Kristen Manieri is travel and lifestyle writer living in Orlando, FL with her husband and two little girls. Her work has appeared in such publications as Air Tran’s GO Magazine, Dreamscapes, Florida Guides, Costco Connection and Orlando Magazine. Living in the Sunshine State has given Kristen endless adventures and writing material as she’s explored Florida from Amelia Island all the way down to Key West.

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Free First Mondays at Leu Gardens


The Rose Garden is a sight to be seen!

I was chatting with a fellow mom the other day when Harry P. Leu Gardens was brought up. “What’s that place like?” she asked. “I’ve never been there.” Having only lived here since 2006, it still absolutely astounds me how many Orlando residents miss out on this spectacular local gem. Stop the insanity!

Located just a few miles from downtown, this meticulously manicured botanical garden is the perfect place to spend a few hours wandering along the easily traversed (and stroller friendly) walking trails that snake throughout the gardens 50 acres.

Highlights include a lakeside viewing deck where kiddos marvel at the many wild turtles and fish swimming below. There’s a giant rose garden where thousands of colorful buds come into bloom, especially October through December.


Checking out the turtles and fish.

You’ll also find a butterfly garden, which serves as an official way station for Monarch butterflies. There’ s a vegetable garden, bamboo forest, and giant clock filled with flowers where a movie is shown on a huge outdoor screen on the first Friday of each month as part of the Date Night at Leu Gardens series.

Admission to Leu Gardens is usually $10 for adults, $3 for kids grades K-12, and children 4 and under are free. But everyone gets in free on the first Monday of each month.

Keep in mind that Leu Gardens also features Story Time on the first Monday, which goes from 10am – 11am with different time slot for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.


Shaded trails let kids do what they do best: run!

A small pack filled with your child’s favorite snacks isn’t frowned upon but laying down a blanket and setting out a huge picnic spread is not allowed (neither are pets or bikes). Parking is free and the garden is open until 5pm. Last admission is at 4pm.

If you haven’t yet experienced this local treasure, I strongly encourage you to check it out, especially on Free Mondays when the opportunity is just too good to pass up.

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Comments (1)

  1. Tammy 10/31/2013 at 1:28 am

    I LOVE Lue Gardens. I’ve only been there once and plan on going again. First place I ever saw cotton growing like a vine.