New York is known for a lot of things: tall buildings, gigantic slices of pizza and Derek Jeter, just to name a few. But the state as a whole also has beautiful countryside and lush landscapes suited to match even the highest standards of any horticulture enthusiast. We decided to create a list, in no particular order, of 15 of the best botanical gardens in New York, so you can plan a visit.
The criteria for this list of the best botanical gardens in New York includes having a high volume of reviews on Yelp and Google, with a majority of those reviews being overwhelmingly positive. The locations must also provide educational programs, unique plant collections and have a reputation for providing excellent customer care to visitors. All 15 featured here certainly qualify. We hope you enjoy perusing our list, and don’t forget to vote for the one you think is best!
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Situated in the trendiest neighborhood of New York City, Brooklyn Botanic Garden is made up of more than a dozen separate gardens. The Discovery Garden lives up to its name, as it offers learning opportunities about gardening and protecting habitats for visitors of all ages.
“This garden is huge. It’s one of my favorite places in the city. Every time I go here, I discover something new.” —Lauren S. on Yelp.
Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
Sitting on 11 acres of vast landscape, the South Park Conservatory building is the most striking feature of the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. It has quite the history as well; many blizzards and periods of waning attendance threatened closure. After Erie County purchased the gardens from the city of Buffalo for $1 (yes, you read that right) in 1980, it became a thriving attraction with thousands of species of flowers and plants.
“This place is fantastic! A thorough collection housed in a variety of connected greenhouses each featuring a different climate or plant.” —Sarah C. on Yelp.
Clark Botanic Garden
Founded in 1969, Clark Botanic Garden also serves as a museum and educational facility. It places special emphasis on teaching children about nature, and more specifically how insects, such as bees, interact with flowers and plants. Over 5,000 species of flowers and plants are arranged throughout a dozen separate gardens.
“A miniature jewel. Don’t miss it! I had no idea this place existed, and so it was a gift to be taken here.” —Mayda R. on Yelp.
Highland Botanical Park
As hosts of the Lilac Festival every May, Highland Park is well known for the beautiful flowers on display every year. There are plenty of plants featured here year-round as well. The Lamberton Conservatory has a gorgeous collection, and serves as an excellent start to your visit. The site is 150 acres, so there is certainly a lot for the eyes to take in here.
“Highland Park is home to the Lilac Festival, of course. And everyone should see the lilacs at least once – truly stunning! But it is so much more.” —Gail B. on Yelp.
Opened to the public in 1960, Innisfree Garden is a place of tranquility for all flower lovers. Replete with streams and waterfalls, the 150-acre garden was built in the classic Chinese style. Even though there is so much space to roam, nearly every inch of it is filled with flowers, streams and forest that will dazzle your eyes and excite your sense of smell.
“This place is gorgeous. My husband and I went a few years ago in the middle of summer, and it was a great way to spend the afternoon.” —Michelle N. on Yelp.
New York Botanical Garden
With 250 acres and 50 separate gardens containing thousands of plants and flowers, vast does not come close to describing the New York Botanical Garden. It is a near endless array of exquisitely fragrant varieties. It also holds classes for anyone from beginners to experts that cover gardening, flower classification and professional horticulture.
“You are in for a special treat when you visit the New York botanical Garden! If you visit between the end of February and the beginning of April check out the annual orchid show.” —Javier R. on Yelp.
Planting Fields Arboretum
An ideal location for wedding photos, picnics and Sunday afternoon strolls, Planting Fields Arboretum is a jack-of-all-trades. While the estate as a whole is certainly a lovely place to visit, the gardens themselves draw big crowds. Greenhouses, formal gardens and outstanding plant collections comprise the 409-acre landscape. It also offers educational programs for visitors.
“You can stroll through the many beautiful flower gardens, June and July are prime time for seeing the roses in full, glorious bloom.” —Vinessa L. on Yelp.
Queens Botanical Garden
Its tagline is, “where people, plants and cultures meet,” and Queens Botanical Garden certainly lives up to that expectation. It blends gardens of new and old, with varying themes that make visitors feel like they are transferring from one world to the next. The educational programs are top notch too, as they offer classes for adults and children, as well as teacher training so that knowledge never stops expanding.
“This garden is like a little piece of heaven in the concrete jungle known as NYC.” —Sanzia S. on Yelp.
Staten Island Cultural Center & Botanical Garden
Located on the beautiful grounds of Snug Harbor, Staten Island Cultural Center & Botanical Garden is just a short ride across Bayonne Bridge from Jersey City. Whether there to take a pleasant stroll on a Saturday afternoon or to learn about proper care of flowers and horticulture in general, Staten Island Botanical Cultural Center & Garden offers its visitors the flexibility to enjoy the garden in whatever manner they like.
“Peaceful and serene, I’ve visited Snug Harbor and SIBG countless times, the gardens are a pleasure to just stroll through or to just sit and close your eyes.” —Jonathan S. on Yelp.
Cornell Botanic Gardens
Located on the grounds of Cornell University, the Cornell Botanic Gardens is a vast and beautiful landscape focused on environmental conservation. The botanical garden rests on 25 acres, but the entire site is more than 150 acres, and is a living museum to many plants, flowers and trees, with a special emphasis on those native to New York State. This being a university, there is much attention paid to educational efforts as well.
“This is a MUST! Stumbled upon it on my short trip up here and have literally gone back every day.” —Caroline C. on Yelp.
Located in Ithaca, NY
More information: http://www.cornellbotanicgardens.org/
Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion
With more than two-dozen gardens to visit, the Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion has the kind of diversity that every horticulture enthusiast appreciates. The Japanese Garden was first landscaped almost 110 years ago, and the Moonlight Garden may be small, but its nighttime aromas are certainly to be experienced. Sonnenberg means “sunny hill” in German, and anyone who visits will see that is not a misnomer.
“The gardens at Sonneneberg are immense; truly a horticultural and photographic paradise.” —Jackie V. on Yelp.
Narrows Botanical Garden
Nestled along the Upper Bay in Brooklyn, Narrows Botanical Garden is a nature escape from the urban sprawl that is New York City. It is relatively new compared the other featured gardens, but still packs many different species of flowers and plants into its four-acre spread. The Native Plant Sanctuary and Zen Garden are certainly must-sees, and have volunteer opportunities for those who wish to help the garden grow (no pun intended).
“Stroll around to see the native plants, or enjoy watching bees and butterfly houses, the quiet simplicity of zen garden or murmur of alpine mini-fountains… This is a sanctuary.” —Nadia Z. on Yelp.
Located mere miles from Yankee Stadium, Wave Hill offers 28 acres of serene gardens and beautiful views. The Kerlin Overlook allows splendid 180-degree views of the Hudson River, Flower Garden offers an array of gorgeous flowers for each season. It is also dedicated to providing a hands-on learning experience for young children that allows them to explore and think creatively about nature.
“Wave Hill is a place where you can feel yourself go into a state of deep relaxation, be at peace with the world and commune with nature.” —Uptown C. on Yelp.
6BC Botanical Garden
Deriving its name from its location on 6th Street between B and C Avenues, 6BC Botanical Garden makes the most out of its small space. It’s the constant adaptation that makes it appealing; it got its start from East Villagers who planted on an empty lot. Since then it has grown to include a seasonal flowerbed, herb garden and many more things unique to this Lower East Side neighborhood.
“It is the most well kept garden I have stumbled upon in our fair neighborhood. Perfect place to bring a book and relax.” —Meghan L. on Yelp.
Old Westbury Gardens
Sitting on a 200-acre plot alongside ponds, lakes and a gorgeous gigantic mansion, the Old Westbury Gardens is constantly evolving. You could visit it once a week and see different flowers and plants every single time. It hosts many events, including concerts, weddings and gardening classes to help you turn your garden into its own work of art.
“It’s just beautiful. To be able to walk all over, look at the lush grass and beautiful flowers, and enjoy a gorgeous day, is a real treat.” —Shira F. on Yelp.
Think we missed a garden? Let us know your thoughts on Facebook. And don’t forget to vote for your favorite botanical garden in the poll below.
Hero image from Roman Kruglov