Self-Guided School Groups
The Arnold Arboretum is a living laboratory for science learning, as well as a place of quiet reflection for art and writing projects. Whether you are a teacher looking to bring your class on a field trip, or a homeschooler interested in learning opportunities for your children, the Arboretum is an ideal site for self-guided exploration. Please follow the information below for self-guided visits or print our guidelines [pdf].
Suggested Activities for Children and Youth
- Take a self-guided tour with your group.
- Try a photo hunt. Print out a teacher guide for instructions, and maps for your students.
- Take images or video of your visit, and create a movie afterward. See an example from 2nd graders at the Sumner School in Roslindale, “Sweet Trees Alive!” [mp4]
Guidelines for Self-Guided Youth Groups
School Groups, After-School Groups, Summer Youth Groups, Camps, and Student Clubs
Note: We are happy to help educators prepare for a self-guided visit. We offer seasonal guided experiences for metro-Boston schools.
- Pre-school through 8th grade: Email Nancy Sableski, Manager of Children’s Education, or call 617.384.5239.
- High School, College, and University groups: As part of its education mission, the Arboretum provides academic walking tours to high school and college groups studying relevant subjects. These tours are free of charge and led by Arboretum staff members whenever possible. To schedule an academic tour, course instructors or academic advisors should fill out a tour request form at least three weeks in advance. Use this form to describe the scope of the course or to provide other specific information to assist us in placing your group with the most appropriate staff member(s). If needed, please call 617.384.5209 or email for additional details.
- Teen Groups: We are happy to make recommendations for self-guided experiences for teen groups. Email for more information.
In general, plan to drop off children outside the gates and park along the road. This must be communicated to bus driver(s) prior to leaving the school. For safety, buses cannot drive through the landscape; unless they have permission to park, bus drivers must stay on the Arborway to drop off and pick up children. To seek permission to park inside the main Arborway Gate, please contact Nancy Sableski, Manager of Children’s Education, at 617.384.5239. Requests must be made at least one week in advance by phone or email, and accommodation is not guaranteed. Motor coach driving directions [pdf]
Remind children that they are in a “tree museum.” To preserve the health and beauty of the trees, children may not pick, climb, or pull on the trees. They may collect plant material if it has fallen on the ground. See above for suggested activities for children.
The Visitor Center
The Hunnewell Visitor Center cannot accommodate large groups. If you would like to bring children inside, plan to enter in small, staggered groups of 10 or less. Each group should be accompanied by a supervising adult. Please remind children to use indoor voices when inside the Visitor Center.
Restrooms are located in the Visitor Center, which is open from 9:00am to 4:00pm weekdays. Plan for children to come into the building in small groups. There are also portable toilets on Willow Path, just across from the Visitor Center, from May to October.
School groups may picnic on the grounds as a special exception to our no-picnicking policy. Please carry out all trash. We do not have any space to store lunches during visits.