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Kids Hit the Jackpot

Dallas Arboretum unveils thrilling new go-to destination for families

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Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden at Dallas Arboretum
Entrance for the Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden, a new 8-acre area at the Dallas Arboretum. Photo courtesy of Dallas Arboretum
Cascade waterfall at Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden
A cascade waterfall is one of the first features guests see as they enter the garden. Photo courtesy of Dallas Arboretum
Erosion table at Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden
An erosion table with simulated rain and rivers is one of more than 150 interactive exhibits scattered throughout the garden. Photo courtesy of Dallas Arboretum
Pure Energy area at Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden
The T. Boone Pickens Pure Energy area is full of hands-on displays highlighting water, solar and wind energy. Photo courtesy of Dallas Arboretum
OmniGlobe at Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden
The OmniGlobe is one of the centerpieces of the garden, showcasing the Earth and its wonders in a unique way. Photo courtesy of Dallas Arboretum
Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden at Dallas Arboretum
Cascade waterfall at Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden
Erosion table at Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden
Pure Energy area at Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden
OmniGlobe at Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden

It's been a banner couple of years for children in the Dallas area. 2012 saw the opening of both Klyde Warren Park and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, two places that wear their kid-friendliness as a badge of pride. They'll now be joined by the Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden at the Dallas Arboretum, an 8-acre wonderland that just might be the best kids destination in the area.

The garden, which opens to the public on Saturday, September 21, is an expansive tract just east of the main arboretum grounds that contains 17 galleries with more than 150 interactive exhibits. Once you get past the main entry plaza — and if you have young kids, good luck with that, as its dancing fountain is a natural attraction — choosing what to see next can be a bit challenging.

 Every area in the garden is geared toward education, so no matter where you start, you'll find something to stimulate a child's brain in one way or another.

You could visit the Incredible Edible Garden, which teaches about food coming from plants. Or maybe the Oasis, a rooftop garden featuring a slew of different plants, not to mention a great view of the rest of the garden. Or you could head straight to the T. Boone Pickens Pure Energy area, where you can learn about water, solar and wind power through addictive hands-on exhibits.

Every single area and exhibit in the garden is geared toward education, so no matter where you choose to start, you'll find something to stimulate a child's brain in one way or another. The main garden at the arboretum highlights the beauty of nature, while the children's garden showcases the processes that make those beautiful things.

What's really impressive is that education and fun go hand-in-hand with every step in the children's garden. One of the centerpieces is the Exploration Center with OmniGlobe, a huge building with multiple interactive science experiment stations.

At its center is the massive OmniGlobe, a 5-foot-tall Earth model that is one of only 50 in the world. It's a video-enabled sphere that can show things like continental drift, ocean currents and real-time weather events. It can also be transformed into a model of the galaxy, among other features.

The entire garden is so extensive and so detailed that it would take hours to properly explore everything it has to offer. But whether you have that kind of time — or patience — or are just looking for a fun afternoon diversion, the Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden is about to become the go-to Dallas destination for families.

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