There is something so appealing about a beautiful garden. From the colorful blooms and sweet fragrances of various flower types, to the tranquility inspired by ponds and waterfalls, gardens have been for centuries a wonderful place to find peace and inspiration. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the United States’ most amazing gardens. While some are traditional English-style gardens featuring lush flower beds and meandering walking paths, others are botanical gardens filled with interesting plants from all over the world. Despite their differences, the 30 gardens listed below do have at least one thing in common: they are some of the most beautiful gardens in America.
ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Most of the gardens on our list of America’s most beautiful gardens feature color and lushness. New Mexico’s ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden is a little bit different. The garden totals about 36 acres, and visitors can explore it all by wandering along the nearly two miles of paved pathways. The ABQ Biopark features a number of popular exhibits, including a zoo, aquarium, and children’s garden. The latter boasts a thrilling 14-foot topiary dragon. ABQ’s highlight, however, is almost certainly landscape architect Toru Tanaka’s traditional Japanese garden. It feels right at home here in Albuquerque.
Wilmington, North Carolina
Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, North Carolina dates back to 1886. If you think that’s impressive, consider the fact that Airlie’s most famous feature, the Airlie Oak, is almost 500 years old! Once a private garden and estate, Airlie Gardens is today a popular tourist attraction and a favorite hangout for Wilmington locals. The garden spans 10 acres, and features:
- freshwater lakes
- miles of trails
- natural and formal gardens
- various sculptures
If you happen to be in Wilmington during the spring, be sure to stop by Airlie Gardens to see more than 100,000 brightly colored azaleas in full bloom!
Asticou Azalea Garden
Mount Desert Island, Maine
Located near the entrance to Acadia National Park is the beautiful Asticou Azalea Garden. Carefully designed in the style of a Japanese Garden, Asticou boasts a large collection of azaleas native to the United States. They grow right alongside similar blooms native to Japan. A traditional Zen garden offers a nice place to sit and relax, while ponds dotted with water lilies complete the serene scene.
Atlanta Botanical Garden
The Atlanta Botanical Garden may span a mere 30 acres — much smaller than many other big city gardens — but it’s packed with impressive features! These include a Canopy Walk, an Orangerie filled with myriad tropical plants, and various seasonal beds brimming with different types of:
- Japanese plants
Young garden lovers are sure to enjoy the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Lou Glenn Children’s Garden. It’s beautiful and provides kids with a space to play and learn.
Bayard Cutting Arboretum
Long Island, New York
Situated in the Long Island State Park Region, the Bayard Cutting Arboretum was designed by landscape architect extraordinaire Frederick Law Olmsted. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Bayard Cutting Arboretum invites visitors to walk a serene natural trail to enjoy beautiful garden spaces, both natural and designed. Tours, workshops, and kid-friendly activities round out the long list of ways to enjoy this beautiful American garden.
Biltmore Estate Garden and Grounds
Asheville, North Carolina
France may have the palace of Versailles, but the United States has the Biltmore Estate. This 250-room mansion located boasts a vast garden designed by the one and only Frederick Law Olmsted. Olmsted, who is perhaps most famous for designing New York City’s Central Park, created a beautiful wonderland of:
- forested bridle paths
- geometric flower beds
- reflecting pools dotted with water lilies
- a 15-acre exhibition of native azaleas, the largest collection of its kind in the country.
The Bloedel Reserve
Bainbridge Island, Washington
During the 1950s, a prominent Washington timber magnate established The Bloedel Reserve to preserve Bainbridge Island’s stunning nature. Today, The Bloedel Reserve is a popular place for families and others to picnic, hike, and relax. A walking trail leads visitors through a series of beautiful garden areas, including:
- a Moss Garden
- a forest with Douglas fir and hemlock
- a glen thick with blooming flowers
Throughout the Reserve can be found myriad birds, such as trumpeter swans and herons.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Brooklyn, New York City, New York
In the midst of bustling Brooklyn is the peaceful and lush Brooklyn Botanic Garden. This beautiful garden offers visitors a rotating selection of plant attractions. Each is carefully designed to please the senses and also educate those interested. Highlights of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden include the Cranford Rose Garden and the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. The latter is one of the oldest traditional Japanese Gardens outside of Asia.
Chicago Botanic Garden
Spanning nine small islands and six miles of lakeshore, the Chicago Botanic Garden is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful gardens in the United States. It was designed by Susumu Nakamura, a notable bonsai master. The Chicago Botanic Garden boasts such highlights as a classic English garden and a native oak woodland covering a whopping 100 acres. There is even a section on traditional Japanese horticulture which features 200 maples, evergreens, and magnolia trees — all in miniature!
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
“Everything is bigger in Texas” — including the floral art installations! Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden offers visitors stunning examples of all the creative things that can be done in a garden. Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden boasts more than half a million blooms. Many of these are arranged in gorgeous installations ranging from ponds and other water features, to topiaries and themed gardens. During the fall, the garden also includes a pumpkin patch with nearly 50,000 pumpkins to offer.
Desert Botanical Garden
If you think desert-like Arizona can’t be home to one of America’s most beautiful gardens, think again. In Phoenix, garden lovers will find the Desert Botanical Garden, a 140-acre landscape filled with life. Visitors can wander a paved path to enjoy such highlights as a colorful two-acre wildlife exhibit that’s typically teeming with butterflies, areas devoted to cacti and other succulents, and even a covered pavilion for cooling down during the hot Arizona days.
Dumbarton Oaks Garden
The vast, 53-acre garden of the Dumbarton Oaks estate dates back to 1920, when Mildred Barnes Bliss purchased the home and immediately began designing the outdoor space. Landscape architect Beatrix Farrand designed a stunning collection of gardens in the English, French, and Italian styles. Some of the garden’s most beautiful spots include:
- a hillside which blooms with cherry blossoms in the spring
- carefully manicured boxwood topiaries
- a terraced rose garden which doubles as the final resting place for Mrs. Bliss and her husband.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Coral Gables, Florida
The beautiful Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables is the masterpiece of David Fairchild, who traveled the world in search of useful plants. Nearly 3,500 of Fairchild’s finds now grow in the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Plants range from various species of bamboo, mangoes, durian, and mangosteen, among countless others. Interestingly, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is home to one of the world’s largest collections of palms.
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is the first of two Columbus, Ohio gardens to make our list of the most beautiful gardens in America. This year-round garden consists of multiple greenhouses, each of which houses large varieties of plants ranging from desert plants, to rain-forest plants, to plants of a medicinal nature. Each conservatory is bright, colorful, and fragrant, and makes visiting this beautiful place a joy.
San Marino, California
It’s practically required for an amazing estate to have an amazing garden, and The Huntington in California does not disappoint! More than 120 acres of this unique home are dedicated to myriad themed gardens. Of the more than a dozen individual gardens on the property, highlights include:
- beds with plants native to California
- a Japanese garden complete with bonsai
- a Zen garden
- the especially appealing Garden of Flowering Fragrance.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Lush. Traditional. Stunning. Those are a few words we would use to describe the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, a beautiful garden located in Richmond, Virginia. The garden’s centerpiece is the traditional domed conservatory. Surrounding the classical glass building are more than a dozen gardens, each of which is themed for the season. If you happen to be in Richmond during the winter, don’t forget to stop by the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden to experience the beautiful wintertime display featuring nearly one million lights!
Limahuli Garden and Preserve
It should come as no surprise that Kauai, known also as the ‘Garden Isle,’ is home to one of the most beautiful gardens in America. The Limahuli Garden and Preserve spans some 1,000 acres at the base of a valley. It features a surprising variety of plant and habitat types. A number of rare native herbs grow here, as do palms, and culturally significant plants like papaya, taro, and frangipani. No wonder the American Horticultural Society named Limahuli Garden and Preserve the best natural botanical garden in America!
Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
Located in a suburb of Philadelphia, the now public Longwood Gardens once belonged to industrialist Pierre S. duPont as part of the duPont estate. duPont’s initial vision for the garden was inspired by his desire to conserve the original land. Thus, many of the garden’s trees are centuries old. The Italian Water Garden, a highlight of the 1,000-acre garden, was designed by duPont himself, as was the four-acre conservatory which houses many of the industrialist’s favorite fruits, flowers, and ferns. Visiting Longwood Gardens is easy to do, as the public space often hosts special events and a summer concert series.
Located near Santa Barbara, Lotusland is a 37-acre property which once belonged to the Polish opera singer and socialite Ganna Walska. Madame Walska lived on the property for much of her 96 years and tended to her large botanical garden faithfully. The current display took over 40 years to cultivate, and includes more than 170 types of aloe, myriad types of weeping euphorias, and dozens of other exotic plants. There are even plots dedicated entirely to things like cone-bearing plants and plants which are silver and blue in color. According to Madame Walska’s estate, the passionate gardener would auction off pieces of her million-dollar jewelry collection to fund new gardening projects.
Magnolia Plantation & Gardens
Charleston, South Carolina
Magnolia Plantation has transitioned over the years from a large working plantation to one of Charleston’s must-visit attractions. One of the reasons Magnolia is so beloved by visitors is for its vast garden. Much of it hasn’t changed in its more than 300-year history! A lot of the garden is designed in the Romantic style. It features such picturesque characteristics as towering live oaks and walking paths lined with azaleas and other colorful flowers. And being South Carolina, there is even a swamp in which egrets and alligators are commonly sighted.
Maymont Gardens in Richmond, Virginia is another historic estate turned beautiful public gardens. The Victorian-style home now features an arboretum boasting more than 200 different types of plants and trees. A Japanese garden is made especially peaceful by its waterfalls and large koi pond. The Italian Garden makes for a colorful display of stonework, flowers and trees, and statues.
Missouri Botanical Garden
St. Louis, Missouri
Like orchids? Then you’ll definitely want to make the trip to the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis! This beautiful, must-visit garden boasts one of the largest collections of orchids in the world. More than 3,000 species of orchid are represented in the garden, as are over 700 types of daffodils and myriad species of day lilies. Another highlight is the 175-foot-wide climate-controlled conservatory, which was added to the Missouri Botanical Garden in 1960.
Mt. Cuba Center
The Mt. Cuba Center is a beautiful botanical garden which dates back to 1935. Located in the Delaware Piedmont, the Mt. Cuba Center aims to both inspire and educate its visitors with its many stunning natural displays. The 50-acre center, doubles as an historical preserve, boasting both carefully designed formal gardens and natural terrain gardens. In the latter category is an especially impressive wildflower garden. It’s been ranked as one of the most astounding displays of wildflowers found anywhere on the East Coast.
The New York Botanical Garden
New York, New York
Garden lovers can spend a full day in The New York Botanical Garden! Spanning an impressive 250 acres in the Bronx, The New York Botanical Garden dates back to 1891, and has been declared a National Historic Landmark. Visitors to this must-visit botanical garden will see 50 different areas, including:
- a rose garden boasting more than 4,000 individual plants
- a collection of conifers well over 100 years old
- a 50-acre old-growth forest
There’s even a beautiful conservatory from 1902.
Portland Japanese Garden
Visitors to the Portland Japanese Garden won’t actually be in Japan, but they’ll sure feel like it! That’s because landscape architect Takuma Tono used traditional Japanese gardening methods to create this beautiful space. Many of the garden’s features are a nod to Taoist, Buddhist, and Shinto philosophies, and are carefully designed using stone, water, plants, and other natural elements. Visitors to the Portland Japanese Garden, which is located in Washington Park, can wander along lush pathways, over bridges, and even through an authentic Japanese teahouse.
Sailor’s Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden
Staten Island, New York
As its name might suggest, Sailor’s Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden wasn’t always just a garden. This National Historic Landmark was once a home for retired sailors! Today, Sailor’s Snug Harbor is anchored by a collection of 19th-century buildings. Each is significant both architecturally and historically. Surrounding the buildings are various gardens which have been carefully designed and manicured around a theme. The New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden is designed to authentically replicate the famous gardens of Suzhou. The Secret Garden is a walled-in wonderland featuring plush garden beds, a traditional English maze, and even a castle.
San Francisco Botanical Garden
San Francisco, California
San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is a wonderland of beautiful and interesting things, including the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Not to be confused with the Japanese Tea Garden and the flower conservatory which are also located in Golden Gate Park, the botanical garden boasts:
- a huge redwood grove
- beds of rare cloud forest plants
- more than 100 types of colorful magnolias.
The Topiary Garden Park
In 1992, Columbus artist James W. Mason introduced his home town to his newest work of art: The Topiary Garden Park. This one-of-a-kind garden features dozens of 12-foot tall topiaries. Each has been carefully manicured to resemble everything from animals to geometric shapes. But the highlight of this living sculpture garden is most certainly A Sunday on La Grand Jatte. This is a collection of green people and pets designed to bring Georges Seurat’s famous 1884 impressionist painting to life — literally.
Tudor Place Historic House and Garden
Martha Washington’s granddaughter built the stunning Tudor Place in 1816. It remained in the family for five generations. The perfectly preserved Georgian mansion is now a National Historic Landmark, a popular D.C. tourism attraction, and home to one of the most beautiful gardens in America. The house boasts a 5.5-acre garden carefully designed in the Georgian style. Manicured lawns, maze-like walking paths, orchards, tennis lawns, and fountains are all included within the design, as are rose gardens, quiet groves, ornamental garden rooms, and even a lily pond.
United States Botanic Garden
Considering we’re profiling the most beautiful gardens in America, it should come as no surprise that included on the list is the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. Established by Congress in 1820, the U.S. Botanic Garden is one of the oldest of its kind in the country. It’s small compared to many other gardens on our list, However, the United States Botanic Garden boasts more than 65,000 plants in two outdoor areas and a conservatory. While native plants from nearly every state are represented, the highlight of the collection may be the rare ferns that are almost as old as the U.S. Botanic Garden itself.
More Articles of Interest: