One of the most enjoyable ways to enjoy nature, whether on vacation or when you just have a free afternoon, is to visit botanical gardens. They’re generally free or inexpensive too. Though some of them are “just” a collection of beautiful plants, they often host additional activities and include educational information for the curious in their displays.
Here are five botanical gardens not to miss on your spring road trip. But, make sure to also do a search of your local area. You never know what you may find!
1. Mead Botanical Garden, Winter Park, FL
Mead Botanical Garden is a 47.6-acre park that combines several different ecosystems. Special features include a butterfly garden, a boardwalk, a bike trail and beautiful spaces for concerts, musical theater performances and special events. The garden is also a stop on the “Great Florida Birding Trail”.
Winter Park is also a beautiful part of Orlando, offering great shopping, dining, museums and historical sites. It’s well-worth a visit if you’re in the area. This garden is a great way to feel like you’ve escaped the city for a few hours. Although it’s not a huge parking lot, you should be able to navigate here with your RV. But a car is recommended if possible. The best part? It’s free to visit!
2. Luthy Botanical Garden, Peoria, IL
Luthy Botanical Garden makes the most of a smaller space. The offerings include a Tropical Conservatory and fifteen themed gardens/areas, including a Rose Garden, a Cottage Garden, a Prairie Border and more. Luthy offers tours and classes for all ages. Like Mead, the garden is free to explore. Their parking lot isn’t huge, so consider visiting early or late in the day to avoid crowds if you’re bringing your RV.
3. Fort Worth Botanical Garden, Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth Botanical Garden is part of a wonderful arts district in Fort Worth. The area is filled with free museums, parks and gardens. Although it costs $7 to visit the Japanese Garden, 90% of the garden is free. This is a large and beautiful space with plenty of parking for all vehicles. Private tours are also available for those who are interested, and the garden includes a variety of themes and some stunning architecture.
4. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is an amazing place that everyone should visit. In fact, you can learn more about visiting there here. Desert gardens are beautiful, and these gardens are integrated into the rest of the museum. The museum includes a zoo, an art museum, a butterfly exhibit, a hummingbird exhibit and much, much more. I like to think of this as the Disney World of the Southwest. Admission is $21.95 for adults, with discounts for seniors, children, military and local residents, and consider a yearly membership if your visit will take multiple days. (Those under three are free.) They also have designated RV parking available.
5. Elizabethan Gardens, Manteo, NC
In Fort Raleigh Historic Park on Roanoke Island, next to The Lost Colony’s Waterside Theatre, you’ll find the Elizabethan Gardens. A non-profit organization operates the gardens as a tribute to the first English colonists in the New World on the site of their original settlement, with beautiful and inspirational garden displays and educational programs. You’ll truly feel like you’ve been transported to an English garden. The history of the Lost Colony is truly fascinating. I highly recommend a visit to the park (free) and paying for admission to the gardens. Admission is $9 for adults, with youth admission costing $6 for ages 6-17 and $2 for those five and under. One pet per adult can also be admitted for $3 (service dogs are free).
There are beautiful botanical gardens in cities and towns across the U.S., but I hope these five botanical gardens will make your list! If you’re looking for other ideas or activities on your spring roadtrip, you may want to read Best Places to Visit the Spring Bloom!
Ready to reserve your dates? Head over to Outdoorsy and find the RV rental that’s right for you.