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4 Things You Absolutely Must Do at the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio!

The Holden Arboretum is about 30 miles east of Cleveland, Ohio and offers a peaceful getaway, beautiful gardens and some really unique experiences for visitors!

We visited in 2021 on one of our many Lake Erie vacations and really enjoyed exploring the grounds of the arboretum. There are some majorly fun attractions at Holden Arboretum that you do not want to miss when you visit! These attractions offer the opportunity to explore, climb, play and be rewarded with some pretty incredible views when it’s all said and done!

This post will help you plan your visit to the Holden Arboretum and cover some of the activities that you absolutely do not want to miss when you visit!

gardens at cleveland arboretum.

How to Visit Holden Arboretum:

Where is the Holden Arboretum?

Holden Arboretum is part of Holden Forests & Gardens and is in Kirtland, Ohio. Kirtland is east of Cleveland and just south of Lake Erie. The Arboretum is about 30 minutes from Cleveland and 2 hours and 45 minutes from Columbus. If you’re driving from Cincinnati, the trip will be a little over 4 hours.

When can you visit Holden Arboretum?

Holden Arboretum is open year round. At time of writing, on Mondays the arboretum is open only to members. Holden Arboretum is open no matter what the weather, so tickets are non-transferrable and non-refundable.

PLEASE note that even though the arboretum is open year round, two of the attractions listed here are seasonal attractions and not open in the winter! Murch Canopy Walk and the Kalberer Emergent Tower are NOT open in the winter!

How much is Admission to the Arboretum?

At the time of writing admission to Holden Arboretum is as follows:

Adults: $16
Children (3 – 12 years old): $12
Children (2 and under): Free
Members: Free

Trails at holden arboretum in kirtland ohio.

What are the Main Attractions at Holden Arboretum?

Holden Arboretum is made up of beautiful gardens, lakes, ponds, hiking trails and a visitor center. In this post I’m going to focus on 4 of the main attractions you absolutely should not miss when you visit!

1. Murch Canopy Walk

Murch Canopy Walk is one of the coolest things you can do at Holden Arboretum! Walk through a canopy of trees, eye level with the birds and wildlife!

Suspension bridge on holden arboretum canopy walk.

We were very lucky that the arboretum was not super busy when we visited (weekdays for the win!) so we were able to easily do the canopy walk a couple of times! My kids LOVED the canopy walk and wanted to run right back and do it again!

Boy and dad on holden arboretum canopy walk.

Also, along the way there are some educational and interactive displays to help you learn about the forests and creatures that call it home!

Boy on holden arboretum canopy walk looking at educational display.
Two boys walking on holden arboretum canopy walk.

The Holden Arboretum Canopy Walk is 500 feet long and 65 feet in the air! It is made up of 4 suspension bridges. This is a beautiful experience for adults and kids alike! I really want to come back in the fall when the leaves are changing!

One of four suspension bridges on Holden Arboretum Canopy Walk.

Tips for visiting Murch Canopy Walk at Holden Arboretum:

  • Only service dogs are allowed on the Canopy Walk
  • There may be a wait during busy times so try to visit on a weekday or non-holiday if possible.
  • The Murch Canopy Walk is generally open April through October with the last etnry at 4:45 PM.
  • In November the Canopy Walk is open on the weekends, weather permitting, last entry at 3:45 PM.
  • Holden Arboretum Canopy Walk is closed during the winter so plan your visit accordingly.
  • The Canopy Walk may be closed due to inclement weather.

2. Kalberer Emergent Tower

Boy looking up at Kalberer  Family Emergent Tower at Holden Arboretum in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Emergent Tower is 12 stories (120 feet) high and is 202 steps to the top! The climb to the top is a journey but it is worth the effort! Luckily, along the way there are educational displays where you stop to take a break and learn about nature and the woods around you.

Boy looking at an educational display on the Emergent Tower.

Even 7 year olds get tired climbing to the top and need a rest break on one of the benches!

Boy sitting on a bench on the Emergent Tower at Holden Arboretum.

Along the climb, signs will tell you how many steps you have taken along the way! Once you get to the top of the Emergent Tower – 202 steps – the view will be absolutely worth it!

View at the top of Kalberer Emergent Tower at Holden Forests and Gardens.
Miniature statue of the Kalberer Emergent Tower at Holden Arboretum.

At the top there will be a guide who can tell you what you are seeing and any information you want to know about Holden Arboretum and the surrounding area!

View of Lake Erie from the top of the Emergent Tower at Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio.

On a clearer day than we had, you can even see Lake Erie from the top of the Emergent Tower! We visited in July but I can only imagine how beautiful it would be to look out and see the colors of the trees in Autumn!

Read More: 8 Lake Erie Beaches You’ll Want to Visit this Summer

Tips for visiting Kalberer Emergent Tower at Holden Arboretum:

  • If you visit on a busy day, there may be a wait to climb the tower. If at all possible, try to visit on a weekday!
  • If it is summer or hot or humid, you will be hot when you get to the top! Make sure to bring water when you visit and wear sunscreen!
  • The Kalberer Emergent Tower opens in April and stays open daily through October. The last entry of the day is at 4:45 PM.
  • The tower is open on the weekends in November with the last entry at 3:45 PM.
  • The Kalberer Emergent Tower will close during severe weather.

3. Stickwork

Stickwork sculpture at Holden Forests and Gardens.

I thought Stickwork was just so cool! My kids loved it, too! Made from woven willow branches, it’s the ultimate kids’ fort with windows, rooms and hiding places!

Tilt-a-Whirl Stickwork Sculpture by Patrick Dougherty at Holden Arboretum in Ohio.

Stickwork was created by Patrick Dougherty, an artist from North Carolina. The Holden Arboretum is the site of his northeast Ohio debut! The work on the sculpture began in August 2020 and was created over 16 weeks by Dougherty and volunteers!

This site is actually one of over 300 Stickworks produced around the world! The sculpture at Holden Arboretum is called Tilt-A-Whirl and there’s no question how it got it’s name when you see it!

Boy walking through Stickwork at Holden Arboretum in Ohio.

Tips for visiting Stickwork at Holden Arboretum:

  • Stickwork is a temporary exhibit. Due to its natural construction, it will deteriorate over time! If you plan to visit, the sooner the better!
  • Stickwork is open year round.

4. Buckeye Bud’s Adventure Playground

Buckeye Bud's Adventure Playground. a natural play area at Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio.

Buckeye Bud’s Adventure Playground is a great spot for kids to get out their energy, play in nature and create their own fun! It’s a convenient spot for kids to feel like there’s something just for them and it gives parents a nice respite spot where kids can just play without restrictions.

Boy climbing the Observation Tower at Buckeye Bud's Adventure Playground.

Kids have their own mini version of Emergent Tower! The Observation Tower in Buckeye Bud’s Adventure Playground overlooks Buttonbush Bog and kids can look for frogs, dragonflies and birds! There are some educational displays at the top as well!

A fort for kids to play in at Cleveland Arboretum.

There are a couple of different natural play areas and structures within Buckeye Bud’s Adventure Playground including ropes for climbing, forts, logs for balancing and even a small theater stage where kids can put on their own performances!

A boy playing on a ropes course at Buckeye Bud's Adventure Playground in an arboretum near Cleveland, Ohio.
Boys raking sand in the Zen Garden at Holden Arboretum near Cleveland, Ohio.

The Zen Garden is there for kids to create their own patterns by raking the sand. Zen Gardens originated in Japan and are supposed to encourage serenity and mediation – so if you or your kids need a little zen after traveling, sit down and do a little raking.

Tips for visiting Buckeye Bud’s Adventure Playground at Holden Arboretum:

  • The area can get muddy if it has rained recently so you might consider bringing boots or a change of clothes.
  • Parents are responsible for supervising their children in this area. It is not staffed.

What You Need to Know About Visiting Holden Arboretum:

Is Holden Arboretum Kid Friendly?

Absolutely! Of course this may depend on the age of your kids and their ability levels, but there is plenty that kids will enjoy at Holden Arboretum!

Obviously, Buckeye Bud’s Adventure Woods is geared towards kids and was a hit, but my kids also LOVED the Murch Canopy Walk and thought Stickwork was pretty cool! They may have grumbled up 202 steps of the Emergent Tower, but no one hates the view when they get to the top! No one.

Quote by Maynard H. Murch V on the top of the Holden Arboretum Canopy Walk in Kirtland, Ohio.

How long does it take to visit the arboretum?

We visited Holden Arboretum with kids so we spent more time at these 4 attractions and less time in some of the delicate gardens. We were at Holden Arboretum for around 3 hours.

While the time it takes to visit the arboretum will vary on your interests and whether or not you have to wait in line for various attractions, I would allow yourself at least 3 hours to see most of the Arboretum!

If you’re planning a trip to Holden Arboretum, check out our recommendations for more fun things to do in the surrounding area of Lake County, Ohio!

Is the Holden Arboretum dog friendly?

  • Dogs are allowed on the grounds of Holden Arboretum but they must be leashed.
  • Only service dogs are allowed on the Canopy Walk and Emergent Tower.
  • Dogs are not allowed in the Wildflower Garden.

Where is there to eat near Holden Arboretum?

1. Scooter’s World Famous Dawgs

  • Address: 9600 Blackbrook Rd., Mentor, Ohio 44060

Don’t visit Holden Arboretum without a stop at Scooter’s World Famous Dawgs! My family enjoyed this cozy spot for about two dozen creative hot dogs as well as burgers and chicken. The fries are amazing and the portion size is HUGE!!

Hot dogs and fries at Scooter's World Famous Dogs in Mentor, Ohio.

2. Zappitelli’s

  • Address: 9570 Mentor Ave., Mentor, Ohio 44060

Zappitelli’s is the real deal for homemade Italian food and desserts! We had a tasty and relaxing family dinner here! The menu includes pizza, subs, pasta dinners, salads and homemade desserts! Zappitelli’s is in between Holden Arboretum and Lake Erie, which makes for a convenient location!

3. Kurlee Kone

  • Address: 736 Richmond St., Painesville, Ohio 44077

Kurlee Kone is a fun stop if you’re looking for ice cream or dessert! There is outdoor seating only here but plenty of it and the yard area has picnic tables and a garden feel.

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4 Things You Must Do at Holden Arboretum in Cleveland Ohio!