America's Best Botanical Gardens

By Laura Kerrigan

Botanical gardens are a great way to escape from the city, offering people the chance to explore the colourful flora of the world while learning about local and native plant varieties. From beautiful flowers to pristine plant life, botanical gardens enable you to unwind and enjoy all that nature has to offer.

If you want to immerse yourself in the wonder of nature, be amazed by the intriguing shapes and colours of exotic plants, and learn about the roots of local history, then schedule a trip to one of the top botanical gardens in America.

We have selected many favourites of ours to share with you their enormous 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. Be ready to get inspired...

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, Mich

Spanning 158 acres in Grand Rapids, the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park features four-seasons outdoor gardens and a five-floor, 15,000-square-foot Tropical Conservatory, where visitors can see tropical plants from around the world, including fig trees from India and orchids from South America. Areas worthy of exploration include the Carnivorous Plant House, Japanese Garden, Victorian Garden, colorful Perennial & Bulb Garden and the serene Wege Nature Trail.

Photo from Owen Ames Kimball

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 colour, treasure can be found year round among the notable collections of camellias, daffodils, daylilies and irises.

Photo from Tripadvisor

ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden, Albuquerque, New Mexico

The ABQ Biopark Botanic Garden is a 36-acre  botanical garden showcasing plants of the Southwest and other arid climates, and includes a 10,000-square-foot  conservatory, formal themed gardens, and a demonstration garden.

One wing of the glass conservatory houses plants native to the Mediterranean climates zones of Spain, Portugal, Turkey, South Africa, Australia, Chile and California. A second wing features xeric plants from North American deserts. Paths behind the conservatory showcase New Mexico Habitats, including desert, grasslands, lava flows and sandhills.

Railroad Hill includes miniature trains and villages, and Children's Fantasy Garden is a "garden" of gigantic vegetables and insects . From mid-May through September, the PNM Butterfly Pavilion showcases hundreds of North American butterflies.

Photo from Only in your State 

New York Botanical Garden

New York Botanical Garden celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2016. This 250-acre gem in the Bronx showcases more than a million living plants and operates one of the world’s largest plant research and conservation programs. Kids love to explore the Children’s Adventure Garden, while the Seasonal Walk shows off a collection of perennials, grasses and bulbs guaranteeing colour nearly all year long. The 3.5-acre Native Plant Garden focuses on flora native to the Northeastern U.S., providing a shelter for native wildlife as well.

Plants in the collections are arranged in 50 gardens and landscapes across the garden’s National Historic Landmark site in the Bronx. The highlights include the Haupt Conservatory, a Victorian-era style "crystal-palace" greenhouse; the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden; a rock garden; a 37-acre conifer collection; and extensive research facilities including a propagation center, a 550,000-volume library and an herbarium of more than 7 million botanical specimens dating back more than three centuries.

Photo from NYBG

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.

Photo from Hawaii

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, VA

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 50-acre botanical garden houses a conservatory with an orchid collection as well as an annual butterfly exhibit. A giant wheel-chair accessible treehouse is part of the garden’s interactive children’s area, with other themed gardens including a Healing Garden, Fountain Garden, Asian Valley and Victorian Garden.

Photo from 3north

United States Botanic Garden

The country's oldest continually operating botanical garden was established by Congress in 1820. Explore the the garden’s collection of some 65,000 plants, including rare plants such as ferns that date nearly as far back as the garden’s founding. Enjoy visiting the Rose Garden, the Butterfly Garden, the Lawn Terrace, and my favourite, the First Ladies’ Water Garden.

The conservatory was built in 1933 by the same masterminds who built the Capitol, featuring nearly 30,000 square feet of growing space, with ten garden rooms. The exterior stays true to its 1933 appearance, keeping in touch with the regions historical heritage. 

Photo from RueBaBarue

Atlanta Botanical Garden, Atlanta

Home to the largest collection of orchids under glass in the USA, featuring specimens from exotic locations like Asia, Australia, Mexico, Ecuador and Madagascar. They are displayed within the 16,000-square-foot Fuqua Orchid Center.

Here is where you will also find indoor exhibits of plants ranging from the driest of desserts to a tropical rainforest, which displays a variety of birds, turtles, and even poison dart frogs. One of their newer features is a $55 million, 600 foot-long canopy walk that offers elevated views of native azaleas, camellias and hydrangeas. Other exhibits include a children’s garden with fountains.

Photo from Atlanta BG

Allerton and McBryde Gardens

Allerton and McBryde Garden is a paradise transformed through time by the hands of a Hawaiian Queen, a sugar plantation magnate, and most significantly by an artist and an architect. Towering rainforest trees with tall curving roots that grow near bronze mermaids, a grove of swaying golden bamboo, a cut-flower garden, and tropical fruit trees.

An extensive collections of palms, flowering trees, rubiaceae, heliconias, orchids, and many others have been wild-collected by botanists and biologists from throughout tropical regions around the world and transported to McBryde Garden to research, cultivate and thrive. 

Photo from Royal Caribbean

Fort Worth Botanical Garden

Enjoy the captivating beauty of the oldest botanic garden in Texas. Fort Worth’s Botanic Gardens are home to more than 2,500 species of plants in its 23 specialty gardens.

Plan a visit to the world-renowned Japanese Garden, where the koi-filled pools, sculptured hillsides, crafted stonework and dramatic waterfalls provide a view of exotic conservation. Or explore the winding paths of luxuriant tropical foliage in the 10,000-square-foot Conservatory.

Photo from Thousand Wonders

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 marvellous 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.

Photo from Visit Philly

San Francisco Botanical Garden 

Conveniently located in Golden Gate Park, this 55-acre urban retreat hosts 50,000 plants from regions all across the world. It opened in 1940 and is now home to a Japanese garden and flower conservatory. From mid-January through March, nearly 100 rare magnolias come to life in radiant pink and white flowers to form “the world’s fourth most significant collection of magnolia for conservation purposes, and the most important collection outside of China.” 

Photo from Noel Events

Chicago Botanic Garden

Photo from Timeout

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

This 66-acre garden features 17 beautiful types of gardens. Its Spring Flower Fest is the largest in the Southwest, featuring over 500,000 blooms, and in the fall, the garden becomes a pumpkin village, with over 50,000 pumpkins, gourds and squash. See thousands of varieties of azeleas and play in the 8-acre children’s area, which includes more than 150 interactive games and a 20 foot-high waterfall. 

Photo from Dallas Arboretum

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden can be enjoyed in several ways. For the casual gardener, there is the aesthetic beauty of taxonomically arranged and well-documented tropical plants — especially palms, cycads, flowering trees and shrubs, vines and fruit trees — showcased in a classic landscape design by William Lyman Phillips. Many visitors find the experience unforgettable. For the more serious plant enthusiast, these documented botanical specimens, which have been collected or cultivated since 1938, are a resource of world significance for science and education.

Photo from Hedonist Shedonist

Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver, Colorado

Ganna Walska Lotusland, Santa Barbara, California

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Laura Kerrigan

Loving everyday as the Head of Marketing for MyOnlineSchool. What better way to spend your time than working with passionate individuals that want to teach or learn more about Antiques, Gardening and Photography. For 16 years I have been immersed in the marketing world. Though my specialism is Digital I have been worked in PR and Integrated agencies as well as client side and events. Locations have included world wide destinations such as London, Sydney, Brisbane, Amsterdam and Dublin. More recently I relocated to Lancashire. Over the years my focus has been on Global Digital & Social Media Networks across 53 local markets. During this period I have given regular industry talks, university seminars and trade press interviews across the varied topics. I am a driven professional possessing a depth of experience in all aspects of marketing communications and a belief that great advertising not only changes minds, it also directly influences behaviour. Since the start of my journey with Graphic Information Design BA(Hons); creativity and strategy has been the source of my enthusiasm and skill. That being said all the above truly boils down to is experience with customers and their ecommerce journey with a product.

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