah.
The Botanical Center has grown cotton, soybeans, okra, sweet potatoes, and popcorn. There are many varieties of berries and fruit – such as honeyberries, which are like blueberries but much more adaptable to Utah soil.
Visitors are encouraged to sample all the fruits and vegetables while visiting. You just can't take it home with you. Much of the produce in the garden is donated to local families in need.
Urban Farm Demonstration Garden
Urban farming is a rapidly growing trend in Utah. This garden teaches visitors how to best use small spaces and achieve consistent and plentiful harvests.
The cut flower section is a unique feature of this garden. Gorgeous flowers are harvested throughout the growing season and turned into beautiful bouquets. Then they are donated to local hospitals and elder care facilities to brighten the day of someone who may need a smile.
The 7-acre Varga Arboretum is home to over 400 trees that are well suited to Utah climate and soil. A winding grass path with benches scattered throughout makes the arboretum a beautiful walk where visitors can discover full grown trees that would be a wonderful addition to a home landscape.
If you are looking for some landscaping ideas for your home or just want a shady spot to sit and watch while your kids play hide-and-seek in the trees, the Varga Arboretum is a good choice.
Stokes Iris and Grass Garden
A child-friendly grass labyrinth is the center of the Stokes Iris and Grass Garden. This garden contains an impressive collection of unique iris that bloom late spring to early summer. There is also a dwarf conifer collection. The garden is lined with crabapples and daffodils that bloom throughout the spring.
The USU Botanical Center is home to a great Farmers’ Market throughout the summer (2nd week in July to the end of September). The market typically features fresh produce, honey, fresh flowers, crafts, and baked goods from local producers.
The market runs every Thursday 5 pm to dusk and is located on USUBC Quad. Turn east onto 875 South from 50 West, the parking lot is on your right.
Baby Animal Days
Baby Animal Days is held every year on Mother’s Day weekend. It is an opportunity for families to enjoy hands-on interaction with chicks, rabbits, sheep, goats, cows, horses, and llamas.
Expect food vendors, shows and live entertainment. Sheep shearing, a horse farrier (horseshoeing), goat milking, and bottle feeding the baby animals are all usually on the agenda.
This event is not free. You can purchase a family pass or single admission. Each pass comes with a one free horse ride and one free train ride. You can find more information about this event here.
The Art Tunnel
The Art Tunnel is located just west of the Farmers’ Market venue and runs under 50 West. It is a quick and easy way to access the four ponds on the west side of the property and the walking trails nearby.
Murals adorn the tunnel and are painted annually by local high school art students.
USU Botanical Center has four ponds – Blood’s Pond, Slough Pond, Barton’s Pond, and South Pond. They are all stocked for fishing and are easy to access from various piers and boardwalks. Bring your fishing license.
Kayaks and canoes are also welcome. The ponds are open to the public 7 days a week, year-round, from dawn to dusk.
Related: Can You Swim in the Great Salt Lake?
Walking and Bike Trails
Choose from several walking trails (paved, gravel, and boardwalks) with several points of interest along the way. These include
- Wetland Discovery Point,
- Garden View Pavilion,
- 9/11 Memorial,
- the Utah House,
- solar power displays,
- and rainwater collection displays to name a few.
You can find a map of the trails at the Botanical Center here.
USU Extension Classes
USU Extension Davis County offers many classes for youth and adults. These include
- gardening (including the Master Gardner program),
- Girls’ Night Out classes,
- yoga in the gardens,
- wellness walks,
- nutrition and canning,
- and much more.
To get involved and learn something new, check out the course calendar here.
Donations and Memberships
The USU Botanical Center relies on donations from the community to keep it beautiful and open to the public. They also conduct important research on plants that help local farmers and other growers around the country.
Make a one-time donation to the USU Botanical Center here. Or consider a membership. Membership benefits include
- members-only classes,
- private seasonal events,
- discounts at local nurseries,
- and other perks.
Click the button below to learn more about membership.
I've lived near the USU Botanical Center for years and never realized what a great destination it is. The family-friendly activities and educational opportunities are impressive. I look forward to a return visit soon.