Top 7 Botanical Gardens to Visit in the Western United States
#7 The Huntington Library (San Marino, CA)
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a massive research institution in San Marino, CA. Its mission is education and research, and on its grounds you can find dozens of collections serving that mission. The botanical gardens contain over 15,000 different plant varieties in twelve distinct garden exhibits. Included in these is their Conservatory and Children's Garden, a Desert Garden, and multiple Eastern-hemisphere cultural exhibits. Also, their Rose Garden contains hundreds of cultivars of roses, a vast variety.
#6 Ganna Walska Lotusland (Santa Barbara, CA)
Also known simply as Lotusland, this 36-acre garden was once the estate of Polish opera singer Ganna Walska. The fourteen distinct gardens are open to tours by reservation only. From February through November, there are two tours per day. Ganna developed the gardens over the span of four decades, with help from her devoted staff. Because of the hot climate of southern California, the garden is able to host such exotic species as cycads, bromeliads, and cacti. Observing the product of Ganna's passion may just inspire a new feature in your own garden.
#5 Denver Botanic Gardens (Denver, CO)
In the heart of Colorado, Denver's Botanic Gardens span 23 acres and contain multiple parks and a conservatory. Many of their gardens feature native plants that are unique to the Rocky Mountains region, but they also have exhibits of succulents, lowland tropical plants, and aquatic plants. They can brag about their collection of cold-climate dwelling plants from around the world, as it's the largest in North America. You'll also want to see their mountainside collection of alpine wildflowers located along hiking trails on Mt. Goliath. If you're looking for an outdoorsy tourist spot that maintains the natural beauty of the Rockies, look no further.
#4 Desert Botanical Gardens (Phoenix, AZ)
This 140-acre botanical garden was established by the Arizona Cactus and Native Flora Society (ACNFS) in 1939! This is the garden to visit if you've ever been curious about desert-dwelling plants. Walking the trails of this garden, you'll get to see and learn about the native plants (and people) of the Sonoran, including cacti, wildflowers, desert grasslands, and more. Their Center for Desert Living trail features and herb garden, display gardens, and a living trial garden for testing the viability of newly developed plants in the desert environment. The Desert Botanical Garden is the place to learn all about what grows under the desert sun.
#3 San Francisco Botanical Garden (San Francisco, CA)
Located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, the San Francisco Botanical Garden contains over 50,000 plants on its 55-acre grounds, collected from around the world. The garden's focus includes exhibiting plants from the incredible cloud forest ecosystems of South and Central America. Cloud forests get their name from the frequent (in some cases, constant) fog that clouds them. The cloud forest exhibit in the San Francisco Botanical Garden was started in 1984, and is thriving today. The Garden also features a Redwood Grove, showcasing California natives, and a magnolia collection.
#2 Bellevue Botanical Garden (Bellevue, WA)
This gorgeous park, located in Bellevue, WA, is open daily and admission is free! Within its 36 acres, Bellevue Botanical Garden features 15 distinct exhibits, including a fern collection, rhododendron glen, and rock garden. Discover the Pacific Northwest's native wildlife (and more!) on their hiking trails. One of their trails takes visitors on a loop through a steep natural ravine and across a suspension bridge. There, you can view the unspoiled natural landscape, replete with plants and animals in their natural habitat. The suspension bridge allows visitors to take in all this natural beauty without disturbing the precious forest floor ecosystem. More of a garden enthusiast than a hiker? Check out their exhibits on the American garden, including a ground cover exhibit and a perennial borders exhibit. Their Waterwise Garden teaches gardeners and families creative ways to conserve water, avoid chemical run-off, and other tips for limiting your garden's impact on the local flora.
#1 National Tropical Botanical Garden (Hawaii)
Way, way out west in Hawaii is the main location of the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG). The NTBG cultivates and preserves tropical species for the purpose of conservation and education. Hawaii's climate is entirely unique to the United States, making it the perfect location for the NTBG. Alongside scenic beaches, the gardens feature some of the most exotic species from deep in the rainforests, including rare fruits and orchids. The NTBG is also a research institution for restoration and conservation ecology as well as ethnobotany and sustainability. Add this to the long list of reasons to visit Hawaii!