The Brenton Arboretum: Nature Play For Kids & Families

The Brenton Arboretum: Nature Play For Kids & Families

The Brenton Arboretum is another fun place to take your kiddos all year long! It is located in between Adel and  Dallas Center on 143 acres. It is about a 20-30 minutes drive from Des Moines.

The Brenton Arboretum


The Brenton Arboretum was established in 1997 by Sue and J.C. Brenton and their children because of their love for trees. The arboretum includes over 2500 trees and shrubs and represents over 468 species! All of the trees are labeled with common and botanical names. There are five miles of walking trails, a children’s play center called the O’Brien Nature Play Area, prairies, streams, a small lake with a dock, and a roofed pavilion for picnics!

When you first enter the arboretum there is a kiosk which provides: event brochures, birding checklists, guides to Leaf and Stormwater Walks, membership applications, and more! There is also a great place to sit back, relax, read and enjoy the view in the Brenton Arboretum Library located in the Vista Room.

Hours & Cost

The Brenton Arboretum is a non-profit organization and is FREE to the public everyday! They are open every day of the year, including holidays 9 am until sunset. The Brenton Arboretum Library is open 9 am – 4 pm.


The arboretum also provides lots of fun and educational classes to the public. Some have a small fee and some are FREE! Check here for their event calendar.

Nature Club
Friday, March 10th
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Nature club takes places every month on the second Friday. Your children will learn, explore, and connect with nature. There will be active lessons offered too! Pre-registration is requested at education@thebrentonarboretum.org
Members, free; Non-Members, $5

PoeTREE Slam 

Monday, March 13th
2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Vista Room

During Spring Break week enjoy a writers’ workshop unlike anything you will experience in school. Your children can learn some techniques for gathering their thoughts before writing their own nature-inspired poems. The “Nature Nook Café” will also be open for poets to share their work with everyone else! Please pre-register at education@thebrentonarboretum.org

Members and Non-Members, $10

Owl Prowl 

Tuesday, March 14th
6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.; Vista Room

There will be a guest speaker from the Polk County Conservation, that will teach you about owls! Then you will head outside and be guided on a night hike along the trail and attempt to call in an owl from around the Arboretum. Please pre-register at education@thebrentonarboretum.org

Members, free; Non-Members, $15


All of these events have been added to our event calendar!


Being a member is a great way to help support the Brenton Arboretum.

Memberships include:

  • Free or reduced class and event fees at the Brenton Arboretum
  • Free or reduced admission / class fees at participating U.S. public gardens
  • Rental permissions for the Pavilion and the Vista Room
  • Invitations to exclusive member events
  • Newsletters and announcements


  • $35, Individual Membership
  • $50, Family Membership
  • $150 to $249, Supporter Membership
  • $250 to $499, Sustainer Membership
  • $500 to $999, Benefactor Membership
  • $1000 or more, Patron Membership

The Brenton Arboretum is the perfect place to bring the kiddos to explore nature. I am personally a huge believer in nature play and this is the perfect place to implement it! Pack a lunch, explore and spend the day in nature!



Erin Huiatt

Erin is a reliable resource and stepping stone for women and families to find support and make connections within our community. She wants families to feel confident to reach out and ask for help and advice to get pointed in the right direction. She enjoys traveling and exploring with her two children in tow!