Check out all the fun things for families and friends to do at Leu Gardens

2019 Design Build.  (Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University)
2019 Design Build. (Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University) (Provided by Leu Gardens)

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Are you looking for something fun to do with family and friends?

Whether you’re brainstorming ideas or just looking for some inspiration, you should consider treating your favorite people to an afternoon that breaks free from the usual routine and head over to Leu Gardens.

At Leu Gardens, you can explore an amazing 50-acre botanic oasis, just minutes from downtown Orlando. It’s not new, but it just might be a “new-to-you” experience that your family and friends will really enjoy.

As you’ll see from the list below, there’s truly something for everyone.

“Behind the Game: Nature of the Game”

Do you want to play a game?

We thought so!

Plan to head on over to Leu Gardens’ new interactive exhibit, “Nature of the Game,” now open through April 5, 2020.

This was created in collaboration with Reiman Gardens and Iowa State University Architecture lecturer and artist Reinaldo Correa, along with his interdisciplinary team of design and engineering students.

Translation? It’s an amazing hands-on experience taking childhood games and turning them into fun discoveries about the wonders of nature.

Scavenger Hunt

Inspired by I-SPY, visitors can explore different biomes in the United States and learn about the animals that live within those biomes by searching for certain images within each piece.

Morphing Morphology

This simple game allows you to match plant species through the different plant characteristics of native range, leaf, flower, fruit and seed.

Each of the five wheels has eight different trees common to North America.

You can align them by color and morphology.

This was actually inspired by a cryptex puzzle.


This might remind you of a balance ball maze.

“Photosynthesize” is a team-based game where the strategy is to work together to pivot and tilt the maze, moving the ball to a series of designated spots.

Visitors work together to navigate a ball through the six required elements, completing the cycle of photosynthesis. One to eight people can work to balance the ball and maneuver through an organic maze to reach all six checkpoints marked with a different element.

Here’s the really cool part: This maze form is inspired by the veins of the ubiquitous red maple tree leaf viewed at a microscopic level.

Food Web Chess

Chess has been played since ancient times, and is one of the few truly international games.

This version of chess includes a twist where the pieces represent animals from different parts of the food chain. Once the game starts, one goes through multiple food chains and creates a food web, illustrating the interconnectivity of nature.

Cause and Effect

This one was inspired by a sliding tile puzzle.

Here you’ll find tile puzzles are often used in the form of small, hand-held mechanisms that usually depict an image, phrase, or ordered number set when completed.

The puzzle pieces slide up, down, and side to side within the frame of the device. These large-scale sliding tile puzzles draw connections between different biomes and their biggest threats. There are two different difficulty levels for different ages.

The double sides create the cause-and-effect component of the game. Once one side is completed, the other side is scrambled. When one biome is fully visible, its threat is diminished -- and vice versa.


Have you ever heard of the game KerPlunk? Keep reading because this might just sound familiar ...

“Consequence” is a representation of human impact on the environment. The balls represent endangered species while the poles of the game represent negative human actions.

As you remove each pole, balls may tumble down. The message of this game is that some human activities can result in the destruction of natural ecosystems, which are kept in a delicate balance.

BEEd Maze

Inspired by a bead maze, this area offers simple amusement to children as they push small bees around twisted and interwoven metal rods.

You can experience this simple toy in human scale with an educational component.

The BEEd Maze illustrates the process of pollination while acting as a toy. The twisted poles are arranged in different shapes and heights. Bees will be pushed around the system as they “pollinate”. The BEEd Maze is scaled to be used by all ages, but it’s perfect for toddlers and younger children.

Connect Food

In Connect Food, one player is a moth and the other is a butterfly. Each player has to align four of their own disks, and each disk has an imprint of either host plant, caterpillar, adult butterfly, or nectar (food) plant.

In order for the player to win, (s)he has to align all four needs of their moth or butterfly -- in any order. Sound like fun?

It’s kind of like Connect 4!

Dice Sculpture

This large-scale sculptural piece is a visual that you won’t want to miss.

Dice have been used to determine outcomes before recorded history. These dice weigh 100 pounds and can’t be rolled, but are a big part of a lot of games.

Playing Cards Photo Op

Playing cards beautifully designed with a botanical theme allow visitors to become one of the card faces -- and you can even post it on social media for everyone to see the fun.

What’s not to love?

So, what are you looking forward to most? Let us know in the comments.