Florida sure knows how to make both its locals and tourists enjoy their vacation. From amusement parks to beaches, there will always be a place for you in the sunshine state that will make your vacation worthwhile. It even has spots for those who just want to stop, relax, and appreciate nature more. One of which is the gardens that the state has to offer.
Apart from beaches and theme parks, the sunshine state also has numerous botanical gardens that offer different styles of walkways, landscape designs, and overall experience. Scattered across the state, each of them is unique but they will all inspire you and make you feel relaxed, making your stop worth it. In case you need a place for a breather, you’ve come to the right place as we listed down some of the most beautiful gardens in Florida that you need to see.
- 1 Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
- 2 Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
- 3 Harry P. Leu Gardens
- 4 Eden Gardens State Park
- 5 Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
- 6 Florida Botanical Gardens
- 7 Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park
- 8 Cummer Museum
- 9 Washington Oaks Gardens State Park
- 10 Sholom Park
- 11 Flamingo Gardens
- 12 Butterfly World
- 13 Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens isn’t one of the top attractions in Sarasota for nothing. A lot of people visit this place due to the fact that it is home to thousands of exotic tropical plant species that aren’t just colorful but also showcase alluring fragrances. It is also known for its extensive collection of epiphytes, the plants that live on other pants, including ferns and orchid bromeliads.
In addition to that, it has a number of gardens with different themes based on the plants that it showcases. Probably one of the popular is the Butterfly Garden that also provides a nice backdrop for Instagram photos.
What locals and tourists alike love about this place even more is that it hosts changing flowering exhibits in its Tropical Conservatory. Marie Selby Botanical gardens also hosts numerous seasonal events that are family-friendly and educational such as nature-themed art exhibits, as well as classes on wellness gardening, art health, and more. Tours also available where you can get to explore diverse areas of the gardens, learn more about nature, and examine unique flora.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
If you love plants, you’ll definitely love Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden too. This is because this garden offers more plants to discover. Unlike most botanical gardens that only feature embryophytes or land plants, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden also houses aquatic plants. In fact, it has a designated area dedicated to showcasing aquatic plants, including different types of water lilies, complete with pools and mini falls that sets the tone of the garden.
Another detail or spot to love about this garden the Allee and Overlook. Here, you can get to take in the panoramic view of the Garden’s Lowlands and lakes. This are will also treat you with sights of striking architectural counterpart of the narrow Bailey Palm Glade.
Like Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden also offers educational activities. At times, the garden holds classes for arts, horticulture, and even culinary.
Harry P. Leu Gardens
Tucked in Orland, you can also visit the Harry P. Leu Gardens. For starters, this site has 40 different collections to boast of, including a tropical rain forest. Apart from that, it is also the largest formal rose garden in the state, which makes it even more worth seeing. This garden will surely take your breath away too. And because of that, it is also one of the favorite venues for weddings and receptions. In fact, it has beautiful different walkways – bricks, stones, and concrete playful walkways with beautiful patterns that can make your wedding even more memorable and stunning.
Aside from being a place for sightseeing, relaxing, and tying the knot, Harry P. Leu Gardens also make sure that there is room for learning. It even has an idea garden where you can learn more about gardening, including gaining more knowledge on gardening, especially at home. That said, don’t forget to stop and smell its blooms and take a moment to just appreciate the lush gardens that it has.
Eden Gardens State Park
Among the gardens on this list, Eden Gardens State Park is probably one of the smallest. But don’t be deceived by its size. While it is a small garden, this one can still offer more than its size. First off, it has an old forest of oak trees sheltering azaleas that will give you a real taste of Old Florida. The site also has a butterfly garden, heritage rose garden, hidden garden, and a reflection pond filled with water lilies and koi fish that are equally Instagrammable.
Apart from that, the garden has a load of activities to offer that will make anyone’s visit more fun. One of which is fishing. Eden Gardens is actually located on Tucker Bayou off the southeast former of Choctawhatchee Bay. Because of this, you can get to enjoy fishing activities when you visit the garden.
You can also try out canoeing and kayaking. However, you should provide your own canoe or kayak. Also note that the activity is only available during day.
If you love to enjoy nature more, the garden also has a mile of hiking trails to offer. Here, you can get access to the natural areas located on the west of the gardens.
The gardens also has a picnic area. You can bring a blanket and have a picnic on the grass under a live Virginia oak or you can use one of the picnic tables available throughout the garden. The place also welcomes visitors who want to have a reunion or gathering as it has larger pavilions complete with picnic tables, grill, ADA access, kitchen, and restroom facility.
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, on the other hand, is one of the biggest. Boasting of 62 acres with nearly 30 different gardens, this garden sure has a lot to offer, especially for the nature lovers. It is so huge that it houses the largest public display of bamboos in the state of Florida. It is also where you can find the largest herb garden in the Southeast. What many locals and tourists alike also love about the garden is its oh-so Instagrammable Moonlight Walk where the paths and meadows are illuminated by special laser lights plus more than 1,500 luminaries. The place is so picturesque that it is often chosen as a venue for special occasions like wedding ceremonies and reception.
The gardens also hosts numerous events that you shouldn’t miss out. One of the most awaited events at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is the Spring Garden festival, North Central Florida’s premier horticultural event, featuring more than 100 booths offering landscape displays, plants, garden accessories, arts and crafts, as well as food. Many also look forward to the gardens’ Camellia Show, a two-day event that features camellias of all shapes, sizes, and colors.
Of course, visiting the gardens isn’t only for your eyes. It also offers guided tours where you can gain more knowledge about the garden, as well as the plants that it houses.
Florida Botanical Gardens
Speaking of huge gardens, Florida Botanical Gardens is also not to be missed. Boasting of 100 acres of park showcasing flora and fauna, this place sure has lots of spots for finding tranquility and calm, picture-taking, and learning. It is so huge that its gardens are divided into a number of separate demonstration gardens:
- Butterfly Garden – a popular garden for both children and adults. It is one of the most perfect pots in the gardens for a photo op.
- Cactus/Succulent Garden – features a wide variety of cactus and succulent plants.
- Herb Garden – a garden filled with herbs, including lavender, coffee Arabica, and Chinese cinnamon.
- McKay Creek Plaza – a plaza that is yet another picture-perfect spot in the gardens, thanks to its patterns made of shell and mosaic, as well as man-made creek and a bridge leading you back to the visitor center. It can also be used for social events.
- Native Plant Garden – a home to the native plants, including marlberry, oaks, firebush, stokes astor, and sugarberry.
- Palm Garden – a garden themed with Florida Beach. It has tropical palms, fountain features, umbrella-covered seating areas, as well as a pavilion for group gatherings.
- Tropical Courtyard and Pavilion – inspired by the walled gardens of southern Florida, this place as covered porches, plant-laden arbors, shade-giving trees, and a pavilion that is often used for floral displays and other educational events.
- Tropical Fruit Garden – aside from the variety of tropical fruits, this place also features a beautiful mural and a seating area.
- Tropical Walk – a garden that features plants from tropical islands, Japan, China, Australia, and South Florida. It also has a winding path that lets you experience new textures, colors, and plants.
- Vinery – a garden that features vines that are not native to the state yet have adapted well and added beauty to the landscape.
- Wedding Garden – comprised of a number of small gardens that you can rent for wedding or other special occasions.
And the best part of it is that you can explore it all for free.
Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park
Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park is known for the hundreds of azaleas and camellias that it houses. In fact, many visitors flock the gardens particularly on the months between January and April as it is the peak blooming season where the flowers are in full bloom. It also features picturesque brick walkway, a reflection pool, walled garden, and a secret garden that are all beautiful not just on the eyes but also on the camera.
But aside from that, this place also provides opportunities to enjoy activities that you can try out with your family.
For those who love the water, the site has Lake Hall where you and your family and/or friends can enjoy canoeing, fishing, and kayaking. You can also take a dip on the lake.
If you are a walking enthusiast, you can also enjoy the garden as it has two short nature trails. These are also available for bicyclists and equestrians.
What many locals and tourists also look forward to are the special events that the garden holds such as the Tour of Gardens, Kids Fishing Day, Scarecrows, and Moon Over Maclay – Jazz in the Gardens. Christmas is also an eventful season at the gardens.
You might be wondering what a museum is doing on this list but hear us out first. For starters, Cummer Museum is known as the largest fine arts museum in Northeast Florida. Established in 1958, this museum houses over 5,000 works of art that will not just amaze you but will also inspire the inner artist in you. But this place isn’t just about art.
Apparently, Cummer Museum also has gardens due to the fact that its founder, Ninah Cummer, is also a garden enthusiast. Thus, this museum offers more than one acre formal historic gardens facing the St. Johns River.
Each of the gardens has its own theme. But among all of those, we’re sure that you will love the Sculpture Garden, especially if you are an art lover. This is because aside from the beautiful surroundings with various plants, you can also get to have your eyes feast on the stunning sculptures that make the site even more beautiful.
Like most of the other gardens on this list, guided tours are also offered. For this experience, you can get to hear intriguing facts about the gardens’ plants, sculptures, and landmarks, which will make your visit all the more worth it.
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is yet another one of the top gardens in Florida that we highly recommend. For starters, the park has formal gardens as its centerpiece. Boasting of remarkable displays of both non-native and native plant species, including bird of paradise, camellias, and azaleas, this place will surely amaze you for its beauty. The gardens also offer a peaceful strong along its winding reflection ponds with a picturesque oak hammock that will relax you and let you appreciate the beauty of nature more. In addition to that, the site is also popular for its one-of-a-kind shoreline of coquina rock formations along the Atlantic beach that makes a beautiful backdrop for photography.
But aside from sightseeing and picture-taking, the park also offers other activities that you can enjoy with your family and/or friends. Some of which are beachcombing, fishing, and tidal pool exploring along the Atlantic beach.
It’s okay if you’re not a fan of such water activities. The park also offers more things to do that will give you more opportunity to explore the land. Here, you can also have a picnic. Hiking and bicycling are also doable in the park as it has a number of short trails to offer for its outdoorsy visitors.
What’s even more to love about this place is that it also offers opportunities for learning. Here, you can learn about the park’s natural and cultural resources and join events that it hosts where you can also have fun.
Sholom Park, on the other hand offers a simpler setting comprised of woodland areas, meadows, flowers, and trees. Because of this, it is more known as a place for peace and meditation. Its landscaping also reflects its theme. Unlike most of the parks we’ve mentioned, this place has lesser activities to offer. Yet it offers a tranquil surrounding that is perfect for picture taking, drawing, reading, and the likes.
Sholom Park also holds several events such as Fall Jazz Night where a local artist will serenade you. There is also S’mores and More where you can get to enjoy roasted marshmallows as you enjoy acoustical performance by local artists. So be sure to keep an eye out on the park’s calendar if you want to see what event awaits you as you visit. It is truly one of the perfect places that you need to see for when you want to take a break from the busy city.
Flamingo Gardens is probably the most unique garden on this list. A few minutes away from Fort Lauderdale, this attraction also showcases native, tropical, subtropical, rare, and exotic species of plants just like the other gardens on this list. But what sets this garden apart is the number of plant species that it has as it showcases more than 3,000 species of them on its 60 acres of tropical paradise.
What we love more about Flamingo Gardens is that it also offers tram tours where you can explore 42 acres remote areas of the place. Through this narrated tram ride, you can visit some of the last original jungle growth in South Florida that still remain as it has been for more than 100 years. You can also get to see unique native hammock of 200-year-old live oaks, tropical fruit groves, a tropical rainforest, and more.
Aside from that, Flamingo Gardens also has a wildlife sanctuary, giving residence to permanently injured and non-releasable birds and other animals. It is also home to the largest collection of native wildlife in the state, including bear, bobcats, eagles, otters, alligators, panthers, peacocks, and flamingos. That said, aside from finding peace and quiet at its gardens, you can also get to see more animals. You can also get to learn more about them and their habitat through the wildlife encounter shows that Flamingo Gardens offers.
And like the other gardens across Florida, this place also hosts several events that both kids and adults can enjoy. Celebrate festivals, join contests, and more, so make sure to mark your calendar.
Like the Flamingo Gardens, the Butterfly World is also located near Fort Lauderdale. So if you’re already at the fort or at the Flamingo Gardens, we suggest that you see this attraction too.
Here, you can get to explore 10 acres of botanical gardens loaded with plants. But, as its name suggests, it also houses butterflies.
In addition to that, the site has a research laboratory where you are presented with a display that educated about the life cycle of the butterfly. The display changes daily so you can get to see something new every day, making every visit fun, memorable, and educational.
But this place isn’t all about plants and butterflies. The Butterfly World also has aviaries dedicated to tropical birds.
The place is definitely Instagrammable too. So don’t forget to bring your camera with you.
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, as its name suggests, focuses on showcasing the Japanese culture. Here, you can get to explore brilliantly manicured tranquil gardens that will surely help you find your calm and give you unparalleled sights to see. It wasn’t ranked 14th among the best Japanese gardens in North America for nothing. Apart from the gardens, you can also get to enjoy informative exhibits on its in-site museum where you can get to learn more about the Japanese culture. It is an oasis for the mind and body that you shouldn’t miss when you’re in Florida too. No need to travel far as this place will already make you feel like you’re in Japan.