Best Botanical Gardens in the U.S.

Wanderlust Wednesday - Destination Pollination

Summer is here, which means there is a lot more time for fun outdoor activities and trips! One of our favorite summertime suggestions for group travel? Botanical gardens!

You can typically find a botanical garden in each state, and each of them has their own unique quality that makes them beautiful and educational. Each garden allows you and your group to learn about horticulture and ecology, and sight-see among nature's finest creations in a new or iconic city. There are also always great historic and cultural lessons that go along with these gardens, making the trip extremely worthwhile! Here are a few of our favorites!

  • Atlanta Botanical Gardens - The Atlanta Botanical Garden is a 30-acre oasis full of not just impressive plants, but also really impressive art! Enjoy the work of Dale Chihuly, Niki Phalle, and Henry Moore as you stroll among the largest collection of species of orchids under glass! You'll spot frogs, turtles, geckos, and birds along the way as you take the 300 foot long, 45 feet high elevated walkway through the gorgeous Georgian hardwood canopy! 
  • Missouri Botanical Garden -

    Missouri Botanical Garden Credit Danielle Bopp

    The Missouri Botanical Garden, located in St. Louis, is a National Historic Landmark considered to be one of the oldest gardens in the U.S., established in 1859. Within this outstanding series of flora, you will see a Climatron holding an authentic tropical rainforest, 23 different demonstration gardens, a Japanese strolling garden, and even the world’s largest collection of rare and endangered orchids! Enjoy the sporadical places but intricate and gorgeous statues, as well as frequent cherry blossoms and azaleas!

  • Chicago Botanic Gardens - Another Midwestern garden delight can be found in Illinois, the 385-acre, the largest living plant museum in the nation! The Chicago Botanic Garden features 26 different display gardens plus four natural habitats, and even nine islands! Within the garden, you will find a renowned bonsai collection reminiscent of Susumu Nakamura, as well as several different gorgeous pathways and bridges to explore the over 2.4 million plants on!
  • Denver Botanic Gardens - Over in Denver you will find the art of rock gardening mixed beautifully with the art of gardening, a series of three separate gardens featuring several gorgeous, drought-tolerant, and Denver typical plants! See the 24-acre garden on York Street with a Japanese Garden and South American Plaza, or the working farm and bird-watching haven at Chatfield. There is even a hiking garden in the Arapaho National Forest to enjoy in the third location! You will definitely enjoy the over 500 tons of rock uniquely situated with over 2,300 species of native plants!  
  • Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden - Head down to the Sunshine State to get a unique glimpse of a world-class palm collection within the historic landscape of Coral Gables, Florida. Here you will be able to explore over 83-acres of rare tropical plants including unique palms, ancient cycads, Florida native trees, and climbing vines galore! You will see a total of over 1,000 exotic plants, as well as several Central and South American pollinators in the onsite Fairchild Butterfly Garden.
  • Portland Japanese Garden - While not as expansive as your typical botanical garden, the Portland Japanese Garden is an excellent and authentic example of a traditional Japanese Garden, a truly gorgeous celebration of beauty, wisdom, asymmetry, and imperfection in nature. Here you will explore the small 5.5-acre garden broken up into five different sections within Washington Park, in West Hills Portland. See the flat garden, tea garden, natural garden, and sand and stone garden, and maybe even sit in on a cultural festival or art workshop while you’re here!  
  • Desert Botanical Garden - One of our most unique choices on the list is the Desert Botanical Garden located in Phoenix, Arizona. This Sonoran Desert typical region is considered to be the nation's largest arid-adapted plant haven, 145 acres of typical Southwestern U.S. desert plants. Here you will see the over 50,000 plants that make up the unique desert beauty of Phoenix and have been here since 1930, several examples including cacti and wildflowers. There is also an impressive onsite butterfly garden!
  • National Tropical Botanical Garden - Think tropical for this next garden option, the National Tropical Botanical Garden located in five different spots throughout the islands of Hawaii. NTBG is a literal safe haven for at-risk tropical plants in both Hawaii and Florida and is the only series of gardens to houseplants within tropical climate zones. See different gardens containing different location-specific species in Maui and Kauai to name a few, the one in Maui holding the giant fig tree from Jurassic Park!
  • San Francisco Botanical Garden - On the West Coast you will find a true treat in San Francisco, the San Francisco Botanical Garden. The prime time to come explore this natural wonderland is January through March, the best time to see the impressive sea of magnolias come to life. See the redwood grove, several rare old-growth forests, a Japanese garden, and around 100 rare magnolia species all within the scenic backdrop of the Golden Gate Park. 
  • Dallas Arboretum - Down in the heart of Texas you will find the Dallas Arboretum, the gorgeous garden that perfectly blends history and horticulture together to make an educational and unforgettable garden glimpse. See over 17 different specialty gardens within the 66 acres, the establishment here since 1930. You will enjoy such fun options as family-friendly festivals, workshops, and lectures on the grounds, as well as the gorgeous views around every corner.

For more great garden info see: Best Public Gardens