The Best Botanical Gardens in Florida
Florida is home to some of the country’s most diverse flora and fauna, and a trip there wouldn’t be complete without checking out at least one of their botanical gardens.
With so much to see and do already though, you want to make sure the one you visit is worth it.
What are the best botanical gardens in Florida?
Florida has many botanical gardens available to visit, with some of the most popular ones being the Harry P. Leu Botanical Gardens, Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden, and the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens.
The unique climate of Florida lends itself to some amazing greenery and plant life, so you’re guaranteed a good time.
If you’re creating an itinerary for an upcoming trip to Florida, leave some space amongst the bars and beaches for a visit to one of their amazing botanical gardens.
This guide will show you the greenhouses worth seeing, and what you can expect to find once inside.
11 of Florida’s Best Botanical Gardens
To capture a true glimpse of what Florida’s unique environment can cater to, you’ll want to spend at least a day in one of their wondrous botanical gardens.
These are some of the most amazing and refreshing gardens that the state has to offer, and what makes them so enchanting.
#1 McKee Botanical Gardens
The McKee Botanical Gardens are one of the oldest and most treasured gardens in Florida, and they’re located in picturesque Vero Beach.
With a history dating back to 1932 when it first opened and was known as the Jungle Gardens, today they’re proud to showcase more than 10,000 native and tropical plants to the world.
The most splendid parts of these botanical gardens are the massive collection of water lilies that are quintessential Florida, as well as The Children’s Garden that gives kids somewhere magical to explore as well.
You’ll be able to wander around the gardens at McKee and note some historic buildings in their midst, including the Spanish Kitchen and the Hall of Giants.
For a history and botany lesson all in one, McKee Botanical Gardens is one of the best.
#2 Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
The Selby family form some of Florida’s most important history, and today, you can find the Marie Selby Botanical Garden in Sarasota on a show for all to see.
The botanical gardens here span over 15 acres of land and include some of the most amazing tropical foliage you’ve ever laid eyes on.
There are so many spaces in this garden for you to sit and relax in, including a koi pond, various waterfalls, a bamboo garden, a butterfly-friendly garden, and even a children’s rainforest.
Their massive collective includes the various preserved nonparasitic plants that have grown on others, as well as a living range of everything from orchids to bromeliads.
If you crave lushness and tropical fauna from a trip to Florida, seeing the Marie Selby Botanical Garden is a must.
#3 Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens
Although technically not classed as a botanical garden, the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens still gets out tick of approval.
The museum was created in 1961 after Ninah Cummer bequeathed her gardens and artwork to the now owners, and with over 100 years of history, it’s been lovingly preserved and is in pristine condition.
A stroll around these gardens will make you feel as if you were in another land, from the ornate marble statues to the architecturally designed landscapes.
In addition to the beautiful plant life, you can also check out the Cummer Museum that has everything to do with their family history, including some of the original plant logs straight from the gardens.
#4 Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden
Butterfly lovers of the world rejoice and take a trip to the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden.
The Lisa D. Anness Butterfly Garden was designed solely to attract butterflies and a visit from May to October will guarantee you witness some of the most beautiful winged creatures that Florida has to offer.
The Coral Gables gardens were founded by Colonel Robert H. Montgomery in 1938 so it has a long history in Florida and contains many of the plants that were collected by conservationist Dr. David Fairchild, for whom the gardens were named.
Here, you’ll find some of the rarest and oldest plants in the world, including many from Madagascar’s deserts.
#5 Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens
As one of Florida’s most popular destinations, Jacksonville is also a great place to go if you’re looking for a botanical garden.
The Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens has it all from a picturesque tea garden to their Lake Loop Trail that you can hike on and even take your pooch along with you.
One of the coolest things about these gardens is that you get more than just sights and sounds, but flavors as well.
The tea garden offers a range of local fruits that are grown in their very gardens, including their famous ‘miracle fruit’ that grows there and has the potential to completely alter your taste buds.
Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens has enough to keep you and your dog busy for the whole day and keep you fed as well.
#6 Morikami Museum and Japanese Garden
Delray Beach in South Florida is home to the Morikami Museum and Japanese Garden and is one of our all-time favorite gardens for those interested in Japanese culture.
There are six distinct gardens on display here and each of them has been inspired by a different period in Japanese history, from the early 9th century and dating up to the 20th century.
A day at Morikami can include everything from their wellness stroll, a visit to the Bonsai gardens, and checking out the latest exhibitions in the museum.
Even if you know nothing about plants or Japanese culture, it doesn’t matter, as this staple of South Florida will keep you enchanted for hours.
#7 Harry P. Leu Botanical Gardens
The Harry P. Leu Botanical Gardens hold a special place in Florida’s history, being built way back when in 1858 and still being one of their most beloved attractions today.
If you’re lucky enough, you can spend the day exploring the 50 acres of land that the gardens are built on and enjoy their surroundings on Lake Rowena in Orlando.
These gardens offer an interactive learning experience with QR codes you can scan to learn about each plant as you come across it, and they often hold concerts and open-air movie nights on the grounds.
Those looking for a day out with the family will be pleased to find a range of kid-friendly activities, including cute fairy gardens on some of the tree’s doors, as well as a dinosaur hunt.
With an abundance of temperate and tropical plants, the Harry P. Leu Botanical Gardens is one of the most varied and oldest gardens in Florida.
#8 Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is the perfect choice for plant lovers who like variety, with a massive 24 different gardens on display.
On their 68-acre grounds in Gainesville, you’ll find colossal water lilies, herb gardens, hummingbird gardens, and a native woodland trail to explore.
Take a guided tour and learn from the experts or take your time and spend the day discovering on your own.
Bamboo aficionados will be pleased to know that these gardens are home to Florida’s largest public display of the plant, and you feel as though you’ve stepped into some exotic Asian land when you’re in the midst of them all.
A visit to Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in January will treat you to their world-famous Camellia Show where you can witness the flower in all of its splendor.
#9 Alfred B Maclay Gardens State Park
For a botanical garden with a lot of whimsy and beauty to be found, head to the Alfred B Maclay Gardens State Park in Tallahassee.
This beautiful and ancient garden was planted over 100 years ago and is one of the must-see attractions if you’re in this part of Florida.
With massive oaks and hanging willows, plus a range of other exotic and native plants, you’ll get a taste of historical Florida just by walking the grounds.
Within the Alfred B Maclay Gardens State Park, you can stroll their popular brick walkway, check out the reflecting pool, or spend hours hiding out in the secret garden, and history buffs will want to look through the original 1909 Maclay House which is found on the grounds.
Situated on Lake Hall, there’s a lot to do other than looking at plants, and active tourists will love the chance to get out on the paddleboard or go swimming when they’re done with the gardens.
#10 Mounts Botanical Garden
Beautiful West Palm Beach is good for more than just sunbathing, as a visit to the Mounts Botanical Garden will show.
Known as the largest pubic garden in the county, this 14-acre garden has a lot of variety and 25 unique garden areas to explore, each showcasing a different type of environment.
Kids love a visit to Mounts Botanical Garden just as much as adults, thanks to the cool children’s maze.
The whole family can explore the grounds though, including towering pine groves and shaded gardens.
For a truly magical experience, take a walk through their Windows on the Floating World exhibit which allows you to feel as though you’re walking on water through the wetlands thanks to a special gridded walkway under your feet.
#11 Sunken Gardens
The Sunken Gardens have become an icon in their own right in Florida, found in St. Petersburg, and being open to the public for more than 100 years.
These botanical gardens are home to both exotic and native tropical plants, giving you a taste of everything that Florida is about.
Among the cool attractions here are the waterfalls, cactus garden, butterfly-friendly garden, and Japanese garden.
You might even be lucky enough to spot a flamingo or two, with the Chilean tribe calling the Sunken Gardens home since 1956.
Access is easy to this park as well, as it’s long been a roadside attraction and an easy place to step into and get lost for hours.
Florida is a state that can offer just about anything a holiday goer could ask for, including white, sandy beaches and lush, botanical gardens.
Before you plan your getaway there, you want to learn everything you can about the state, so here are a few commonly asked questions that might be able to help.
What Are the Most Popular Places to Visit in Florida?
Many tourists flock to areas like Miami Beach, Orlando, Sarasota, Naples, Key West, St. Augustine, and Sanibel Island on a trip to Florida.
The state is lucky enough to have many locations that are different from the last, so there’s something for every type of vacation one could hope for.
Is Florida Dangerous?
Although there are fluctuating crime rates in some of Florida’s larger cities, it is known as a safe place to vacation.
There are a variety of communities, towns, and cities you can visit to experience the vastness of the state, and there’s no need to worry about anything further than petty crime while there.
What Are the Biggest Airports in Florida?
Some of the biggest airports in Florida that see the highest number of travelers through their doors each day are Orlando International Airport, Miami International Airport, and Tampa International Airport.
Depending on where you’re spending your vacation in Florida, you’ll likely find a domestic or international airport that’s more central to that location.