A fusion of education and fun is the goal of the 13 learning stations spread across Hidden Hollow. Areas geared toward teaching skills like spatial awareness and critical thinking are scattered around the grounds, encouraging children to take a hands-on approach to learning, and the giant tree house, musical instruments, and arts and crafts table foster imagination and creativity.
Monthly themes set by the Hidden Hollow staff focus on different topics, ranging from weather to plant life, and scheduled weekly activities allow for a more structured way to enjoy outdoor and hands-on learning. Plaques are placed throughout the gardens, providing information about the many different plants and flowers. And although children are the primary patrons, there is no age limit when it comes to learning about the natural world; parents often take away as much from their visit as their children.
“Hidden Hollow is a whole new experience every time,” says a Heritage Museums and Gardens staff member. “You can come in 100 times and you’ll never have the same experience twice.” In a space transformed from a once-hidden stump dump to a now magical and whimsical children’s play area, the educational benefits of Hidden Hollow are just part of why tourists and locals alike can’t seem to stop flooding in.
Walking back through Heritage’s spectacular rhododendron, azalea, and daylily gardens, a school group on a field trip approaches from the opposite direction headed towards Hidden Hollow. A Heritage Museums and Gardens staff member asks the group how many have visited Hidden Hollow before. A majority of hands fly enthusiastically into the air. One boy, his hand still raised above his head, turns to his friend. “I’ve been here before, it’s so much fun,” he says. “You’re going to love it.”
For more information about Hidden Hollow and its schedule of events, visit heritagemuseumsandgardens.org.