Taking Baby to Arnold Arboretum

Taking Baby to Arnold ArboretumMy wife and I took our baby to Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain over the weekend. Our daughter Arya enjoys going to the park near our apartment. We figured she might like spending a day at a huge park.

Taking baby to Arnold Arboretum was a lot of work. The Arboretum is a short walk from the Forest Hills Station at the end of the MBTA Orange Line Station. Getting to Forest Hills takes us 25 minutes on the T and we were expecting a repeat of baby’s first subway ride.

Thankfully, Arya’s second subway ride was uneventful and we managed to get to the station without incident. The walk to the Arnold Arboretum Visitor’s Center in the Hunnewell Building was far more difficult.

Taking Baby to Arnold Arboretum - Forest Hills StationThe MBTA station is less than one mile from the main entrance to Arnold Arboretum. The walk is supposed to take less than 20 minutes.

The map doesn’t show that there is a gradual, but consistent incline from the Forest Hills Station to the Hunnewell Building. Walking along the Arborway — as suggested by Google Maps — was also difficult because of narrow sidewalks and overhanging trees. With our big, outdoor stroller and umbrellas we had trouble navigating the suggested route to the main entrance of the Arboretum.

Thankfully we found a better route to a side entrance.

Just North of the South Street Community Garden is a small entrance to Arnold Arboretum. Taking the entrance, which is only a quarter-mile from the MBTA station, enabled us to avoid walking along the crowded Arborway and stroll through the Arboretum itself as we wandered to the visitor’s center.

Arnold Arboretum is spread over 265 acres with paved pathways throughout. While there are elevation changes, our baby’s stroller was able to navigate the entire grounds along both the pathways and the grass.

Arya loved looking at the colorful plants. Since she is still a newborn baby she can’t focus well on distant objects. But once we brought her up-close to the bright flowers she tried to touch any plants that were close to her eye level.

Taking Baby to Arnold Arboretum - Entrance SignThe mid 80 degree weather was a little too hot for a full day of walking around outdoors. My wife and I were already a little tired by the time we got to the visitor’s center.

Much of the area is shaded, but few of the pathways have continuous shade. Our baby was largely protected from the sun by her stroller cover. We also used a towel to block the holes in the top of the stroller.

Mommy and I were forced to use large umbrellas to protect ourselves from the afternoon sun. Since it was impossible for either of us to push the stroller while holding an umbrella we had to take turns. One parent pushed baby in her stroller while the other held the umbrella at the appropriate angle to shade the whole family.

The ample shade and sparse visitor count enabled my wife to nurse Arya throughout the day. With the stroller and umbrellas as covering we sat under large trees away from the path and let baby nurse as long and as often as she wanted.

The Arboretum could use more water fountains. We were lucky we brought along two full bottles to last long enough between refills. Larger families would want even more. Since baby could nurse consistently we didn’t use any of the three full bottles of milk we brought along for her.

We had to take a break late in the afternoon to find food, air conditioning, and a place to sit. We found a great sandwich shop, but had some trouble feeding baby in the restaurant. Thankfully there was plenty of open space nearby to nurse Arya when we took baby to Jamaica Pond.

Taking Baby to Arnold Arboretum - Lilac GardenThe Arboretum was a great place to take our 10-week old baby. She loved the colorful flowers and huge trees. But our daughter’s favorite plants were the fragrant lilacs.

Arnold Arboretum hosts an annual Lilac Sunday in May which is supposed to be the perfect weekend to view lilac blossoms. Since the Arboretum holds one of the continent’s best collections of lilac plants, the opportunity to see all of them blooming at one time is a huge visitor attraction.

We missed Lilac Sunday by a few weekends, but were still able to see many of the lilac flowers. Arya loved getting close to the lilacs and reached out to touch all of the brightly colored plants. We think she we enthralled by the unique aroma.

We plan to bring her back for Liliac Sunday next year. Once Arya gets older she’ll enjoy the experience even more. Even at ten-weeks old, taking baby to the Arnold Arboretum was fun for our entire family.