America's Best Botanical Gardens

America's Best Botanical Gardens

Botanical gardens are a great way to escape from the city, unwind and enjoy all that nature has to offer. From beautiful flowers to pristine plant life, botanical gardens are sure to amaze turn after turn. If you want to immerse yourself in the wonder of nature, be amazed by the intriguing shapes and colors of exotic plants, and learn about the roots of local history, then schedule a trip to one of the top botanical gardens in the United States.

After surveying the fascinating landscape of botanical gardens throughout the country, we’ve chosen these 25 based on select criteria: number and variety of plants, uniqueness of the collections, commitment to preserving regional habitats and highlighting local flora, and how each garden’s staff engage the public with arts, culture and educational programs.

These amazing attractions earned high marks across the board. We hope you enjoy exploring our top picks.

Dallas Arboretum

The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is a nationally recognized display garden that spans more than 66 acres with 17 specialty gardens. The property dates back to the 1930s, giving modern visitors a glimpse into Dallas history and its horticulture. Opened in 1984, it’s already become a popular cultural attraction that is well known for hosting family-friendly festivals.

“This was our second summer trip to the Arboretum. Last year was AMAZING with the Chihuly glass exhibit. This year was Alice and the Flower Gardens. We love going and just walking around to see all the wonderful plants, trees, flowers, and water. It is very relaxing and peaceful.”—Melissa C. on Yelp

Located in Dallas, TX
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Photo by Kevin Earl

Norfolk Botanical Gardens

The Norfolk Botanical Garden is home to 12 miles of pathways loved by pedestrians and cyclists alike. The rest of the 155 acres feature park-like botanical gardens, an arboretum and waterways complete with boat tours. One of its most breathtaking attractions is the Bicentennial Rose Garden that showcases approximately 3,000 individual rose bushes. To get a feel for what the garden may have looked like when it first opened in 1938, visit the Rhododendron Glade which grows more than 175 varieties of azalea and rhododendron.

“Not sure how we lived here nearly seven years and had NEVER visited the Botanical Gardens. We immediately opted for the family membership, and have been back several times.”—Joe E. on Yelp

Located in Norfolk, VA
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Photo by Susan Payne

Cleveland Botanical Garden

The crown jewel of the Cleveland Botanical Garden is The Eleanor Armstrong Smith Glasshouse, an immense conservatory filled with plant and animal life from the spiny desert of Madagascar and the Costa Rican rainforest. In all, there are more than 350 species of plants and 50 species of animals, including many gorgeous butterflies. Outside, the Cleveland Botanical Garden has 10 acres for visitors to explore with 11 specialty gardens including the oldest children’s garden in Ohio.

“If you’re bringing the little ones, check out the children’s garden. With a huge greenhouse, moat, and a fruit and vegetable garden, this area is seriously cool. They have an awesome Easter egg hunt. And for the adults, in the summertime there’s cocktails in the gardens. Well priced and using as many local ingredients as possible, this is a great idea for a date or catching up with a few friends.”—Sarah F. on Yelp

Located in Cleveland, OH
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Photo by Eddie S.

United States Botanic Garden

Originally designed in the late 1930s, the U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory is a historic property on the National Mall. Inside, the conservatory showcases plants from climates around the world, while outside the National Garden extends another three acres to include the National Rose Garden, Water Garden, Butterfly Garden and a section with regional and native plants.

“I cannot believe I live here and I have not been inside! What was I thinking? The husband and I took a nice walk around our city yesterday after work and decided to go into the Botanical Gardens. I was literally in awe the entire time I was inside. As I was taking pictures I was telling my husband how I wished the people looking at my pictures could smell the gloriousness that goes a long with them. The place was just lovely.”—Brandy H. on Yelp

Located in Washington, DC
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Photo from AECOM

New York Botanical Garden

The New York Botanical Garden covers 250 acres of landscape featuring 50 different gardens and more than a million living plants. Each year between late April to early May, approximately 25,000 tulips bloom along the double-bordered Seasonal Walk attracting nature lovers and photographers to view the pink, yellow and cream flowers.

“Another one of those magical places where you discover things you didn’t know existed. Be prepared, the grounds are exhaustively expansive. I can’t wait to come back again and check it out in the spring.”—David C. on Yelp

Located in Bronx, New York
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Photo by Ryan Soma

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Founded in 1910, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a 52-acre site with more than 10,000 types of plants on display in its various specialty gardens. In addition to having a popular Bonsai Museum, its collection of 200 cherry trees and is considered one of the premier cherry-viewing sites outside of Japan.

“This garden is gorgeous. The Cherry blossoms around the pond were in peak bloom, and it was absolutely beautiful. I recommend that you follow the cherry blossom chart on the website and strive to go during peak bloom because it was magical.”—Amanda J. on Yelp

Located in Brooklyn, NY
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Photo by Kim

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is filled with beauty year-round. There are more than a dozen themed gardens spread over 50 acres, including a Healing Garden, Fountain Garden, Asian Valley and Victorian Garden. The Children’s Garden is a great destination for families with kids. It’s main attraction is a tree house that encourages play and interaction with all the garden elements.

“This place was absolutely gorgeous and I had a great time strolling throughout the place. I came here on a perfect day in April when the flowers were in full bloom. My favorite part was their huge green house, which is the focal point when you are first walking into the garden. It housed so many different varieties of orchids, my personal favorite, and I was so giddy the entire time.”—Han V. on Yelp

Located in Richmond, VA
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Photo from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Missouri Botanical Garden

Founded in 1859, the Missouri Botanical Garden is one of the oldest botanical institutions in the United States. This National Historic Landmark has a Japanese strolling garden, 23 residential-scale demonstration gardens, and a vibrant tropical rainforest with one of the world’s largest collections of rare and endangered orchids. For flower lovers in search of color, treasure can be found year round among the notable collections of camellias, daffodils, daylilies and irises.

“Wow, wow, wow! I took my mom to the Botanical Garden and we were both so impressed. Initially, I took her there to see one of the largest Japanese gardens in America. My mother is Japanese so it was a real pleasure for her—so beautifully tranquil. We went in the fall and were told by friends that we need to go back during each of the other seasons to see what else they have to offer and we will.”—Carolyn B. on Yelp

Located in St Louis, MO
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Photo by Ian Adams, from Missouri Botanical Garden

Chanticleer Garden

Chanticleer Garden is a romantic public garden of wooded walkways and wild flowers celebrating the many plants of the East Coast and North American forest. Stretching across 47 acres, the garden has seven unique spaces—each with its own personality. The unique sections feel connected yet allow visitors to roam, relax and find inspiration in nature. April is a beautiful time to visit Chanticleer, when 80,000 daffodils bloom forming a river of flowers that winds through the grounds.

“This place is great, but please don’t tell anyone. I wouldn’t want the quiet gardens, or rolling hills, or sunflower patches, or convenient picnic areas or wonderful staff at Chanticleer to be overrun with noisy folks, looking for an inexpensive day out. So please…keep it a secret between you and I.”—Bob H. on Yelp

Located in Wayne, PA
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Photo by Sally

National Tropical Botanical Garden

With five gardens and three wildlife preserves, the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) is dedicated to creating a safe haven for tropical plants at risk of extinction in Hawaii and Florida. The gardens, located in the only tropical climate zones in the United States, are home to the largest collection of native Hawaiian plant species.

“Beautiful! Just beautiful plants, well maintained gardens, and a great gift shop with the stuff you don’t see at gift malls. I’m definitely happy to have gotten approved-for-export seeds, and will be growing my Hawaiian tropical plants at home. The service people in the gift shop were incredibly nice, as well.”—Celeste T. on Yelp

Located in 5 Different Locations, Headquartered in Kuai, Hawaii
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Photo by Kila

Memphis Botanic Garden

The Memphis Botanic Garden has 96 acres where guests can stroll peacefully through the specialty gardens, including Daylily Circle which has more than 500 different Daylilies, and the Michie Magnolia Trail showcasing 80 different species of Magnolia. The lush Southern attraction also offers a one-of-a-kind garden designed especially for nature photographers with 250 different plants offering many unique focal points.

“Whimsy. That is the only word appropriate to describe it. Walking through the Botanic Gardens, there are exhibits that make you want nothing more than to lie down and listen to the tranquil whisper of the wind through the high grass and exhibits that make you want to run all over the garden and yell for the joy and beauty of the natural world.”—Ren G. on Yelp

Located in Memphis, TN
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Photo by H. Michael Miley

Desert Botanical Gardens

The Desert Botanical Garden cultivates 55 acres of desert plants from all over the world with emphasis on the Southwestern United States. The outdoor exhibit features more than 50,000 plants, including rare or endangered species that are hard to find anywhere else. The garden was founded in 1930 by a group of volunteers who wanted to preserve the local flora. Today, still run by volunteers, it educates visitors and allows them to experience the unique beauty of the desert.

“I can’t believe I waited 11 years to go here. I love nature. I love being outside. I’m in love. In fact, my first visit 2 months ago inspired my mom to get us both memberships…. The staff is a lot of volunteers, so you know they enjoy being there. In fact, I am going to talk to them about volunteering as soon as the holidays are over. I can’t wait to go again!”—Amy D. on Yelp

Located in Phoenix, AZ
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Photo by Gary Brownell

Ganna Walska Lotusland

Lotusland is a spectacular collection of exotic plants on 37 acres near the Southern California coast. The garden represents the horticultural passion of its founder, polish opera singer Madame Ganna Walska, who spent most of her life curating a collection of bromeliads, ferns, succulents, topiaries and, of course, lotuses. Whimsical art plays among the plants and there is something new for visitors to discover around each corner.

“This whimsical botanical garden in Montecito is a must see. Ganna Walska created this flora version of Disneyland over the course of several decades… The palm, cactus, lotus, Japanese, rose, topiary and succulent gardens which anchor the estate are an absolute delight to behold.”—Tisha C. on Yelp

Located in Santa Barbara, CA
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Photo by Brewbooks

Atlanta Botanical Garden

The Atlanta Botanical Garden is a 30-acre site known almost as much for its art as for its plant collection. Annual outdoor exhibits have included such artistic blockbusters as the glassworks of Dale Chihuly, the colorful sculptures of Niki de Saint Phalle and the abstract bronze creations of Henry Moore. For those who like a little fauna with their flora, the tropical conservatory is alive with dart frogs, geckos, turtles and South American birds.

“This is like a Disney world in Atlanta for me- one of the best places on earth- I am a flower nut to the core and the gardens are a beautiful, wonderful, amazing place. They change the themes and displays out periodically, (featured artists—the Christmas displays in winter, the scarecrows in fall) some are the same every year and then they switch it up and its yet to blow my floral mind.”—Karie H. on Yelp

Located in Atlanta, GA
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Photo by Eric Sonstroem

Bellevue Botanical Garden

Bellevue Botanical Garden in Washington highlights plants of the Pacific Northwest on 54 acres of cultivated gardens, restored woodlands and natural wetlands. The tiny wildflowers, mountain hemlock and granite outcrops of the Alpine Rock Garden introduce visitors to the mosaic of plant life found in high mountain regions. Nearby, the Tateuchi Loop Trail shows off a variety of woodland flora leading to a spectacular lookout point.

“I personally love the area with all of the blooming flowers. After we get a bit of sunshine in the area, they seem to burst to life in color. It’s gorgeous! The garden is also planned so that there should always be something in bloom too.”—Rebecca F. on Yelp

Located in Bellevue, WA
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Photo by Lynn

Chicago Botanic Garden

At 385 acres, the Chicago Botanic Garden is one of the largest sites on this list. The living plant museum features 26 display gardens and four natural habitats uniquely situated on and around nine islands. It is home to a renowned Bonsai collection of miniature masterpieces, including some donated by bonsai master Susumu Nakamura.

“So beautiful and idyllic! This is the perfect place to go to when you need a bit of inspiration and peace in your life. It definitely requires more than a day to see everything, but I honestly wouldn’t mind going back here on a weekly basis if it were possible.”—Vina O. on Yelp

Located in Chicago, IL
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Photo by Ron Cogswell

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

With 248 acres that include a mile of coastline, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is one of only a few waterfront botanical gardens in the United States. The grounds are filled with native plants, ornamental gardens, walking paths and wild spaces. Sculptures and outdoor art are featured prominently among the gardens, waterfront and woodland trails.

“A must see when visiting Boothbay. Everything is actually labeled so you know what you are looking at! Beautiful artwork interspersed through the many gardens. Generous and safe walking paths; even a shuttle if you need it. Ponds have frogs to entertain the little ones and there is a fantastic Children’s garden as well.”—Happy C. on Yelp

Located in Boothbay, ME
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Photo by Vix_B

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is situated on 380 acres of vast meadows and deciduous woodlands along the banks of Lake Wylie in North Carolina. Though mature woodlands and pine forest cover much of the land, guests can enjoy more than 110 acres of cultivated nature, which include themed gardens, sparkling fountains and a woodland trail. The site also hosts the Orchid Conservatory, the region’s only public conservatory devoted to the display of tropical plants.

“My husband’s parents were in town for a visit from Florida. They are always looking to do something new and fun in Charlotte. I am so glad we took them to see the gardens. They were so impressed. This is such a beautiful place to visit. The grounds are gorgeous and there are such beautiful fountains throughout. You will not be disappointed if you go.”—Lyndsey O. on Yelp

Located in Charlotte, NC
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Photo by Muness Castle

Denver Botanic Gardens

The Denver Botanic Gardens is a giant park broken into three distinct locations. The 24-acre location on York Street in Denver presents a variety of themed gardens, including regional showcases of drought-tolerant native plants, an authentic Japanese Garden and the South African Plaza. A second location at Chatfield is a working farm surrounded by natural meadows and a favorite for attraction for bird watchers. The third location on Mount Goliath features a hiking trail within the Arapaho National Forest lined with plants from the alpine tundra and subalpine meadows.

“This place was beautiful. So many different and exotic agriculture to take in. Pick grapes right off the vine. Beautiful water and art sculptures. Garden roof was spectacular. The kids area is very nice as well. There was a wedding going on which was absolutely breathtaking. I can’t wait to return during the holiday events!”—Kelsie B. on Yelp

Located in Denver, CO
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Photo by Patrick Standish

Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden has 83 sprawling acres of rare tropical plants. Unique palms, ancient cycads, flowering trees and intricate canopies of climbing vines greet adventurous visitors at every turn. The conservatory is home to thousands of exotic plants and butterflies from Central America, South America and Asia as well as a dizzying rainbow of nectar plants and orchids.

“I know absolutely nothing about plants and trees and all that goodness… but I spent an ENTIRE day wandering around Fairchild! The grounds are pristine and you can tell they put a lot of time and effort into maintaining it. I made a solo trip out here on a day off, brought along my DSLR and had a wonderful time.”—Alyssa A. on Yelp

Located in Coral Gables, FL
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Photo by Kim Seng

Fort Worth Botanic Garden

The Fort Worth Botanic Garden has 109 acres of native and exotic plants growing in its 23 themed gardens. Specialty gardens include two charming rose gardens, a four seasons garden with a meandering brook, a fragrance garden and a large conservatory. Friendly koi fill the pond in the Japanese Garden where waterfalls and serpentine paths offer visitors a place to stroll. The Texas Native Forest Boardwalk connects the gardens with educational activities that guides visitors in the discovery of regional plants and habitats.

“Awesome place! As someone who was “born and raised” in Fort Worth, the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens are very much a part of my life. They’re beautifully maintained and manicured… You couldn’t have a more perfect setting for an outdoor concert! It just doesn’t get much better than this!”—Chuck M. on Yelp

Located in Fort Worth, TX
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Photo by Mike Fisher

The Huntington Library

The Huntington Library offers 120 acres of cultivated landscapes divided into 14 themed gardens, including the Camellia Collection, Conservatory, Lily Ponds, Rose Garden, and Chinese Garden. In addition to exotic ornamentals, the grounds also bear a few remnants from its past as a working ranch. A grove of avocados near the parking lot is thought to contain the last surviving trees from California’s first commercial avocado grove.

“I love the Japanese Garden here; it’s so beautiful and peaceful. It includes a ceremonial tea house, a dry landscape garden, and two bonsai courts. The bonsai trees here are so well taken care of (as is the entire Huntington really).”—Esther K. on Yelp

Located in San Marino, CA
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Photo by Soraya S

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens has one of the world’s most amazing greenhouse structures, a conservatory housing 4.5 acres of indoor gardens. Despite this impressive collection, the property may be best known for two features that aren’t related to plants at all: the 10,010-pipe Longwood Organ, which can be heard throughout the conservatory; and a marvelous system of fountains inspired by the Italian Water Garden and open-air fountains of Europe. Short choreographed shows delight visitors throughout the day with illuminated extravaganzas reserved for summer nights.

“I took my grandmother here a few years ago, not long before she passed. During the fireworks and fountains show, she blurted out: ‘This must be what heaven is like’. Don’t overlook the far reaches, as they are amazing, the Italian fountains, etc.”—Brad C. on Yelp

Located in Kennett Square, PA
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Photo by Ron Cogswell

Naples Botanical Garden

Naples Botanical Garden transformed 170 acres that used to include a strip mall to create six cultivated gardens, winding walking trails and an unparalleled nature preserve modeled on Florida’s Everglades. The preserve offers visitors an extraordinary chance to see unspoiled marshes, upland scrub, twisted mangroves and hundreds of native species of plants and animals.

“Small but beautiful botanical garden. The flowers and the greeneries were beautiful. My two favorite gardens were the Brazilian and the Asian gardens. The landscape architecture was very well thought out. If you are in the area and enjoy taking walks around beautiful scenery, this should be included in your visit.”—Julie J. on Yelp

Located in Naples, FL
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Photo by Scott Zona

Tower Hill Botanical Garden

Tower Hill Botanic Garden has 16 cultivated spaces to explore, including the Field of Daffodils which grows more than 25,000 daffodils each year, and the Wildlife Garden and Refuge Pond which offers visitors an intimate opportunity to observe local creatures and native plants. Amateur botanists especially enjoy its one-of-a-kind Systematic Garden that presents 26 distinct plant families, arranged to reflect their evolutionary relationships.

“A little piece of heaven that I would never have known existed had it not been for getting lost on our way home! The gardens are so peaceful and well maintained, with beautiful hideaways to sit and enjoy a book or good company on a sunny day. They have a beautiful overlooking restaurant with a great view—perfect for a drink.”—Ash C. on Yelp

Located in Boylston, MA
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Photo by Liz West

Spend time in the garden

The organizations behind these gardens all go above and beyond in providing a pretty place to relax or rejuvenate. Their commitment to research, education and cultivating culture as well as plants, have earned them a spot on our list of the top botanical gardens in the United States.

Do you like to visit public gardens? Which is your favorite?