Hermitage Museum

The Hermitage Museum and Gardens is this month's zoo membership swap. I was worried that there wouldn't be anything here for a toddler, but the outside grounds were perfect for running around. We did poke our heads inside the estate, which was formerly home to the Sloane family during the early 20th century. It now holds an art collection spanning 5,000 years. 
The estate sits on 5,000 acres of gardens and grounds which were perfect for R to run around on. Surrounded by the Lafayette River on three sides, the gardens took thirty years to build. Across the gardens are 105 millstones and unique pieces of artwork. Our favorite piece was "the tunnels" which is actually called "Villa Tempesta" made by Patrick Dougherty in 2016. The artist says he doesn't know what he is building until he arrives; he lets the ideas unfold naturally. The materials were collected for three weeks by volunteers. Raleigh appreciated running in and out of the "tunnels."
The rest of the gardens are filled with trails with steps to climb, bushes to run between, and even wetlands to look at. They do allow pets, but they must be on a leash. They ask that visitors not feed any wildlife and that people don't climb on the fences or trees or walk into the wetlands. Large groups of six or more must check into the front desk, and permission must be granted for professional photography. 
Lots of the garden is shaded and since it is on the water there is a nice breeze. There were lots of sailboats going by and we could see the cranes across the water hard at work. 
Be sure to stop by the wishing tree on your way out and make a wish. Mine for the day was that my kid didn't run around like a crazy person- but then again, it's so nice for him to be nice and tired out! 

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