Visit Luisenpark, Mannheim

by Brendon Robbeloth
Contributing writer

Soothe your body, mind and soul this summer by visiting the tranquil gardens of Luisenpark in Manheim. For more than a century, tourists and locals alike have been drawn to the biological conservatory nestled on a small lake in the middle of this busy city. It incorporates more than 100 acres of pristine botanical gardens and expansive lawns. It is one of Europe’s most popular — and most
beautiful — nature reserves. With an emphasis on biological and cultural diversity, the park exhibits rare plants and wildlife in a stunning and family oriented environment.

It is truly an escape to nature without even leaving the bustling city center.
Only €6 will get you inside the verdant, vine-covered walls and, once there, the sounds of traffic and business are immediately replaced with the polite whistling of the creeks and the windswept rustling of branches overhead.

The smells of industry are left behind, and only the sweet and citrus aromas of the vast botanical gardens prevail. Unless, of course, you get too close to any of the several restaurants and outdoor cafes. Then the pungency of the flowers may well get lost under the thick smoke from the barbecued pork and fresh baked pastries, pretzels and breads.

Bring the family and spend an idle afternoon strolling along the curving sidewalks that wandering through immaculately kept gardens and along the shores of the beautiful Kutzerweiher Lake. Peonies, daylilies and rhododendrons line the walking paths, while spacious lawns and playgrounds offer the opportunity for just about any activity one can imagine. Watch the local children playing a game of soccer in the fields or sneak off to one of the more secluded lawns and nestle into a favorite book on one of the numerous lounge chairs situated throughout the park.

Be careful not to get too comfortable too quickly, though, or run the risk missing out on the seemingly endless activities and places of interest throughout the park.
Find your inner calm and sneak away from the crowds and off into one of the amazing botanical gardens. The iris garden, the citrus garden, the heather garden, the perennial garden, and the fern garden are only a few.

And do not forget your afternoon tea break at the Chinese Tea House and Garden, the largest of its kind in Europe. The beautiful Chinese construction is one of the newer additions to the park, and it is one that should not be missed.

Designed by a Chinese professor and expert on the ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui, the Tea House is designed especially with the tranquility of the patrons in mind. The walk to the Tea House terrace is itself an experience in meditation.
Taking the bridge over the beautiful pond of water lilies, under the shade of the large bamboo garden, and walking under the waterfall fountain and around to the back where tea is served will truly calm a restless spirit. And it is a good thing too, for then one must choose from more than 30 authentic Chinese teas, which would surely be stressful if not for all the Feng Shui-ing going on.

There are endless ways to entertain the children, too. In fact, have them invite some of their friends because very few places offer the incredible juxtaposition of child-entertainment and parental tranquility the way Luisenpark does. The petting zoo, aquariums, mini golf and reptile house will be sure to grab their attention. Then, set them loose on one of the many playgrounds situated throughout the park, and post up in a lounge chair under the sun and cozy up with your favorite book, all while keeping an eye on the young ones. Make sure they bring their bathing suits, too, because they will definitely want to cool off in one of the fountain pools afterward.

Gather the crew in the evening and enjoy dinner at one of the restaurants or cafes, just be sure to time it right so that the family’s after dinner Gondoletta ride around the lake is done when the sun is sinking low and the colors of a beautiful summer night perfectly illuminate the rare and immaculate botanical garden all around.