In Los Angeles, where the weather is gorgeous most of the year, going to the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena is not a seasonal adventure. With rotating art exhibitions, live music, and seasonal plant species highlighted throughout the year, there is something to see at all times. The gardens are massive with 14 themed gardens housing over 14,000 different kinds of plants. Some of the highlights include the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, the Lily Ponds, and the Herb Garden.
Where to eat nearby? Green Street
Brooklyn’s Botanic Garden is a haven of discovery and education. Their 14 themed gardens coexist with floral “collections,” conservatories, and areas for kids workshops. Highlighting what’s currently in bloom, the gardens are at their fullest in May when you can see azaleas, bluebells, cherry trees, rhododendrons, wisteria, and orchids on display. The Cherry Esplanade is gorgeous when the trees are blooming and the orchid collection houses some incredibly rare and colorful flowers.
Where to eat nearby? Amorina Pizza
One of the most beautiful gardens in the world, the Kirstenbosch Garden in Cape Town, South Africa is a vast landscape of indigenous flora, fauna, animals, and birds. Walking through the grounds with majestic Table Mountain in the background proves to be a full escape from the day-to-day and with art exhibits throughout the gardens and a calendar full of events, it’s hard to find a reason not to go. Plus, their spring and summer is our fall and early winter, so right when we start piling on layers, their flowers are at their fullest.
Where to eat nearby? Aubergine
At Kew Gardens just outside of London, discovery is the key word. With no “don’t touch” signs in sight, visitors can climb trees and are encouraged to discover their multiple glasshouses, including one that mimics the environment of the rainforest. From giant waterlilies to Chilean wine palms and the Bee Garden, there is very little left to the imagination. Holidays and events at Kew are particularly fun, with the upcoming “Easter at Kew: Where Chocolate Grows on Trees” events leading the pack.
Montreal’s Botanical Garden houses over 25 different areas including a Toxic Plant Garden and its antidote, a Medicinal Plant Garden. Among its most unique and interesting areas is the First Nations Garden, which highlights the plants of American Indians and the Inuit. In the Courtyard of the Senses, visitors are invited to discover plants with senses other than sight. Plants in the courtyard, which was originally designed for the visually impaired, are divided into soft, rough, prickly, and sticky.
Where to eat nearby? Les Deux Singes de Montarvie
North Carolina’s famed 8,000-acre estate once owned by George Vanderbilt is home to an equally stunning garden. Biltmore Estate offers an equestrian center, fly fishing, Land Rover driving school, and Segway tours of the grounds, not to mention access to over 250 varieties of plants. Springtime at Biltmore means azaleas, Japanese pieris, hyacinths, magnolias, and orchids and, potentially, a stay at the Inn on the Biltmore Estate.
With fountains, statues, long groves, and an outdoor “ballroom,” the gardens at Versailles are nothing if not majestic. The Orangerie is among the most beautiful portions of the garden and still stands the way Jules Hardouin-Mansart designed it to in 1686. Many statues and sculptures in the gardens have been removed and now stand in the Louvre Museum in Paris, but there are still works by Colbert to be seen as well as the sun vase, as chosen by Louis XIV (The Sun King). All ten fountains situated throughout the gardens are stunning as well from the simple Mirror Fountain to the intricate Apollo Fountain.
Where to eat nearby? Head back to Paris for lunch at Renoma Cafe
Situated behind the walled entrance of the Pitti Palace in Florence, the Boboli Gardens are a quiet enclave of gorgeous flowers, fountains, sculptures, and the Silver Museum. The palace was originally built in 1458, but was bought in 1549 by the Medici family and it became home to a prestigious collection of jewels, artworks, and the illustrious gardens. The gardens are, unlike ever-changing and growing public botanical gardens, largely preserved in the way they were left. Grottos, statues, and landscaping are all historical pictures of what life looked like for the Medicis in the 16th century.
Where to eat nearby? Fuori Porta
Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Garden is a thorough exploration of the wildlife, plants, and culture of Australia. With over 50,000 plants on display, the Royal Botanic Garden boasts working wetlands, a re-imagined volcano, an observatory, and discovery walk. Among the more involved experiences is their Aboriginal Heritage Walk, which showcases the ancestral lands and culture of Australia’s Kulin nation. There is also a romantic “Gardens by Twilight” walk, which ends with wine and hors d’oeuvres.
Where to eat nearby? Merchant
One of the most unusual gardens you can find, these “Floating Gardens” occupy the historic canals of Xochimilco, Mexico. The floating gardens, or “chinampas,” are man-made lake beds made of varying species of plants and flowers that are anchored into the bottom of the lake. What once served an agricultural purpose to people from Mexico City to Xochimilco is now a destination for visitors who can ride on brightly colored boats through the canals and “floating gardens.”
Where to eat nearby? Snacks are often provided in Xochimilco to visitors, but try Fonda el Refugio