If you’re feeling stressed out by the ins and outs of daily life, a day in nature is just what the doctor ordered. When you take the time to breathe in fresh air, walk in the sunshine and relax among trees and flowers, your body and mind reap the benefits. You’ll lower your blood pressure, increase your vitamin D levels and relieve your daily stress — and that’s just for starters.
Luckily, a prescription for the great outdoors doesn’t require sleeping in a tent or climbing a mountain. For a kinder, gentler way to commune with Mother Nature, try packing a picnic basket and taking a stroll through your local botanical garden. These manicured landscapes are a great way to unwind and clear your mind from life’s daily stressors.
From luscious greenery and flowers to beautiful butterflies, botanical gardens are sure to amaze — you may even be inspired to add to your own garden when you get home. Immerse yourself in nature’s beauty by visiting one of these eight botanical gardens located throughout North America.
Atlanta Botanical Garden in Atlanta, GA
The Atlanta Botanical Garden is a large swath of green that invites residents to share in the delights of nature. In addition to a popular restaurant and gift shop, the gardens provide an innovative way to enjoy the outdoors. The Kendeda Canopy Walk is a unique, suspended path that allows you to experience the tree canopy up close and personal — and you won’t have to strain your neck to see what the birds see. There’s also a popular Children’s Garden, and a nearby playground makes an outing here one that’s fun for the whole family.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York, NY
A lush, green respite in the midst of a densely populated urban sea, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden packs many different themed gardens in the wedge of land between Flatbush and Washington Avenues. Not to be missed is the Fragrance Garden, where visitors are encouraged to touch and experience plants with all of their senses. There’s also the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, which features wooden bridges and a Shinto shrine, as well as the popular Lily Pool Terrace, one of the garden’s long-standing historic sites complete with a lovely fountain.
Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC
The temperate climate of British Columbia is an ideal place for a botanical garden, and the Butchart Gardens do not disappoint. Summer evenings are packed with live musical performances, making the gardens a lively place to pack a picnic dinner and unwind after a stressful day. This unique garden is built atop an abandoned quarry, and gorgeous flowers bloom against a backdrop of evergreen-carpeted mountains. The Sunken Garden on the old quarry site is the area’s most popular attraction. The Japanese and Italian Gardens are also delightful.
Chicago Botanic Garden in Chicago, IL
About 20 miles north of Chicago lies the Chicago Botanic Garden, a vast network of gardens and natural areas connected by water features and paths used by pedestrians and cyclists alike. Highlights include a garden of native prairie grasses, the Waterfall Garden and the classic English Walled Garden. Children will also enjoy roaming here, especially once they spot Thomas the Tank Engine in the unique Model Railroad Garden. Edibles are also featured in the Fruit and Vegetable Garden, and educational programs and festivals highlight the harvest throughout the growing season.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, FL
A unique place that celebrates the greenery of sub-tropical Florida, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden offers year-round beauty to its visitors. Don’t miss the Richard H. Simons Rainforest, a two-acre wonder complete with rivers, waterfalls and the rich greenery of rainforest species. There’s also an entire exhibit devoted to colorful tropical butterflies, including the famed Central American Blue Morpho. The Tropical Fruit Pavilion rounds out the offerings with edibles from around the world that thrive in warm conditions.
Memphis Botanic Garden in Memphis, TN
The Memphis Botanic Garden features 96 acres of stunning gardens, and it’s hard to choose a favorite from the 29 different themed areas. The popular Hydrangea Garden features this Southern favorite in all its various shades, while My Big Backyard offers children an outsized experience of a play space and growing area. For utter tranquility, head to the Asian Garden to wind your way through stone paths and over low bridges. Lacy leaves and dappled sunlight make this the perfect Zen walk to take to clear your mind of the day’s worries.
Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, MO
This St. Louis gem is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the U.S. Founded in 1859, the Missouri Botanical Garden is a National Historic Landmark and host to a wide assortment of community activities throughout the year. Gardens are divided into themes and include international gardens, Victorian gardens, and popular demonstration plots where you can get inspired by new and interesting plant combinations. There are also three incredible glass conservatories where you can admire the transparent architecture while mingling with tropical species of flora.
UC Davis Arboretum in Davis, CA
Unlike many privately owned and operated botanical gardens, the UC Davis Arboretum is always open and is free to all. The arboretum features trees and plants from around the world, including the recently completed Australian Collection, where you’ll see eucalyptus trees and other plantings from Down Under. There are also several collections of native California plants and trees, and the educational center offers programs to local gardeners about optimizing their landscapes for California’s climate — including drought. Don’t skip the majestic Redwood Grove!
These eight incredible gardens are sure to inspire and bring you peace. Don’t forget to make a point to visit these wonderful landscapes as you pass through on your next vacation. There’s simply nothing like a great botanical garden to make the most of your time outdoors!