Ponds and Plants is a small nature attraction in Dayton. It’s a little bit of a lot of things including a botanical garden, zoo, wildlife refuge, pet store, sculpture garden, and a playground. Even though it’s a small park, there’s actually a lot to see.
- Nature attraction
- Botanical garden
- Small zoo
- Pet store
- Sculpture garden
- Date visited 7/5/2021
Parking and Admission at Ponds and Plants
The sign is easy to see from the road. Once you drive to the end of the driveway, you’ll see a couple of buildings and a rough narrow road to takes you to the top of the hill. Next to the road is a sign that reads Garden Center Fish Store. Although there’s no indication of where to go, this is the road you’ll take.
At the top of the road is a small area to park, a small store, and an outdoor park. We had trouble parking because nothing was marked off and too many cars parked too far apart. There’s no sign to show where to get tickets. We walked around until someone standing in front of the store said that we get tickets inside the store. You can also buy food to feed the animals.
The whole process was a little more confusing than it needed to be.
- Tickets – $3.00 for anyone over 2. Children 2 and under get in free.
- Food for the animals is $2.00 per bowl and you can choose which of the animals you want the food for. We saw several kids having fun feeding the animals.
About the Park
There are several entrances. It’s not clear where to start, but in reality, it doesn’t make much difference. You’ll pass by every entrance anyway and it circles around. As it turned out, the one in the center had a sign that it was the entrance. It was just hard to notice at first.
Unless you have kids that stop and play in all the play areas, it takes about an hour to walk through and look at the animals and plants. Our meandering was just under a mile of walking.
The animals include fish, turtles, a large tortoise, free-roaming peacocks, prairie dogs, an emu, Vietnamese potbelly pigs, a rabbit, Mandarin ducks, and cavys. The fish seemed to get the most attention. This is the first area you see if you go in through the main entrance.
There were lots of plants. Most were not labeled, so it’s hard to know what they were. The cactus was easy to spot. Other plants include water lilies, carnivorous pitcher plants, many plants and flowers that weren’t identified, and lots of plants in pots that were sitting in a pond. There is a section where plants are labeled. Most of the plants were arranged around the walkway to create a botanical garden.
Things to do at Ponds and Plants
It has lots of small play areas for kids to play. They include a sandbox, a slide, a rustic playhouse, a tunnel, bubble windows for the prairie dogs, an igloo made of concrete and rocks, fossil digs, and a teepee.
There are lots of areas to sit in. Most are rustic swings or benches. There are also several waterfalls and fountains. Artworks include large carvings that include a monkey, caiman, and a 22-foot snake.
There was a covered work area with blocks. It looked like an area for demonstrations. The brochure does indicate that they have art classes and animal shows, so this could be where they’re held. None were in progress while we were there.
Ponds and Plants was our first trip for Travel East Tennessee. It’s an interesting park. I found the walk peaceful and enjoyable. I especially like watching the animals. The plants were interesting, but I wanted to see a sign that would identify them. I did find the parking area confusing and it’s too small for more than a dozen cars.
Would you go back? I would. I want to go to one of the classes. I’d especially go back to take someone that hasn’t been.
Ponds and Plants was an interesting way to spend an hour or two. I was expecting something a little more spread out with larger open areas. They make very good use of the area they do have though, and the way it is designed there is something interesting around every corner. I would love to see more signage explaining things. There are a few signs for the animals. If what they have changes frequently maybe even a few printouts with some additional information about the plants and artwork would be nice. I wasn’t aware until after our visit that the areas you can’t enter are for their award-winning landscaping business.
Would you go back? Probably, I always like seeing birds and animals, and at least some of the artwork and plant life change from time to time. I think kids would really enjoy it. I think I’d pick a slightly cooler day next time.
Who Should Visit Ponds and Plants
Anyone within an hour of Dayton with children that want to keep them busy for a couple of hours would enjoy Ponds and Plants. Also, anyone that’s interested in seeing quirky art made with reclaimed and other materials. It would be more enjoyable to go at a time when they’re running art classes or animal demonstrations.
Monday – Saturday 10am-6pm
1668 Rhea County Highway
Dayton, Tn 37321
You can find more information at the Ponds and Plants website.