By Megan Slack
As restrictions ease and spring continues to bloom, we're all itching to escape our same four walls and unwind in a refreshing new location. There is no more beautiful or safe place to do this than a botanical garden – with its spacious lush landscapes, inspiring floral-filled displays, and photogenic tropical gardens.
See: Flower bed ideas – beautiful ways to create floral displays in your garden
The seven best US Botanic Gardens open right now
While there are hundreds of botanical gardens around the country, we've rounded up the most magnificent locations that are welcoming visitors this weekend.
1. Bellevue Botanical Garden, Washington
Located in the east of downtown Bellevue, Washington, this free Botanical Garden continued welcoming visitors from dawn to dusk throughout the pandemic. The Garden is labeled as an 'urban refuge' encompassing 53 acres of curated gardens, wildlife wetlands, and preserved woodlands.
Visitors are reminded to mask upon entry and in congested areas. While the specialty garden is open, the path has a one-way system, and the coffee house offers a takeaway service only.
2. Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, Texas
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This 66-acre garden is known as 'the crowning jewel of Dallas,' with its maze of vibrant gardens and groves of pecan trees, magnolias, crape myrtles, cherry trees, and azaleas.
The Arboretum, on the southeastern shore of White Rock Lake, requires timed tickets and suggests wearing face coverings around the garden. These coverings are compulsory inside buildings and restrooms. Staff also ask guests to maintain an appropriate distance from other visitors.
This garden is also a favorite of Martha Stewart, if you need any more convincing to visit.
3. New York Botanical Garden, New York
Everything's bigger in New York City, and its botanical gardens are no exception. Sprawling over 250-acres in the Bronx, it has welcomed guests since the 19th century, and now, after a temporary closure, we are invited to visit again.
In celebration, New York Botanical Garden has announced a new exhibition, KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature, that features work by celebrated Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Guests can enjoy the exhibition, installed across the garden's landscape, in and around the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, and in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Building.
The gardens have implemented new safety protocols – including compulsory face coverings for all staff and guests, social distancing measures, and a pre-booking system. For more information, the Garden recommends visiting the website to learn about safety guidelines and amenities.
4. Chicago Botanic Garden, Illinois
With 385 acres of landscaped gardens exhibiting millions of plant species, Chicago Botanic Garden is a flower-lovers utopia. This spring, the garden is making up for lost flower displays last year, with their current flower festival, It's Showtime, that runs until June.
They also recommend visiting this weekend for their crabapples and tulips that are currently in full bloom. All visitors must pre-register for a timed entry.
5. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Florida
Nestled just south of Miami, this 83-acre botanic garden boasts a vast collection of rare sun-kissed plants, including cycads, palms, and vines. To re-welcome guests, Fairchild is launching Jurassic Garden from May 15 to July 18 that will see 20 life-size dinosaurs take over the gardens.
Visitors must reserve tickets online and are required to list each visitor by name, and face masks must be worn at all times, both indoors and outdoors. Seniors and those who identify as vulnerable have priority and access from 7:00-9:00 am on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
6. Atlanta Botanical Garden, Georgia
See: Raised bed garden ideas – build raised planters now for productive, low- maintenance gardening
Stretching over 30 acres in midtown Atlanta, this Botanical Garden is celebrated for its majestic floral displays and unique exhibitions that create an urban oasis in the city.
Following local government guidelines, guests over the age of four are required to wear masks when within six feet of another visitor outside and at all times when inside. The gardens continue to limit guest capacity and require pre-booked timed tickets that can be reserved online.
7. San Francisco Botanical Garden, California
See: Rose garden ideas – for a colorful and sweetly scented outdoor space
Located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, the city's Botanical Garden showcases more than 8,000 different kinds of plants from across the globe, including unusual species that are grown in coastal California. The gardens reopened last June, but advanced tickets are highly recommended for all Garden visitors, including members. All staff and visitors must wear face masks, but picnics are welcomed on lawn areas, including the Great Meadow.
We'll be right back – a weekend full of tropical flowers, and tasty takeout coffee awaits.
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