Best Botanical Garden (2021)


April showers might very well bring May flowers, but at these spectacular public and botanical gardens, there's always something in bloom. The best gardens and arboretums on the continent, like these 10 selected 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. 

  • Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

    Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
    Coral Gables, Fla.

    The warm climate of Coral Gables allows tropical plants to be grown outdoors year round at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden – one of the only places in the continental United States where this is possible. Exotic butterflies fly freely within the Wings of the Tropics Conservatory, while the Rare Plant House displays 450 species of rare and endangered tropical plants from around the globe. Other themed gardens include a Tropical Fruit Pavilion, Palm Glade, Tropical Flower Garden, Succulent Garden and even a display of the dry forest plants of Madagascar.
    Photo courtesy of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

  • Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

    Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

    The Botanical Garden at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden includes a Butterfly Garden with a variety of plants, a green roof on the giraffe building, and an Endangered Species Garden, devoted to the propagation and preservation of endangered plants. A spring highlight of the Botanical Garden is the 100,000 bulb tulip display. 


    Photo courtesy of Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

  • Botanical Cactus Garden

    Botanical Cactus Garden
    Ethel M Chocolates, Henderson, Nevada

    The Botanical Cactus Garden located on the grounds of the Ethel M Chocolates factory location in Henderson is Nevada’s largest cactus collection of its kind. The Botanical Cactus Garden is home to over 300 species of plants including ornamental, cacti, and other succulents native to the American Southwest, and desert trees and shrubs from the Southwestern United States, Australia, and South America.
    Photo courtesy of Ethel M Chocolates

  • Vallarta Botanical Gardens

    Vallarta Botanical Gardens
    Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

    Vallarta Botanical Gardens, located in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is home to the most visited collection of orchids open to the public in Mexico. The Garden’s display of diverse Mexican native plants is viewable along picturesque trails. A must see is the in vitro lab where the orchids are grown.  


    Photo courtesy of Jesus Reyes // Vallarta Botanical Gardens

  • Mt. Cuba Center

    Mt. Cuba Center
    Hockessin, Del.

    The Mt. Cuba Center maintains a living collection of native and historic plants from the Eastern temperate forests of the United States, with a particular focus on the Appalachian Piedmont. Named gardens include a formal garden surrounding the historic estate, a research garden, a dogwood path and a meadow.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / igaguri_1

  • Naples Botanical Garden

    Naples Botanical Garden
    Naples, FL

    The award-winning Naples Botanical Garden is a 170-acre garden displaying plants from around the world, especially the tropics and subtropics. Visitors can view plants from various gardens inspired by artists Henri Rousseau and Claude Monet, interactive gardens created for children of all ages, and butterfly gardens. The Garden, founded in 1993, also features 90 acres of natural habitats, trails, and a boardwalk and stage hosting local musicians. 


    Photo courtesy of Naples Botanical Garden

  • Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

    Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
    Palm Desert, Calif.

    For nearly fifty years, The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in California’s Palm Desert has educated visitors on the preservation and conservation of the plants and animals of various desert regions. Visitors can view and learn about a wide variety of desert plants including among many the Coyote Melon with its  three inch wide flowers that open before dawn and wilt by late morning; the Mexican Bird of Paradise, a colorful draw for hummingbirds;  and the Wooly Butterfly Bush, an attraction for both butterflies and people alike.


    Photo courtesy of Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

  • Washington Oaks Gardens State Park

    Washington Oaks Gardens State Park
    Palm Coast, FL

    Washington Oaks Garden State Park is a 425-acre park between the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean in Palm Coast, Florida. Visitors can relax and enjoy the formal gardens among the large oaks, hickory and magnolia trees. The park boasts “one of the largest outcroppings of coquina rock on the Atlantic Ocean.” If visitors look closely at the rock, they will see the combination of shells and sand grains combined together. 


    Photo courtesy of Florida State Parks

  • Portland Japanese Garden

    Portland Japanese Garden
    Portland, Oregon

    The Portland Japanese Garden offers a peaceful haven for visitors to leave behind their worries and immerse themselves in the beauty and tranquility of nature.  Visitors can enjoy meandering along streams and walkways, relaxing at a Japanese Tea House, and viewing  Mt. Hood. The Portland Japanese Garden is considered to be the most “authentic Japanese Garden outside of Japan.”


    Photo courtesy of Roman Johnston // Portland Japanese Garden

  • Cypress Gardens

    Cypress Gardens

    Cypress Gardens is located in the Legoland Florida Resort and houses exotic plants including varieties of palms, banana trees, azaleas, camelias, and much more. A highlight of Cypress Gardens is the giant Banyan tree that was planted as a seedling over 80 years ago, in 1939, the year Cypress Gardens was founded.


    Photo courtesy of Legoland


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

  1. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden - Coral Gables, Fla.
  2. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden - Cincinnati
  3. Botanical Cactus Garden - Ethel M Chocolates, Henderson, Nevada
  4. Vallarta Botanical Gardens - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  5. Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, Del.
  6. Naples Botanical Garden - Naples, FL
  7. Living Desert Zoo and Gardens - Palm Desert, Calif.
  8. Washington Oaks Gardens State Park - Palm Coast, FL
  9. Portland Japanese Garden - Portland, Oregon
  10. Cypress Gardens - Legoland

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning botanical gardens!

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