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Your photography location guide to the

Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden

The Dallas Arboretum is one of the prettiest sights you can visit in Dallas. Whether you are just visiting town for the weekend or you've lived here all your life - The Arboretum never gets old. It's a "must-see" spot.

 

As a Dallas wedding and portrait photographer, you bet The Arboretum is one of my frequent stops. I'm there so often that it crossed my mind to set up a tent and stay the night there when I have back-to-back bookings 2-3 days in a row- lol. (Don't do that, it's against the rules.)

 

As beautiful as it is, The Dallas Arboretum is HUGE! If you are adventurous and want to discover the garden at your own pace - close this tab. Like right now. This post is a "spoiler".

But if you are visiting to take photos, it's best to know what to do, where to go, and where you can find everything - so you can maximize your time there as well as hit all the gorgeous spots.

The Dallas Arboretum has been blooming and giving its visitors a visual festival all year long since 1984. The gardens are built on 66 acres of land, including the DeGolyer Estate and Alex Camp House within.

From wedding celebrations to surprise proposals, evening concerts to workshops - The Dallas Arboretum has been home to the Dallas community and visitors worldwide.

 

Even though I haven't been to the Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden, I've heard so many good things about it from my friends with kids. Doing some research, I discovered they have everything that would make a perfect day in the gardens with your kids - from story times to puppet shows, a discovery lab, an edible garden, a kaleidoscope, and so much more!

For more information about the Dallas Arboretum and to plan your trip, visit https://www.dallasarboretum.org/

photography policies at the arboretum

  • Photography is only permitted after 9 am. Be prepared to fill out a photography permit form upon entrance. They will provide you with this at the ticket booths.
  • Professional photography using more than a handheld camera is allowed only between 3 pm and 5 pm daily. This includes tripods, lighting umbrellas, etc.
  • All photographers and their clients must purchase admission or have a membership. For tickets, please click here.
  • Do not stand or walk in garden beds or climb on trees, shrubs, rocks, or sculptures.
  • Do not block access to or on any public path or walkway.
  • Do not pick flowers.
  • Do not play or stand in the water features.
  • No drones are allowed on the Arboretum grounds under any circumstances.
  • An adult must accompany children under 16.
  • We reserve the right to refuse entrance to the garden with inappropriate attire.
  • Please follow all garden etiquette guidelines when taking photographs.
  • The City of Dallas does not permit changing clothes in the public restrooms, but The Arboretum does offer a 2-hour rental in the VIP rental for $300, and that room can be reserved online.

tips for the best experience

  • For some reason, the weekend crowd is very different from the weekday crowd. If you want the best experience for doing your sessions at the Dallas Arboretum, try to schedule your session for weekdays - preferably between 9 am and 11 am. It'll be less crowded, and people will be way more considerate. I've had a few weekend instances where people were pretty rude. I don't do well with rude people, and I don't have the filters or the capacity to remain sweet, so I avoid going there on the weekends. :)
  • Make sure to be aware of your surroundings. Don't walk into other people's frame, as this would piss you off if it were done to you.
  • Don't take too long to take photos at a specific spot - especially if others are waiting around for you. We can all take turns, shoot at another pretty backdrop nearby, and switch. Sharing is caring!
  • Bring a bottle of water with you. Although The Arboretum has a drink stand near the DeGolyer, there is usually a line, and you don't want to wait 10 minutes just to grab a bottle of water. There are also vending machines where the restrooms are located on the walkway to the right when you enter from Gate 1 and walk towards DeGolyer - but don't leave it to chance. What if they're not working?
  • For summer days, prep some towels soaked in water and frozen overnight. The humidity feels doubled because of the White Rock Lake. You can thank me later!
  • For a more quiet photography experience, you can opt-in to buy tickets for their evening concerts. Please note, you will need to purchase tickets for each person entering the premises - whether you stay for the concert or not.
  • As a photographer, I never got to enjoy the Arboretum for pleasure only. If you don't live nearby and will be driving quite a bit for your session, bring a blanket and maybe a picnic arrangement (in a cooler!?) to enjoy the park afterward. I'm telling you this, but ask me if I have done it myself - of course not! I'm just putting it out there: one of those days, I'm going to go to the Arboretum just to lay down, watch the clouds, listen to music, and maybe read a book or something. :)

GATE 1 - MAIN ENTRANCE

Dallas Arboretum Guide

Gate 1 is the main entrance to the Dallas Arboretum located on Whittier Avenue and the one closest to all the photographic structures. The ticket booths are a short walk from the parking lot. This is the entrance I prefer to start my sessions at as it is closer to all my favorite gardens. I usually start photographing near the Margaret Elizabeth Johnson Color Garden and make my way around through A Woman's Garden, towards the Concert Lawn, from there up to the Camp House, and then back to Gate 1.

 

On the weekends, I have seen vendors who sell anything from handmade jewelry to slushies. You can enjoy your trip by grabbing a quick bite or drink before you start your adventure. If you'd rather have a sit-down meal or sip a glass of wine and watch the beautiful views, The Lula Mae Slaughter Dining Terrace is near this entrance.

Gate 4 - Parking Garage Entrance

As the parking lot at Gate 1 can get full quickly, you'll have a better chance of finding parking faster at the parking garage. The staff will direct you on where to go, and each floor has an elevator to the walkway that connects the garage to the Gate 4 entrance from underground. With Texas getting way too hot during summer, this is where I usually prefer to park, so by the time I get back to my car from a session, it's not like a sauna in there, LOL!

Margaret Elizabeth Johnson Color Garden

You'll walk by this area on your way to A Woman's Garden. As the Arboretum changes seasonally, during springtime, you can see a sea of tulips and other flowers throughout the year. It's a big area, so finding a spot to take photos will not be a problem. The images above were taken in the areas near this garden - so if you walk the loop surrounding the garden, you'll see all of the spots above that are perfect for photos.

Path to DeGolyer

The DeGolyer Estate is one of the two wedding reception locations I've worked at. The building is not only surrounded by my favorite gardens but also has pretty architecture in every corner. Facing White Rock Lake, you can find that navy blue window; facing the Rose Garden, you can find the gated entry; near the Margaret Elizabeth Johnson Color Garden, you can find the stairs with the pergola that seasonally gets covered with vines.

Nancy's Garden

Nancy's Garden is a popular spot for wedding ceremonies. The lighting during the day will be harsh - not many open shades to use - but both early in the morning, and late afternoon before closing time will have the best lighting. This garden also changes seasonally. While in spring time it hosts pretty flowers, towards fall it hosts those gigantic greeneries (that I have no idea what they're called, LOL!).

The Poetry Garden

The Poetry Garden is a hidden gem right beneath A Woman's Garden. You can find this garden by following the staircase across from the navy blue windows of The DeGolyer. It's a lovely secluded garden with little foot traffic, so if y'all are shy of others watching you while you do photos, this might be the perfect spot to start the session and break the ice.

The Secret Garden

I have no idea what the official name of "The Secret Garden" is - I just like calling that. The spot is actually very easy to find, yet doesn't get much attention from the visitors, so it gives somewhat of privacy for those who want to take photos away from the eyes. The stone bench makes a great prop, and the fact that you can still see the bench from the garden across gives layers of greenery to add depth to your photos.

Stairway to DeGolyer

This staircase is right across from the pathway between the two pools of A Woman's Garden. As the stair itself makes a great backdrop with the infamous navy blue windows of the DeGolyer, on your way you can find many more pretty backdrops for your photos.

Stairway to the Sunken Garden/DeGolyer

This staircase is a short walk from the one above, closer to the Arch at A Woman's Garden - across from the infinity pool. It's easy access to the DeGolyer and the Sunken Garden's entrance. The same staircase will also take you to the Rose Garden and the Crape Myrtle Allee if you keep walking straight ahead past the DeGolyer.

A Woman's Garden

This garden is probably the crowd favorite, A Woman's Garden. From every angle, you can find something beautiful for your photos' background. The garden will look different every season, and whether it's decorated with colorful blossoms or the calmness of winter, I can do photos here year around.

Picnic area near A Woman's Garden

This nice little greenery area is, again, easy to find but doesn't have foot traffic. It's perfect for picnic dates, lying on the grass to watch the clouds, reading, or just watching White Rock Lake.

Because it has few shading options, the ideal time to use this area for photos is early or late afternoons.

Koi fish pond near A Woman's Garden

Overlook to the Sunken Garden

The Sunken Garden

Nancy Rutchik Red Maple Rill

Pathway behind the Concert Lawn

Pathway near the Camp House

Fountain at the Camp House

Crape Myrtle Allee

Lay Family Garden

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Established IN 2007

Based in North Texas

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