The first time I visited the Dubuque Arboretum was in November, I was hoping to catch it before the ‘end of the season’. There’s a public garden back in my home town in the UK and it’s one of my favourite places so I couldn’t wait to see how the Arboretum compared. But I was too late! The day I visited was the first volunteering day of the ‘winterisation process’. Basically they dig up all the plants and store them in a green house for the winter months so they don’t die! I have since been back several times during the year to enjoy it in its full glory!
🗺3800 Arboretum Dr, Dubuque, IA 52001
The Arboretum covers 52 acres of ground which makes it the largest gardens in America to be run by volunteers. It’s split into several different sections: The Japanese Gardens and Koi pond, English Gardens (which I was particularly excited about!), Rose Gardens, Cactus Gardens, Herb Gardens and several others.
During the November visit, the leaves on the trees were all changing colours, one particular tree was SO orange it looked like it was on fire, I’ve never seen leaves quite so bright before! This was in the Japanese Gardens, my favourite area of the gardens! There were Japanese style concrete statues, little wooden bridges and benches hidden in quiet spaces.
I love the Koi pond and waterfall. Recently it was completely renovated and it’s crammed full of fish. On a nice day it’s lovely to sit on a rock and watch the fish. If there’s any in stock, the gift shop does sell small bags of Koi food but it was all gone during my visit.
Weddings, Photoshoots & Events
The Dubuque Arboretum is a popular for outdoor weddings and wedding photography, despite the lack of flowers, there was still a family having their Christmas photos taken in front of a backdrop of multi coloured ‘autumn’ trees. (Professional photographers who take photos for a profit, do need to pay the gardens for using the facility).
Events are held during the summer months, including free music in the park events on Sundays. The gift shop sell ice lollies and the upstairs terrace is a good view point to enjoy a treat and look out over the gardens.
There is also plenty to keep children entertained. As well as big open spaces, there’s playground equipment (away from all the delicate flowers and plants and with it’s own separate toilet block) and the National River Museum in Dubuque had donated a giant lizard statue, painted with a bright ‘hide and seek’ mural. A card nearby has a big list of different animals and objects to try and find on the lizard, Where’s Wally/Waldo style! Of course I had a selfie with it because it was cute!
The Dubuque Arboretum is free to visit with plenty of parking areas and is open year round (check for days when it may not be open during the winter season. Remember that the flowers do get winterised but you can still walk the trails through the woods).
Looking for other things to do in Dubuque? You can check out all of my Dubuque content by clicking on this link: Dubuque posts to inspire you. For more outdoor places in the surrounding area, check out: 9 Awesome Places to go Hiking near Dubuque, Iowa | USA. Alternatively, drop me a comment and I can give you some other recommendations!