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From Azelas to Zinnias: 11 of the Best Gardens in the U.S.

Best Gardens in the U.S.
One of the gardens at the New York Botanical Gardens. credit: Catherine Parker

Across the U.S. plant lovers flock to botanical gardens for inspiration. With a phone in hand, garden enthusiasts snap photos of exotic plants, dreamy containers overflowing with color and rose gardens with thousands of bushes in full bloom. From garden rooms to conservatories from another era, garden lovers get eyefuls of color and ideas. For some inspiration of your own, explore one of the best gardens in the U.S.

New York Botanical Garden

In New York City’s northern-most borough, visitors can walk through the New York Botanical Garden, a 250-acre garden with over one million plants. It is one of the best gardens in the U.S.

The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, a Victorian-age beauty, is also a New York City landmark. There are displays of orchids, palms and desert-loving plants inside the traditional greenhouse. 

The New Yor Botanical Garden is a destination for residents and travelers alike. It offers a herbaceous border with 150 different peonies scenting the air along with themed garden rooms. Its rose garden offers 650 different rose varieties along with classical structures to showcase the flowers. 

Visitors can make a day of it and enjoy lunch at Hudson Garden Grill, a full-service farm-to-table restaurant located across from the Ross Conifer Arboretum. 

Located at 2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx. It is accessible by public transportation. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. along with Monday holidays. Adult admission is $35 with discounted admission for seniors and students at $31, and kids (2 – 12) are $15.

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Anthony Chapel at the Garvan Woodland Gardens
The Anthony Chapel at the Garvan Woodland Gardens. Credit: Catherine Parker

Garvan Woodland Gardens 

With 210 acres to explore, Garvan Woodland Gardens is one of the best gardens in the U.S. Created by Verna Cook Garvan, the gardens are located in the Ouachita Mountains. Its rolling terrain is punctuated by water features, like man-made streams and ponds along with small waterfalls. 

The Garvan Woodland Gardens feature lots of garden rooms, many with seasonal colors, like the 150,000 tulips in the spring or the gourd displays in the fall. Visitors can meander through the garden along shaded paths and over bridges, like its full moon bridge. 

The Garvan Woodland Gardens offers several themed gardens to explore, like the Weyerhaeuser Bonsai Garden, Perry Wildflower Overlook and the Three Sisters of Amity Daffodil Hill. 

One of the most striking features of the property is the Anthony Chapel. Designed by Maurice Jennings and David McKee, the chapel uses yellow pine and glass to create a space that blends into the surrounding woodlands. 

The Evans Treehouse is another standout, located in the Children’s Adventure Garden. Set on stilts, this treehouse borrows design elements from nature and offers a magical space for make-believe.

Located at 550 Arkridge Rd. Open daily from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. (closed in January). Adult admission is $22, kids (4 -12) are $12 with dogs entering for $5.

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One of the gardens at The Huntington in Los Angeles. credit: Catherine Parker

The Huntington

More than a botanical garden, The Huntington is a library and art galleries set among the gardens. Its library features 11 million items from the 11th century to the present. The Huntington galleries house more than 45,000 pieces in its collection, including photography, decorative arts and sculpture.

Its gardens cover 130 acres that are open to the public with over a dozen themed gardens including 83,000 plants. Top themed gardens include the Camellia Garden, the Chinese Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, the Shakespeare Garden and more. The Huntington offers sculptures and buildings throughout.

Located at 1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino. Open Wednesday to Monday (closed Tuesday) from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Reservations are required for the weekends and recommended for the weekdays. Adult admission is $25/$29 for weekdays/weekends with a discount for students and seniors of $21/$24, kids ( 4 -11) enter for $13.

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Biltmore Estate

In the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, the Biltmore Estate is the largest privately owned home in the U.S. Built by George Vanderbilt, it’s a French Renaissance Revival showpiece designed by Richard Morris Hunt. 

The wows continue into the gardens. Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, who created NYC’s Central Park, the Biltmore grounds cover 8,000 acres and include gardens. As America’s first managed forest, it spurred the forest conservation movement. 

Surrounding the house, visitors can walk through the Italian Garden and the Rose Garden with 250 different varieties. The white conservatory makes gardeners weak with envy. The gardens evolve with the seasons peaking with the decorations during the  Holiday Season.

Located at 1 Lodge St. in Asheville, North Carolina. Open every day year-round with varying hours through the seasons. The house tour starts at $79 per person with advance purchase and kids under 16 are free during the summer season. The Biltmore House is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the gardens remain open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Dallas Arboretum,
Stroll the garden room at the Dallas Arboretum. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

On the shores of White Rock Lake, visitors can explore a 66-acre garden with rainbow-colored blooms throughout the seasons. This is one of the best gardens in the U.S. Spring pops early with tulips and azaleas in a celebration of color. The summer is bright and colorful. With the cooler weather of the fall, the maples turn fiery shades of red.

With a mix of sculptures and hardscapes, each garden feels like a unique room that flows into another. The Sunken Garden is a favorite. The Crape Myrtle Allée is a sight in full summertime bloom. The Kids Adventure Garden is a must for families (additional $3).

For fall foliage, the Maple Garden offers 80 varieties of Japanese maples. The Pecan Grove is home to the Pumpkin Houses, fanciful gourd getaways. 

Located at 8525 Garland Road. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $20 with $5 admission from January to mid-February, July and $3 admission in August. Kids (2 – 12) enter for $12. Parking is an additional $15. 

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Longwood Gardens 

With 1,077 acres in the Brandywine Creek Valley, the Longwood Gardens offers six districts to explore. From the Conservatory District with its 19th-century building to the Main Fountain Garden District, this garden is one of the best gardens in the U.S. 

The Main Fountain District was inspired by Pierre du Pont’s travels in Europe and features a formal garden dotted with plantings and fountains. The Conservatory offers water features along with an Orchid House, an indoor children’s garden and a silver garden. 

The Longwood Gardens offers a lake district along with Meadows and Forest District. The fountains offer shows on the hour from 10:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. 

Located at 1001 Longwood Rd., Kennett Square, PA. Open Sunday, Monday and Wednesday (closed Tuesday) from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Thursday to Saturday it is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the summer season and 11 p.m. during the Holiday season. Timed entry tickets are required. Adult admission is $25 with seniors and students entering for $22, kids (5 – 18) enter for $13 and those 4 and younger enter for free. 

Thai Temple in Madison
The Thai Temple in the Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison. credit: Catherine Parker

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

In the heart of Madison, Wisconsin, the Olbrich Botanical Gardens offers 16 acres of cultivated gardens including the Bolz Conservatory. It offers an indoor tropical garden with a waterfall and free-flying birds that is a favorite during the winter with locals and visitors alike. 

A stand-out of the outdoor gardens is the Olbrich Thai Pavilion, the only one in the U.S. Encrusted with gold leaf and featuring a reflecting pool, it is a stunning spot in Madison. Other gardens include a sunken garden, a season-to-season perennial garden and a herb garden. 

Located at 3300 Atwood Avenue. Open April through September from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., October through March from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Free to enter the outdoor gardens. For the conservatory, adult admission is $6 and kids (6 -12) enter for $3 with 5 and younger free. 

Hershey Gardens across from Hershey’s Chocolate World

Hershey  Gardens

What’s better than smelling roses? Smelling roses and chocolate at the same time. Catch a hint of chocolate wafting through the entire town of Hershey, Pennsylvania, when you visit the Hershey Gardens.

The chocolate magnate, Milton Hershey, built a 23-acre garden for his wife, Catherine, and their community. Opening in 1937 it instantly became a favorite among locals.

Today the garden features a rose garden with over 7,000 individual plants in 275 varieties. The American Rose Society even named a rose after Hershey, M.S. Hershey. 

Along with roses, visitors will find a butterfly house with over 300 butterflies in each stage of its life cycle. The children’s garden is another jewel for families. 

Located at 170 Hotel Road in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily during the summer season. Adult admission is $16.50 and kids (3 – 12) are $12.50.

The International Portland Rose Garden is a must for rose lovers. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

International Rose Test Garden 

Don’t let the name deter garden lovers, the International Rose Test Garden is a picturesque sanctuary for rosarians. In 1917 the American Rose Society worked with Portland to establish a garden and showplace to test and promote roses in the U.S. 

Located in Portland’s Washington Park, visitors can walk among 10,000 roses from 650 varieties. There are climbing varieties, Floribundas, hybrid teas as well as shrub and landscape roses. The garden still conducts tests on new varieties from growers along with displaying past winners

Located at 400 SW Kingston Ave. Open from dawn to dusk. Roses bloom from late May until October. Free though metered parking is required in Washington Park. 

Innisfree Gardens 

Perched around Tyrell Lake, InnisFree Gardens is a 185-acre site that fuses Asian design principles with North American plant selections using stacked stone terraces, steps and water features. It is considered one of the best gardens in the U.S.

It was the country residence of Walter and Marion Beck. Landscape architect Lester Collins, Dean of the Landscape Architecture program at Harvard University, worked on Innisfree Gardens for 55 years. 

Located at 362 Tyrrel Road, Millbrook. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Free to enter. 

Japanese Friendship Garden Best Gardens in the U.S.
The Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego’s Balboa Park. credit: Catherine Parker

Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego’s Balboa Park

Inside of San Diego’s Balboa Park, visitors will find the 12-acre Japanese garden. As an expression of friendship between San Diego and its sister city, Yokohama, this garden opened in 1991.

The Japanese Friendship Garden features 200 spring-blooming cherry trees, a symbol of Japan. It also features sukiya-style buildings reflecting in the koi ponds with swimming koi. The azalea collection is also extensive along with the Japanese artifacts.

Located at 2215 Pan American Plaza in Balboa Park. Open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. most of the year. Adult admission (18+) is $14 with students and seniors entering for $12 and kids 6 and younger are free.

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Japanese Tea Garden in San Antonio’s Breckenridge Park

Set in an old rock quarry in Breckenridge Park, this area dates back to 1899. The Japanese Tea Garden was completed in 1916 and features paths and footbridges that meander through the tropical oasis.

The garden includes stone arch bridges and paths that meander through the shallow koi fish pond. The Japanese Tea Garden also features a 60-foot manmade waterfall that tumbles down a wall.

Located at 3853 N. St. Mary’s, Open daily from dawn to dusk. Free to enter.


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From New York to Los Angeles, here are the top gardens in the U.S. Each offer a colorful display of plants and some offers Asian Temples, sculptures, conservatories of another era along with children's gardens along with rose gardens and more. Top Gardens across the U.S. | Best Gardens to see #Gardens

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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