Night time at the Missouri Botanical Gardens

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Top 11 Botanical Gardens in the United States Worth A Visit

Take a journey to some of America’s top botanical gardens. Garden travel offers a glimpse into the destinations’ natural beauty, artistic landscapes, and cultural heritage. As an avid gardener, I love exploring other gardens for ideas and sheer beauty. Here is my list of the top public gardens in the United States that are worth making a trip to experience.

Each Garden selected for this list stands out for its botanical diversity, historical significance, and seasonal attractions, making it ideal for travelers. Whether you’re drawn to spring blooms, summer greenery, autumn foliage, or winter lights, these gardens promise a year-round experience that evolves with the seasons.

How the List Was Developed: To compile this list, we considered several  criteria:

  • Botanical Diversity: Each Garden’s collection of plants, including rare species, native flora, and themed gardens.
  • Historical and Cultural Significance: Gardens with notable backgrounds, architectural features, or cultural relevance.
  • Visitor Experience: The overall ambiance, amenities, and the surrounding tourist infrastructure.
  • Seasonal Highlights: Peak seasons for blooms, events, and unique displays.
  • Wow Factor: The most important criterion was the “wow factor” of each Garden. It is what makes the journey worth it.

From Longwood Gardens’ iconic fountains to the New York Botanical Garden’s seasonal displays, every Garden on this list is worth a visit.

Whether you explore them in spring, summer, fall, or winter, these gardens promise a memorable experience for every visitor, showcasing the wonders of nature throughout the year. They also make an excellent destination for travel for garden enthusiasts. 

The United State’s Top 11 Botanical Gardens

#1 Longwood Gardens – Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

History: Established by industrialist Pierre S. du Pont in 1906, Longwood Gardens spans over 1,077 acres of gardens, woodlands, and meadows. This incredible Garden is a National Historic Landmark and is often recognized as one of the top botanical gardens in the country. It is my favorite Garden on this list and the one I have visited the most!

Foreground of allium in bloom with a fountain the background at the amazing Philadelphia area garden Longwood.
Blooming Allium Along The Flower Garden Walk At Longwood

Highlights: Longwood Gardens is famous for its stunning fountains, expansive conservatory, and seasonal displays, making it a horticultural paradise. Be sure to visit the Orchid House, which showcases an incredible variety of orchids, and the Italian Water Garden, an elaborate formal garden with intricate water features. Additionally, visitors love the Open Air Theatre, which hosts summer fountain shows and performances.

City Info: Located near Philadelphia, visitors can also explore the historic sites of Philadelphia, such as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. The Brandywine Valley is a great destination, with other fantastic gardens, arboretums, and nearby attractions such as the Brandywine River Museum of Art. Be sure to check out Winterthur Garden when in the area.

Insider Tip: Visit early weekday mornings to enjoy quieter moments amidst the blooms. Tickets can be purchased online in advance to avoid lines, especially during peak seasons like spring and Christmas.

  • Hours: Vary seasonally, typically open 10 AM – 6 PM; extended hours on weekends and holidays. Closed on Tuesday.
  • Ticket Costs: Adults $32, Seniors (62+) $28, Youth (ages 5-18 or with valid ID) $17, Children under four free.

#2 New York Botanical Garden – Bronx, New York

History: Established in 1891, the New York Botanical Garden covers 250 acres and houses over one million plants in its extensive collections.

The conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden.
Photo courtesy of Laura Michalski from Unsplash

Highlights: The Garden includes a Victorian-style glasshouse called the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, which contains tropical rainforests, cactus-filled deserts, and aquatic plants. The Native Plant Garden displays the beauty of native flora, and the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden features over 650 varieties of roses. Seasonal exhibitions such as the Orchid Show and the Holiday Train Show draw thousands of visitors.

City Info: Situated in the Bronx, the Garden is a short trip from Manhattan, where you can enjoy iconic New York City attractions such as Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Broadway shows. Make a trip to thew Brooklyn Botanic Garden to explore another wonderful garden. 

Insider Tip: Weekday mornings are ideal for a tranquil visit, especially during popular exhibitions like the Orchid Show. Check the Garden’s calendar for special events and consider a membership for unlimited access and exclusive previews.

  • Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 AM – 6 PM; closed on Mondays (except certain holidays).
  • Ticket Costs: Adults $35, Students (with valid ID) $31, Children (2-12) $15, Children under two free.

#3 Missouri Botanical Garden – St. Louis, Missouri

History: Founded in 1859 by Henry Shaw, this is one of the oldest botanical gardens in continuous operation in the United States and is designated as a National Historic Landmark. Its history alone makes this one of the top botanical gardens In the United States.

The Climatron geodesic dome conservatory with glass sculpture in the foreground at the Missouri Botanical Garden
Photo courtesy of German Rivera de la Torre from Unsplash

Highlights: The Garden is famous for several attractions, including the Climatron geodesic dome conservatory replicating a tropical rainforest, the Japanese Garden with traditional tea houses and koi ponds, and the vast herbarium. Additionally, a Victorian District with historical buildings, beautiful plantings, and a Children’s Garden offers interactive exhibits for young visitors.

City Info: St. Louis offers other attractions, such as the Gateway Arch, Forest Park, and the St. Louis Zoo.

Insider Tip: Spring and fall are the best times to visit for mild weather and blooming displays. Purchase tickets online to skip the entrance lines, and don’t miss the Japanese Garden and Climatron. Free admission is available on certain days for St. Louis residents.

  • Hours: Daily, 9 AM – 5 PM.
  • Ticket Costs: Adults $14, Seniors (65+) $12, Children (12 & under) free, St. Louis City and County residents $6.
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#4 Chicago Botanic Garden – Glencoe, Illinois

History: The Chicago Botanic Garden, opened to the public in 1972, spans 385 acres and features 27 display gardens and four natural areas.

Highlights: The English Walled Garden, designed by renowned landscape architect John Brookes, offers a peaceful retreat. The Japanese Garden, Sansho-En, provides a serene landscape with three islands and traditional structures. The Aquatic Garden showcases water lilies and lotus flowers, while the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden educates visitors on sustainable gardening practices. Seasonal events such as the Orchid Show and Lightscape, an amazing holiday light show, are popular events.

City Info: Located in the greater Chicago area, the Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park, and the Magnificent Mile are also worth exploring. Millennium Park is home to the Lurie Garden, a personal favorite in Chicago. This small urban Garden is free to visitors and is a landscape architectural gem in the city center.

Insider Tip: Visit early in the day or late afternoon to avoid crowds, especially during summer concerts and evening events. Check the Garden’s website for seasonal highlights and consider taking advantage of free parking on weekdays. Tram tours are excellent if you want a more in-depth tour or don’t want to walk as far.

  • Hours: Daily, 8 AM – 7 PM.
  • Ticket Costs: Admission prices vary. Adult admission is generally $19.95, children 3-13 cost $13.95, and children under 3 are free. Parking is additional. 

#5 Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens – San Marino, California

History: Established in 1919 by Henry E. Huntington, this garden spans over 200 acres, has 130 open to visitors, and showcases themed gardens.

Japanesse Tea House at the Huntington Library and Botanical Garden.
Photo courtesy of Haoyi Qiu from Unsplash

Highlights: The Huntington Desert Garden is one of the largest collections of cacti and succulents globally. The Japanese Garden features a traditional moon bridge and an impressive bonsai collection. The Chinese Garden, known as Liu Fang Yuan, translates to the Garden of Flowing Fragrance, is one of the best classical Chinese gardens outside of China. The Rose Garden showcases more than 1,200 varieties of roses. Additionally, the library and art collections, including works by Gainsborough and Reynolds, are notable attractions.

City Info: San Marino is close to Los Angeles, where tourists can enjoy the Getty Center (featuring an incredible garden worth visiting), Griffith Observatory, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The LA area also has other gardens, such as the South Coast Botanical Garden, the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, and the Descanso Gardens.

Insider Tip: Weekdays are quieter for exploring the gardens and art collections. Plan your visit around special exhibitions and events, and consider upgrading to a membership for unlimited visits and exclusive previews of new installations.

  • Hours: Wednesday-Monday, 10 AM – 5 PM; closed on Tuesdays.
  • Ticket Costs: Adults $29, Seniors (65+) $24, Students (with valid ID) $24, Children (4-11) $13, Children under four free.

#6 Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden – Coral Gables, Florida

History: Founded in 1938 by Robert H. Montgomery, this Garden is dedicated to conserving tropical plants.

Fairfield Botanical Gardens Florida
Photo courtesy of Hickmott from Unsplash

Highlights: Fairchild is home to rare palm trees, cycads, fruit trees and flowering trees. It also features a butterfly garden where you can walk among hundreds of butterflies and a tropical rainforest exhibit with a waterfall and exotic plants. The Wings of the Tropics exhibit showcases colorful tropical butterflies. The Edible Garden and Tropical Fruit Pavilion also offer a taste of the tropics.

City Info: Located near Miami, it offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy South Beach, the Miami Art Deco District, and the vibrant nightlife of the city.

Insider Tip: Take advantage of the Garden’s guided tours to gain deeper insights into its diverse plant collections and conservation efforts. Check the schedule for specific tour themes that interest you.

  • Hours: Daily, 10 AM – 5 PM.
  • Ticket Costs: Adults $24.95, Seniors (65+) $17.95, Students (with valid ID) $15.95, Children (6-17) $11.95, Children under six free.

#7 United States Botanic Garden – Washington, D.C.

History: Established by Congress in 1820, the U.S. Botanic Garden is one of the oldest botanic gardens in North America.

Highlights: The Conservatory contains various plants from around the world, such as a tropical rainforest, the desert, and medicinal plants. The National Garden includes a rose, butterfly, and regional Garden with native plants. Bartholdi Park demonstrates sustainable gardening practices and provides a peaceful retreat in the city.

City Info: In the heart of the nation’s capital, tourists can visit the National Mall, Smithsonian museums, and the Capitol Building. While in D.C., visit the Bishops Garden at the National Cathedral.

Insider Tip: Admission to the United States Botanic Garden is free, making it a fantastic budget-friendly attraction in D.C. Consider visiting during weekdays or early mornings on weekends to avoid larger crowds. 

  • Hours: Daily, 10 AM – 5 PM.
  • Ticket Costs: Free admission.
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#8 Desert Botanical Garden – Phoenix, Arizona

History: Established in 1937, Desert Botanical Garden specializes in conserving desert plants.

Cactus garden at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix
Photo courtesy of James A. Molnar from Unsplash

Highlights: The Garden showcases over 50,000 plants, including towering saguaro cacti and colorful wildflowers. Notable attractions include the seasonal Butterfly Pavilion and the desert wildflower trail. Additionally, the garden hosts evening events such as flashlight tours and concerts under the stars, offering a unique opportunity to appreciate the desert landscape. Not only is the Desert Botanical Garden on of the top botanical gardens In United States, it’s one of the more unique.

City Info: Phoenix offers attractions such as the Heard Museum, Camelback Mountain, and Old Town Scottsdale.

Insider Tip: Explore the Chihuly in the Desert exhibition featuring stunning glass sculptures by artist Dale Chihuly, showcased amidst the desert landscape. Visit during the cooler morning or late afternoon hours to enjoy the sculptures in optimal lighting and avoid the intense midday heat.

  • Hours: Daily, 7 AM – 8 PM.
  • Ticket Costs: Adults $24.95, Children (3-17) $14.95, Children under three free.

#9 Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden – Dallas, Texas

History: Opened in 1984, the Dallas Arboretum covers 66 acres along the shores of White Rock Lake.

Highlights: The Garden is famous for its seasonal displays, including Dallas Blooms, one of the largest floral festivals in the Southwest. The Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden offers interactive exhibits on plant science. The DeGolyer House, a historic mansion on the grounds, provides a glimpse into the area’s past. The Lay Family Garden features a variety of azaleas and hydrangeas.

City Info: Dallas offers a range of attractions, including the Dallas Museum of Art, the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, and the historic Deep Ellum district.

Insider Tip: Experience Autumn at the Arboretum, a popular event featuring over 90,000 pumpkins, gourds, and squash adorning the gardens. Visit on weekdays or early in the morning on weekends to avoid peak crowds. Check the Arboretum’s website for specific event dates and ticket information, and consider purchasing tickets online in advance to secure your spot and skip the lines during this festive season.

  • Hours: Daily, 9 AM – 5 PM.
  • Ticket Costs: Adults $22, Seniors (65+) $18, Children (2-12) $13, Children under two free.

#10 Atlanta Botanical Garden – Atlanta, Georgia

History: Adjacent to Piedmont Park in Midtown Atlanta, this 30-acre Garden opened in 1976.

Highlights: The Canopy Walk is a 600-foot-long skywalk that takes you through the treetops, offering a unique perspective on the Garden. The Fuqua Orchid Center has a vast collection of orchids and tropical plants. The Japanese Garden includes a traditional teahouse and a koi pond. The Garden hosts seasonal events such as Garden Lights, Holiday Nights, and the Atlanta Blooms tulip display, which attract large crowds.

City Info: Visitors can explore the Georgia Aquarium and the historic Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta.

Insider Tip: Plan your visit during the Garden Lights Holiday Nights event in late November through early January for a magical experience amidst millions of lights and festive decorations. To avoid crowds, consider visiting on weekday evenings. Purchase tickets online to secure your spot and skip the ticket lines.

  • Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 9 AM – 9 PM; closed on Mondays (except certain holidays).
  • Ticket Costs: Adults are $29.95, children (3-12) are $26.95, and children under three are free. Prices are slightly discounted during the week.

#11 Portland Japanese Garden and International Rose Test Garden – Portland, Oregon

History: The Portland Japanese Garden was established in 1963 to promote a deeper understanding of Japanese culture. The nearby International Rose Test Garden, founded in 1917, is the oldest continuously operated public rose test garden in the United States.

Japanese Garden Portland Oregon showing the sand and trees
Japanese Garden Portland Oregon

Highlights: The Japanese Garden is renowned for its authentic design, serene koi ponds, and meticulously maintained landscapes. It includes a Zen rock garden, a strolling pond, and a tea garden. The International Rose Test Garden boasts over 10,000 rose bushes spanning over 600 varieties. Visitors can also enjoy breathtaking views of the city and Mount Hood.

City Info: Portland is renowned for its vibrant arts scene, food culture, and outdoor activities. Visitors can explore Powell’s City of Books, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and the lively Pearl District. Dahlia enthusiasts should make the day trip to Swan Island farm in August and September.

Insider Tip: Visit early spring or late autumn for fewer crowds and optimal weather. Explore the serene tea garden and attend cultural events like traditional tea ceremonies. Mid-June to July is the peak season for rose blooms. Admission is free, making it a great budget-friendly attraction in Portland.

  • Hours: Daily, 10 AM – 6:30 PM (Japanese Garden); International Rose Test Garden open daily 5 AM – 10 PM.
  • Ticket Costs: Japanese Garden: Adults $21.95, Seniors (65+) $18.95, Students (with valid ID) $17.95, Children (6-17) $15.95, Children under six free. International Rose Test Garden: Free admission.

Visiting the Top Botanical Gardens In United States

These eleven stunning gardens are not just green spaces; they are living museums of the natural world and diverse plant life.  From the formality of Longwood Gardens to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s focus on tropical plants and lush gardens. The top public gardens in America are as diverse as the country itself.

In addition to the breathtaking beauty and horticultural splendor, the best public gardens are situated in vibrant cities brimming with cultural, historical, and recreational attractions. From the historic sites of Philadelphia to the lively arts scene in Portland, each town offers a unique blend of experiences that complement the serenity and beauty of these gardens. Whether you are a dedicated horticulturist or a casual traveler seeking natural beauty, these gardens provide a perfect blend of tranquility, education, and inspiration. Exploring these public gardens is not just about admiring the plants; it’s about experiencing the harmony between human creativity and the natural world, making every visit a journey of discovery and wonder. Plan your next trip around one or more of these breathtaking gardens on this list of the Top Botanical Gardens In United States. 

Below are links and resources to help you plan The perfect trip

Travel Resources

  • HOTELS
    Booking.com and Expedia.com are great resources for accommodations around the world. Book almost any hotel directly from these links.
  • TOURS
    The best places to book tours and activities are Viator or Get Your Guide . From great food tours to guided hiking adventures to local walking tours, you will find great experiences to add to your travels here.
  • FOOD EXPERIENCES
    EatWith is a great resource for authentic culinary experiences with passionate locals worldwide. Connecting travelers with hosts in over 130 countries, providing unique, intimate, and immersive experiences in private homes and exclusive venues.
  • TRAINS
    Trainline is Europe’s leading train and coach app. They work with over 210 rail and coach companies to help their customers travel to thousands of destinations across 45 countries. 

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