The James Family Discovery Gardens

November 20 – March | Tuesday-Sunday, 10am – 3pm
March – November 19 | Tuesday-Sunday, 9am – 4pm
Store & Discovery Gardens will be closed November 23 & November 24

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

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
  • Naturalist-led Nature Programs
  • ‘Lens on Learning’ Guidebooks
  • Interactive ‘Learning Circles’
  • Beautiful Outdoor Event Venue
  • Children’s Nature Play Area

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Admission to the Gardens


November 20 – March:

Discovery Gardens are free to all visitors Tuesday-Sunday, 10 – 3


Weekend charges will resume in March:

Adults: $5

Children Ages 5-12: $2

Children Under 5: Free

Free Admission to Highlands Center Members

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.

Community Partnerships

The Highlands Center and Discovery Gardens present myriad opportunities for Community Partnerships which provide vital support for the Center’s many nature-based educational programs. In return, our partners receive a variety of benefits that will make a lasting impression on clients, employees, and target audiences.

With accessible paver pathways, an open air Ramada circled by majestic ponderosa pines and oak trees, an imagination-promoting children’s nature play area, and abundant free parking, the Discovery Gardens is a naturally beautiful setting for your business’s or organization’s special event.

Additionally, the Highlands Center offers opportunities for local businesses and organizations to sponsor a specific Educational Learning Lens with your ad or promotion appearing prominently on the lens of your choice.

To learn more about Community Partnerships with the Highlands Center’s Discovery Gardens, please contact Dave Irvine, Executive Director at 776-9550 to customize a sponsorship package!

Photo Credit: Photos by Nancy Maurer

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Learn more about our location and site hours.

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