Missouri Botanical Gardens

Photo credit: (Chris Yunker) / CC BY 3.0

The United States has one of the most impressive collections of botanical gardens of any country in the world. With countless gardens (and partner arboretums) stateside, encompassing historic places, lush habitats and nature preserves, Asian and Hawaiian tropical varieties, children’s gardens and more – all combined equaling habitat for well over one million plant and flower species.

At ProFlowers, we’ve come to realize that no one is really authorized to rank these gorgeous wonders and oases – except the public that patronizes them. So, based on public opinion and other weighing factors, we compiled an alphabetical Top 20 list. ProFlowers put together a comprehensive list of the best gardens that are open to the public. Click through the links for more complete information on each garden, their history, specific attractions, and more gems of information you just won’t find anywhere else.

Remember, these gardens appear in alphabetical order only. Rankings are based on a number of factors including but not limited to visitor attractions, use of acreage, differentiation of species (flora and fauna), and dedication to conservation and education, and visitor reviews.

1. Arnold Arboretum – Boston, MA

The Arnold Arboretum can be found in Boston, about a half hour from the actual Harvard University campus, though it has just as much history. In fact, the Arnold Arboretum, which is managed jointly by Harvard University and the City of Boston, has earned its place on this list because it’s the oldest public arboretum in the entire country; plus, it’s wholly dedicated to the study and prolonging of all plant life. A vital part of the city’s “Emerald Necklace” of parks, the Arnold Arboretum is an interesting mix of research institution and public landscape. The Arboretum provides and supports world-class research, horticulture, and education programs for plant and tree-lovers. With over 130 years of experience and heritage, Arnold Arboretum has a rich culture and history, plus partnerships that work on supporting new targets for global plant conservation. Overall, there exists panache for plant and tree life that rivals other arboretums and most national gardens! For information on the fantastic shows at Arnold Arboretum, a Top Ten Attractions list based on locals’ and visitors’ reviews, read more about Arnold Arboretum here.

2. Atlanta Botanical Garden – Atlanta, GA

The Atlanta Botanical Garden is one of the most breathtaking sights you might ever see. With events and classes, a variety of gardens like the Woodhill Garden and Children’s Garden, a conservation program, nature tours, amazing exhibitions and so much more, the place is overflowing with things to do and places to see. There’s even a plant hotline should you have a flora or fauna 911! So if you’re headed to Atlanta put the rare Slipper Orchid on your attraction list and be sure to see the Chocolate: Seed to Sweet show! But first, read more about the tours, the Orchid Center, the Conservatory, the kids activities and all other things at Atlanta Botanical Gardens here.

3. Beaumont Botanical Gardens – Beaumont, TX

With public shows galore, plant sales with exotic specimens for purchase, exhibitions with walking tours, a sensational Spring Garden Tour and seminars to boot, the Beaumont Botanical Gardens will knock anyone’s socks off. Set in the humid subtropical climate of Texas, the Beaumont Botanical Gardens are beautiful and mystical-like. With 15 different Gardens and various flowing fountains, take the kids or your pals out for a day of flora and fauna splendor! Stroll through the modern or antique rose gardens, the Bromeliad Display, the herb garden, the Palm and Agave Garden or the lush Stream Bed Garden. With other unusual gardens and attractions, you’re sure to find only here, there’s something for everyone at the Beaumont Botanical Gardens! For more information on the nature walks and to read the Top Ten Garden Countdown, read more about Beaumont Botanical Gardens!

4. Birmingham Botanical Gardens – Birmingham, AL

Birmingham Botanical Gardens is Alabama’s largest live museum and contains over 10,000 plant species in its living collections. The Botanical Gardens (BBG) has over 65 acres and holds over 25 unique gardens, over 30 works of original outdoor sculpture and several miles of serene nature trails and paths. The Gardens also features the largest public horticulture library in the entire country, making it a huge draw for botanists, plant-lovers and hobby growers alike. In addition to all of that, Birmingham’s major attraction also includes conservatories, a wildflower garden, two rose gardens, and a Southern Living garden. Educational programs run year round here. For more information, a Top Five Best Attractions at The BBG list, and to read about free science-based curriculum for schoolchildren (wow!), read more about Birmingham Botanical Gardens!

5. Brooklyn Botanic Gardens – Brooklyn, NY

Since the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) first opened the gates to the public, it’s been a vibrant space where education, research, world-class horticulture, and sanctuary are all part and parcel. At BBG, there are thousands of bright plants and flowers to see, many courses to take, and gardens to stroll through. There’s even a class on Gardening at Home for Wildlife! Cool! With plant research, fun exhibits and a collection that includes a Conservatory, ten gardens, an Aquatic House, nature paths, and the famous Daffodil Hill! The Gardens themselves include themes like herbs, fragrance, Japanese Hill and Pond, plants, lily pool and more neat themes! For further information on Fan Favorites at BBG and it’s eco-friendly, revolutionary Green Living contests, read more about Brooklyn Botanic Gardens here.

6. Chicago Botanical Gardens – Chicago, IL

With its own cafe, a massive list of special exhibitions and a neat degree program, the striking 385-acre Chicago Botanical Garden also features over 20 display gardens and four natural areas. It’s uniquely situated on nine islands surrounded by beautiful clear lakes. During every season at the Garden, there are activities, programs and breathtaking beauty. Stroll through the Conservation Science Center to learn something new, or take a long walk through the fruit and veggie garden, the terminally unique Bonsai garden or the greenhouses! Explore the wonders of the Garden by walking alone, taking a tram or taking a guided or self tour. For information on the docent tours, Gardens special events, and to get details on all the unique Collections, read more about Chicago Botanical Garden.

7. The Gardens-Cleveland Botanical Gardens – Cleveland, OH

With eight different gardens not including the expansive themed gardens, this major Cleveland attraction is one hot spot in one chilly locale. With so much to do and see, The Gardens is rooted in education, history and more. Guests will experience a whopping 20 different and exquisite specialty gardens plus exotic indoor biomes and glasshouses! Just picture a Costa Rican rainforest, a Madagascar desert, Rose, topiary, herb and children’s gardens – all in the same convenient place in the middle of Cleveland! Offering year-round escape and delight, this community treasure is hailed by advocates as “an oasis of discovery.” With education, applied research, learning programs and special events like WinterShow and Orchid Mania, any plant lover or person who appreciates true beauty will be wowed here. For information on The Gardens’ conservation practices, Green Corps, and Top Ten Things to See, read more about Cleveland Botanical Gardens.

8. Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden – Dallas, TX

Offering the public a complement of dedicated gardens, an array of popular annual events, educational programs for children and adults, and an emphasis on family-oriented activities, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden has been ranked in the top three of its kind in the entire Southwest. Peruse around multiple attractions including the Ornamental Garden, the Color Garden and the one-of-a-kind Woman’s Garden, which features a reflecting pool over White Rock Lake and several small garden rooms across almost two acres! Don’t miss out on discount admission or ArtScape, the Dallas Arboretum’s fine art show and sale either! For concert details, a Top Ten Attractions at DABG list based on visitor and local reviews, Social Events details, and adult and children’s education programs, read more about Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden here.

9. Denver Botanic Gardens – Denver, CO

One of the top-ranked botanical gardens in the US, the over 20-acres Denver Botanic Gardens offers spectacular plant displays and unlimited opportunities for lifelong learning and research that help preserve Colorado’s precious natural resources. The Garden strives to both entertain and delight while spreading its collective wisdom through outreach, collaboration and education. It’s conservation programs are rivaled by major green companies across the country! When visiting, be sure you check out the children’s garden and Mount Goliath, which “showcases the lore of the alpine tundra.” With three sister locations in different Denver suburbs, there’s a garden near you anywhere! For information on amazing exhibits, nature tours, and Top Five Coolest Attractions based on user reviews, read more about Denver Botanic Gardens here.

10. Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden – Coral Gables, FL

Named after a famous plant explorers, David Fairchild, FTBG is a nationally renowned garden. The major Coral Gables attraction is devoted to exploring, explaining and conserving the vast world of tropical plants. The must-see-to-believe Fairchild doesn’t leave anything to the imagination; as one of the premier conservation and education-based gardens in the world, it’s a recognized international leader in both Florida and international conservation. It’s wholly committed to preserving native South Florida plant life, too. Thus, its thousands of plants and flowers are blessed with lush beauty and health. Fairchild hosts field programs in over 20 different countries including privileged protected areas in Madagascar & Africa. Visitors enjoy opportunities to walk garden paths surrounded by nature, talk to horticulture, conservation and science experts and see butterflies and birds at every turn! For information on classes, tours, awesome can’t-miss future attractions and cool garden festivals, read more about Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden.

11. Memphis Botanical Gardens – Memphis, TN

Easily ranked as one of the top three botanical gardens in the country according to popular opinion, the lush green gardens at MBG encompass only 96 acres yet they make excellent use of them! With lakes, woodlands, nature trails, flower trails and walks, and many themed gardens including the Butterfly Garden, Four Seasons Garden and more, the Memphis gardens are one fine horticultural attraction. There are also events like The Daffodil Dash Race, The Family Egg Hunt, Mother’s Day Jazz Brunch & more. Or tickle your fancy by visiting the number one Sensory Garden in the nation, or taking part in the Adult or Youth education programs. For a list of users’ Top Ten Things To See, plus details on the cool Concert Series at the, read more about Memphis Botanical Gardens.

12. Missouri Botanical Garden – St Louis, MO

Situated comfortably in St. Louis, the Missouri Botanical Garden is an amazing sight and a state center of science, education and conservation. Founded in 1859, it rings in as the nation’s oldest botanical garden in continuous operation and is a registered National Historic Landmark. A center for botanical research, the famous Missouri Botanical Garden serves as a water and lush garden oasis in the center of a bustling downtown city! The Garden offers 79 stunning acres of flora and fauna, including a massive 14-acre Japanese strolling garden, a waterfall, an historical 1850 estate home, and one of the world’s largest most impressive collections of rare and endangered orchid plants. Learn more about the orchid attraction, visitor favorites, and must-see future attractions at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

13. National Tropical Botanical Gardens – Kauai, HI

One of Kauai’s claims to fame besides its beaches, the National Tropical Botanical Gardens has four locations throughout Hawaii’s islands including Kauai headquarters and a site in South Florida. National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) and its sister gardens are all located in the only tropical climate zones in the entire country… and for good reason. Most gardens grow tropical plants in greenhouses under glass; NTBG has nearly 2,000 acres of gorgeous gardens and pretty preserves in a natural open-air environment – outdoors! Check out the living and herbarium collections, & the massive library and database after seeing various preserves-refuges for nature-on Kauai and Hawaii. For information on classes, which range in activities, coursework, age group & interest, the major attractions and a list of the Top Ten Things to See in NTBG, read more about National Tropical Botanical Gardens.

14. New Orleans Botanical Garden – New Orleans, LA

Reborn after the Great Depression as the New Orleans Botanical Garden in the early 1980s, there are over 2,000 varieties of plants from set among the nation’s largest collection of live oaks. City Garden is also home to the Conservatory of the Two Sisters, the New Orleans Historic Train Garden, the Yakumo Nihon Teien Japanese Garden and theme gardens containing aquatics, roses, native plants, ornamental trees and shrubs and perennials. Hurricane Katrina dealt a blowback to the Garden; its winds caused serious tree damage and flooding, which killed the plant collection. The loss of electrical power also led to the death of containerized plants. Such plants included orchids, Staghorn ferns, Bromeliads, and more. The Botanical Garden reopened to the public in March of 2006. For complete information on the gorgeous Garden’s expansive collection and popular nature tours and more, read more about New Orleans Botanical Garden.

15. New York Botanical Garden – Bronx, NY

With hiking, exploring, learning, 50 diverse gardens and all kinds of year-round holiday fun, the New York Botanical Garden’s cup is runneth over with things to… smell! (And see!) Don’t miss the Perennial Garden, Conifer Garden, Seasonal Walk, Rose Garden, Family Garden, plus the amazing array of flowers including flowering Cherries, Day Lilies, Daffodils, Orchids, Magnolias, Lilacs and so many more, each in their own large garden. With this rainbow of color nestled in the city, who needs to go anywhere else? There’s also an abundance of educational activities including docent-guided tours. You mustn’t miss the opportunity to see 30,000 trees spotted over 250 acres of flowers and plants! For details on the Top Five attractions based on locals’ and visitors’ opinions, and more information on cool exhibits, read more about New York Botanical Garden here.

16. San Antonio Botanical Garden – San Antonio, TX

With it’s own Bistro, which is supremely popular with the locals and it’s own Farmer’s Market, also very popular with all types of plant lovers, chefs and everyday San Antonio Joes, the San Antonio Botanical Garden can’t be beat locally for its fresh herbs, stunning scenery and amazing beauty. There are a million places to visit within, including the Carriage House, Watersaver Lane the Texas Native Trail, and more! There’s also a deeply rooted passion for educating people, inspiring them to connect with the plant world, and getting them to understand the importance of plants to overall life. Who can argue with that in today’s eco-friendly times? To learn more about the lovely number one Butterfly Exhibit in Texas, the silly exhibit, Dog Days, read more about San Antonio Botanical Garden.

17. San Francisco Botanical Garden – San Francisco, CA

The stunning Mediterranean style gardens at Strybing Arboretum in San Fran are nestled snugly in the famous Golden Gate Park. A mild Mediterranean climate provides the Garden with the ideal conditions for it to grow and conserve plants from all over the world, including some plants that aren’t’ even found in their native habitats anymore. There’s a whopping 55 acres of sanctuary, landscaped gardens and open spaces, and over 8,000 varieties of plants from all over the world! With an amazing array of themed gardens like the children’s garden, and Australia, New Zealand and South Africa Gardens, plus a Nature trail and a Redwood Trail (which is AWESOME!), you just can’t find these tourist draws anywhere else! For information on the “scent-sational” Fragrance Garden, the beautiful Great Meadow, the cool Moon-Viewing arena & the amazing Sugarbush exhibit, read more about San Francisco Botanical Garden.

18. Santa Barbara Botanic Garden – Santa Barbara, CA

The Botanic garden in Santa Barbara is one impressive educational and scientific institution. It promotes care of the natural world through learning, scholarship, and displays with an emphasis on native (California) plants. With beautiful vistas, quintessential California native plant exhibits, beautifully designed landscapes, self-guided and docent-guided tours, nature trails, educational opportunities, and historic landmarks, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a one-of-a-kind place to spend the day or weekend! There’s so much to do and see here so plan to spend awhile! Check out the Garden’s educational events or one of their special cultural or social mixers next time you’re in town! For more information on special happenings, and a list of the Top Ten Attractions, read more about Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

19. The Huntington Library, Art Collection & Botanical Gardens – San Marino, CA

Nestled among the upscale homes and businesses in cozy San Marino, Cal., The Huntington Botanical Garden covers 207 acres and houses more than a whopping 14,000 different varieties of plants! With a rich history and heritage and over a dozen garden areas, fans can see lily ponds, a Japanese garden, a Rose garden, a Shakespeare garden, Jungle and Palm gardens, and even the stunning new Corpse flower in bloom! Over 40 gardeners, a curatorial staff of seven, and more than 100 volunteers maintain these botanical collections, plus provide interpretive programs for visitors and disseminate plants for special sales. For information about the Top Ten Visitor Favorite Attractions and Tours, plus a list of themed gardens and exotic ornamentals, read more about Huntington Library and Botanical Garden.

20. United States Botanical Gardens – Washington, D.C.

Some might favor D.C. for our nation’s historical monuments and meaning, but many others flock to the tourist mecca for its award-winning arboretum and United States Botanical Garden (USBG). Located on the Capitol grounds, the USBG is also called “The Nation’s Garden.” It was conceptualized by George Washington himself, making it the oldest botanical garden in the country and one of the oldest on the continent. The USBG aims not only to educate, but also to inspire. Steeped in history, rich with tradition, USBG informs visitors about the importance, and often irreplaceable value, of plants to the well-being of humankind and to earth’s fragile ecosystems. USBG aims to highlight the diversity of plants worldwide, as well as their significance for aesthetic, cultural, economic, ecological, and even therapeutic purposes. For information on tours, the brilliant Sustainability Initiative, school discounts and themed gardens, read more about the US Botanical Gardens.