So, do you have an outdoor bug? Have you been constantly scouring the internet for your next outdoors adventure? Have you exhausted all the hiking trails that are within a one-hour radius of your house? What if I told you there are alternatives to hiking trails.
Many of our communities boast beautiful gardens that demand a visit. Whether it’s state parks with gardens, college gardens or botanical gardens, the amount of plant variety will rarely be eclipsed in nature. So what are you waiting for? Dust off the botany books and get out to a garden near you.
If you’re looking to be more adventurous, get ready for a road trip as you visit the 18 gardentastic places listed below.
Need more time for fun and adventure? Let LawnStarter worry about your lawn care service needs!
Photo: Roger W./Flickr
Missouri Botanical Garden (St. Louis, MO)
The Missouri Botanical Garden is a National Historic Landmark, thanks to its esthetic beauty and status as the nation’s longest continuously running botanical garden. The 79-acre garden has over 27,000 plants. In other words, you will be busy! On top of the many learning opportunities that the garden offers, the 6,500-orchid plant collection is one of the biggest in the world.
Check it out: www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden (Richmond, VA)
The 50-acre botanical garden is famous for being the only garden in the Mid-Atlantic region with a classic domed conservatory. With more than a dozen themed gardens, including the Children’s Garden, Rose Garden and Cherry Tree Walk, USA Today named it the fourth best botanical garden in the U.S.
Check it out: www.lewisginter.org/
Norfolk Botanical Garden (Norfolk, VA)
Norfolk provides many alternatives to being by the ocean. None of these alternatives can compare with the Norfolk Botanical Garden. The 175-acre botanical garden is home to more than 100,000 plants belonging to 7,700 different species. The garden is so big that it even offers boat tours (adult tickets are $8) that are 45 minutes long. What other botanical garden has such a thing?!?
Check it out: http://norfolkbotanicalgarden.org/
Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park (Canandaigua, NY)
The 50-acre state park greets over 35,000 visitors annually. What do people do during their visit? The state park offers nine themed gardens that range from a Japanese-inspired garden to a rose garden that has over 2,500 rose bushes to a moonlight garden that houses only white flowers. On top of all the plant varieties, the park is home to an iconic 40-room Queen Anne-style mansion.
Check it out: http://www.sonnenberg.org/
Ithaca Children’s Garden (Ithaca, NY)
Looking for family fun? Look no further than the Ithaca Children’s Garden. It’s a 3-acre public park that is geared toward kids. The park consists of 12 areas that range from a bird house to a recycling house to a rice paddy pond. The park also has a full-fledged garden, as well as a kitchen garden that promotes home gardening and healthy eating.
Check it out: www.ithacachildrensgarden.org/
Texas Botanical Garden and Native American Interpretive Center (Goldthwaite, TX)
Interested in learning how ancient Americans interacted with their environment? Well, you’re in luck! The Texas Botanical Garden is in downtown Goldthwaite, TX (population 1,900) and specializes in teaching visitors how ancient Americans used plants for food and shelter.
Check it out: legacyplaza.org/
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden (Dallas, TX)
The Texas-sized Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is a 66-acre landmark that houses 19 gardens. Why did over 1 million people from 90 countries visit the Botanical Garden in 2016? Outside of the fact that it’s very cool, the garden houses several world-class plant collections, including ferns, hollies, hardy palm species, 120 maple species and over 2,800 azalea specimen.
Check it out: www.dallasarboretum.org/
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (Coral Gabels, FL)
The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is one of the best that the Sunshine State has to offer. The 83-acre botanic garden is home to an extensive collection of rare tropical plants such as palms, cyads, and other flowering trees and vines. With a 4.8-star Google rating and more than 1,200 five-star reviews on TripAdvisor, this is a must-visit for any nature enthusiast. And if you haven’t heard about the garden’s educational efforts, Google “Fairchild Challenge.”
Check it out: www.fairchildgarden.org
Huntsville Botanical Garden (Huntsville, AL)
The 112-acre botanical garden has 18 sections that will keep everyone busy. Whether you focus your energy within the Holmes Trillium Garden (home to thousands of Trilliums) or the 800 or so daylilies within the Van Valkenburgh Daylily Garden or anything in between, this garden has it all. Also, the garden is home to the nation’s largest seasonal butterfly house and a the popular “Galaxy of Lights” display.
Check it out: hsvbg.org/
University of Washington Botanic Garden (Seattle, WA)
Lucky Huskies: They have a 230-acre botanical garden on their campus. The Washington Park Arboretum is home to more than 20,000 living plants as well as different ecosystems. It has a nationally recognized collection of maples, magnolias, pine family, hollies, mountain ash, oaks and viburnums — and the admission is free.
Check it out: botanicgardens.uw.edu
Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden (Federal Way, WA)
The 22-acre botanical garden is your heaven on earth if you absolutely adore rhododendrons. For those who don’t know what rhododendrons are, they are a genus comprising more than 1,000 species and found mainly in North America, Asia and Europe. The garden has more than 700 species within its confines, meaning it has about 70 percent of the world’s known species.
Check it out: rhodygarden.org/
Cleveland Botanical Garden (Cleveland, OH)
The 10-acre botanical garden is a treasure of Northeast Ohio. The Cleveland Botanical Garden comprises 11 gardens, ranging from perennial-specific to rose-specific to Japanese-themed. On top of the displays, the garden does a great job providing family-friendly events and workshops.
Check it out: www.cbgarden.org/
United States Botanic Garden (Washington, DC)
What the United States Botanic Garden lacks in size (the National Garden sits on just 3 acres), it more than makes up for it with its offerings. The garden’s collection spans roughly 65,000 plants. Some of the garden’s most noteworthy collections include economic plants, medicinal plants, orchids, carnivorous plants, cacti and other succulents, bromeliads, cycads and ferns. Admission is free!
Check it out: www.usbg.gov
Longwood Gardens (Kenneth Square, PA)
The 1,077-acre spectacle is a sight like no other. Occupying so much space enables the gardens’ staff to make this one of the top display gardens in the country. The property is home to 21 indoor gardens and 27 outdoor gardens, as well as four fountains. Over 9,000 different species of plants are seen each year by about 1.1 million visitors.
Check it out: www.longwoodgardens.org
University of California, Davis Arboretum (Davis, CA)
The UC Davis Arboretum’s 100 acres are home to more than 22,000 plants that are adapted to a more Mediterranean climate. The plants are divided among 17 themed gardens, with plants coming from places like Australia, East Asia and South America. The arboretum has a 3.5-mile paved path that makes sightseeing a breeze. By the way, admission is free.
Check it out: arboretum.ucdavis.edu/
Ventura Botanical Gardens (Ventura, CA)
The 109-acre botanical gardens were created in 2011, with 160 unique species in place and more planned; the collection of Chilean plants already is being expanded. A recently completed trail allows for a rewarding 1-mile hike offering remarkable views of downtown Ventura and the Pacific coastline.
Check it out: www.venturabotanicalgardens.com/
South Coast Botanic Garden (Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA)
This 87-acre botanic garden is a treasure. The garden has 13 sections that are home to a total of 150,000 plants and trees, of which 2,200 are unique species. With a 4.3-star Google review rating, the South Coast Botanic Garden is sure to both educate and entertain you.
Check it out: southcoastbotanicgarden.org/
The Botanic Garden of Smith College (Northampton, MA)
The students of Smith College are fortunate to have a 127-acre arboretum outside their dorms. Even if you’re not a Smith student or professor, a trip to this gorgeous botanic garden is a must. The garden collection consists of 1,200 types of woody trees and shrubs, 2,200 types of hardy herbacous plants, 3,200 types of tender herbaceous and woody plants, and 6,600 other types of plants and trees. While the garden offers free admission, $2-per-person donation is suggested.
Check it out: smith.edu/garden