55 Stunning Botanical Gardens You Really Need to See Before You Die
Are you ready for spring year-round? These gorgeous botanical gardens are true sights for sore eyes, boasting acres upon acres of luscious greenery, beautiful colors, unique plant-life, exotic butterflies, and even some fun activities for the kids. Pack your bags and check these botanical gardens off your bucket list!
#1. Brooklyn Botanic Garden
- Size: 52 acres
- Location: Brooklyn, New York
- Website: https://www.bbg.org/
- Known for: Its efforts to promote green space in urban areas
Work began on Brooklyn Botanic Garden in 1897, with 39 acres set aside for the urban green space. The original plan for the Garden was completed by the Olmsted brothers, the owners of the first architectural business in the United States. The Garden officially opened to the public in May 1911.
BBG now has a children's gardening program, plant pavilions with unique climates, and over 42 species of Cherry trees. Brooklyn Botanic Garden is also home to one of the first Japanese gardens opened in the country.
#2. Missouri Botanical Garden
- Size: 79 acres
- Location: St. Louis, Missouri
- Website: http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/
- Known for: Its dedication to science, education, and conservation
Hardware salesman, Henry Shaw, opened the Missouri Botanical Garden in 1859 after falling in love with the area and promising to turn it into something wonderful. The Garden is now considered one of the most beautiful in the world, but it also dedicates itself to plant research and conservation with a Global Strategy that seeks to promote plant diversity throughout the world.
When you visit, you can't miss taking a narrated tram tour of the Garden, which takes you through some of the most popular sights and attractions.
P.S. I've never been to this garden personally, but if you're looking for a personal anecdote about the garden, my friend Katie from the Mumbling Mommy has a good one here.
#3. Longwood Gardens
- Size: 1,077 acres
- Location: Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
- Website: https://longwoodgardens.org/
- Known for: Year-round events and performances
Longwood Gardens came about by chance after American businessman and entrepreneur, Pierre S. du Pont, purchased a farm to preserve the land in 1906. He began hosting parties and theater experiences on the gardens and soon named the land Longwood. After du Pont's death in 1954, Longwood Gardens was officially opened to the public.
The Gardens host several seasonal attractions and events for a one-of-a-kind experience. You can even earn a tuition-free horticultural degree through its educational services.
#4. Balboa Park
- Size: 1,200 acres
- Location: San Diego, California
- Website: https://www.balboapark.org/
- Known for: The perfect mix of horticulture and culture
Balboa Park's name was changed from City Park in 1915 to honor Spanish explorer, Vasco Núñez de Balboa. Although the land was originally established in 1868, the park wasn't put into development until 1902. The land is now home to several gardens, parks, and attractions, including the San Diego Zoo.
Balboa Park was only the second of its type in the United States at the time of its establishment. The only other large public park was New York City's Central Park.
#5. Desert Botanical Garden
- Size: 140 acres
- Location: Phoenix, Arizona
- Website: https://www.dbg.org/
- Known for: 139 endangered, threatened, or rare plant species
A group of local citizens helped found the Arizona Cactus and Native Flora Society in 1936, which has since sponsored, and formed, the Desert Botanical Garden. Today, the Garden features over 50,000 plant displays, several seasonal exhibitions, and even a Desert Landscape School that provides certificate programs to those interested in hands-on desert landscaping training.
Want to help? You can become a part of the Community Garden, which shares its produce with a local church food bank.
#6. New York Botanical Garden
- Size: 250 acres
- Location: Bronx, New York
- Website: https://www.nybg.org/
- Known for: Housing over one million plants and hosting over one million annual visitors
Now a National Historic Landmark, the NYBG was founded in 1891 and has grown to become one of the largest of its kind in large cities in the United States. The Garden features gardens and collections that showcase every season and helps to train the community and families on the importance of urban farming.
The New York Botanical Garden hosts daily events, classes, and performances, so be sure to see what's going on when you plan to visit.
#7. Chicago Botanic Garden
- Size: 385 acres
- Location: Glencoe, Illinois
- Website: https://www.chicagobotanic.org/
- Known for: 27 various gardens and a popular Bonsai Collection
Chicago Botanic Garden officially opened to the public in 1972. Since then, several renowned architects have helped design its beautiful gardens and informative learning centers. The Garden features special events families will love, like Wonderland Express, complete with model trains, indoor snow, and carolers.
The Bonsai Collection is a must-see, featuring around 200 bonsai trees, some of which have been donated by bonsai masters and have received training for over 100 years. The Aquatic Garden is also a unique experience, with a front-row view of aquatic plant life as you walk along a boardwalk.
#8. Atlanta Botanical Garden
- Size: 30 acres
- Location: Atlanta, Georgia and Gainesville, Georgia
- Website: http://atlantabg.org/
- Known for: Cocktails in the Garden seasonal event, featuring live entertainment and activities
Founded in 1976, Atlanta Botanical Garden is home to a wide range of indoor and outdoor plant displays with unique plants from all over the world. You can even check out tropical animals and birds as you explore. The Garden also has dozens of sculptures throughout the property that tie into the surroundings.
Atlanta Botanical Garden is a popular spot for private events, like weddings and garden parties. Are you looking for something out-of-the-ordinary? Book an event in the treetops and enjoy the canopy walk among the greenery of Storza Woods.
#9. United States Botanic Garden
- Size: 800 acres
- Location: Washington, District of Columbia
- Website: https://www.usbg.gov/
- Known for: Living plants over 165 years old
USBG was established in 1820 by the United States Congress, making it one of the oldest of its kind in North America. After a long history of expansion and movement, the Garden is now nestled on over 800 acres of government property. It features a renowned Conservatory, a plant production facility, and a Children's Garden to get kids involved in the horticulture process.
USBG hosts a summer concert series with music that will take you back to the roots of America. Concerts are free to the public!
#10. Fairchild Tropical Garden
- Size: 83 acres
- Location: Coral Gables, Florida
- Website: http://www.fairchildgarden.org/
- Known for: Conserving and displaying some of the most beautiful tropical plants in the world
Fairchild Tropical Garden opened its doors publicly in 1938 as a dedicated garden of tropical flowers and plant life. It has since expanded to include significant conservation efforts, with field programs in 20 countries that help to protect and enrich garden development. The Garden includes a laboratory and research facility and hosts cultural festivals designed to educate and entertain.
Fairchild Tropical Garden is also the home of the American Orchid Society, which focuses education and conservation effort on the many varieties of the world's orchids.
#11. Denver Botanic Garden
- Size: 23 acres
- Location: Denver, Colorado
- Website: https://www.botanicgardens.org/
- Known for: Exhibitions of several plant species native to the Rocky Mountain Region
Denver Botanic Garden went public in 1951 and now sits on land that used to be a cemetery. The Garden currently has seven living collections from a variety of climates and environments. Throughout the various seasons, the Garden hosts special events, plant sales, and holiday festivals for the whole family to enjoy.
Denver Botanic Garden is home to the world's first Xeriscape Demonstration Garden, which shows how to create a landscape that is beautiful, low-maintenance, and water-conserving.
#12. The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens
- Size: 1,800 acres
- Location: Palm Desert, California
- Website: http://www.livingdesert.org/
- Known for: Combining incredible plant and animal life in one location
The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens is a one-stop place for people who can't get enough of the unique animals and plants in the desert environment. The area was first established as gardens in 1970, but began to host animals just a few years later. It's now home to hundreds of desert animals from all over the world and over 1,400 species of desert plants.
You can take a safari tour through The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens, where you'll get up close and personal with wildlife and plant life throughout the park. You'll even get to see the staff veterinarians in action!
#13. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
- Size: 158 acres
- Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Website: http://www.meijergardens.org/
- Known for: Michigan's second-largest tourist attraction and one of the best sculpture parks in the world
The Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park project began in 1982, but landed a significant donation from Meijer, Inc. in 1990 that got the project off the ground. It opened in 1995, and now has Michigan's largest tropical conservatory, classrooms and learning experiences, nature trails, and five indoor themed gardens.
The Sculpture Park features over 300 works that blend well with the Gardens and hosts three large-scale temporary exhibitions each year displayed in over 4,000 square feet.
#14. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
- Size: 9.5 acres
- Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Website: https://phipps.conservatory.org/
- Known for: Its mix of formal and exotic gardens provided amidst extraordinary architecture
Henry Phipps, Jr. an American entrepreneur and Andrew Carnegie's business partner, helped found the Phipps Conservatory in 1893. The Gardens now feature several themed indoor and outdoor gardens, one of the most popular being the Children's Discovery Garden. Here, kids can explore butterflies, bees, play areas, and kid-friendly gardens.
On the land of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is also the Center for Sustainable Landscapes, which uses environmentally-friendly solar energy and recycles its own water to promote sustainability education.
#15. San Francisco Botanical Garden
- Size: 55 acres
- Location: San Francisco, California
- Website: http://www.sfbotanicalgarden.org/
- Known for: Over 50,000 plants from over 8,500 worldwide species
Since 1940, San Francisco Botanical Garden has been home to plants from all over the world that can dwell in the unique climate of the San Francisco Bay area. One of its largest tourism attractions is its Magnolia Collection, which displays and conserves the gorgeous blooms. You'll find everything from wooded areas to tropical palm trees as you explore the Gardens.
San Francisco Botanical Garden has an extensive team of volunteers that help to enrich visitors' experiences and educate the public on conservation efforts.
#16. Lan Su Chinese Garden
- Size: 40,000 square feet
- Location: Portland, Oregon
- Website: http://www.lansugarden.org/
- Known for: Authentic, native Chinese plants grown in Portland, Oregon
Lan Su Chinese Garden opened in 2000 using plants indigenous to China, but grown in Oregon, some of which are over 100 years old. The Garden provides visitors with a rich Chinese experience, complete with authentic Chinese architecture, plant life, and art. You can even enjoy a selection of Chinese tea as you take a break and enjoy the surroundings.
The name of the Gardens can roughly translate to "Garden of Awakening Orchids," and sits within Portland's Chinese district.
#17. Callaway Gardens
- Size: 6,500 acres
- Location: Pine Mountain, Georgia
- Website: http://www.callawaygardens.com/
- Known for: Being a fun resort experience for the whole family
Callaway Gardens was established in 1952 and is more than just a botanical garden; it's a full resort featuring water activities, hiking trails, golf courses, and more. But, you won't want to miss exploring the site's renowned Gardens, like the 40-acre Azalea Bowl, which is home to over 3,000 hybrid species of Azaleas. You can also spend a day with butterflies in the Day Butterfly Center, or check out a Birds of Prey show.
Some of the best things Callaway Gardens has to offer are its special events, like Celebrate Spring!, which gives visitors some of the most gorgeous, colorful sights as they experience everything the Gardens have to offer.
#18. Brookgreen Gardens
- Size: 9,100 acres
- Location: Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
- Website: http://www.brookgreen.org/
- Known for: The perfect year-round garden experience, with new blooms for every season
Opened in 1932, Brookgreen Gardens is a massive landscape of nature trails, reserves, and even a zoo. As you walk the Gardens, you'll meet unique sculptures by artists from all over the world, as well as over 2,000 species of protected plants as part of its conservation efforts.
Brookgreen Gardens is dedicated to eco-friendliness. Even its three restaurants on the property use biodegradable items for easy recycling.
#19. Descanso Gardens
- Size: 150 acres
- Location: La Canada-Flintridge, California
- Website: https://www.descansogardens.org/
- Known for: An incredible, natural mix of plants and wildlife to make you feel at one with nature
Descanso Gardens became a public garden from a private garden owned by the Boddy family in 1953. Today, the Gardens are home to nine uniquely-themed gardens and hundreds of bird, insect, reptile, mammal, and amphibian species.
You can visit the home of the founder of Descanso Gardens, E. Manchester Boddy, which was reconfigured as a historical museum in 2008. It showcases much of the history of the family and the property you can enjoy today.
#20. Magnolia Plantation & Gardens
- Size: 464 acres
- Location: Charleston, South Carolina
- Website: http://www.magnoliaplantation.com/
- Known for: The only garden in South Carolina to be named one of "America's Most Beautiful Gardens"
The Drayton family established the property that the Magnolia Plantation & Gardens now sits on in 1676, and members of the Drayton family still own and operate it today. The Gardens were opened to the public in 1870, and contain attractions like a Swamp Garden, Zoo & Nature Center, and a Nature Train that takes you through various landscapes.
The gardens on the property are styles in a romantic theme that creates a calming environment full of color and emotion.
#21. University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley
- Size: 34 acres
- Location: Berkeley, California
- Website: http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu/
- Known for: Having over 10,000 types of plants, many of which are rare or endangered
E.L. Greene established the University of California Botanical Garden in 1890 to display and conserve several of California’s native plants and trees. It only took two years for the Garden to expand to over 600 species from California and its neighboring states. It now hosts species from around the world and is considered one of the most diverse botanical gardens in the country.
UCBG is divided into collections based on geographic location so you’ll feel as though you’ve entered another world as you enjoy each area.
#22. Conservatory of Flowers
- Size: Over 2,200 square feet
- Location: San Francisco, California
- Website: http://www.conservatoryofflowers.org/
- Known for: Being a historical landmark in the Golden Gate Park
The Conservatory of Flowers finished completion in 1879 and is an official landmark in California. It currently houses about 1,700 plant species that fill the building, from aquatic plant life to tropical plants from the Highland and Lowland.
The building underwent several repairs through its lifetime, from fire to earthquake damage, and even a 13-year closure in 1933 from a second fire. Fortunately, fundraising efforts have allowed the building to repair and survive the test of time.
#23. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
- Size: 50 acres
- Location: Richmond, Virginia
- Website: http://www.lewisginter.org/
- Known for: Being a fun blend of horticulture and artistry
Lewis Ginter bought nine acres of property in 1895, which his niece, Grace, bought in 1911, 14 years after Ginter’s death. Upon her death, it was discovered in her will that the land was to be turned into a botanical garden in honor of her uncle. In 1982, that dream came to fruition when the Garden opened to the public. It’s now home to several themed gardens and collections that display gorgeous plants through every season.
One of the most popular sights to see here is Wild Art: A Journey Off-Canvas, which features unique artwork designed by artists who bring natural elements to life.
#24. Cleveland Botanical Garden
- Size: 10 acres
- Location: Cleveland, Ohio
- Website: http://www.cbgarden.org/
- Known for: Having the first children’s garden in Ohio, the Hershey Children’s Garden
Cleveland Botanical Garden has one of the smallest properties on the list, but features an 18,000-square foot glasshouse packed with unique birds, butterflies, and plants. Opened in 1930, the Garden began as an educational experience for gardeners and communities, but has since expanded also to offer art, nature, and children's experiences.
Cleveland Botanical Garden participates in a work-study program that aims to create efficiency and sustainability from unused land.
#25. San Antonio Botanical Garden
- Size: 33 acres
- Location: San Antonio, Texas
- Website: http://www.sabot.org/
- Known for: The historical, fully relocated and restored Sullivan Carriage House
Officially opened in 1980, the San Antonio Botanical Garden was in development since the 1940s. The Garden mixes San Antonio history with formal gardens, efficient gardens, and more. The Sullivan Carriage House was the former home of Daniel J. Sullivan, a famous Texas veteran of the Civil War. The house moved to the Garden in 1987 and now acts as the entrance.
For a truly Texan experience, walk the Texas Native Trail, which covers 11 acres and hosts over 250 species of plants native to different Texas ecosystems.
#26. Sarah P. Duke Gardens
- Size: 55 acres
- Location: Durham, North Carolina
- Website: http://gardens.duke.edu/
- Known for: Being the perfect setting for photography sessions and weddings
In the early 1930s, Sarah P. Duke generously offered $20,000 toward a botanical garden. It took off fast, but heavy storms led to rotting and destroyed plants by the time Duke passed in 1936. Her daughter took over, finding a higher spot for the Gardens, which reopened in 1939. The Gardens now have four areas that feature diverse plant species from around the world.
You can experience an Asian daytime tea gathering in the Culberson Asiatic Arboretum during designated times as you enjoy the surrounding beauty.
#27. Fort Worth Botanic Garden
- Size: 109 acres
- Location: Fort Worth, Texas
- Website: http://www.fwbg.org/
- Known for: An award-winning orchid collection of over 350 species
Fort Worth Botanic Garden is the oldest of its type in the state, opened in 1934. It currently has over 2,500 plant species and has new plants blooming throughout the seasons. There are 15 themed gardens, a conservatory filled with species native to the rainforest, and an outdoor demonstration area for educational purposes.
The Garden offers special class programs that cater to different age groups, allowing kids a hands-on experience exploring gardening and ecosystems.
#28. Bartram's Garden
- Size: 46 acres
- Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Website: https://bartramsgarden.org/
- Known for: Being the oldest existing botanical garden in North America
Bartram’s Garden began in 1728 by John Bartram, and the family continued to own the land until it was purchased in 1891 by the City of Philadelphia. You’ll find both native and exotic plants and trees throughout, and you can even visit John Bartram’s original garden.
The Farm at Bartram’s Garden covers four acres and is cared for by local high school students and families. It produces over 12,000 pounds of food annually for the city.
#29. Olbrich Botanical Gardens
- Size: 16 acres
- Location: Madison, Wisconsin
- Website: http://www.olbrich.org/
- Known for: Olbrich Thai Pavilion, which is the only of its kind in the United States
Michael Olbrich purchased the land for the future Olbrich Botanical Gardens in 1921, and it was finally opened to the public in 1952, 23 years after his death. The Gardens feature several outdoor themed gardens, like the newest Rose Garden, and an indoor conservatory with free-flying birds and tropical plant species.
Olbrich Botanical Gardens have received several awards, including “Wonder of Wisconsin” in 2007 and one of the “10 Most Inspirational Gardens in North America” in 2004.
#30. San Diego Botanic Garden
- Size: 37 acres
- Location: Encinitas, California
- Website: http://www.sdbgarden.org/
- Known for: Kid-friendly gardens with playgrounds and educational opportunities
Originally established in 1961, the San Diego Botanic Garden houses over 3,000 plant species, both California natives and exotic plants, that come from a variety of environments. The Garden has climate-controlled gardens so visitors can enjoy a diverse selection of plants from all continents around the world.
You can easily spend a full day exploring the San Diego Botanic Garden, which has 30 educational areas and gardens, special art exhibits, and bird watching activities.
#31. Oregon Garden
- Size: 80 acres
- Location: Silverton, Oregon
- Website: http://www.oregongarden.org/
- Known for: Specialty gardens that cater to kids, pets, and special interests
Oregon Garden opened to the public in 1999, showcasing several themed gardens and beautiful fountains, as well as special gardens to appeal to all ages. The focus of Oregon Garden is appealing to the masses to create a one-of-a-kind experience for everyone to enjoy learning about nature and sustainability.
When you visit, you can see a 400-year-old Oak tree, which reaches heights of about 100 feet. The Garden also hosts several events year-round, like Yoga in the Garden and a 4th of July Fireworks display.
#32. Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
- Size: 295 acres
- Location: Boothbay, Maine
- Website: http://www.mainegardens.org/
- Known for: Spring beauty, with over 38,000 blooming bulbs
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is one of the newer ones in the country, nestled on the breathtaking coastal shores. The Gardens includes 10 themed gardens, areas, and educational centers. You can take your family on a fun, seasonal quest through the garden, including a sensory exploration quest and the Beautiful Birds Family Fun Quest.
Take one of four garden tours at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens to learn about the native plants of Maine located throughout the Gardens.
#33. Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
- Size: 78 acres
- Location: Santa Barbara, California
- Website: http://www.sbbg.org/
- Known for: Plant-breeding and research programs
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden opened in 1927, but has had to rebuild after a 2009 fire that damaged several trees and plant life. The Gardens separate into 11 sections, including the Canyon, Desert, and a Water-Wise Home Garden demonstration area.
Much of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden focuses on research and conservation of native California plants. The Garden has an on-site conservation center with educational classrooms, research facilities, and a seed bank for breeding projects.
#34. Queens Botanical Garden
- Size: 39 acres
- Location: Flushing, New York
- Website: http://www.queensbotanical.org/
- Known for: Blending diversity and horticultural education in one of the nation’s most cultural neighborhoods
Queens Botanical Garden began as a small, 5-acre exhibit in the 1939 New York World’s Fair. But after millions of dollars in grant funds, the Garden has since opened a new visitor’s center, specialty gardens, wetlands walk, and more.
Queens Botanical Garden has 28 unique garden areas that showcase everything from sustainable gardening to a display of ornamental grasses.
#35. Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
- Size: 380 acres
- Location: Belmont, North Carolina
- Website: http://www.dsbg.org/
- Known for: Fast growth and popularity, with over 100 volunteers helping to care for, and maintain, the property
The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden started in 1991 with a gift from Stowe, a wealthy, retired businessman from Belmont. It officially opened in 1999, but will continue to be under development until around 2049. The Garden focuses on year-round appeal and education for adults and children alike.
The Garden currently has 20 special areas to explore, including a Canal Garden the size of a professional football field.
#36. Anderson Japanese Gardens
- Size: 12 acres
- Location: Rockford, Illinois
- Website: http://www.andersongardens.org/
- Known for: Bringing authentic Japanese architecture and plant life to the Americas
Anderson Japanese Gardens is the result of a growing garden and architectural design originally on founder John Anderson’s land. Opened in 1978, the Garden mirrors traditional Japanese gardens, thanks to the help of designer Hoichi Kurisu. You can take a guided tour through the Gardens, or enjoy exploring the waterfalls, bridges, and plant life during a leisurely stroll along the paths.
Anderson envisioned the Anderson Japanese Gardens to enjoy the things he loved most about his visits to Japan in his own backyard. Kurisu ensures an authentic experience, right down to the placement of rocks in the Gardens.
- Size: 48 acres
- Location: Wayne, Pennsylvania
- Website: http://www.chanticleergarden.org/
- Known for: Being the perfect picnic area with fantastic views and atmosphere
Chanticleer opened in 1993 to the public, but was originally the estate of a pharmaceutical entrepreneur named Adolph Rosengarten, Sr. The grounds include several open garden spaces, lawns, and trails. Plenty of seating areas and open lawns make it a unique botanical garden experience that attracts picnickers, especially.
Some of the Minder House, Rosengarten, Sr.’s home, still exists, but it’s been transformed into a spectacular sculpture of ruins for visitors to enjoy.
- Size: 37 acres
- Location: Santa Barbara, California
- Website: http://www.lotusland.org/
- Known for: Being named one of the “10 Best Gardens in the World” by The Telegraph
Opera singer, Ganna Walska, developed the original Lotusland property over a period of about 40 years, and it officially opened to visitors in 1993. Lotusland currently has 13 gardens of varying themes. One of its most popular is the Succulent Garden, which was originally designed and created for Walska herself, and received a complete makeover in the 1970s.
You must have a reservation to tour Lotusland during its open season and hours from February through November.
#39. Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden
- Size: 86 acres
- Location: Claremont, California
- Website: http://www.rsabg.org/
- Known for: Its research involving over one million species, in collaboration with Pomona College
Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden originally opened in 1927 and showcases over 2,000 species native to California. The Garden separates into three areas in which different types of plants thrive. You can enjoy plants from every season, monthly bird walks, gardening workshops, and conservation education while you explore.
This garden is a leader in research and conservation of native California plants. Its Living Collection of specimens is one of the largest in the country, and combined with its Seed Conservation Program, its conservation is the largest of any botanical gardens’ in the United States.
#40. Ruth Bancroft Garden
- Size: 2.5 acres
- Location: Walnut Creek, California
- Website: http://www.ruthbancroftgarden.org/
- Known for: Dry garden plants of various textures, sizes, and colors
Another California treasure, Ruth Bancroft Garden opened in the early 90s after beginning planning stages took place starting in 1972. Bancroft loved succulents and formed the garden for the sole purpose of creating an immaculate, unique garden that withstood virtually any weather conditions.
Ruth Bancroft Garden was the first garden to fall under the protection of The Garden Conservancy in the United States, ensuring that it will always remain a garden, just as Bancroft intended it.
#41. Idaho Botanical Garden
- Size: 33 acres
- Location: Boise, Idaho
- Website: http://idahobotanicalgarden.org/
- Known for: Turning a state prison into a natural wonderland
Development began on Idaho Botanical Garden in 1984, after buying the land for what was once the Idaho State Penitentiary. The Garden’s mission blends the excitement of horticulture into all ages with educational and cultural events throughout the year.
In addition to 13 themed gardens, including a Children’s Adventure Garden, you can find interesting sculptures scattered on the property as part of an entertaining outdoor art gallery.
#42. Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
- Size: 47 acres
- Location: Fort Bragg, California
- Website: http://www.gardenbythesea.org/
- Known for: Its Rhododendron collection, with over 122 species
Founded in 1961 by Ernest and Betty Schoefer, the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens was recently named the 5th Best Botanical Garden by USA Today. It’s now owned by the California Coastal Conservancy, and features extensive collections, natural environments for birds and other wildlife, and beautiful blooms throughout the year.
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is also home to 160 bird species to spot as you explore. You can take part in two Bird Walks per month, with an Audubon Society member as your tour guide.
#43. Norfolk Botanical Garden
- Size: 155 acres
- Location: Norfolk, Virginia
- Website: http://norfolkbotanicalgarden.org/
- Known for: 52 themed gardens engulfed in Virginia history
Norfolk Botanical Garden opened its doors in 1938 with the help of a strong labor force of women who cleared the grounds and planted azaleas, daffodils, rhododendrons, and more. Tours throughout the Garden focus on both the wide variety of native and exotic plants, as well as the deep-rooted history of the Virginia attraction.
The Garden hosts Family Evenings from April through September that focus on activities families can enjoy on the premises, like painting, tea parties, and butterfly searches.
#44. State Botanical Garden of Georgia
- Size: 313 acres
- Location: Athens, Georgia
- Website: http://botgarden.uga.edu/
- Known for: Blending research and education with a love for horticulture
The University of Georgia dedicated the land for the current State Botanical Garden of Georgia in 1938 as both a place of intensive horticulture research, education, and conservation, and a place for everyone to enjoy nature. It features seven gardens and conservation areas, as well as nature trails, on which you can spot birds and wildlife.
The Garden welcomes interns and graduate students who want to extend their knowledge and experiences in the horticulture field. It also partners with Georgia schools to enrich the curriculum of students through home school programs, field trips, and more.
#45. National Tropical Botanical Garden
- Size: 2,000 acres
- Location: Florida and Hawaii
- Website: http://www.ntbg.org/
- Known for: Research and conservation of tropical plants
The National Tropical Botanical Garden was established in 1964 as a Hawaiian network of botanical gardens in eight locations. The Gardens are dedicated to tropical plant research and conservation with an important focus on native Hawaiian species.
Kahanu Garden in Maui currently has the world’s largest collection of breadfruit and helps to grow and maintain one of the most coveted crops in the South Pacific.
#46. Matthaei Botanical Gardens
- Size: 700 acres
- Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
- Website: http://www.lsa.umich.edu/mbg/
- Known for: Its 10,000 square-foot conservatory that houses plants of varying climates
Matthaei Botanical Gardens sits on the grounds of the University of Michigan and became public in 1907. The Gardens include diverse outdoor art displays, nature trails, a sustainable food farm, and several featured themed gardens that thrive in a variety of settings.
One of the draws of Matthaei Botanical Gardens is its nature trails, where you can spot wildlife, entertain the children, and encounter different terrains and habitats.
#47. Garvan Woodland Gardens
- Size: 210 acres
- Location: Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
- Website: http://www.garvangardens.org/
- Known for: Over 160 species of azaleas in addition to hundreds of rare shrub and tree species
Verna Cook Garvan purchased the land for Garvan Woodland Gardens in the 1920s, turning it over to the University of Arkansas upon her death in 1993. The Gardens feature popular themed gardens, like the Sugg Model Train Garden, which has 389 feet of model train tracks looping through beautiful plant life.
The Weyerhauser Bonsai Garden is home to around 30 bonsai trained under Japanese garden master, Kinsaku Nakane.
Courtesy of Sherre Freeman at Garvan Gardens
#48. Birmingham Botanical Gardens
- Size: 67.5 acres
- Location: Birmingham, Alabama
- Website: http://www.bbgardens.org/
- Known for: Over 25 themes gardens showcasing more than 3,000 plant species
Open in 1963, Birmingham Botanical Gardens was the brainchild of Mayor James W. Morgan, who wanted to create the best botanical garden in the southeastern United States. From formal gardens to wooden trails, the Gardens feature plants that bloom throughout the year.
Bruno Vegetable Garden helps produce over 3,000 pounds of food every year, which is donated to Magic City Harvest to help feed the hungry.
#49. Bellevue Botanical Garden
- Size: 53 acres
- Location: Bellevue, Washington
- Website: http://www.bellevuebotanical.org/
- Known for: Green efforts toward protecting natural habitats
Founded in 1986, Bellevue Botanical Garden continues to grow thanks to its volunteers. There are 16 themed gardens and attractions, including Yao Garden, a traditional Japanese garden full of maple trees, azaleas, and authentic lanterns.
Garden d’Lights is a popular attraction, with more than half a million lights on display throughout the garden during the holiday season.
- Size: 18 acres
- Location: Saratoga, California
- Website: http://www.hakone.com/main.html
- Known for: Being one of the oldest Japanese gardens in the Western hemisphere
Hakone, a traditional Japanese garden now on the National Register of Historic Places, became a public garden in 1966. Hakone provides not only traditional Japanese plant life and architecture, but also experiences, like a Tea Ceremony and Origami storytelling class.
The Gardens include four separate areas with unique atmospheres and experiences. The Zen Garden is perfect for relaxing meditation.
#51. Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center
- Size: 252 acres
- Location: Orange, Texas
- Website: http://starkculturalvenues.org/
- Known for: Its world-class Nature Discovery Center with hands-on opportunities to explore plant life
Shangri La Botanical Gardens originally opened in 1946, but much was destroyed by cold weather and hurricanes, as recently as 2008. But, it continues to rebuild with the help of volunteers and the Stark Foundation.
The Survivor Tree is truly a sight to see at Shangri La Botanical Gardens. At over 1,200 years old, it has withstood decades of destruction from weather and disease.
#52. Myriad Botanical Gardens
- Size: 17 acres
- Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Website: http://oklahomacitybotanicalgardens.com/
- Known for: Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory hosting gorgeous tropical plants and water features
Work began on Myriad Botanical Gardens in 1964 to beautify downtown Oklahoma City. The Gardens have since received a $30 million makeover with upgrades like a dog park and children’s play area. As an urban garden, Myriad Botanical Gardens showcases a unique variety of species, including a dedicated prairie garden for native prairie plants.
Creepy Conservatory is a popular event hosted near Halloween that provides an entertaining Trick or Treat experience for kids and families.
#53. San Jose Municipal Rose Garden
- Size: 5.5 acres
- Location: San Jose, California
- Website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Jose_Municipal_Rose_Garden
- Known for: Having almost 200 rose varieties
The City of San Jose, California bought the land for San Jose Municipal Rose Garden in 1927 as an orchard and turned it into a stunning display of roses. It currently features 189 rose varieties on thousands of shrubs that line its walkways.
#54. Airlie Gardens
- Size: 67 acres
- Location: Wilmington, North Carolina
- Website: http://airliegardens.org/
- Known for: Traditional Southern garden atmosphere
The land of Airlie Gardens was originally a private garden that dates to 1886, but became a public garden in 1998. It’s open year-round, and hosts a variety of events, like Yoga in the Garden and summer art exhibits.
Bird-spotting is popular at Airlie Gardens, with over 200 bird species and monthly bird hikes.
#55. Cape Fear Botanical Garden
- Size: 80 acres
- Location: Fayetteville, North Carolina
- Website: https://www.capefearbg.org/
- Known for: Unique educational opportunities
Opened in 1989, Cape Fear Botanical Garden provides horticultural education to the public and students of Fayetteville Technical Community College. You can enjoy themed gardens, events at the amphitheater, breathtaking river views, and even a Butterfly Stroll with the kids.
With its concentration on education, Cape Fear Botanical Garden offers tours, field trips, cultural events, and public programs designed to both educate and entertain visitors.
This post is mostly about gardens, but if you're into this sort of thing and want to read more about other gardens and outdoorsy park-type destinations, I'm currently really into Waking Up Wild, which is a cool complementary resource to this one.