7 Best Botanical Gardens in the U.S.
What do you do if you want to enjoy the beauty of blooming flowers, trees and plants, but you don’t have much of a green thumb? Do you struggle to plant your own garden with varying levels of success? Or do you opt to just visit a gorgeous botanical garden and leave the planting and horticulture to the experts? If you’re team B, who wants nothing to do with potting soil and toiling away in the yard, then you need to add these seven botanical gardens to your must-see list.
New York Botanical Gardens (The Bronx, NY)
To be fair, there are two botanical gardens in New York City, the other being the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. But the city’s official garden is in the borough that’s home to hip-hop and the Yankees — the Bronx. The New York Botanical Gardens (NYBG) spreads over 250 acres with indoor and outdoor exhibits. It is also an official historic landmark. Depending on the time of year that you visit, you can catch some beautiful seasonal exhibits. Over the winter holidays, the NYBG puts on its annual model train show. In the spring months, you can visit the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden where over 650 varieties are in bloom. An added bonus, the New York Botanical Gardens are literally across the street from the Bronx Zoo, which makes for a wonderful day trip on the 2 train.
Desert Botanical Garden (Phoenix, AZ)
Does anything bloom in the desert? The answer is yes, and you can find out exactly what kind of plants thrive in the beautiful Desert Botanical Garden located in Phoenix, Arizona. The garden is nestled in the Papago Buttes within the Sonoran Desert. You can check out more than 50,000 plants spread across the garden’s 140 acres. This particular botanical garden focuses on plant life that you would find in desert conditions. Be sure to check their calendar for seasonal events as the Desert Botanical Garden also serves as a live event space for concerts and performing arts.
Missouri Botanical Gardens (St. Louis, MO)
If you prefer places with historical significance, then the Missouri Botanical Gardens is the perfect spot. This particular botanical garden opened its doors in 1859 and is the oldest continuous operating garden in the United States. The garden is set on 79 acres and features a variety of interesting exhibits. Enjoy a stroll through one of the nation’s largest Japanese gardens, on 14-acres. You can also visit their year-round domed Climatron greenhouse without columns that houses a lush tropical rainforest. Fun fact, the Missouri Botanical Gardens is the second largest botanical garden in North America, second only to the Bronx’s New York Botanical Gardens.
United States Botanic Garden (Washington, D.C.)
While the Missouri Botanical Gardens is considered the oldest operating U.S. botanical garden, the United States Botanic Garden is also quite old. Established in 1820, this garden was actually designated as part of the National Mall. Although the United States Botanic Garden isn’t one of the largest in the nation, it’s a great way to take a break when you’re exhausted from the museums and monuments. The garden is home to 60,000 various plant species, including several that are endangered.
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden (Dallas, TX)
Where can you see 17 specialty gardens in one place? If you guessed Texas, you’re right! This garden sits on 66 acres and features a variety of gardens and walking paths. The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is home to some very fun and festive-themed seasonal exhibits. For example, during the fall, they create a Pumpkin Village that incorporates over 90,000 pumpkins and 150,000 fall blooms.
Longwood Gardens (Kennett Square, PA)
If you happen to take a trip to Philadelphia, then it’s worth making a slight detour to visit Longwood Gardens. This massive botanical garden is located a short hour outside of Philadelphia and boasts an impressive list of indoor and outdoor gardens as well as gorgeous lily pad ponds. The Longwood Gardens were created by the magnate Pierre Du Pont as a sort of homage to the gardens of Versaille. In the winter you can stick to the four and a half acres of indoor gardens. But in the summer, be sure not to miss their weekly illuminated fountain and fireworks displays that take place every weekend.
International Rose Test Garden (Portland, OR)
If you like only one particular kind of flower and that flower happens to be a rose, then Portland’s International Rose Test Garden should be on the top of your list. Did you know that Portland is actually nicknamed the City of Roses? And once you stroll through this beautiful garden, it will all make sense. The International Rose Test Garden began as a sanctuary for European roses to grow in safety during World War I. Today, the garden still serves as a research facility where breeders send their seeds. The rose garden is home to more than 650 species of roses and can sometimes offer as many as 10,000 bushes in bloom during the prime season.
So, the next time you have an urge to enjoy the beauty of mother nature, you don’t have to run to your local home improvement store. Ditch the gardening gloves and terra cotta planters and hit the road. There are plenty of beautiful gardens across the nation where you can enjoy nature and leave green thumbs to the pros.