The John F. Kennedy Arboretum near New Ross in County Wexford is an incredible place to spend a day wandering through nature.
The garden dedicated to the memory of John F Kennedy covers a huge 250 hectares of trails, forest, flowers, wildlife and a pretty lake.
Below, you’ll find info on everything from opening hours to what you can expect from a visit. Dive on in!
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting The John F Kennedy Arboretum
Although a visit to the JFK Arboretum is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
The John F. Kennedy Arboretum is located just south of New Ross in County Wexford. It’s just over a 30-minutes drive from both Wexford Town and Waterford City, making it an easy day trip from either county.
2. Opening hours
The gardens are open every day throughout the year, with seasonal opening hours. From October to March the gardens are open from 10am until 5pm. From April until September, it’s open until 6.30pm.
It’s completely free to visit the arboretum, with no admission tickets required.
4. A fine place for a stroll
The main arboretum is the perfect place for a gentle stroll, with many trails taking in different parts of the park. You can enjoy the various flora and fauna or head up to the summit of the hill from where you can enjoy panoramic views.
About The John F. Kennedy Arboretum
As the name of the arboretum suggests, it’s dedicated in memory to the former US President, John F. Kennedy. The memorial park stretches for over 250 hectares outside of New Ross in Wexford.
The gardens feature over 500 different rhododendron and azaleas, as well as, 4500 different trees and plants. So, if you’re a bit of a garden lover, you’ll appreciate the variety of flora that you can admire.
There’s also a small lake, which is often considered to be a highlight for many people. It’s home to a large number of waterfowl.
It’s a wonderful place to head for a ramble, with a variety of trails through the forest and garden. The hilltop area stands at 271 metres and offers an impressive view into six different counties.
Things to do at The John F. Kennedy Arboretum
There’s plenty of things to do in and around the JFK Arboretum and it’s home to some of the more scenic walks in Wexford. Here’s some suggestions:
1. Discover the connection to Wexford, first
It’s worth spending some time learning about the connection between JFK and Wexford. His great-grandfather Patrick was in fact born in the nearby village of Dunganstown, where you can now find The Kennedy Homestead and museum. JFK also visited Ireland as the US President in 1963, just five months before his assassination.
It was during his time in Wexford, that his close associates and eventual authors of his biography, were inspired by the anti-war sign “Johnny We Hardly Knew You” held up in the crowd. It was used as the title of the book and the sign can now be found in the museum in New Ross.
2. Explore the gardens
There are many different parts of the gardens to explore. The forest plots are divided into different zones where you can find trees from across five different continents in the world.
If you prefer to admire some blooming flowers, then you can also explore the rhododendron and azaleas on one of the many trails.
The lake is also a very picturesque spot to sit and watch the birds play in the water, or you can head for a beautiful view at the top of the hill overlooking the entire arboretum.
3. The Visitor Centre
There is also a visitor centre inside the garden, which features some interesting exhibits on JFK, including an audio-visual display on his life. It’s also the official memorial and fountain dedicated to the former US President.
Near the centre, there’s a café if you want to relax with a coffee and treat after your walk.
Things to do near The John F. Kennedy Arboretum
One of the beauties of the JFK Arboretum is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Wexford.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from the JFK Arboretum!
1. The Kennedy Homestead (10-minute drive)
Just a 10-minute drive away, you can continue learning more about the Kennedy family at The Kennedy Homestead in Dunganstown.
It was home to five generations of the family, and JFK visited it himself on his trip to Ireland in 1963. It’s now been turned into a museum on Irish-American history, with various exhibits and memorabilia.
2. Dumbrody Abbey (10-minute drive)
Just south of the arboretum, you’ll find this abbey in Dunbrody. Founded back in 1210, it’s an incredible example of a Cistercian monastery and one of the finest examples in Ireland.
Most of the 13th century church remains, even after a massive collapse in 1852. It’s worth a visit, especially to the informative visitor centre and toenjoy a walk around the garden area.
3. Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience (15-minute drive)
Right in New Ross on the banks of the River Barrow, Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience is a reproduction of an 1840s emigrant vessel. It has various exhibits, costumed staff and a café to take a step back in time.
They also offer guided tours which provide an insight into the famine emigrant experience in Ireland for all ages.
4. The Hook Peninsula (20-minute drive)
The Hook Peninsula is the gateway to the southeast of Ireland with incredible history back to the Vikings and Anglo-Normans.
At the very tip of the peninsula, you can find the Hook Lighthouse, one of the oldest operational lighthouses in the world. The rugged peninsula offers plenty of things to see and do, including spectacular scenery.
FAQs about the JFK Arboretum
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What is there to do?’ to ‘Is it worth visiting?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
What is there to do at the John F Kennedy Arboretum?
It’s all about the walks here. The JFK Arboretum boasts 250 hectares that are perfect for rambling around at any time of year.
Is the JFK Arboretum worth visiting?
Even if you have no interest in JFK it’s well worth visiting. This is a gorgeous spot for a stroll and it’s a great spot to escape the hustle and bustle of new ross.
Elisha is a freelance writer, content creator and blogger and her work can be read in Lonely Planet, Remote Lands and Matador Network. You’ll usually find her travelling in offbeat places or hiking wherever there are mountains; always with a camera in hand.