55 Arboretums Everyone Should Put on Their Bucket List

Last update: April 20, 2020

Arboretums are collections of beautiful tress (and often other plants), botanical bevvies of trees for the public to admire, photograph, and linger under. Anyone with a passion for nature should visit at least one, so we have created a list of 55 must-see arboretums that offer stunning views and impressive experiences for all visitors.

1. United States National Arboretum

Interpretive gardens and exhibits attract sightseers, while USNA’s long-term research serves development of new technologies that help people care for plants. The site also includes a 650,000-specimen collection of dried pressed plants related to scientific study.

2. Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

This esteemed arboretum welcomes community members and visitors for annual events and educational, family-friendly programs. Over 150 kid-friendly activities and 19 named gardens create displays that last across all four seasons.

3. Morton Arboretum

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Endless events entertain year-round at Morton Arboretum, from wine tasting spectaculars to kids’ yoga classes and age-appropriate forest exploration. Adult classes teach gardening basics, beekeeping, and flower arranging, just to name a few.

  • Morton Arboretum website
  • Lisle, IL
  • 1700 acres
  • Classes for toddlers through adults cater to every interest and ongoing programs for science and conservation aim to protect and enhance the natural environment.

4. Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden

A rich history precedes the arboretum and its grounds, which spread across 127 acres with multiple water features. 251 species of birds visit the gardens and botanical collections from all over the world expose visitors to rare and endangered species.

  • The Arboretum website
  • Arcadia, CA
  • 127 acres
  • Four unique historic buildings invite visitors to take a trip back in time.

5. North Carolina Arboretum

With 65 acres of cultivated gardens and pet-friendly trail access, this arboretum inspires visitors to get outdoors and get active. Breathtaking views of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, nature beckons between educational exhibits and a break at the on-site café.

6. Red Butte Garden and Arboretum

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Over 450,000 bulbs bloom in the springtime at Red Butte, over half of which are daffodils. This arboretum also boasts a water pavilion garden, amphitheater, and rose garden. Multiple smaller gardens dot the 21 acres of area open to nature visitors.

  • Red Butte Garden Arboretum website
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • 100 acres
  • Five miles of hiking trails plus wildlife sightings of deer, coyotes, bobcats, and many birds let visitors feel fully engaged in the nature experience.

7. Washington Park Arboretum

This arboretum features both the Washington Park site and the Center for urban Horticulture on the north side of the University garden. Over 200 species of birds make this arboretum a prime bird-watching spot while the outreach programs like family nature classes make science approachable for kids and adults alike.

  • Washington Park Arboretum website
  • Seattle, WA
  • 230 acres
  • The Union Bay Natural Area is currently a 74-acre wildlife area and natural restoration laboratory, but it used to be a landfill!

8. Lee and Virginia Graver Arboretum

This arboretum doubles as an outdoor classroom for Muhlenberg college students but also allows the public to visit and enjoy hiking or sightseeing. Dr. Lee and Virginia Graver spent forty years clearing and maintaining the arboretum area, later donating the site to the college in 1994.

  • Graver Arboretum website
  • Bath, PA
  • 63 acres
  • This site is free for the public to access and includes native and rare trees plus over 150 species of conifers.

9. Blithewold Mansion Gardens and Arboretum

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More than just a mansion, Blithewold is the centerpiece of eight diverse gardens plus a bamboo grove. It’s also home to former owner John Gardner’s exotic collection of trees, with specimens from all over the world. Now, Blithewold’s horticultural staff runs a replanting program to propagate and replace trees that die out.

  • Blithewold website
  • Bristol, RI
  • 33 acres
  • A 45-room historic mansion functions as a rustic museum that gives tribute to the Country Place Era.

10. Houston Arboretum and Nature Center

A wildlife sanctuary and arboretum, Houston’s nature center includes five miles of trails and an expansive nature experience in the heart of the city. Programs for both parents and kids let everyone enjoy their favorite parts of nature, whether it’s indoors attending a lecture or outdoors exploring.

11. Holden Arboretum

Billing itself as an outdoor living museum, Holden boasts 3600 acres of trees, plants, trails, and breathtaking views from an elevated tower. After you’ve spotted flora and fauna outdoors, visit the Corning Library to learn more about what you’ve seen.

  • Holden Arboretum website
  • Kirkland, OH
  • 3600 acres
  • A canopy walk, a walkway 65 feet above the ground, lets you cross over the forest floor without touching soil!

12. JC Raulston Arboretum

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Gardens at the JC Raulston Arboretum often change with the seasons as plants and other elements age. This means an ever-changing landscape that’s always working toward modern design coupled with ecologically sound practices.

  • JC Raulston Arboretum website
  • Raileigh NC
  • 10 acres
  • Free access to all 18 gardens, including the energy-saving rooftop terrace and the butterfly garden.

If you’re into this, I also really love some of the related ideas in this article about stuff to do in North Carolina.

13. John J. Tyler Arboretum

This historic farmstead showcases heritage flowers and trees plus 11 acres of rhododendrons and azaleas. Its Fragrant Garden hosts a variety of herbs while the Vegetable Demonstration Garden helps visitors envision healthy eating.

  • Tyler Arboretum website
  • Media, PA
  • 650 acres
  • Treehouses, a butterfly house, and a meadow maze keep kids (and adults) entertained.

14. Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park

This Gold Coast estate contains historic buildings, sprawling lawns, gardens, and hiking trails. Two greenhouses (one full of camellias) offer seasonal displays and attract visitors year-round.

  • Planting Fields website
  • Oyster Bay, NY
  • 409 acres
  • A gift shop, café, and Garden Library round out the arboretum experience at this state park.

15. Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

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Bernheim houses a children’s play garden, an edible garden, and a host of public art displays plus education centers and a café. Take a hike over the 40 miles of trails or join a guided tour.

  • Bernheim website
  • Clermont, KY
  • 15,625 acres
  • View the landscape from 961 feet up via the Fire Tower, or take a trip across the Canopy Tree Walk 75 feet above the forest floor.

16. The Arboretum at Flagstaff

Within the Flagstaff Arboretum, 750 species of plants intrigue visitors. Between their greenhouses, gardens, and natural habitats, this location holds many wonders of the Coconino National Forest.

  • Flagstaff website
  • Flagstaff, AZ
  • 200 acres
  • Concert series and seasonal family-friendly events mean there’s always something happening at the Arboretum at Flagstaff.

17. Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum

Inside Dinosaur Park’s geodesic dome, early Jurassic specimens are on display, along with 250 species of conifers and varieties of plant families from the age of dinosaurs.

  • Dinosaur State Park website
  • Rocky Hill, CT
  • 80 acres
  • The accidental discovery of dinosaur tracks in 1966 sparked the designation of the site as a state park, and those Eubrontes tracks are still on display.

18. University of California, Davis Arboretum

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17 gardens make up the Davis Arboretum, with collections ranging from a California foothill designation to desert specimens to colorful East Asian trees and shrubs.

  • UC Davis Arboretum website
  • Davis, CA
  • 100 acres
  • This free arboretum is part of UC Davis’s teaching campus and also hosts programs for families and schools.

19. Arboretum at the University of California, Santa Cruz

Plants from California, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand are on display at UC Santa Cruz, a college campus situated on diverse soils that allow the horticultural staff to grow nearly ever coastal species available.

20. Dawes Arboretum

Attractions at Dawes range from Glacier Ridge, a hilltop view that looks down on a valley formed via glacier activity, to the Dutch Fork Wetlands which houses a meadow, observation deck, and plants, birds, insects, and mammals.

  • Dawes website
  • Newark, OH
  • 2000 acres
  • This arboretum holds over 40 years of bluebird observation records, so birdwatching is a highlight.

21. Scott Arboretum

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Swarthmore College operates this arboretum which showcases garden plant varieties which grow well in the surrounding region, so visitors can enjoy similar plants at home.

  • Scott Arboretum Website
  • Swarthmore, PA
  • 357 acres
  • Free admission to the gardens, library, and either self-guided or tour guide hosted tours accommodate all visitors.

22. Morris Arboretum

The University of Pennsylvania’s arboretum lies on a historic mansion site circa 1887 with over 12,000 plants featuring informational labels plus 2500 types of plants currently growing in a living collection.

  • Morris website
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • 167 acres
  • A quarter mile of miniature railroad tracks, including a trestle bridge you can walk under, enchant kids and adults alike.

23. Taltree Arboretum and Gardens

An oak preserve with formal gardens, woodlands, wetlands, and prairies hosts year-round exhibits and events for visitors. A Children’s Adventure Garden attracts the young at heart while a Railway Garden caters to train enthusiasts of all ages.

  • Taltree website
  • Valparaiso, IN
  • 330 acres
  • Schedule a golf cart tour to experience the entire collection of ecosystems with a naturalist as a tour guide.

24. Frelinghuysen Arboretum

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Activities for kids, families, and aspiring gardeners give a community feel to this Colonial Revival-style property. Historically a summer home, the estate now contains the public arboretum plus an auditorium and classrooms.

  • Frelinghuysen website
  • Morris Township, NJ
  • 127 acres
  • The arboretum offers a “get-to-know-us” stroll which lasts about 30 minutes and covers one mile, for those who prefer to explore on their own.

25. Orland E. White Research Arboretum

Notable collections at the University of Virginia’s arboretum include 162 varieties of Boxwood, a 300-tree ginkgo grove, and a 36-tree Cedar of Lebanon alley.  

26. Adkins Arboretum

This arboretum focuses on plants native to the Mid-Atlantic coastal plain and houses habitats with over 600 species of native shrubs, trees, flowers, grasses, and ferns.

  • Adkins Arboretum website
  • Ridgely, MD
  • 400 acres
  • Self-guided tours take visitors on a five mile walk through a variety of habitats. Audio and docent-led tours are also available.

27. Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden

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Demonstration gardens supply inspiration for visitors’ home gardens while a Food Pantry Garden helps support local food pantries and shelters in the nearby community.

  • Klehm Arboretum website
  • Rockford, IL
  • 155 acres
  • A unique Fountain Garden and the Nancy Olson Children’s Garden offer two innovative perspectives on nature.

28. Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Arboretum

A conservancy program which focuses on preserving water and educating the public, the Watershed invites visitors to explore a butterfly house, organic farm, and over ten miles of hiking trails.

  • The Watershed website
  • Pennington, NJ
  • 1000 acres
  • A range of programs inform and engage the public throughout the year.

29. Lyon Arboretum

Lyon Arboretum aims to cultivate a love of local Hawaiian ethnobotany and horticulture through their collection of over 5000 tropical plant species.

  • Lyon Arboretum website
  • Honolulu, HI
  • 193.5 acres
  • Twelve separate themed gardens include an herb and spice garden, a Bromeliad Garden, and a Children’s Garden.

30. Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens

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Focusing on southwest New England natural ecosystems, Bartlett Arboretum provides recreation opportunities and diverse plant and tree viewing. Collections of conifers, magnolias, and herbs are just a few of their offerings.

  • Bartlett Arboretum website
  • Stamford, CT
  • 93 acres
  • Art classes, yoga, and dog training classes are a few of Bartlett’s community programs.

31. Reeves-Reed Arboretum

Contemporary gardens and woodland forests combine to deliver gardening, hiking, art, and bird watching opportunities. Adult programs and kids’ programs and camps give educational insight to all.

  • Reeves-Reed website
  • Summit, NJ
  • 13.5 acres
  • Nearly a mile of woodland trails encourages quiet reflection while you enjoy six acres of woodland species.

32. Dyck Arboretum of the Plains

More than 1000 species grace this relatively small arboretum, covering 13 acres while the organization aims to expand an additional 18 acres of adjacent prairie land.

  • Dyck Arboretum website
  • Hesston, KS
  • 13 acres
  • A specific birdwatching area lets visitors spy on the arboretum’s feathery populations while a butterfly garden invites investigation of butterflies in various stages of life.

33. Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park

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This site’s streams and inlets invite both land and aquatic animals to inhabit this State Park. Alongside natural history displays and historic buildings, a café allows visitors to stay for a meal.

  • Bayard Cutting Arboretum website
  • Great River, NY
  • 691 acres
  • Bayard Cutting Arboretum adjoins Heckscher State Park, which accommodates picnickers and other recreation opportunities not available at the arboretum.

34. Polly Hill Arboretum

Horticulturist Polly Hill developed the original arboretum which covers sixty acres, 20 of which feature cultivated gardens. The setting includes rare shrubs and trees plus stone walls, meadows, and fields.

  • Polly Hill website
  • West Tisbury, MA
  • 20 cultivated acres
  • Seasonal plant sales let visitors purchase plants for their own home gardens.

35. Fullerton Arboretum

This California State University arboretum neighbors the north side of the CSU Fullerton campus and includes the Heritage House, an original historic building. Outdoor classrooms and a Children’s Garden accommodate diverse visitor groups.

  • Fullerton website
  • Fullerton, CA
  • 26 acres
  • Plant collections and historic exhibits make this arboretum an inclusive educational experience with a historical perspective.

36. Jenkins Arboretum

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