Arboretums are some of the most soothing and serene places anywhere, whether they’re seaside, rural or part of a large cityscape. These bearers of international, remote, minute and native US tree and plant species usher in for us fresh oxygen and plentiful plant life, all while revitalizing their surroundings and atmosphere. Arboretums runneth over with verve, are rife with natural beauty and fresh air, and some are brimming with tropical or exotic flowering plants and flowers, hundreds of butterflies, thousands of live exotic species, birds and small animals, waterfalls, colorful fish, sculptures, fragrant flowers and more. Quite simply, arboretums and their sister attractions, botanical gardens, are paradise.
An arboretum is a collection of trees. Related collections include “fruticetums” or shrub collections and “viticetums,” collections of vines. Mostly, these two go hand in hand with any arboretum and/or botanical garden. Universally, however, according to Wikipedia, an arboretum is “a botanical garden containing living collections of woody plants intended at least partly for scientific study.” Arboretums are places where trees and/or shrubs are cultivated and cared for, a type of botanical garden devoted to collecting and maintaining various species of trees. Across the United States and around the world, arboretums of every shape and size bring together these collections of trees that are unique to a geographical region, and often display trees and shrubs that are not native to the natural area.
There’s really no one who is authorized or academic enough to rank our nation’s Arboretums on a scale… even a small scale. ProFlowers recognizes this; but since we’re experts in plants and flowers, we did go ahead and take into account multiple factors to create an alphabetical list of the 20 Top Arboretums Across America. From Boston to Flagstaff, Pennsylvania to California, from out West to down South, the sheer number of arboretums, sometimes called tree farms, is stifling. It’s simply impossible to count every single one because there are so many; they’re on university campuses, at botanical gardens, in the middle of bustling metropolitans, and nestled snugly on cozy rural hillsides.
Thus, we considered everything: travel and tourist reviews and websites, visitor and member comments, blog reviews and even more tidbits of info from libraries, books, botanical gardens and more to compile this 20 Top Arboretums Across America List. So take a gander, and click through the links on each listing to read even more gems of information that you just won’t find anywhere else!
1. Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University — Boston, Massachusetts
The Arnold Arboretum is the oldest public arboretum in North America and one of the world’s leading centers for the study of plants. Administered by the Office of the Provost of Harvard University and a vital link in the Emerald Necklace of parks in Boston, Arnold is a unique blend of respected research institution and beloved public landscape. It provides and supports world-class research, horticulture, and education programs that foster the understanding, appreciation, and preservation of trees. Arnold is filled with things to do and see, so plan to spend a whole day or afternoon there. For a Top Ten Visitor Favorites list and for more information, read more on Arnold Arboretum.
2. Azalea Path Arboretum (and Botanical Garden) – Hazelton, Indiana
Nestled along the back roads between Gibson and Pike County, Indiana are 50 acres of hidden gardens called the Azalea Path Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. Containing one of the largest collections of Azaleas, it hosts many unusual and ornamental trees as well. Meandering pathways lead to water features and unique sculptures. Nicknamed the “Hidden Gem of Southwestern Indiana,” the Arboretum hosts over 2,000 Azaleas combined and features 37 out of 38 rare hybrids of Schroeder Azaleas… plus the complete collection on Buddy Lee’s Encore Azaleas, which are famous in their own right! The Arboretum and it’s trails offer a brief respite from day to day living and is set against a beautiful forest with lush vistas in rural Indiana. For more information, read more about the Azalea Path Arboretum & Botanical Garden here.
3. Bernheim Arboretum – Clermont, Kentucky
The arboretum at Bernheim is a place of tranquil beauty that has long been sought out by people near and far. Bernheim first opened to the public in July 1950; several thousand visited that first year to see a small nature museum; animal, game and turtle pens; a labeled nature trail and a waterfowl refuge. Twenty-five miles of trails led to such places as Wolf Pen Hollow, Wildcat Hollow, Spiceland Flat and Rice Orchard Ridge. Bernheim today includes all of that plus a visitor’s center, garden pavilion, three lakes, a quiet garden, a Treewalk, a prairie overlook, nature areas and trails, and plants! And don’t forget to check out the abundance of wildlife. In fact, one can see over 250 species of birds here on any given day! For more information and for a Top Five Attractions at Bernheim List, read more about the Bernheim Arboretum.
4. Boyce Thompson Arboretum – Superior, Arizona
Around 3,200 different desert plants encompass the famous Boyce Thompson Arboretum; most can be seen along the 1.5-mile main trail. At Boyce you’ll see a ground squirrel hopping across your path, a Harris Hawk landing on a Saguaro limb, a lizard doing “pushups” to expose his blue abdomen from a prominent rock. More than 230 bird and 72 terrestrial species have been tallied over the years as both permanent and migratory Arboretum residents, making Boyce a one-of-a-kind attraction. Visitors will be surprised to learn that Boyce Thompson Arboretum is more than a collection of Sonoran Desert species, however. There’s a Hummingbird and butterfly garden as well as meandering trails, tons of natural beauty and lots more! For additional information and a Top Ten Visitor Favorites List, read more about the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.
5. Cylburn Arboretum – Baltimore, Maryland
The 207-acre Cylburn Arboretum is a city park with an arboretum and gardens. The arboretum began as the private estate of businessman Jesse Tyson, who started construction of the Cylburn Mansion in 1863. Completed in 1888, it remains intact as an historical landmark; today it’s a stone structure built of gneiss (coarse rock) from Tyson’s quarries in Maryland with a tower and an Italian cupola. It became the Cylburn Wildflower Preserve and Garden Center in 1954, and in 1982 was renamed the Cylburn Arboretum Association. The Mansion houses a display of watercolor paintings of Maryland wildflowers, and today, the arboretum contains an extensive collection of trees and woody shrubs based loosely on those original plantings! Tree and plant collections at the Arboretum include Azaleas, Bamboo, Beeches, Boxwoods, Chestnuts, Conifers, Hollies, Japanese Maples, Magnolias, Maples, Maryland Oaks and more. For more information and to read a Seven Heavenly Attractions at the Arboretum list, read more on the Cylburn Arboretum.
6. Connecticut College Arboretum – New London, Connecticut
The Connecticut College Arboretum provides a welcome involvement with the natural world, offering opportunities for teaching, research, conservation, recreation and public education. Including the campus itself, the Arboretum encompasses approximately 750 acres of preserved open space in southeastern Connecticut. Once a farm surrounded by woodlands, the Arboretum lets visitors explore its diverse collection of natives and botanicals, to watch a show at the outdoor Flock Theater, or to just simply wander and enjoy the beauty of this precious natural resource filled with wonderous beauty. For more information and a Top Five Attractions and Exhibits list, read more about Connecticut College Arboretum.
7. Donald E. Davis Arboretum – Auburn-Opelika, Alabama
Alabama’s Davis Arboretum is an Auburn University facility dedicated to the display of native woody plants of the Southeastern United States. Of course, it’s a teaching resource for many University classes. In addition to displaying native plants, their goal is to promote ecological education through the study and observation of plants and their natural habitats. The Davis Arboretum provides visitors with a setting for reflection and relaxation as well as a place for a walk through a natural setting. The primary purposes; however, are those of conservation, education and research on ecosystem preservation and diversity. There’s much to do and see at Davis Arboretum, so for more information and for a Top Five Things to See list, read more about the Donald E. Davis Arboretum.
8. Fullerton Arboretum – Fullerton, California
The Fullerton Arboretum is your passport to a new world… a world of trees and plants! Without going far from home you can inhale the fragrances of the Mediterranean, feel the cool shade of a redwood forest, or delight in the glorious fall color of the northeastern United States. Visitors love to hear the rustle of the palm trees, take a break in a desert oasis, laugh at the funny forms of succulents, and breathe in the perfume of old-fashioned roses. This collection of more than 4,000 plants on 26 acres is important for other reasons as well. The Fullerton Arboretum helps people understand the diversity of the world’s plant life and the importance of protecting our Earth’s plant treasures! For more information and for a Seven Heavenly Attractions at Fullerton list, read more about the Fullerton Arboretum.
9. Holden Arboretum – Cleveland, Ohio
At Holden, sophisticated gardens enliven with color in the spring; shady forest trails offer a lull from the summer heat; woodlands are set ablaze with rich autumn hues; and nature paths lead you into the deep natural beauty of winter woods. As an Important Bird Area (certified by the Audubon Society) and with more than 20 astounding miles of hiking trails, Holden is most certainly a haven! Bird watchers, hikers, gardeners and nature enthusiasts alike all converge here on a remarkable 3,600 acres. Holden Arboretum is among the largest arboreta in the country and owns over 120,000 plants! There’s a diversity of plants and trees for viewing, evaluation and educational purposes; also the collections pass on sustainable plant choices recommended for northeast Ohio and larger regions. With a visitor center, reference library and picnic area on the grounds at Holden, it connects people with nature for inspiration and enjoyment, and it fosters learning and promotes conservation. For a Top Ten Visitors Attractions List, read more about the Holden Arboretum.
10. Jenkins Arboretum – Devon, Pennsylvania
Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens is one of eastern Pennsylvania’s great horticultural and environmental assets. As a botanical garden, the Arboretum maintains a collection of native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and ferns in a tranquil, naturalistic landscape. In addition, the Arboretum features a diverse collection of Rhododendrons and Azaleas from around the world. The quintessential landscape and assorted plant collections provide asylum for a variety of native birds, insects and other wildlife. With 1.2 miles of paved walkways through native woodland and a tranquil, natural setting in a densely populated residential and commercial area, Jenkins is one spectacular reprieve. For more information, and for a Top Ten Fan Favorites List, read more about the Jenkins Arboretum.
11. Lasdon Park and Arboretum – Westchester County, New York
The Lasdon Park Arboretum consists of woodlands, open grass meadows and formal gardens with a variety of trees, shrubs and flower specimens from all over the world. Among the most beautiful plantings in the arboretum are the large Azalea garden, the yellow magnolia grove, extensive lilac and pine collections and a stunning flowering tree grove. Surrounding the arboretum is a large pond and 200 acres of woodlands that contain many specimen trees and plantings that provide habitat for deer, coyote, fox, wild turkey and other native mammals. Truly a sight to see, the Lasdon Park Arboretum is one of the most beautiful in the country. For more information & a Top Five Fan Favorites list, read more about the Lasdon Park Arboretum.
12. Minnesota Landscape Arboretum – Bloomington, Minnesota
The largest public garden in the Midwest boasts more than 1,000 acres and 42 plant collections, including a rose garden, Hosta glade, rock garden, herb garden, sensory garden and home demonstration gardens. The Arboretum features magnificent gardens, model landscapes, and natural areas-from woodlands and wetlands to prairie-with extensive collections of northern-hardy plants. The popular Three Mile Drive passes through the collections of multiple trees, shrubs and ornamental grasses. There’s also a whopping seven miles of walking trails through prairies, natural bogs and forests. Tour the Arboretum however you want, on bike or on foot, through its 12.5 miles of garden paths and trails! For more information and to read the Top Ten Must-See Attractions read more about the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
13. Mount Pisgah Arboretum – Eugene, Oregon
Mount Pisgah Arboretum is a 209-acre living tree museum, as so eloquently put on its website. Its riverside trails, quiet evergreen paths in forests, water garden teeming with life, intense wildflower meadows, and open vistas across oak savannas will delight any age. Located within Lane County’s Howard Buford Recreation Area, the Arboretum lies between the Coast Fork of the Willamette River and the slopes of Mount Pisgah. Mount Pisgah Arboretum is a non-profit organization that’s dedicated to its mission: to maintain Pacific Northwest plant communities, offer environmental education programs for all ages, and provide facilities for the public’s enjoyment. For more information and to print a Top Ten Attractions You Must See at MPA list, read more about the Mount Pisgah Arboretum.
14. Morton Arboretum – Lisle, Illinois
Nature is always changing, and so are Morton’s major attractions and displays… thus, Morton is open every day of the year! Here, you’ll experience the joy of the ever-changing seasons 365 days a year. Whether you seek a quiet walk in the woods or an active family exploration, the Arboretum offers a vast array of events, exhibits, activities, tours, and classes for people of all ages, proficiencies and interests. Within an oasis of magnificent trees and beautiful landscapes, you can explore 16 miles of hiking trails and nine miles of paved roads. From a guided tour on an open-air tram, to the award-winning Children’s Garden and Maze Garden, to lunch in The Ginkgo Room overlooking Meadow Lake, the Arboretum is a unique place to explore, discover, escape, and connect with trees and nature. For more information and a Five Fan Favorites List read more about the Morton Arboretum.
15. North Carolina Arboretum – Asheville, North Carolina
Over 350,000 people take in this famous Arboretum each year; it’s beauty and natural wonder are major draws for Carolinians and other visitors. Just as our experience of nature is cherished, visitors to The North Carolina Arboretum connect with plants in personal ways that are as diverse and rich as the land itself. Whether you enjoy strolling through gardens, exploring exhibits, enriching your mind or hiking and biking, the Arboretum offers activities for all ages. Some of the major attractions include a 434-acre natural treasure with 65 acres of cultivated gardens and 10 miles of hiking and biking trails; engaging indoor and outdoor exhibits, and one of the finest, most unique bonsai collections in the United States. Members and visitors also revel in the gift shop, caf? and education programs throughout the year. For more information and to read the Ten Best Attractions at NCA list, read more about the North Carolina Arboretum.
16. The Arboretum – Flagstaff, Arizona
The Arboretum at Flagstaff is a 200-acre botanical garden, research station, and environmental education center whose mission is to help visitors understand the plants and animal habitats of the Colorado Plateau. There are 2,500 species of trees, plants, shrubs and more here and you can even take guided tours, or participate in wildlife programs, classes, workshops, and other events! The gardens range from riparian wetlands to dry, water-conserving rock gardens; and each demonstrates how different microclimates can be manipulated to produce dramatic results. The stunning site also includes a massive greenhouse. For more information and to print a copy of the Top Ten Arboretum Features, read more about The Arboretum.
17. Tyler Arboretum – Philadelphia, Penn
One of the oldest arboreta in the northeastern United States, Tyler Arboretum encompasses 650 acres of renowned plant collections, champion trees, historic buildings, and 20 miles of hiking trails through woodlands, wetlands, and meadows. The Arboretum offers workshops, classes, and tours for adults and children throughout the year. Tyler Arboretum is a nonprofit organization. Proceeds help advance Tyler’s mission to preserve, develop, and share our diverse horticultural, historic, and natural site resources in order to stimulate stewardship and an understanding of our living world. Tyler is brimming with special events and educational programs for people of all ages. For more information on the great exhibits and events, plus a Top Ten Attractions at Tyler List, read more about the Tyler Arboretum.
18. The United States National Arboretum- Washington, D.C.
Established in 1927 by an Act of the United States Congress, this national treasure contains 446 acres of fabulous flora and fauna and is especially known for its Asian, azalea and conifer collections. The Arboretum gardens (free entry) are a wonderful spot to enjoy nature year-round without leaving DC. The Arboretum is stunning in its own right and rife with history and modern culture at the same time. Known as a city treasure, US National Arboretum and Botanical Gardens are a national treasure as well! For more information and to read a Top Ten Fan Favorites at USNA list read more about the US National Arboretum.
19. University of Wisconsin Madison Arboretum – Madison, Wisconsin
Widely recognized as the premier site of historic research in ecological restoration, the Arboretum includes the oldest and most varied collection of restored ecological communities in the world, including tall-grass prairies, savannas, several forest types and wetlands. It also houses flowering trees, shrubs and a world-famous lilac collection. Educational tours for groups and the general public, science and nature-based classes for all ages and abilities, and a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for groups, families and individuals are available. Tending the Arboretum’s 1,200 acres and 513 acres in outlying properties requires an experienced staff of land managers, along with scientists, students and volunteers who restore and protect biological diversity and ecosystem functions. For more information on The UWM Arboretum and for a Top Ten Fan Favorites List, read more about the U of WI Madison Arboretum.
20. Viles Arboretum –Augusta, Maine
Formerly known as the Pine Tree State Arboretum; the arboretum’s name was changed to avoid confusion on the part of the public, which often assumed this arboretum was run by the state (it isn’t). Viles Arboretum shows off many historic features as well as some collections, including a Hosta collection, rock garden, native plants garden, and multiple types of eco-climate, including grasslands and woods. The central theme of its mission, the Arboretum’s two dozen plant and tree collections provide endless opportunity for education, habitat exploration and appreciation, and aesthetic pleasure!