9 of the Biggest Botanic Gardens to Visit in the U.S.

updated Apr 23, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Anastasia Musikhina/Shutterstock.com
Longwood Gardens Orangery Greenhouse

If there’s anything people have learned to love a little extra during the pandemic, it’s spending time in nature. One of the best ways to get up close and personal with eye-catching natural creations is visiting botanic gardens, which are essentially living museums for plants.

Per Botanic Gardens Conservation International, “Botanic gardens are institutions holding documented collections of living plants for the purpose of scientific research, conservation, display, and education.” Through a botanic garden’s collection, you can often be transported anywhere in the world, learning about the flora from regions far away from your own, or you can do a deep dive into the wonderful plant life that’s native to your area.

If you’re really looking to lose yourself among the flowers, how about visiting one of the largest botanic gardens in the United States? Sprawling across hundreds of acres, these nine massive botanic gardens are the perfect place to take a long stroll — and maybe snap an Instagram or two.

Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania — 1,100 Acres

Celebrating its centennial in 2021, Longwood Gardens is much more than a garden — it’s a performing arts hub, a horticultural educational institute, and the home of some of the most incredible fountains in the entire country. Don’t miss the garden’s festive Christmas Season, when 500,000 lights deck its trees.  

Limahuli Garden & Preserve, National Tropical Botanical Garden — 1,002 Acres

Covering an entire valley on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, Limahuli Garden & Preserve honors the cultural legacy of Hawaiian horticulture and agriculture, showcasing endemic species, those introduced by Polynesian explorers, and crops. One detail to note: only 17 acres of property are open to the public, while the remaining 985 acres are kept as a preserve.

Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden, Kaneohe, Oahu, Hawaii — 400 Acres

You might’ve stumbled upon Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden on Instagram, as visitors rush to post photos of its dramatic landscape. The garden abuts the Koʻolau Mountains to an incredibly dramatic effect. But please don’t come here just to snap photos. Enjoy curated gardens celebrating the flora of tropical regions around the world, meandering walking trails, and even a botanical library.

Credit: elesi/Shutterstock.com
Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, Illinois — 385 Acres

The Chicago Botanic Garden isn’t actually one garden, but 27 different gardens (and four natural areas) spread across nine islands — in total, the grounds cover 385 acres. When you visit, get your bearings with a tram tour, then venture off to your favorite highlights, whether that be the Bonsai Collection, the Rose Garden, or perhaps the Greenhouses.

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Athens, Georgia — 313 Acres

Managed by the University of Georgia, the State Botanical Garden of Georgia has a variety of thematic gardens, from the Heritage Garden that traces the history of horticulture and agriculture in the state to a tropical conservatory filled with orchids that bloom each fall. There are also five miles of nature trails to explore — plus a Hummingbird Trail!

Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Ann Arbor, Michigan — 300 Acres

Another collegiate institution, the University of Michigan’s Matthaei Botanical Garden stands out for its art program; artists from around the world are invited to display their work on the grounds. Some are even specially commissioned to add pieces to the garden’s permanent collection. Need a break from the art? Stroll more than three miles of nature trails, then take a load off at the Sitting Garden.

South Carolina Botanical Garden, Clemson, South Carolina — 295 Acres

Set on the campus of Clemson University, South Carolina Botanical Garden has something for everyone. There are the plants, naturally, but also an impressive sculpture collection, historic homes from the 18th and 19th centuries, and the Bob Campbell Geology Museum. And something that shouldn’t be overlooked? This botanic garden allows dogs.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Boothbay, Maine — 295 Acres

The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens might not have the hefty legacy of some of the other botanic gardens on this list — it opened in 2007, after 16 years of planning — but it has quickly become one of the top attractions in Maine. It’s filled with plant life suited for northern climes, as well as sculptures by local artists.

New York Botanical Garden, New York, New York — 250 Acres 

The largest botanic garden within a U.S. city, the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) in the Bronx is a National Historic Landmark that draws in more than a million visitors annually. Founded in 1891, the NYBG is home to the Victorian-style Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, an award-winning rose garden, and more than 30,000 trees — not bad for an urban garden. It’s perhaps best known for its seasonal art and orchid exhibitions.