Best Botanical Garden (2017)


Favorite springtime attractions, botanical gardens offer travelers the chance to explore the colorful flora of the world while learning about local and native plant varieties. The best botanical gardens in the nation, like these 10 nominated by our panel of experts and voted the best in the U.S. by our readers, help to promote and conserve the plant diversity of our planet, all while showcasing their vast collections in stunning, visitor friendly ways. 

  • Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

    Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
    Chaska, Minn.

    Visitors to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum enjoy more than 1,200 acres of manicured gardens, woods and prairies, accessible via 12.5 miles of walkable trails and garden paths. The vast space, divided into 28 named gardens and 45 plant collections, showcases more than 5,000 plant species and varieties. Highlights include a Japanese Garden, Daylily and Chrysanthemum Walk, Kitchen Herb Garden, Maze Garden and Peony Walk.
    Photo courtesy of Don Olson, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Photographers Society

  • New York Botanical Garden

    New York Botanical Garden
    Bronx, N.Y.

    New York Botanical Garden celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2016. This 250-acre gem in the Bronx showcases more than a million living plants and operates one of the world’s largest plant research and conservation programs. Kids love to explore the Children’s Adventure Garden, while the Seasonal Walk shows off a collection of perennials, grasses and bulbs guaranteeing color nearly all year long. The 3.5-acre Native Plant Garden focuses on flora native to the Northeastern U.S., providing a shelter for native wildlife as well.
    Photo courtesy of Robert Benson Photography

  • Missouri Botanical Garden

    Missouri Botanical Garden
    St. Louis, Mo.

    The Missouri Botanical Garden, the oldest continuously operated botanical garden in the nation, was founded in 1859 as a center for conservation and education. Today, the 79-acre garden includes Henry Shaw’s original 1850 estate home, a 14-acre Japanese strolling garden and one of the largest collections of rare and endangered orchids on the planet. Other highlights include the Chinese Garden, Victorian District, English Woodland Garden and the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening.
    Photo courtesy of Flannery Allison / Missouri Botanical Garden

  • Desert Botanical Garden

    Desert Botanical Garden

    Considered one of the best collections of arid-land plants in the world, the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix invites visitors to stroll along its five themed trails on 140 acres while enjoying the 50,000 plants from desert climates around the world. Desert wildflowers create an especially colorful display along the Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Trail, while the Center for Desert Living Trail offers insight into how to live with nature sustainably. A new Butterfly Pavilion is slated to open in spring 2017.
    Photo courtesy of Adam Rodriguez / Desert Botanical Garden

  • Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

    Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
    Fort Bragg, Calif.

    Opened in 1966, the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens showcase the plant life of the region’s mild coastal climate, particularly the fragrant Rhododendrons that thrive in this foggy, coastal climate. The Perennial Garden, a guest favorite, features colorful bulbs, flowers and grasses (as well as a few surprise cacti and succulents), while the Heaths and Heathers collection ranks among the most important. In the natural areas of the gardens, guests walk through a pine forest to a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. More than 150 species of birds have been spotted in the gardens.
    Photo courtesy of Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

  • The Dawes Arboretum

    The Dawes Arboretum
    Newark, Ohio

    Founded in 1929, the Dawes Arboretum was inspired by a love of trees and nature. This 2,000-acre garden is divided into several named gardens and natural areas, including a Japanese garden, azalea garden learning garden and cypress swamp. At Glacier Ridge, visitors can gaze down on a valley carved by a glacier 10,000 years ago. Trails wind through a woodland habitat, while the 70-acre Dutch Fork Wetlands shows off a diverse ecosystem of pools and meadows, complete with an observation deck.
    Photo courtesy of VasenkaPhotography / Flickr

  • State Botanical Garden of Georgia

    State Botanical Garden of Georgia
    Athens, Ga.

    The State Botanical Garden of Georgia, located a short drive from downtown Athens, displays a staggering collection of plants from around the world. Dogwoods, magnolias and azaleas create a colorful display in the Shade and Native Flora Gardens, while the Heritage Garden celebrates the classic gardens and crops of the South. Guests also have access to five miles of trails winding through natural areas, popular with local birding groups.
    Photo courtesy of State Botanical Garden of Georgia

  • Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

    Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
    Grand Rapids, Mich.

    Spanning 158 acres in Grand Rapids, the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park features four-seasons outdoor gardens and a five-floor, 15,000-square-foot Tropical Conservatory, where visitors can see tropical plants from around the world, including fig trees from India and orchids from South America. Areas worthy of exploration include the Carnivorous Plant House, Japanese Garden, Victorian Garden, colorful Perennial & Bulb Garden and the serene Wege Nature Trail.
    Photo courtesy of William J Hebert

  • Atlanta Botanical Garden

    Atlanta Botanical Garden

    The Atlanta Botanical Garden comprises 30 acres of outdoor garden space, including a Children's Garden and Edible Garden. The Fuqua Orchid Center located within the Atlanta garden's Fuqua Conservatory houses one of the most important orchid collections in the United States.
    Photo courtesy of Atlanta Botanical Garden

  • Chicago Botanic Garden

    Chicago Botanic Garden

    The award-winning Chicago Botanic Garden encompasses some 385 acres divided between 26 gardens and four natural areas, all situated on nine islands with six miles of shoreline. Visitors can take a tram or walk between the various displays, including a Japanese Garden with nearly 200 bonsai trees, colorful bulb garden, English walled garden and a kid-favorite model railroad garden.
    Photo courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden photos


The top 10 winners in the category Best Botanical Garden are as follows:

  1. Minnesota Landscape Arboretum - Chaska, Minn.
  2. New York Botanical Garden - Bronx, N.Y.
  3. Missouri Botanical Garden - St. Louis
  4. Desert Botanical Garden - Phoenix
  5. Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens - Fort Bragg, Calif.
  6. The Dawes Arboretum - Newark, Ohio
  7. State Botanical Garden of Georgia - Athens, Ga.
  8. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park - Grand Rapids, Mich.
  9. Atlanta Botanical Garden - Atlanta
  10. Chicago Botanic Garden - Chicago

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Cindy Brockway (The Trustees), Kyle McCarthy (Family Travel Forum), Abby Meyer ( Botanic Gardens Conservation International), Katy Moss Warner (American Horticultural Society) and Eileen Ogintz (Taking the Kids) were chosen based on their knowledge and experience of American botanical gardens.

Other nominated gardens included Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Chanticleer Garden, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, San Francisco Botanical Garden and the U.S. Botanic Garden.

Congratulations to all our winning gardens!

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Cindy Brockway

Cindy Brockway

Cindy Brockway

Kyle McCarthy

Kyle McCarthy

Kyle McCarthy

Abby Meyer

Abby Meyer

Abby Meyer

Katy Moss Warner

Katy Moss Warner

Katy Moss Warner

Eileen Ogintz

Eileen Ogintz

Eileen Ogintz