Florida is not just a land of sunny beaches and soggy swamps. There’s plenty of parks, gardens, nature preserves and arboretums for the young and the young-at-heart to enjoy. Take long walks, educate yourselves with guided tours and classes, or see rare flowers, plants, and birds.
In fact, there are thousands of gardens throughout Florida! Most areas have many to choose from – so how do you decide which are the best? That’s where we come in.
We’ve compiled a list of Florida’s 8 most beautiful botanical gardens. These attractions are so gorgeous you’ll be wondering how Florida’s natural surroundings can be this jaw-dropping. We highly recommend making it a point to stop in to these award-winning gardens on your next trip to the Sunshine State.
Florida’s Best Botanical Gardens
Fairchild is dedicated to exploring, explaining and conserving the world of tropical plants. They are one of the premier conservation and education-based gardens in the world and a recognized international leader in both Florida and international conservation. Currently Fairchild has field programs in over 20 countries including support to protected areas in Madagascar and Africa and botanic garden development and renovation projects in South and Central America, the Caribbean and the Middle East.
Originally the home of William and Marie Selby, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens today is an urban, bayfront oasis showcasing a living collection of rare and beautiful tropical plants. The Gardens is also a respected world leader in the study and conservation of plants, particularly epiphytes–plants adapted to live in the tree canopy, including orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads and ferns.
Naples Botanical Garden is 170-acre, world-class garden paradise that features plants from around the world. They are also the youngest garden in history to receive the American Public Gardens Association’s prestigious Award for Garden Excellence. The Garden was founded in 1993 by a visionary group of local plant enthusiasts. Today the Garden welcomes over 220,000 visitors per year to experience themed gardens that represent the culture and flora of the tropics.
A nonprofit botanic garden established in 1959, Montgomery Botanical Center keeps living specimens from wild plant populations worldwide. Emphasizing palms and cycads, the population-based, documented, scientific collections are available for study in Montgomery’s 120-acre botanical garden of exemplary design.
Montgomery Botanical Center (originally The Montgomery Foundation) was established by Nell Montgomery Jennings in memory of her husband, Colonel Robert H. Montgomery, and his love of palms and cycads.
Today, Montgomery Botanical Center advances botanical research, conserves rare species, and educates the community through workshops, lectures, publications, and tours of its scientific plant collections.
Leu Gardens teems with vigor and beauty, regardless of the season. Discover palms, cycads and flowering trees. Enjoy azaleas, vines, bromeliads and tropical philodendrons. Appreciate the sight of familiar annual flowers and the beauty of roses and camellias. Stroll under the awe-inspiring branches of camphor trees, elms and oaks. The Leu House Museum is a restored 19th century home listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Four families owned the property before it opened to the public. Guided tours of the Leu House are available.
The Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens is a 120-acre urban woodland full of trails for you to explore and enjoy.
From the trailhead next to the parking lot, a stabilized walkway encircles a beautiful two-acre lake. This trail gently descends about 25 feet to the foot of the lake and then returns up a gentle slope on the opposite side to the trailhead. Interpretive signs and over 100 labeled plants enhance the loop.
In addition, over three miles of rustic hiking trails wind quietly through a series of distinct ecological habitats. Along the trails, benches invite you either to pause and enjoy the view or to get in a good stretch during a vigorous walk.
Nestled on Savannah Road in Fort Pierce is Heathcote Botanical Gardens, known as the green heart of the Treasure Coast. Celebrating more than thirty years as St. Lucie County’s first botanical garden visitors enjoy five acres of specialty gardens including a Japanese Garden, Reflection Garden, Herb Garden, Rain-forest, The Citrus Grove, Native Plants Garden and Palm & Cycad Walk. The cornerstone of the Gardens is The James J. Smith Bonsai Collection, featuring 100 bonsai trees on permanent display. It is the largest public assemblage of tropical bonsai in the United States by one Master – the late Jim Smith.
Gracing the areas in between these specialty gardens are borders of flowering shrubs, bulbs, trees, vines and other assorted herbaceous plants. Niches found throughout the garden provide varied micro-climates, which allows the use of a wide variety of plants ranging from those found in Mediterranean climates to the Tropics.
Located on the east side of the University of Central Florida campus in Orlando, the 82-acre Arboretum includes seven distinct native plant communities representative of Central Florida’s diverse natural ecosystem. At the Arboretum, you will visit various habitats including a pond pine community, a mixed hardwood hammock, an ephemeral pond, an oak hammock, a sand scrub, a cypress dome, all mixed in a pine flatwood matrix.