Looking for the best botanical gardens in Florida?
Florida is the ultimate destination for nature lovers! Not only do we have incredible beaches, stunning springs, and diverse wildlife, but Florida also offers botanical wonders.
Due to the warm, humid climate, the Sunshine State is also home to a wide variety of gardens that host plants that you won’t find anywhere else. Skip the lines at the theme parks, get out into nature and check out incredible species of trees, flowers, and other plants that thrive in this unique ecosystem instead.
Visit the links we’ve listed below for updated information on each site’s Covid-19 protocols and ADA accessibility. Don’t forget your sunscreen and a pair of comfy walking shoes, and we’d recommend a hat and insect repellant, too.
Remember that afternoon rain shows are common in Florida, particularly during summer months, so keep a poncho or umbrella handy. Keep an eye out for snakes when you hike, particularly if you are traveling with any pets (whistle a tune as you walk to let any sunbathing snakes know that you are coming!).
And be sure to respect the rules of adventuring: don’t touch any plants unless you are specifically invited to by park staff, don’t feed or attempt to interact with any of the wildlife that you encounter, clean up after yourself, and stay hydrated.
This list isn’t just for tourists! Many of these spots offer robust calendars that are packed with events that locals will love, including summer camps and educational programs for kids.
14 Best Botanical Gardens in Florida You Must Visit
1. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens – Sarasota
One of the best gardens in Florida for sure.
Enjoy the only botanical garden in the world that dedicates its displays to epiphytes. In case you are not familiar with the term, it refers to orchids, ferns, and other species that make their homes in or on other plants.
Visitors to this 15-acre bayfront oasis will get to see over 4,000 different orchids and more than 8,000 other specimens as they walk through displays dedicated to the rainforest, the desert, and Native Florida. Hop aboard a cute boat named the Magic and explore the breathtaking scenery of Little Sarasota Bay.
On the 45-minute excursion, guests will learn about maritime history while observing birds, fish, and wildlife in their natural habitat. Don’t miss the butterfly house, where you can see the cloudless sulfur, the giant swallowtail, or the zebra longwing (the Florida state butterfly!).
Round out your visit with a stroll along a stunning bayfront mangrove walkway! If you are planning to be in town for a while, check out the calendar of events, which Is packed with special events and exhibitions.
You can register for a yoga class, a watercolor class, and more. Maria Selby Botanical Gardens is dedicated to protecting natural resources worldwide through recycling, water conservation, integrated pest management, and long-term sustainability.
Website – https://selby.org/
2. Jacksonville Arboretum & Botanical Gardens – Jacksonville
Looking for a dog-friendly place to explore with your furry friend? You and your pet can unwind and connect with nature as you explore the many award-winning walking trails found here, all of which are studded with both native and exotic species.
This hidden jewel covers 120 acres with 13 distinct ecosystems and has quite an interesting history. From about 1944 to 1961, several strip mines operated in this are of Jacksonville, which had devastating effects on soil and vegetation. In the early 1970s, as a condition for an EPA grant for the construction of a treatment facility, the City of Jacksonville purchased the property as a passive recreation space and to create a buffer around the industrial area.
These ecosystems continue to recover under the watchful eye and loving care of ecological experts. For a truly unique experience, keep your eyes open for the “miracle fruit” plant near the tea garden. Visitors can sample synsepalum dulcificum, which blocks human taste buds from sensing sour flavors and make everything taste sweeter.
The effects last for about 30 minutes, but the memory will last a lifetime! Take a break at one of the picnic tables provided near the Lake Loop trail and enjoy a relaxing waterfront view or take a timeout to access a cyber yoga session through QR codes posted along the trails.
There are tons of great events listed on the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens calendar, including lectures, guided tours, classes, special brunch events, and more.
Website – https://www.jacksonvillearboretum.org/
3. Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens – Jacksonville
No photo filters necessary at this incredible spot, which is a must-see for plant lovers and art lovers alike! In her will, Mrs. Ninah Cummer noted her wish to create a “center of beauty and culture” for the benefit of “all of the people”, and the green spaces that she advocated for so passionately truly illustrate her ongoing influence on the city of Jacksonville.
The lush campus is divided into four beautiful gardens, all of which were developed by famous garden and landscape planners. Visitors will discover waterscapes, sculptures, and antique decorations throughout, and grand architecture in the form of arches, pillars, and staircases add to the overall artistic effect of this lovely outdoor space.
After you’ve explored the grounds and taken a ton of stunning photos, you can take a break in the AC at the art museum, which features both permanent and rotating exhibitions.
Website – https://www.cummermuseum.org/
4. Fruit & Spice Park – Homestead
Had your fill of flowers? Or do you just need a snack?! The Fruit & Spice Park is the culmination of one woman’s vision to create a place that featured the rich agricultural bounty and unique heritage of Florida known as Redland.
More than 50,000 visitors flock to the 37-acre park yearly, where they examine many varieties of fruit trees and are encouraged to take a bite out of any fruit that has recently fallen. In addition to fruit trees, visitors will find veggies and a huge variety of nuts, spices, and herbs.
If you are unsure if what you’ve found is edible, friendly staffers in the park’s Welcome Center are ready to answer questions and share fun facts about the local plants, and guided tours are available.
Want to take a sample home? Arrangements can be made with park management for collecting seeds and harvesting cutting suitable for planting. Check out the calendar, which is packed with adventures, classes, and activities, including summer stargazing and the Redland International Orchid Festival!
Website – https://redlandfruitandspice.com/
5. Bok Tower Gardens – Lake Wales
Possibly the most famous botanical garden site in the Sunshine State, Bok Tower Gardens is a dazzling must-see! Edwin Bok set out to “make the world a bit better or beautiful”, and his vision resulted in a masterpiece. A stunning jewel in the crown of Florida history, this gorgeous spot features the original carillon tower that still sounds its 60 bells around the gardens.
Each of the nine gardens was designed by renowned American landscape planner Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr. and was laid out with the aim of promoting thinking and activity, and nearly 450 volunteers work to keep the grounds pristine and blossoming.
Some gardens host classes or display thought-provoking art installations, so be sure to check out the calendar of events if you are spending a few days in the area. Nature, music, and education are all rolled into one incredible location, and you just might spot a blushing bride or smiling groom on your trip.
Bok Tower Gardens is a hot location for weddings due to the incredible photographic opportunities offered on the stunning grounds. And no trip would be complete without a visit to the Blue Palmetto Café, which features a variety of delicious snacks and entrees, as well as beer and wine.
Website – https://boktowergardens.org/
6. Kanapaha Botanical Gardens – Gainesville
There is so much to see at the 68-acre Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, which are named for the 250-acre lake that sits to the north of the park.
You’ll find something new around every corner as you explore gorgeous walking trails and more than 20 themed gardens, and visitors looking for a peaceful spot can navigate the incredible walking labyrinth. You may not be able to see everything, but make sure you check out the awesome giant lily pads in the water garden, a unique and impressive herb garden, and the largest public bamboo collection in Florida.
Take a break at one of the gazebos or other rest stations found throughout the facility or bring a blanket and a picnic basket to enjoy your lunch on one of the lush lawn areas. True plant lovers won’t want to miss North Central Florida’s premier horticultural event, the Spring Garden Festival.
Make sure you swing by the exceptional gift shop, which offers a diverse array of items ranging from original local art to treasures from the natural world.
Website – https://kanapaha.org/
7. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens – Miami
Step back in time and explore more than 100 years of Florida history! Back in 1916, master sculptors, muralists, and other artists developed buildings and grounds that provide a truly immersive experience in the natural aesthetic.
This incredible garden celebrates many of the plants that can be found on the grounds, including mangrove forests that feature many endangered plant species and the largest known specimens of eight different species of trees native to the United States.
If you are planning a trip now, be sure to look for the exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of Vizcaya’s one-of-a-kind swimming pool grotto, one of the most distinctive spaces in the area. Vizcaya has a long-running relationship with the historic Black Coconut Grove community and is dedicated to sharing the legacy of an area that is changing fast due to gentrification and other factors.
Check out their podcast, “The Rich and Forgotten History of Black Coconut Grove”, a three-episode series that features stories for legacy residents and takes listeners through history, from the 1930s to today.
Website – https://vizcaya.org/
8. Morikami Museum and Japanese Garden – Delray Beach
Looking for some tranquility in the middle of your busy Florida trip? You won’t want to miss the Morikami Museum and Japanese Garden!
This incredible location features six different gardens, each designed to promote rest and restoration of the mind and body, and mixes time periods and traditions in an effort to promote peace. The mission at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens to “to engage a diverse audience by presenting Japanese cultural experiences that educate and inspire”, and visitors could not ask for a spot with more variety.
Explore a “dry landscape” garden, the predecessor to today’s modern Zen garden. Stroll through the Shinden garden, adapted to exploration by foot instead of the traditional boat ride.
Be sure to check out the bonsai exhibit, where visitors can take a class and learn to train and trim a tree in a container. Make sure you swing by the Cornell Café, an open-air space that overlo9oks the tranquil gardens and serves delicious Pan-Asian cuisine.
And don’t miss the unparalleled Morikami Museum store, which features unique pieces that will make a statement in your home and serve as wonderful mementos.
Website – https://morikami.org/
9. Sunken Gardens – St. Petersburg
Want to experience a true taste of old Florida? Established over 100 years ago, Sunken Gardens is one of the last remaining true Florida roadside attractions, and you won’t want to miss it. St. Pete’s oldest living museum is truly an oasis amid the bustling city, where you can wander paths that take you through a living collection that features some of the oldest tropical plants in the state.
Visitors will see more than 50,000 species of plants and flowers and beautiful, cascading waterfalls. Bird lovers, keep your cameras ready, because Sunken Gardens is also home to a feathery flock of flamingos! Take a guided tour (you can book a scavenger hunt for your group!), or attend a horticultural program.
You may even spot a wedding party! Sunken Gardens is a popular location for weddings due to the beautiful surroundings and opportunities for incredible photos. Know before you go: due to the age of this historic gem, you should be prepared to take some additional care when you visit.
Be sure you stay on the paths and refrain from touching or climbing any of the structures.
10. Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park – Tallahassee
Head to the Florida state capitol and check out a masterpiece of floral architecture! Once the winter home of Alfred B. and Louis Maclay, this state park offers something for everyone! Once you are done swimming or kayaking on Lake Hall, you can wander down nature trails that wind through massive live oaks.
Self-guided tours are always available via a brochure that you can grab at the ranger station, and guided group tours are available upon request with three-weeks’ notice.
If you are looking for a family-friendly activity, this might be the perfect time to try your hand at geocaching! It is an inexpensive, high-tech treasure hunt that will teach kids how to use location coordinates and practice their navigational skills.
Enjoy your lunch at a picnic area overlooking Lake Hall, one of the most scenic spots in North Florida. Although it is gorgeous year-round, try to plan your visit for high blooming season, which runs from January through April. There is a variety of fun events held all year, including a Kids Fishing Day in June and Camellia Christmas in December.
11. McKee Botanical Garden – Vero Beach
The most family-friendly spot on our list is a wild place bursting with natural beauty! McKee Botanical Gardens is a non-profit that supports one of Florida’s most incredible botanical collections! The 18-acre jungle landscape encapsulates a more than 10,000 plants, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and has been recognized by the Garden Conservancy as a preservation project of national significance.
An enchanting Children’s Garden is bursting with opportunities for kids to explore natural Florida, and even features an enchanting pirate ship. Don’t miss “Grand Central”, an incredible art installation by Patrick Dougherty.
The artist and a group of volunteers worked tirelessly for three weeks on scaffolding to bend, weave, and trim willow saplings into a one-of-a-kind sculpture. End your visit at the Garden Café, where you can enjoy a variety of fresh foods. Make sure you save room for a homemade brownie or a yummy jam bar!
Website – https://mckeegarden.org/
12. Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden – Coral Gables
If your trip to Florida falls between May and October, don’t miss a visit to Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens, it is for sure one of the best botanical gardens in Florida! The Lisa D. Anness Butterfly Garden exhibits a variety of native plants that attract and sustain butterflies throughout their life cycle, and is a must-see for nature enthusiasts and photographers.
The diverse garden features a large African baobab tree collected by the founder, Colonel Robert H. Montgomery, and an exhibition of rare plants from the endangered desert habitat of the island country of Madagascar.
There’s always something exciting happening at the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden, so check the calendar of events for after-hours events, classes led by horticultural, artistic, and culinary experts, and even Sunday Dog Dates!
You won’t want to miss the annual plant sale, where you can purchase specimens to turn your garden or home into your very own tropical paradise. Kids can take their very own adventure through the garden on Expedition Discovery, where those who complete their mission receive a one-of-a-kind pin!
Website – https://fairchildgarden.org/
13. The Kampong – Coconut Grove, Florida
Visit one of the five gardens that compromises the National Tropical Botanical Trust! Named for the Mala or Javanese word for a “village or cluster of houses”, The Kampong is located on the former estate of famed horticulturalist Dr. David Fairchild, whose plant collections greatly influenced the diets of Americans.
He traveled through Southeast Asia and other tropical regions, looking for exotic plants that he could introduce in the United States, and the garden has grown to feature a wide variety of tropical fruit cultivars, including more than 50 varieties of mango, and unique species like peanut butter fruit and cocoplums.
Don’t miss the palm collection, which includes Southeast Asian varieties like the Talipot. The young explorers in your group will love the whimsical guided tour, which is led by a mythical goddess whose head appears from the roots of a banyan tree. Bring a reusable water bottle, filling stations are available throughout the park!
Website – https://ntbg.org/gardens/kampong/
14. Harry P. Leu Gardens – Orlando
Experience an incredible 50-acre botanical oasis just minutes from Downtown Orlando! This lush spot is bursting with beauty regardless of the season, and visitors will find both familiar specimens and unique examples of flowers and trees.
QR codes found on many of the garden signs provide additional information for any guest who wants to learn more. Visit the Arid Garden, which contains a variety of drought-tolerant plants. The Bamboo Collection features nearly 50 species of woody, stemmed grass, some of which reach over 70’ tall!
And you may think you are familiar with bananas, but in addition to the familiar fruit, there are other species grown specifically for their striking foliage. There’s a special garden that contains plants that attract butterflies and moths, and you just might spot a hummingbird!
The herb garden is a unique mix of culinary, medicinal, educational, and ornamental plants, reminiscent of turn-of-the-century kitchen gardens. And make sure you visit Mary Jane’s Rose Garden, named after Mrs. Leu, where over 215 varieties bloom in full color.
Don’t miss a tour of the Leu House Museum, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Harry P. Leu was a very successful industrialist, and he and his wife traveled extensively and brought back plants and seeds for their Florida home.
Art lovers will find a variety of rotating exhibits in the Garden House Welcome Center, and a tour around the gardens will reveal many different sculptures hidden through the lovely grounds.
One of the best botanical gardens to visit in Orlando.
Website – https://www.leugardens.org/
This list is just the tip of the sand dune when it comes to the amazing variety of natural wonders that Florida has to offer! Have we missed any of your favorite botanical gardens in Florida? Leave a comment and tell us about the must-see places that you’ve discovered on your travels through our stunning state.