Desert Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens in the US

Botanic Gardens in US

Plants, flowers & trees, oh my! Check out these botanic gardens in the United States on your next summer road trip! Full of life and inspiration, a trip to a botanic garden is a little pick me up for all ages!

We love visiting botanical gardens in October, at Christmas, and summer!  From the US Botanic Garden in Washington DC to the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco, no matter which corner of the world you and we are in, we can find an oasis of plants at the botanical gardens near us.

woman walking through a greenhouse in a botanical gardens in the us

What is a Botanical Garden?

A botanical garden is a dedicated space to showcase a diverse range of plant species arranged in an aesthetically pleasing manner.  Botanical Gardens are in US Cities and towns as well as across the globe.

Most Botanical gardens are designed to cultivate, display, and study various plants from around the world.  Offering a peaceful retreat to enjoy the beauty of nature, most botanical gardens weave in education, conservation, and research. 

It is likely that a Botanic garden near your home or your destination will offer a variety of opportunities to interact with nature as most host events, workshops, and educational programs.  


Where can I find a botanical garden?

Botanic gardens are located all over the world.  The world's first university botanical garden was created in Padau, Italy in 1545, which makes the Botanical Garden of Padau the oldest surviving example.  It was devoted to the growth of medicinal plants and opened as a teaching facility in 1546.  The oldest plant is a palm planted in 1585 called the "Goethe palm", situated in a greenhouse. 

Read that again.  The oldest plant in a botanical garden is well over 400 years old. 

You can find a botanical garden in or near most major cities of the world.


Where are the top ten best botanical gardens in the united states?


Top Ten Botanical Gardens in the United States:

Read below for a bit about each of the top ten botanic gardens in the US.

  1. U.S. Botanic Garden, Washington D.C
  2. Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania
  3. Brookgreen Gardens, South Carolina
  4. Missouri Botanical Garden, St Louis
  5. Denver Botanic Gardens, Colorado
  6. San Francisco's Conservatory of Flowers
  7. The New York Botanical Garden
  8. The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix Arizona
  9. Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory
  10. Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

Botanical Gardens by US State!




Washington D.C — U.S. Botanic Garden

Website: United States Botanic Garden

The United States Botanic Garden is a living plant museum that inspires people to appreciate, study, and conserve plants to enrich society locally and globally.

There are 3 main sections to the USBG. —>> Each are open daily.

  • Conservatory
  • Gated Outdoor Gardens
  • Bartholdi Fountain and Gardens

At the U.S. Botanic Garden conservatory, you'll find these displays and exhibits:

  • Garden Court
  • The Tropics
  • Plant Adaptations
  • Primeval Garden
  • Hawaii
  • World Deserts
  • Medicinal Plants
  • Orchids
  • Mediterranean
  • Rare and Endangered Species
  • Southern Exposure
  • Children's Garden

The house plant community will appreciate the Tropics House. Here's a video tour of the canopy in the tropics house in the Conservatory at the United States Botanic Garden.

The US Botanic Garden has 65,000 plants. Some specimens dated back from the US Exploring Expedition in 1838-1842. You'll find collections of several types of plants like ferns, orchids, and carnivorous plants, to name a few.

The U.S. Botanic garden is a rescue center for plants confiscated at U.S. Borders in CITIES —>> the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora.  Checkout —>> list of the countries involved in CITIES.


Pennsylvania — Longwood Gardens

Website: Longwood Gardens

Youtube: Longwood Gardens

Winding paths in the Meadow and Forest District is a stark contrast from the orchestrated blooms of the flower garden walk. The Compartment Gardens were originally built to surprise guests of the founder in 1908. More than a century later, these room-like spaces still tickle a sense of curiosity in visitors today.

This 1,077-acre botanical garden is one of the largest in North America.

—>> It features 20 gardens and 4 conservatories filled with thousands of species of plants from all over the world.

There are 6 Districts to the 200-acre Longwood Gardens, Admission is $25 for adults. Sometimes they sell out, so check the website if you're headed there for Spring Blooms in April or May

  • Chimes Tower
  • Conservatory
  • House & Theater
  • Lakes
  • Main Fountain Garden
  • Meadow & Forest

Longwood Gardens

Here's a little ditty (blog) about houseplants that Longwood Gardens wrote in January 2020. Right before the Plantdemic began to take over our hearts and our homes and we accepted indoor plants and earthy home decor for every home.

Check out —>> this video tour of Longwood Garden's Conservatory with Summer Rayne Oakes. It's an hour long, so buckle up. It's fun.


South Carolina — Brookgreen Gardens

Website: Brookgreen Gardens

Brookgreen Gardens is big. We're talking 9,100 acres. That's a lot of garden. Brookgreen Gardens is a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

There are four incredible main sections of Brookgreen Gardens. Admission is $22 for adults and is good for 7 consecutive days.
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Lowcountry History
  • Lowcountry Zoo
  • American Sculpture
In the botanical gardens at Brookgreen alone, you will find 250 year old Live Oak Trees, a butterfly garden, a spectacular array of perennials, and a whimsical fountain garden dispaying South Carolina's state tree.

Check out —>> You can view a 20-minute history of Brookgreen Gardens video here.

Great video for one of my favorite internet tricks: 1.25 speed on youtube. :)

St Louis — Missouri Botanical Garden

Website: Missouri Botanical Garden

Missouri Botanical Garden is a National Historic Landmark and the oldest continually running botanic garden in the United States. Founded in 1859, the Missouri Botanical Garden is a 79-acre oasis in the city, boasting one of the word's largest collections of rare and endangered flora.

There are 3 separate properties in the Missouri Botanical Garden. In addition to the 79- Acre Missouri Botanical Garden, there is also Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House and the 2400-acre Shaw Nature Reserve.

Check out —>> this video about the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House!

Here's a native bee in a daylily at Missouri Botanical Garden.  

Native Bee on a Daylily in the Missouri Botanical Garden

Photo by Samantha Beaty on Unsplash



5. Colorado — Denver Botanic Gardens

Website: Denver Botanic Gardens

The Denver Botanic Gardens is home to a diverse collection of plants including those native to Colorado's unique climate.  Denver Botanic Gardens has a summer series to enjoy a botanical garden concert and tons of garden types to stroll through!


The Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory is an iconic glass house that maintains an impressive Tropical & subtropical assortment of plants.  You'll find towering palm trees, bromeliads, orchids.   It's a great contrast to a winter day, though it is open and sweaty year round.


The York Street location hosts Blossoms of Light as a winter treat and hosts the Summer Concert Series in the outdoor amphitheater in the summers.  A stunning 24-acre urban oasis right in the thick of Denver, Colorado.  Open daily 9am to 8pm in the summertime.

Shady Lane is a lush path filled with thriving shade lovers, and the Romantic Gardens are full of flowers and tranquil water features.

There are more than 50 curated gardens that feature native and adapted plants that thrive in the Rocky Mountain region at the York street location in Denver proper. 


Denver Botanic Gardens  by

Chatfield Farms is a 700-acre native plant refuge and working farm located against the banks of Deer Creek.  The Lavender Garden, 2.5 miles ofnature trails, and a seasonal butterfly house are common favorites.

Chatfield farms is a world-class bird watching destination. It is a designated birding hotspot on Cornell University's eBird citizen science website.


Denver Botanical Gardens celebrated Earth Day 2023 with a showing of Carbon — the Unauthorised Biography with the Colorado Environmental Film Festival (@CEFF)

The Garden's School of Botanical Art & Illustration offers a certificate program and one-off classes.

Denver Botanic Garden pond bird's eye view
The Denver Botanic Gardens is a living museum with multiple locations that connect people to plants.  

Denver's Botanical Gardens collection includes:

  • 800 Orchid species
  • 879 Bromeliad species
  • 36,000 plants on display from more than 90 countries
  • 70,000 preserved plant and fungal specimens

The DBC has operated a community garden since 1981 and the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program that launched in 2012 was the first offered by a botanic garden.

The Gardens has many Horticultural Therapy Programs that feature sensory plant-based outreach and on-site program for senior adults and those with special needs.


New York — The New York Botanical Garden


Website: New York Botanical Garden


arizona outline

8. Phoenix Arizona — The Desert Botanical Garden


Website: Desert Botanical Garden


The Desert Botanical Garden is a 140-acre botanical garden in the US with a special focus on desert plants native to the Sonoran Desert.  You'll want a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen for this one. The garden is open year round but the cooler months of October through April is when many plants are in bloom.

Credit: Desert Botanical Gardens

The botanical gardens in Phoenix feature an impressive array of species well adapted to thrive in the harsh desert environment.  You'll be met with stunning visuals and unique beauty.

Some exhibits to take part in:

  • Cactus and Succulent Galleries
  • People and Plants  Indigenous Cultures
  • Sonoran Desert Nature Loop Trail

The Desert Botanical Garden boasts over 50,000 plants all adapted to thrive in the harsh desert environment.  The garden is divided into several thematic areas. Seasonal butterfly exhibits, art installations, and live music performances are hosted throughout the year.  For festivities at the holidays, the DBG installs thousands of luminaries to light up the garden's pathways.


Check out —>> Chihuly in the Desert at night 


9. Chicago — Garfield Park Conservatory

Here's a time lapse video of the Corpse Flower blooming at Chicago Botanic Garden.


fall garden, fall gardening, cilantro, poppies, broccoli raab, vegetables, herbs, flowers




texas outline

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, Texas:

This 155-acre nature preserve is a popular destination for hikers and birdwatchers alike. 

Houston Arboretum has 5 miles of trails with plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife like turtles and herons.  The Outer Loop takes you through various habitats and the R.A. Vines Trail offers an immersive experience in a dreamy lush forest setting.

There is free parking and no admission fee to visit the Huston Arboretum & Nature Center.  It is open 7 am to dusk most days of the year.


The Arboretum offers programs, workshops and events with a strong emphasis on environmental education. You can take classes like Gardening for Bees or Painting with Plants. 

Did you know that there are 20,000 species of bees?  Only 8 are honey bees!

florida outline

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Florida:

This 83-acre garden is home to more than 2,000 species of tropical plants from around the world. It was named an International Center for Education in Horticulture and Conservation in 1983 and offers a variety of educational programs for adults and children alike.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Alabama:

Website: Birmingham Botanical Gardens

This 67.5-acre botanical garden is home to over 10,000 species of plants and trees from around the world. It was founded in 1963 by a group of local citizens who were passionate about nature and wanted to create an oasis for everyone to enjoy.

Birgmingham Botanical Gardens

Which botanical gardens in the united states is closest to you?!

—>> Take Our Botanic Garden Reader Survey!

Atlanta Botanical Garden- Gainesville, Georgia:

This 32-acre botanical garden is home to over 5,000 species of plants from around the world. It features a Children’s Garden filled with interactive activities as well as a 1.5 mile long loop trail perfect for a leisurely stroll.

There's an edible landscape and the Todd Sargent Orchid Center. Atlanta Botanical Garden is filled with native plants as well as exotic specimens from all over the world, there is always something new to discover here!

Huntsville Botanical Gardens, Alabama

A picturesque garden retreat offering a serene getaway in a growing city, the Huntsville Botanical Garden is an oasis for many United States travelers.  As with most botanical gardens in the US, the Huntsville Botanical Garden hosts various events and festivals that celebrate the beauty of nature.

Check out —>> Huntsville Botanical Garden in Alabama

Missouri Botanical Garden, St Louis:

This 79-acre garden has the distinction of being the oldest botanical garden in continuous operation in the US. It features a number of gardens, including the Japanese Garden which is considered one of the most beautiful in North America.


University of Washington Botanic Gardens, Washington:

Located on the university’s campus, this 10-acre garden features a variety of native Northwest plants as well as exotic specimens. It's also home to an impressive collection of rhododendrons, magnolias, and ferns.

Lakewold Gardens, Washington:

At 10 acres, this garden may be small but it still packs a punch when it comes to beauty! Its stunning grounds boast over 2,000 species of plants and trees, plus spectacular views of the nearby lake.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York:

This 52-acre garden features 12,000 species of plants from around the world. It's especially known for its Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden and Cranford Rose Garden which are considered some of the finest in North America.


Brooklyn Botanical Garden

^  Photo by Qihai Weng on Unsplash  



UConn Health Center Arboretum, Connecticut:

This 50-acre arboretum features over 550 species of trees and shrubs from around the world, including rare and endangered specimens. Its grounds also feature several trails perfect for a leisurely stroll.

Coastal Maine Botanical Garden, Maine:

This 250-acre botanic garden features over 4,000 species of plants and trees from all over the world. Its grounds also feature several beautiful gardens, including a Japanese Garden and a Rose Garden.


california outline


San Francisco — Conservatory of Flowers

Website: Conservatory of Flowers

The Conservatory of Flowers is a national, state, and local landmark. Built in 1879, this internationally renowned icon was the first formal structure erected in Golden Gate Park.

Conservatory of Flowers logo

Showcasing flora ranging from the dense tropical rainforests of Sumatra (pour over, please ... ) to a faraway cloud forest ecosystem of Ecuador. Escape the chill of SF (aka hella cold) inside SF's not-so-secret garden, surrounded by a magnificent curation of rare and unusual flowers on display.

There are 5 distinct galleries at the Conservatory of Flowers.

  • Potted Plants
  • Aquatic Plants
  • Lowland Tropics
  • Highland Tropics
  • West Gallery

Check out —>> Here's a tour of the Lowland Tropics. Watch this video to see a 100-yr-old  Imperial philodendron. 


The Huntington Botanical Gardens, California:

Located in the San Gabriel Valley of Southern California, this 120-acre garden features 16 themed gardens and several conservatories. It's a great place to spend a day wandering amongst its many beautiful plants and breathtaking views!

University of California Botanical Gardens at Berkeley, California:

This 34-acre garden is home to over 13,000 species of plants from all over the world. It's particularly known for its collection of California native plants as well as its impressive succulent and carnivorous plant collections.

walking path in botanic garden

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