by EJ on 09/01/16
I try to live by one of my favorite quotes, "Those who don't believe in magic will never find it," by Roald Dahl. There is something magical to discover everywhere in this world, if only you know where to look. I'm especially fond of looking for fairies, elves and gnomes with my kids when we're hiking, walking or on any sort of journey somewhere. When I was little, my Mother would take my brother and I hiking and point out the door-shaped holes at the bottom of tree trunks that she believed were enchanted gnome doors to another realm. One morning I woke up to discover the tiniest little black footprints up the wall of our kitchen. Apparently, a fairy had followed us home from one of our adventures. Ever since, I've always looked at the woods and the outdoors through a bit of a magical lens.
Using a little imagination and a little magic, you too, can get your kids outdoors and exploring. For us Mid-Atlantic folk, you don't have to go far to find an amazing hiking trail or peculiar pathway through the woods or through a garden. As the summer heat starts to cool down, it's the absolute perfect time to find yourself outside in search of magic.
Here's a list of some of our favorite Mid-Atlantic magical trails and gardens that will inspire imagination and outdoor exploration for your family and little ones.
South Mountain Fairy Trail. FREE.
South Mountain Reservation is located in Millburn, New Jersey and resides in a 2,110-acre nature preserve. Therese Ojibway, now sixty, is the creator of all the original fairy houses, ladders and elements cleverly placed along the trail. Using only natural materials and inspired by the freedom that the forest provided her autistic son and a childhood bountiful with fairy-lore, she took to these woods to help out the resident fairies.
We absolutely encourage visitors not to touch, change or take anything from the fairy trail. If you decide to build a little something for the fairies, use only natural materials you find in the forest.
Brown's Orchard & Market Wooded Trail. FREE.
With apple picking season headed our way, be sure to put a visit to Brown's Orchard & Market on the calendar. Located in Loganville, Pennsylvania, this farm offers pick-your-own as well as a farm market. The farm offers live music, open-mic nights and story times in the pavilion alongside a café. Tucked behind the pavilion you'll find a small trail that leads into the woods. Look hard and you just might run into some evidence of gnomes.
Clark's Elioak Farm Enchanted Trail. Admission Required.
This Ellicott City, Maryland farm includes a produce, meat market, gem mining and a petting zoo and The Enchanted Trail
. Much of the features of this trail were moved from another location and restored over the years. The trail includes a Cinderella pumpkin coach, the Three Bears' House, Mother Goose and Gingerbread Men, Jack's Beanstalk, Rapunzel and many more characters and fairy tale settings. Families can find shade and picnic spots in the Enchanted Pine Tree Forest, full of characters' from your favorite nursery rhymes. Admission and Hours HERE
Winterthur's Enchanted Woods. Admission Required.
Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, located in Wilmington, Delaware, is the 175-room childhood home of collector and horticulturist Henry Francis du Pont. The building was opened to the public sixty years ago and hosts permanent and traveling exhibits. Beyond the house lies the 1000 acre preserve of woodlands and meadows and the 60-acre garden.
"Where Fairie folks are in old oakes", Winterthur's Enchanted Woods
is a true fairy tale garden and home to many nature spirits and fairies. This three-acre plot of garden includes a Tulip Tree House, fairy cottage, labyrinth and lots more magical surprises for children and families to enjoy. Admission and Hours HERE
Longwood Gardens Indoor Children's Garden. Admission Required.
Yes, this one is indoors. It's surrounded by an enormous selection of outdoor gardens, though. The Children's Garden is our favorite indoor magical garden
to visit, especially on a rainy day. Located in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, this fairy-friendly garden includes hands-on water features, impressive dragon and heron sculptures, mysterious stairways, doors and pathways. There is always some new detail to discover each time we go.
There's a ton of magical spots to be found all over Longwood Gardens, including towering treehouses, trails through the woods, manicured gardens and soaring fountains.
Longwood Gardens Admission and Hours HERE
* If you know of another fairy trail or enchanted kid-friendly spot in Mid-Atlantic, USA, please leave us a note in the comments. We'll do our best to research that area and get it added to a reader-submitted list.