Travel

The Best Gardens to Visit Around the USA

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow,” said Audrey Hepburn. Gardens have long been a pleasant place to pass time, a beautiful way to feed a family, and a delightful way to watch the seasons fade one into another, among other things. While not everyone can have their own garden in the yard, everyone can spend time in a garden when there are so many available for visits. 

Northwest 

Bloedel Reserve

150 acres of nature – some second-growth forest and some landscaped – lie at the tip of Bainbridge Island. It is reached via ferry from Seattle, Washington. The walking trail will take about two hours to circle the loop which passes through several different types of gardens – a bird refuge, relatively untouched forest carpeted with ferns, and a Japanese garden – over hand-made wooden bridges. The mansion at the end of the loop was once the Bloedel family’s private residence.

Dunn Gardens

This Seattle garden was designed by the Olmsted Brothers Landscape firm in 1915. Dunn Gardens is a location full of timeless grace. Walks in the wood, towering trees, and lovely lawns are home to a large variety of flowers and plants. This garden offers open walking days when visitors may wander, picnic, and enjoy, as well as special tours and reservations. 

Portland Japanese Garden

Located inside Portland’s Washington Park, this Oregon garden was recognized by Japan’s former Ambassdor to the USA as “the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan.” Its twelve acres of land include eight gardens in different styles with streams meandering through. Walkways allow visitors to enjoy the scenery, which includes an amazing view of Mt. Hood. The authentic Tea House offers an experience like no other, and the serenity and tranquility of the garden makes it a great place to relax and let stress go. 

Northeast 

Chinese Scholar’s Garden

One of only two authentic Chinese gardens in the USA, the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden is based on Ming Dynasty gardens from 1368-1644AD. The building materials used in the garden were manufactured in Suzhou, China, and were put together without nails or glue. The Koi pond, bamboo forest, waterfalls, rocks, and artwork are crafted to be authentic, and are viewed on paths that swerve and curve to allow different perspective views of the garden. 

Grounds for Sculpture

Sitting on 42 acres that once housed the New Jersey State Fairgrounds, Grounds for Sculpture includes a museum, an arboretum, and a sculpture park. Tours may be self-guided or Docent-led. Both indoor and outdoor areas offer tours and items to examine and enjoy. 

Longwood Gardens

Once home to Quaker farmers and the native Lenni Lenape tribe, Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, was founded by Pierre S. du Pont and provides an awe-inspiring experience to more than a million people a year. Offering education and horticultural activities to visitors, the grounds have beautiful plants blooming and gorgeous creatures to enjoy while traversing the property. Consider checking out some of the seasonal events, such as the Festival of Fountains.

New York Botanical Garden

Begun in 1891, the New York Botanical Garden covers 250 acres and is a National Historic Landmark. Located in the Bronx, it is the largest garden inside a city in the United States. While there are a few indoor spaces, the majority of the Garden is outdoors. Convenient paths allow visitors to explore the garden and enjoy the flowers, trees, and rocks without disturbing the natural beauty.

United States Botanic Garden

Nestled in the capital city of the United States, this garden offers the public education about how the flora of the world is irreplaceable in the earth’s ecosystems. Since 1820, this garden has been promoting the importance of plant life and providing an historic experience to visitors. 

Midwest 

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Situated about two miles from Columbus, Ohio’s downtown, about 13 acres of buildings, biomes, gardens, and exhibitions are available for visitors to peruse. There are seasonal exhibitions held regularly, along with classes, camps, and workshops. The 4-acre open to the public area adjacent, known as The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company Community Garden contains a rose pavilion, an apiary, a berry house, a demonstration kitchen, a cooking theater, and 40 community garden plots.

Kresko Family Victorian Garden

Part of the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Kresko Family Victorian Garden exemplifies England’s height of fashion at the time this garden was begun, in the mid-1800s. The flowers, succulents, and foliage are combined in combinations of color and design that make up beautiful patterns. 

Model Railroad Garden

Part of the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Model Railroad Garden: Landmarks of America has over 1600 feet of track. The 18 trains that travel the track visit nearly 50 different landmarks from around the country (in miniature, of course) along with landscaping that includes trees and plants, bridges, tunnels, and bodies of water. 

Topiary Park

Sitting in downtown Columbus, Ohio, Topiary Park is a three-dimensional topiary version of the painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat. Seven acres of topiary art depicts 54 people, 8 boats, and a cat, a monkey, and three dogs – all made from yew trees. It is the only famous art made into a topiary diorama in the whole world.

Southwest 

ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden

Both formal and whimsical gardens in a variety of different themes are accessible via more than a mile and a half of paths in this Albuquerque botanical garden. Also included are a zoo and an aquarium, as well as camps and classes to help educate visitors and students about nature and how it integrates with life. 

Desert Botanical Garden

Located southwest of Phoenix, Arizona, the Desert Botanical Garden contains 50,000 or more varieties of succulents, cacti, shrubs, agaves, and trees. The art of Dale Chihuly is featured at the entrance. Tours include night tours with flashlights, and seasonal events make return visits extra fun. 

Forestiere Underground Gardens

A California state landmark since 1906, the Forestiere Underground Gardens are unique. Created by Baldassare Forestiere as a hobby, this subterranean collection of passageways, gardens, grottoes, and patios was dug and carved by hand, over the course of forty years. In that time, he was able to carve out and plant ten acres of underground garden.

Fort Worth Water Gardens

Downtown Fort Worth houses the Fort Worth Water Gardens, a refreshing and beautiful marvel. Three pools of water offer focus points. One is a quiet pool, one is an active pool, and the third is aerating. 

Ganna Walska Lotusland

Purchased by Ganna Walska in 1941, Madame Walska began transforming the Santa Barbara, California, property into the beautiful garden it is today. After her death in 1984, the Ganna Walska Lotusland Foundation took over the maintenance of her legacy. Tours are offered, as well as private parties, and there is a garden shop. However, due to its location in a residential neighborhood, Lotusland requires advance reservations.

San Francisco Botanical Garden

Inside Golden Gate Park, 55 acres of open spaces and landscaped gardens are home to almost 9,000 varieties of plant life from all over the world. It is intended to help cultivate a bond between plants and people and encourage education and understanding about the flora of the world.

Southeast 

Atlanta Botanical Garden

Enjoyed by people of all walks of life since 1976, the Atlanta Botanical Garden is full of beautiful displays, amazing plant collections, and exceptional exhibitions. 30 acres of gardens in the middle of Midtown, Georgia, include a Children’s Garden, Storza Woods with a walking trail, and Skyline Garden, with an amazing view. 

Biltmore

Once an individual’s estate, Biltmore’s 8000 acres offers a timeless experience to visitors. The property is still owned by family, who maintains and preserves the property, which now also offers a four-star hotel and a casual hotel, plus a gift shop that includes linens, bath items, furnishings, and foods.  

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Located in Coral Gables, Florida, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden displays unparalleled dedication to conservation of native plants. The Fairchild Challenge, Explorer, and Discovery programs draw in over 150,000 students and over 3,000 adults to learn more about plants and gardens.  Fairchild is also home to a variety of festivals dedicated to plants, such as the international Mango and Orchid festivals. 

Flamingo Gardens

60 acres in Davie, Florida, house a tropical paradise known as Flamingo Gardens. The 3000 varieties of plants include tropical and subtropical plants as well as exotic and native plants. There is also a wildlife sanctuary on the property that houses wildlife native to Florida such as otters, peacocks, bear, alligators, bobcats, eagles, and, of course, flamingos. 

Middleton Place

110 total acres include 65 landscaped acres that contain gardens, lawns, lakes, and historic buildings waiting for visitors to explore and enjoy. This beautiful location is in Charleston, South Carolina – an area well known for historic properties. This is especially true of Middleton Place, whose gardens are some of the oldest gardens in the United States, begun in the 1700s. 

Alaska and Hawaii

Alaska Botanical Garden

110 acres in Anchorage, Alaska, contain about 8 acres of land that features nature trails through cultivated gardens which hold thousands of varieties of flowers and plants. These are arranged into themes, such as the Heritage, Alpine Rock, and Herb Gardens. The Garden was planned beginning in 1983, and opened to visitors in the early 1990s, and cultivation continues, following a plan determined at the beginning. The uncultivated land is mostly covered with boreal forest.

Allerton and McBryde Gardens

Hawaii is home to some absolutely gorgeous plants and trees. These gardens are a part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden and are using scientific research to learn more about endangered flora and to preserve varieties that might otherwise disappear. They also strive to educate visitors about the plants and landscapes that inhabit their acreage. 

There are botanical gardens in most big cities throughout the United States, so if one of these amazing gardens is not near your home, you may find that there is a botanical garden to visit within an hour or two of your location, even if you live out in the country. A garden is a relaxing, peaceful place and a great way to spend a few hours to decompress.

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