1. San Diego Botanic Garden, San Diego
Located 25 miles north of San Diego, the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas has over 4,000 plant species from all over the world. Guests can enjoy the four miles of garden trails and 29 themed gardens. Look for desert gardens, tropical rainforest, California native plants, herb garden, olive tree garden, and two children’s gardens, including the famous Hamilton Children’s Garden.
The garden is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and all entry tickets must be purchased online. The San Diego Botanic Garden is one of the best places for bird watching in San Diego.
2. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis
Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis is America’s oldest botanical garden in continuous operation since 1859 and is a National Historical Landmark. Discover the 4,800 trees, specifically the 1913 Scotch elm located west Tower Grove House and the ginkgo tree by Gate House. The ginkgo tree was purchased by Henry Shaw, founder of the garden in 1861.
For the most authentic scholar’s garden in America, visit Missouri Botanical Garden’s Margaret Grigg Nanjing Friendship Garden. It was designed by a Chinese-born architect to mirror the scholar’s gardens of Nanjing. There are bridges, a traditional pavilion, streams, and a central pool. All carved and painted in traditional Chinese designs and colors.
This 79-acre garden is open daily except December 25. Buy your tickets online.
3. Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix
Located in between Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe, Desert Botanical Garden has over 50,000 desert plants from all over the world. You’ll be blown away by the sheer size of the cacti, the unique beauty of the succulents and desert wildflowers.
This 140-acre botanical garden has five thematic walking trails, such as the Wildflower Loop Trail and Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert Loop Trail.
4. Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe
Chicago Botanic Garden is the largest botanical garden in the US. This vast 385-acre public space has 27 gardens and four natural areas, plus waterfall, bridges, lakes, and trails for biking and walking.
Download the garden app and explore at your own pace or join the 40-minute tram tour that is available daily from mid-July through October. Check out the unique gardens such as the English Walled Garden, Waterfall Garden, Model Railroad Garden, and Evening Garden.
Chicago Botanic Garden is located in Glencoe, about 24 miles from downtown Chicago. You must reserve and buy your parking ticket online if you’re driving to the garden.
5. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables is about seven miles south of downtown Miami. Named after Dr. David Fairchild, a botanist and plant explorer who was responsible for bringing 80,000 species of plants from around the world to America. He brought mangoes, pistachios, soybeans, nectarines, avocados, horseradish, and flowering cherries while working with the US Department of Agriculture.