Bucket-list gardens to add to your summer travel plans | Desert Botanical Garden


From big city adventures and mountain getaways to family trips to the beach, summer is a time to take in new sights, try new restaurants and unwind. As you plan your summer adventures, consider the amazing botanical gardens the U.S. has to offer. Best of all, as a Desert Botanical Garden member, you score free admission through the reciprocal admissions program to almost all of these locations. Now is the time to check these gardens off your bucket list

The Desert Garden At The Huntington

We know you love deserts and their plants, so this was a no-brainer for our list and just a quick 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles. The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens are known for many things, from a 15th century Gutenberg Bible to Thomas Gainsborough’s portrait of The Blue Boy to a classical style Chinese Garden. Among all its treasures, one of the most famous is its collection of cactus and succulents. The Huntington’s 10-acre Desert Garden showcases more than 2,000 different species. Hundreds more reside in the Desert Garden Conservatory and nursery. The Desert Collections are the institution’s most important botanical research and conservation collection, containing a number of species that are now extinct

Summer must-see: On display this summer is a portion of The Huntington’s American art collection with contributions from contemporary artists in “Borderlands,” a new permanent collections installation of 70 works that explores a more expansive view of American art history.

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden

You came to Hawai’i for its stunning beaches, but it offers great botanical gardens too. Each is maintained with lush, indigenous flora, as well as exotic plants and trees from across the world. Located in O’ahu, Ho’omaluhia has a 32-acre lake, from which you can do catch-and-release fishing, framed by sprawling lawns, ideal for picnicking and relaxing. If time allows, there are three botanical gardens in O’ahu, so check them out during your trip

New York Botanical Garden

A trip to the Big Apple offers endless options of things to do. If you are looking for a way to step away from the hustle and bustle of the city, New York Botanical Garden is just what you need. This 250-acre oasis located in the Bronx has more than 1 million plants in more than 50 gardens. Garden highlights include the historic, Victorian-style glass house, offering a world tour of 11 distinct plant habitats.

Summer must-see: On display through Sept. 17 THINGS TO BE REMEMBERED: INTERACTIVE ART PROJECT. The display asks guests to take a moment to reflect. The adjacent display shows the remains of extinct plants, and reminds us what has been lost and what should be remembered. Guests can add their sketches, notes and thoughts to an always-evolving collective artwork that will remain on view for the duration of the exhibition. 

New York Botanical Garden

Missouri Botanical Garden

With 79-acres of gorgeous displays, the country’s oldest botanical garden is especially lovely in summer when so many beautiful flowers are blooming. Stop to smell the roses in one of their two exquisite rose gardens. Marvel at one of its several water lily pools, home to some of the largest variety of water lilies in the world. Explore the rainforest within the Climatron, or the Mediterranean atmosphere of the adjoining Temperate House. Stop in the Japanese Garden to take in some tranquility, or stroll through the Victorian District. Kids of all ages can have a blast in the Children’s Garden, which features splash pads, climbing areas, a cave, slide, steamboat and handson activities.

Summer Must-see: On view through September is Chihuly in the Garden that presents the work of world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly in a stunning exhibition uniting art and nature. Thousands of pieces of blown glass forms in 20 dramatic installations throughout the Garden’s grounds present these artworks on a grand scale

Missouri Botanical Garden

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Sweet fragrances wafting in the warm breezes will remind you of dreams of paradise when you visit Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami. Walk under the exotic Vine Pergola with dozens of beautiful flowering vines, including ones with sky-blue or jade-green and even candy-corn-hued flowers. Visit the Tropical Flowering Tree Arboretum to discover the allspice tree with quilted leaves smelling of the warm spice. Walk along the Lougheed Spiny Forest of Madagascar and find yourself in a land of bizarre and beautiful plants collected by Fairchild scientists from around the globe

Summer must-see: Don’t miss Mango Fest July 8-9! Fairchild has been celebrating mangos during the Mango Festival for nearly 30 years. Mango Festival is a celebration of the more than 400 varieties of mangos in our prized collection, and it all culminates in a dazzling weekend filled with mango madness. 

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan, features a 158-acre main campus, including Michigan’s largest tropical conservatory. The Victorian gardens showcase bronze sculptures by Edgar Degas and Auguste Rodin, a carnivorous plant house and a 1,900-seat outdoor amphitheater, featuring an eclectic mix of world-renowned musicians every summer. The internationally acclaimed Sculpture Park features a permanent collection, including works by Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Richard Serra, Louise Bourgeois, Ai Weiwei and Jaume Plensa

Summer must-see: Summer concerts are back through Sept. 15! Concerts run June through September and feature the Grand Rapids Symphony, national touring artists, and beautiful, terraced lawn seating, surrounded by spectacular views of gardens and sculpture. 

Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver Botanic Gardens’ living collections encompass specimens from the tropics to the tundra, showcasing a plant palette chosen to thrive in Colorado’s semi-arid climate. Each summer, the Gardens present an outdoor sculpture exhibition by renowned artists, including Dale Chihuly, Alexander Calder, Deborah Butterfield and Henry Moore.

Summer must-see: Check out the Lavender Festival July 15-16, More than 2,000 lavender plants set the scene for this family-friendly celebration of Chatfield Farms’ Lavender Garden. 

Missouri Botanical Garden

San Diego Botanic Garden

San Diego is a favorite vacation spot for Phoenicians, but how many of you have made a stop at the San Diego Botanic Garden? If not, this summer is your chance and a great stop for families with small children. San Diego Botanic Garden is a beautiful urban retreat nestled on 37-acres in the midst of Encinitas. Visitors enjoy restful vistas, flowering trees, majestic palms and the nation’s largest bamboo collection. Thanks to mild Southern California climate, 5,000 plant species from all over the world thrive here. Its diverse topography provides a wide variety of microclimates, giving visitors the sensation of strolling through a tropical rainforest to hiking in the high desert. Four miles of trails wind through 29 themed gardens, including the acclaimed Hamilton Children’s Garden

Summer must-see: Breathe in fresh air while being surrounded by lush gardens for open-air yoga in the Garden. Immerse your senses in the sights, smells, and sounds of nature. Leave restored and rejuvenated after gently moving your body.

Portland Japanese Garden

This Japanese Garden features a strolling pond, tea garden, sand and stone garden, flat garden and natural garden. The reasons for building this Japanese garden were twofold: providing the citizens of Portland with a garden of great beauty and serenity while forging a healing connection to Japan on the heels of World War II. At this time in U.S. history, Japanese gardens were founded across the country as a way to build cultural understanding. Needing no translation, visitors can experience firsthand Japanese ideals and values communicated simply through nature.