Duke Gardens celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.
And the park has plenty of diversions for kids, from exploring the terrace gardens to watching the two swans that arrived in January.
For the last 15 years, the 55-acre garden tucked in the middle of Duke University's campus also has offered a formal program of activities for kid and families.
That offering has grown dramatically in the last few years, said Jan Little, the garden's director of education and public programs, as staffers worked to link kids with nature and a growing body of research found how important that connection can be.
For some people, said Little, that exposure can be a "life-changing experience."
The garden's family programming ramps up in the spring with live performances, story times and other activities.
They include a concert featuring Pamlico Joe at 11 a.m. Saturday. He began singing about the planet in 1992 and now performs for about 50,000 students a year.
His hourlong family show, best for kids younger than fifth grade, includes his wife, Clean Water Flow, and lessons about water quality and coastal heritage.
"We promote the things we have in common and the environment," he said. "And it doesn't get any more in common than air and water."
The garden's next story time, best for kids ages 3 to 8, is at 10 a.m. May 9, and features nature stories and take-home creations. It continues on the second Saturday of the month in September, October and November. Space is limited, so get there early. It can fill up. It's $2 per child.
The garden will hold its first Family Fun Day from 11 a.m .to 2 p.m. May 31, where staffers will showcase programs for kids and offer other activities, including a parade at 1:30 p.m.
Little said she'll also launch a Sunday summer series where kids and families can drop in for an activity. Check the gardens' Web site for an update.
"Every one of them will have a component that you can put in place at home," Little said.
The garden has other informal programs.
They include "family backpack adventures" for pick-up at the information desk at the Doris Duke Center. They're filled with activities for kids ages 5 to 11 while they walk through the garden. A $10 deposit and driver's license is required along with a $5 fee.
On Fridays in April, May, September and October from 10 a.m. to noon, a traveling cart will be parked by the dawn redwood tree with activities for young kids. Activities are free and may continue in the summer, too.
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