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Outdoor activities are an intrinsic part of what makes summer great—warm, sunny weather makes it easy to get outside, whether by hitting the trails, hopping in the water, or taking it to the extreme with epic adventures on the land, sea, and in the air. But sometimes, it’s just enough to relax and smell the flowers; and in these stunningly picturesque U.S. Botanical Gardens, visitors can do just that.

Travel through vibrant, breathtaking gardens that are veritable plant paradises, lovely landscapes dotted with bright colors, and eye-catching, distinctive collections that are as unique as the gardens they inhabit. There’s something very Zen and relaxing about these special botanical havens that make them some of the most idyllic destinations to enjoy summer. Perfect for anyone looking to add a little green to their travel itinerary, the following are some of the best gardens to stroll through this summer.

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A Texas-Sized Botanical Beauty

Texas just does everything bigger, and that includes its horticultural havens, such as the lovely 65+ acres of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. A preserved area located on the picturesque southeastern shore of White Rock Lake, this breathtaking natural sanctuary has been listed among the top arboretums in the world and has approximately one million visitors every year who come from far and wide to admire its beautiful grounds and vibrant flora.

  • Address: 8525 Garland Road, Dallas, Texas
  • Hours: Open daily from 9 AM-5 PM
  • Admission/Fees: Adults (13-64) Any Day $20; Discounted Rates $16 through July 31; $3 August 1-31; Senior (65+) Any Day $16; Discounted Rates $14 through July 31; $3 August 1-31; Children (2-12) Any Day $12; Discounted Rates $10 through July 31; $3 August 1-31 (excludes Children’s Adventure Garden) Parking Fees Apply $15 through July 31; $6 August 1-31
  • Garden Highlights: A Woman’s Garden; Jonsson Color Garden; Nancy Rutchik Red Maple Hill; The Eugenia Leftwich Palmer Fern Dell

A Garden Gem In The Heart Of Atlanta

A sprawling 30-acre urban oasis in the heart of Atlanta, the Atlanta Botanical Garden consists of a collection of smaller, themed gardens. With an impressive assemblage of five Nationally Accredited Plant Collections; including over 200 species of Magnolia and a diverse collection of Carnivorous Plants, this delightful flower-filled paradise is also home to a number of ever-changing events and exhibitions throughout the year, including the sculptural installation “Origami in the Garden,” through September.

  • Address: 1345 Piedmont Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Hours: May through October, Tuesday through Sunday 9 AM-9 PM (last entry 8 PM)
  • Admission/Fees: Timed tickets purchased in advance are recommended. Adults $24.95; Children (3-12) $21.95; Children Under 3 FREE (Tuesday through Saturday) Weekend Admission, Adults $27.95; Children (3-12) $24.95; Children Under 3 free
  • Garden Highlights: Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Conservatory; Kendeda Canopy Walk (Suspension Bridge); Southern Seasons Garden; The Rose Garden

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Stunning Views & A Cali Collection In Santa Barbara

Part of the American Alliance of Museums, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s sprawling and lush 78 acres is a testament to California horticulture with both rare and indigenous plants native to the area. Redwoods, California poppies, desert plants, wild meadow flora, and more make for a pollinator’s paradise of riotous colors to explore. There are also a number of onsite scenic trails offering spectacular views of both the nearby Channel Islands and the San Ynez Mountains, adding to the already immersive and impressive displays.

  • Address: 1212 Mission Canyon Road, Santa Barbara, California
  • Hours: Open Daily 10 AM-5 PM (last reservation 4:30 PM)
  • Admission/Fees: Online reservations are highly recommended during the peak season (April-July); ticket includes parking for one car. General Admission Tickets, Adults $18; Seniors (60+) and Military: $14; Children (3-12) $10; Children Under Three free
  • Garden Highlights: Blakesley Boulder; Pollinator Garden; Tea House; Island View Display Garden

A Tropical, Oceanside Delight In Hawaii

A self-described “Garden in a Valley on the Ocean,” the Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden is just as tropical and lush as one would expect a sanctuary making its home on the 50th U.S. State’s Big Island to be—in large part due to the area’s rich and extremely fertile volcanic soils. Visitors to this almost 40-acre valley can expect to see about 2,000 species of exotic plants and trees, all set to the backdrop of tropical rainforest that’s a feast for the eyes. Stroll the garden’s meandering nature trails for the full experience—complete with stunning Pacific Ocean views and the uniquely diverse landscape of Hawaii’s vivid, multi-hued flora. A note on accessibility: Guests should be aware that the Boardwalk entry to the Garden is very steep, and mobility devices such as wheelchairs/scooters are not permitted

  • Address: 27-717 Old Mamalahoa Hwy, Papaikou, Hawaii
  • Hours: Open Daily 9 AM-5 PM (last entry is at 4 PM) and closed on all major holidays
  • Admission/ Fees: Adults $25; Kama’aina (Discount for Hawaii residents only) and Active Military $20 (valid ID required); Children (6-16) $12; Kama’ina Keiki (HI resident children) $10; Children Under Six free
  • Garden Highlights: Onomea Waterfalls; Blowhole Cave; Orchid Garden; Guava Tree Vista

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The Big Apple’s Horticultural Haven

A true living museum neighboring the Bronx Zoo, the New York Botanical Garden is a lush display of over one million(!) plants of all varieties throughout its 250 acres of various collections and trails. With both indoor and outdoor collections to explore, visitors have their pick of a variety of settings: from seasonal walks to forested trails; an arboretum of conifers, and a native plant haven, this stunning setting is a four-season delight—but, during summer, the colors are exceptionally vibrant--making the warmer months one of the best times to visit this NY garden gem.

  • Address: 2000 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York
  • Hours: Garden is open Tuesday through Sunday 10 AM-6 PM and Mondays during federal holidays only
  • Admission/Fees: All-Garden Pass, Adults $30; Students (with valid ID)/Seniors (65+) $28; Children (2-12) $15; Children Under Two free; NYC Resident Grounds-Only Passes are available. Limited onsite parking is available Tuesday through Sunday and Monday (when applicable) for $22/vehicle
  • Garden Highlights: The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory; Maple Collection; Wetland Trail; Azalea Garden

Undoubtedly one of the best things about the summer is the collections of colorful flora that lift their multi-hued heads come spring and continue to bloom and thrive throughout the year’s warmest months. The trees are green and lush, and the forests are at their verdant peak, creating idyllic natural havens that offer vacationers a respite from the blazing summer sun. And one of the best ways to experience these summer all-stars is through a visit to a botanical garden. Different from the relatively untamed wilderness of a state forest or park, these garden gems are carefully curated; urban oases and green havens in the heart of big cities and bustling tourist destinations—Eden-like escapes that are the perfect places to stop and smell the roses this summer.