This blog post was updated on March 21, 2023.
Can’t make it to Japan or Washington, D.C. to watch the cherry blossoms bloom this spring? Well, what if we told you that there are still dozens of places to get your floral fix in a city near you?
From exotic butterflies to vanilla orchids, there’s no shortage of variety in decorative displays at the many breathtaking botanical gardens throughout the U.S.! Take a break from the concrete pavements and that daily humdrum commute, and take a trip to one of these 7 urban paradises instead. Why not take a multi-city tour and see a bunch of these verdant places — or maybe even all of them?
United States Botanic Garden — Washington, D.C.
One of the oldest botanical gardens in North America, the United States Botanic Garden was established by Congress back in 1820. The best part? It’s free year round! Just to add to the already breathtaking displays, the garden is located adjacent to the Capitol building, so you can soak in some extra sights while you’re here. This garden may be small but it definitely packs a big punch. With a conservatory, two outdoor areas and a collection of some 65,000 plants, this garden is a serene, scenic respite in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol.
New York Botanical Garden
If you’re looking for an urban oasis amid the concrete jungle, the New York Botanical Garden is where you need to be. In this 250-acre paradise, located right in the smack dab middle of the Bronx, you’ll find everything from a ‘round the world tour of eleven distinct plant habitats and a 37-acre conifer collection to a research center including a 550,000-volume library and an herbarium of over 7 million botanical specimens dating back more than three centuries.
Missouri Botanical Garden — St. Louis
If you’re a lover of orchids, then a visit to the Missouri Botanical Garden is a must. Locally known as Shaw’s Garden after founding philanthropist Henry Shaw, this 79-acre garden is home to one of the world’s largest collections of rare and endangered orchids. Along with the orchids, you’ll also find over 2,800 plants, a river aquarium with exotic fish, the largest Japanese garden in North America, and the oldest continually operated greenhouse west of the Mississippi River. Sitting at the center is the Climatron greenhouse – the first geodesic dome to be used as a conservatory. As if that isn’t enough, drive just a few miles away from the botanical garden and you’ll find yourself at an 18,000-sq.-ft. indoor butterfly conservatory that houses nearly 2,000 butterflies.
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
Everything is bigger in Texas — or so they say — and so, of course, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is no exception to this. Boasting seventeen specialty gardens to choose from sprawled across the 66-acre space, the Dallas Arboretum is especially known for its holiday-themed events. The crown jewel of events, however, is the Fall Festival in which the gardens use 90,000 pumpkins to create an entire Pumpkin Village and 150,000 fall blooming plants. How’s that for big?
Atlanta Botanical Garden
The flowers that bloom in the Atlanta Botanical Garden attract over 50,000 visitors every year. Although open year-round, the garden is best known for its special display from May to September, called Imaginary Worlds, an exhibition of 19 living sculptures made of hundreds of thousands of plants. One of the newest gardens on this list, these 30-acre retreat is known for its creative spin on everything the staff can create, including a children’s garden, an orchid center…and an edible garden!
Japanese Garden — Portland, Oregon
The most modest of the gardens on this list, the Portland Japanese Garden spans a mere 5.5 acres in the city’s west hills. But don’t let the size fool you, this place has everything you could want in a Zen garden and more. Influenced by Buddhist and Taoist philosophies, designers of this garden used the three essential elements of traditional Japanese gardens — water, stone, and plants — to make it a place of true tranquility and contemplation.
Desert Botanical Garden — Phoenix
A botanical garden…in a desert? This is no joke. The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix is a whopping 140 acres, covered with over 50,000 plants showcasing the beauty and vitality of the desert. Discover the giant cacti, century plants, wildflowers, and even rare arid-adapted herbs, while choosing from five different loops to walk through the park. Need a side of culture with all that botany? This garden also offers visitors the chance to learn how native peoples thrived in the desert when they explore the Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert Trail. Be sure to check the schedule before your visit. You don’t want to miss the many special events featuring things like music, art or even a night of ballet the gardens host throughout the year.
Do you have a fabulous botanical garden in your city? Tell us about it in the comments below!