I’m convinced that sometimes things happen for a reason…an unexpected detour while traveling turned up a great place to visit.
After a long couple of days on the road visiting with family and dropping my sister off at her house in upstate NY, I was coming home and found myself too drowsy to drive safely. I’ve heard of too many instances of people getting into accidents after falling asleep at the wheel and the multiple cups of coffee and roadside calisthenics just weren’t waking me up (if you live outside of Binghamton consider this my apology for doing jumping jacks and jogging around my car like an idiot in front of your house).
I called the ever reliable husband to find me a cheap place to spend the night and settled in to take a much needed rest in Binghamton, NY…thank you Comfort Inn – your beds were AWESOME and $59 bucks for a room in a quiet stretch of town was much appreciated!
I’ve been to Binghamton before when I was 11 or 12 – we’ve got some family friends in the city and I remembered hitting up this great carousel in Ross Park and I figured I’d take Claire for a romp through the park and then hit the road to continue our journey home.
Alas, the carousel was shut down but I found this GEM of a garden that you must absolutely visit if you have children:
That’s their official website above, but I really liked the article here by Leslie McGuire who gave tons of details about each of the vignettes found in the garden. You can see in my pictures that there are separate areas in the garden broken down by theme (ie: The Friendship Garden, The Determination Garden, The Adventure Garden). We visited each of them and Claire LOVED it. The whole story garden is a very manageable and toddler-friendly three quarters of an acre and each “room” features a children’s story come to life. Little mailboxes filled with related children’s literature are scattered throughout, although Claire was too eager to climb and interact with the gardens to sit and read...but that’s what is great about this place, there is tons of flexibility in how to experience everything!
At nearly 2 years old, Claire adored the sculptures-especially the little bears while she played Goldilocks; the little houses were adorable and she climbed, jumped and explored for a good 2 hours. I imagine an older child would recognize more of the story elements and appreciate this place even more!
With the Ross Park Zoo, on the other side of the park (maybe 1/4 of a mile?) and the Discovery Center (a hands on children’s museum) across the parking lot, there are 3 great attractions in one place. Can you beat it?
Oh! Did I mention the story garden and carousel ride are F-R-E-E, what a great deal for a lovely afternoon. I really wished we lived a bit closer, this is somewhere I could visit at least once a month, especially since the children are encouraged to help in the veggie garden and there are weekly story read alouds throughout the gardens.
Pack your bags. Go. I promise you won’t regret it.