The James Family Discovery Gardens

Come celebrate the beauty and extraordinary biological diversity of the Central Highlands in our accessible Native Botanical Gardens. Experience outdoor learning in a whole new light!

  • Accessible Native Habitats
  • Guided Walks with Naturalists
  • ‘Lens on Learning’ Guidebooks
  • Interactive Learning Circles
  • Beautiful Outdoor Event Venue
  • Children’s Nature Play Area

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Visiting the Gardens


Discovery Gardens and Nature Store Hours:

March 3 – November 18 | Tuesday-Sunday, 9am – 4pm

Entrance Fees

March 3- November 19Weekdays free for all visitors
Weekend Admission: Adults: $5 | Children Ages 5-12: $2 | Children Under 5: Free

Free Admission to Highlands Center Members. Want free admission all year long?  Become a member now!

Program Schedule

On Saturday and Sundays, we offer special programming in the Discovery Gardens.  Visitors can learn about the plants, animals, and geology of the area at our interactive Discovery Stations and guided walks.

Download the schedule here or find upcoming programming on our calendar.

Discovery Gardens will be closed when there is snow or ice on the path.  Call to inquire.

Programming in the gardens on weekends will be cancelled if  predicted temperature is under 45 degrees, although gardens will remain open. Call to inquire.


Learning Circles

The James Family Discovery Gardens features Learning Circles focused on the natural history and ecological diversity of the Central Highlands. These interpretive areas serve as an introduction to the plant and animal communities represented in the region as well as techniques for sustainable living, such as rainwater harvesting and landscaping with native plants. Interpretive signage at each of the Learning Circles allows visitors to have a full, self-guided experience.

  • Gathering Circle
  • Grow Native Demo Gardens
  • Riparian Riches
  • Montane Forests
  • Rainwater Harvesting
  • Ethnobotanical Gardens
  • Secret Nook
  • Woodland Wonders
  • Graceful Grasslands
  • Chaparral Hillsides
  • Forest Play

Learning Lenses

Lens on Learning Guidebooks bring educational opportunities to visitors on a range of topics regarding the natural history and ecology of the Central Highlands. Each lens will offer interpretation on a single theme at varying levels of depth. Lenses are designed to allow visitors of all ages and abilities to experience the Discovery Gardens and return again for deeper understanding. General “Pocket Guides,” themed by season, will also be available and will include a map of the trails along with common plants and animals one might encounter in the Gardens.

Visitors can explore the Discovery Gardens throughout the year and make new discoveries with each visit.

Celebrating the Central Highlands

Experience the wonders of nature in the Highlands Center’s new Discovery Gardens

Stroll or roll along a seasonal creek and through the forest on an accessible paver pathway to discover a variety of Learning Circles. Bring the kids and play in a natural Forest Play area. Listen to birds and sounds of the forest in the Secret Nook or relax in the shade on a comfortable bench.

Need a place for an outdoor event in a quiet, pristine forest setting?

Rent the new Ramada or the entire garden for your wedding or private gathering.

Photo Credit: Photos by Nancy Maurer

Contact Us

Learn more about our location and site hours.

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