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Botanical Garden Tours: Visit These 7 Breathtaking American Sites

Touring a botanical garden can be a cost-effective but still engaging quick getaway from the hustle and bustle. You can relax and enjoy the beauty as you meander through pathways leading you to multiple stunning vistas.

We feature several stunning botanical garden locations in the United States. If none of these are near you, Just pop the search term “botanical garden near me” on your phone. Then search by radius to find the closest spot.

Seven Botanical Gardens You Don’t Want to Miss.

Until you explore these alluring sites in person, let’s start with a virtual tour.

botanical garden
Tall, stately saguaro cactus, as you’ll find in Tucson, Arizona’s Sonora Desert Museum. Photo: Canva

1 – The Elizabethan Garden | Manteo, Roanoke Island, North Carolina

I start off with a site nearby my home–a place I love and visit often.

The Elizabethan Garden is a non-profit garden next to the famous Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. The park is dedicated to the memory of the lost colonists of Roanoke Island, who disappeared from the island mysteriously over four hundred years ago. These gardens contain NC native species that thrive in the heat and humidity of the coastal area but have a traditional, formal layout with many pathways leading you to discover the following view.

Besides flowers, trees, and other North Carolina specimens, you will find the John White Butterfly Garden. You can learn more about these busy pollinators and observe them in flight.

The Elizabethan Garden stays open year-round, weather permitting. Tickets are affordable, and you can even purchase a pass for your dog to accompany you as you explore.

The “Sunken Garden” at the Elizabethan Garden, a botanical garden on Roanoke Island, North Carolina

2 – Coastal Maine Botanical Garden | Boothbay, Maine

The cool, moist climate of eastern Maine hosts a treasure trove of biodiversity. The Coastal Maine Botanical Garden showcases flora and fauna of the region.

The garden began its life as a grassroots movement. However, it now holds the title of “largest botanical garden in New England.” Perhaps that simple beginning to this excellent project is what gives it the natural, organic vibe.

Many visitors come to the gardens to discover the hidden locations of the five “Giant Trolls,” carved guardians that reveal the secrets to sustainability. These friendly trolls teach about stewardship of the native Maine forests and inspire the next generations of keepers.

In addition to the gardens and lush forests, you’ll discover a bee apiary, butterfly hoop house, and other fascinating exhibits.

Due to the cold winters, the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden opens up in the late spring and closes when autumn turns cooler. Tickets are affordably priced.

The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens welcomes visitors in the warmer months.

3 – Atlanta Botanical Garden | Atlanta, Georgia

While the first two sites on our list were rural, not all gardens are. Take the Atlanta Botanical Garden, for instance. This urban retreat invites visitors to take a step away from city life and provides the opportunity to connect with nature.

This botanical garden dedicates itself to conserving endangered native plants and research.

Pathways direct you through the sites, where you will engage with meticulously-kept flowers, trees, and shrubs. Besides nature, you’ll also find open-air sculptures and art exhibits. Finally, you can make nature-inspired music.

This garden has a very whimsical feeling to it.

Besides that main garden in Atlanta, they offer a smaller (but still super-nice) satellite site in Gainesville, Georgia. You must have tickets to tour either site.

Find whimsical displays at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

4 – Naples Botanical Garden | Naples, Florida

You might think of giant mouse characters and sandy beaches when you think of Florida. But you can escape the busyness of Orlando and the crowded beaches and escape to several natural retreats. The Naples Botanical Garden is one such getaway.

Florida’s heat and humidity make the perfect environment for show-stopping tropical flowers and trees–and this destination will not disappoint!

Your visit starts at the Chabraja Visitor Center, a building made following sustainable building practices. Not only does the visitor center offer a reprieve from the sunshine, but it’s also a feast for the senses. Builders reclaimed ancient cypress trees from the river bottom for materials.

Exhibits throughout the gardens pay homage to other tropical climates. You’ll find the Bali-inspired Asian garden, a Caribbean display, and a grove of lush tropical orchids.

Their website recommends advance ticket purchases due to popularity.

Naples Botanical Garden

5 – Chicago Botanic Garden | Chicago, Illinois

You’ll find the Chicago Botanic Garden just outside of the city in Glencoe, Illinois. You can discover beautiful displays of flowers, native plants, and pollinators there.

This garden reconnects visitors to the early days of Illinois as a prairie settlement. Besides offering lovely, informal displays that harken back to the early culture of the area.

Native prairie species dot the exhibits, likely many of the same plants the indigenous people who first inhabited the area would have seen. They also include a food garden and heritage garden that the later settlers would plant to nourish their families in this area that was once a frontier. The many nature areas remind one of how far the region has come.

In addition to the more casual exhibits, you can visit the more formal Japanese garden or rose garden.

Finally, the Chicago Botanic Garden plans “lightscape” events, lighting up the gardens for nighttime visitors. The enchanting light displays draw visitors from all around the country.

The tickets are affordably priced, and you can purchase them online.

Chicago Botanic Gardens offers natural prairie exhibits and formal gardens–something for everyone!

6 – Betty Ford Alpine Gardens | Vail, Colorado

Most visit Vail, Colorado, for the ski resorts. On the other hand, warm-weather visitors flock to Vail to escape city life and see the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. The 38th First Lady of the United States, Betty Ford, enjoyed gardening and often recalled working in the garden with her mother. Also, she proudly explained that she passed on her green thumb to her children and grandkids.

The Vail Alpine Foundation established this garden in 1985 to conserve the high country native plant species. The location near the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater made perfect sense for the tribute to Mrs. Ford.

The gardens feature four distinct zones that highlight Rocky Mountain high-altitude species: a Children’s Garden; Perennial Garden; Mountain Meditation Garden; and Rock Garden. The natural setting is relaxing, serene, and totally relaxing.

Besides the beautiful gardens, you can attend one of the many educational programs in an alpine-inspired lodge. These informative programs help pass on Mrs. Ford’s commitment to gardening and conservation.

Although the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens do not charge an admission fee, you may make a donation to help support their efforts.

7 – Arizona Sonora Desert Museum | Tucson, Arizona

You will feel like you landed in another world when you check out the vistas at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.

Leave behind your preconceived notions about the desert being barren and lifeless. In fact, this botanical garden proves the total opposite is true!

The rambling pathways guide you through native cactus and other succulent species. You’ll see critters like lizards, many butterflies, and hummingbirds, as the garden serves as an oasis for these friends.

As the tall, stately Saguaro cactus plants bloom, a native to the Sonoran Desert, they show off rich and vivid colors. You will think that God came down to earth and painted them by hand.

In addition to the cactus and plant exhibits, the Desert Museum features a zoo, making this an excellent outing for families with children.

When I visited this magnificent garden, I went early in the day to avoid the hot afternoon sun. You can skip the ticket lines by purchasing your admission online. I personally found this location to be one of the most enjoyable experiences in my lifetime.

The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum and Zoo, Tucson, Arizona

The Takeaway: Visiting a Botanical Garden Makes an Affordable Getaway

These botanical gardens cost little to visit. Besides the few that we named here, you can find many similar sites around the entire country. They are everywhere, from small but charming county-run parks to large-scale programs run by big-money foundations.

So find a nearby botanical garden and get out and learn the lessons you can only learn from nature.

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