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'A wonderful spot for kids to visit with parents and grandparents'

'Even if grandparents have seen Gibbs before, they’ll see it from a new perspective through the eyes of a child.'

Canoe Kids
By Melissa Lowrie

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Photos by Melissa Lowrie

Melissa Lowrie
Melissa Lowrie

“Oh, cool; look at that!” Was a common refrain overheard on the recent Canoe Kids outing to Gibbs Gardens; new discoveries to find around every corner.

What can be written that hasn't already been said about this place? Impressive for young kids and kids young-at-heart, Gibbs is a feast for the eyes and lives up to the hype. About a 10-minute drive from Big Canoe, this is a wonderful spot for kids to visit with parents and grandparents.

We went on a mild day in June, arriving about lunchtime. Parking was free and easy. Have the kids visit the restrooms in the Welcome Center before your tour.

The tram is an option for an additional $5 for those who may not want to walk. In our case, the more exercise the better. My testing group that day was two boys, 6 and 8, and two girls, 9 and 10.

Setting out, the boys immediately looked for any possible tree to climb, which I was not entirely comfortable with until we reached the Grandchildren’s Sculpture Garden. Tree-climbing, foot races, rolling in the grass and general tomfoolery was had. Playing in green grass is a rare treat for a Canoe Kid.

            Canoe Kids
            These four unusual hydrangea breeds are known as Miranda, Jack, Olivia and Banks.

The group was enamored with the Japanese Garden. It was full of surprises including beautiful sculptures of owls, cranes, dragons and more. Looking for koi in the ponds was a highlight. “That koi was awesome,” both boys agreed, their favorite part of the visit.

The hydrangeas were in bloom when we visited, and the girls enjoyed seeing the vibrant colors and different varieties. The shaded paths kept us cool and would be fine for pushing a stroller.

“The water lilies look like Pac-Man,” was overheard as we passed the impressive ponds. They were so pristine, they almost looked artificial.

Bridges and paths meander through the enormous property, taking visitors past ponds, streams and color bursting from every nook and cranny. We took advantage of a few of the 125 benches provided, but there was so much to explore the kids wore themselves out before we could see it all.

There is a small cafe where you can buy lunch or a snack. Coolers are not permitted, so if you pack one, leave it in the car for a cold drink after your visit.

An adult ticket was $20 and tickets for children ages 4-17 are $18. Admission for the stroller-set, 3-and-under, is free. I’d suggest a morning visit before the heat of the day. And be sure to bring the camera -- stunning shots are easy to find.

If you can, make this a multigenerational outing. Even if grandparents have seen Gibbs before, they’ll see it from a new perspective through the eyes of a child. As always, call or check the website for hours: If you can’t make it to Gibbs, take your Canoe Kids on a different adventure. Wherever you end up, have a great time.




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