The best botanical gardens in North America might be closer to you than you think. These verdant parks can be found from Brooklyn to British Columbia, and they’re a great way to spend an afternoon.
Whether you’re the sort to plan your next vacation around the best botanical gardens in North America, or you’re just looking for a way to spend a day in Phoenix, you won’t be disappointed.
Before you visit these botanical gardens, be sure to check your packing list against our tips on enjoying and preparing for botanical gardens. Be sure to get PlantSnap downloaded onto your phone so that you can double-check any unlabeled plants.
If you’re a real globetrotter, don’t miss our post on the best botanical gardens in Central and South America!
To avoid any semblance of favoritism, we organized this list alphabetically.
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Size: 52 acres
Number of Species: 12,000
Description: The beautiful Brooklyn Botanic Garden has two gorgeous indoor spaces for event hosting as well as more than 50 acres of gardens. The library is unparalleled and each specimen is carefully catalogued. Most people hear about the Brooklyn Botanic Garden thanks to the cherry blossoms, but there’s so much more to see here.
Entry Fee: Free on Fridays before noon, otherwise $8-$15 depending on age
Hours: 8am to 6pm March through October, 10am to 4:30pm November through February.
Location: Victoria, British Columbia
Size: 55 acres
Number of Species: 900
Key Features: Many visitors love the unique sunken garden, a portion of this park cradled within an old quarry. This garden is also a National Historic Site of Canada.
Description: With over 50 gardeners to care for this 100+ year old garden, it’s no wonder these gardens made the list. Butchart Gardens were founded by Jennie Butchart when she transformed an old limestone quarry into a magnificent garden. The gardens now feature Italian, Japanese, and Rose gardens as well as the iconic sunken gardens.
Entry Fee: $33 CAD for adults; child, student, member, and group rates available.
Hours: Hours vary seasonally, generally open from mid-morning until dusk. Check hours here.
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Size: 385 acres
Number of Species: 9,694
Key Features: Enjoy summer concerts and a live butterfly exhibit during the warmer months.
Description: These gardens are huge and surprisingly lush, given their northern location. The Chicago Botanic Garden supports 50,000 members, the most of any botanic garden in North America. Check their “What’s in Bloom” page to plan your visit. This garden also offers a variety of classes, from gardening for aging adults to cooking classes.
Entry Fee: Free, parking costs $25 per car on weekdays and $30 per car on weekends
Hours: 7:00am to 9:00am June 4 through September 3, 8:00am to 7:00pm September 4 through October 31, and 8:00am to 5:00pm November 1 through November 22.
Location: Denver, Colorado
Size: 23 acres (York Street location), 700 acres (Chatfield location)
Number of Species: 10,100
Key Features: The Denver Botanic Gardens actually encompasses two distinct areas: a riparian and meadow area at Chatfield, and the main York Street Gardens.
Description: From art sculptures and manicured bonsais to a unique cactus area, the Denver Botanic Gardens covers all bases. The uniquely dry and high-altitude growing space allows the gardens to showcase unique Colorado species, while skilled gardeners keep exotic plants healthy. An indoor jungle greenhouse makes the gardens a great place to visit year-round.
Entry Fee: $12.50 for adults, with senior, child, and student rates available.
Hours: York Street location open 9:00am to 8:00pm in the summer, 9:00am to 5:00pm in the winter. Chatfield location is open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm.
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Size: 140 acres
Number of Species: 4,357
Key Features: This garden offers unique desert plants and nighttime tours. Their cactus collection is unsurpassed. You won’t want to miss the Electric Desert music and light show in fall 2018 through spring 2019.
Description: Less strictly cultivated than some others on the list, the Desert Botanical Gardens is known for its hiking paths. Visit in the spring or fall to beat the heat, or early morning if you must visit in the summer. This garden is also unusually nighttime friendly, with flashlight tours and musical features.
Entry Fee: $25 for adults, $13 for children.
Hours: 7:00am to 8:00pm
Location: Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
Size: 1083 acres
Number of Species: 1,600+
Key Features: A cutting edge light show in the fountains makes staying late here well worth it. This garden features indoor and outdoor areas, making it friendly to visit any time of year.
Description: These immense gardens feature over 1000 acres of plants – no wonder they’re the some of the most visited gardens in the US. With a 4-acre indoor conservatory, beautiful water lily gardens, serene forest trails, and plenty of roses, the Longwood Gardens are worth more than one visit.
Entry Fee: $23 for adults, with senior, student, and child rates available.
Hours: 9:00am to 6:00pm Sunday through Wednesday; 9:00am to 10:00pm Thursday through Saturday. Timed reservations are required.