7 Best Botanical Gardens in America to Add to Your List of Places to Visit

There are scores of reasons to visit a botanical garden near you - serene and scenic, healthful and refreshing. But right up there at the top of the list is, you don’t have to travel far to learn about the different types of living plants in the world. So, add these seven best botanical gardens in America to your list of places to visit soon.

1. San Diego Botanic Garden, San Diego

Located 25 miles north of San Diego, the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas has over 4,000 plant species from all over the world. Guests can enjoy the four miles of garden trails and 29 themed gardens. Look for desert gardens, tropical rainforest, California native plants, herb garden, olive tree garden, and two children’s gardens, including the famous Hamilton Children’s Garden.

The garden is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and all entry tickets must be purchased online. The San Diego Botanic Garden is one of the best places for bird watching in San Diego. Download this list of birds from the garden’s website and plan your bird watching trip.

2. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis

Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis is America’s oldest botanical garden in continuous operation since 1859 and is a National Historical Landmark. Discover the 4,800 trees, specifically the 1913 Scotch elm located west Tower Grove House and the ginkgo tree by Gate House. The ginkgo tree was purchased by Henry Shaw, founder of the garden in 1861.

For the most authentic scholar’s garden in America, visit Missouri Botanical Garden’s Margaret Grigg Nanjing Friendship Garden. It was designed by a Chinese-born architect to mirror the scholar’s gardens of Nanjing. There are bridges, a traditional pavilion, streams, and a central pool. All carved and painted in traditional Chinese designs and colors.

This 79-acre garden is open daily except December 25. Buy your tickets online.

3. Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix

Located in between Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe, Desert Botanical Garden has over 50,000 desert plants from all over the world. You’ll be blown away by the sheer size of the cacti, the unique beauty of the succulents and desert wildflowers.

This 140-acre botanical garden has five thematic walking trails, such as the Wildflower Loop Trail and Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert Loop Trail. It’s open daily but closes on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Get your tickets on their website.

4. Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe

Chicago Botanic Garden is the largest botanical garden in the US. This vast 385-acre public space has 27 gardens and four natural areas, plus waterfall, bridges, lakes, and trails for biking and walking.

Download the garden app and explore at your own pace or join the 40-minute tram tour that is available daily from mid-July through October. Check out the unique gardens such as the English Walled Garden, Waterfall Garden, Model Railroad Garden, and Evening Garden.

Chicago Botanic Garden is located in Glencoe, about 24 miles from downtown Chicago. You must reserve and buy your parking ticket online if you're driving to the garden.

5. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables is about seven miles south of downtown Miami. Named after Dr. David Fairchild, a botanist and plant explorer who was responsible for bringing 80,000 species of plants from around the world to America. He brought mangoes, pistachios, soybeans, nectarines, avocados, horseradish, and flowering cherries while working with the US Department of Agriculture.

Dr. Fairchild, along with landscape architect William Lyman Phillips started the Fairchild Garden project in 1935. It became the garden with one of the largest collections of palms in the world, around 900 species of palms to be precise.

Visitors' tickets are only available online, so check their website for details.

6. Cheekwood Botanical Garden, TN

Located on the historic Cheek estate, Cheekwood consists of a Georgian mansion and 55 acres of gardens and landscaped lawns. The estate belonged to Mabel and Leslie Cheek, whose family founded the famous Maxwell House coffee brand. The estate was converted into a botanical garden and museum in 1960.

There are 12 gardens, a 1.5-mile woodland sculpture trail, and a museum with art galleries and period rooms. Cheekwood is ideal for those who like history, museums, and gardens. Cheekwood is only eight miles southwest of downtown Nashville.

Also, check out the best BBQ places in Nashville.

7. Tizer Botanic Gardens, Jefferson City

The six-acre Tizer Botanic Gardens in Jefferson City is Montana’s only full-time operated botanical garden. Located in the heart of Elkhorn Mountains, Jefferson City is 97 miles from Bozeman and 18 miles from Helena. This privately owned botanic garden doesn’t operate like the rest of the botanical gardens listed here. It offers guests overnight stays at one of their two cabins on-site.

Tizer Botanic Gardens feature a rose garden, herb garden, vegetable garden, Children’s Garden, Shade Garden, Secret Garden, butterfly & hummingbird garden, and also a meditation garden.

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