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20 of the Most Beautiful Botanical Gardens in North Carolina

Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on June 29, 2024.

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One of the most beautiful ways to enjoy spring (especially spring break) is to look for new growth, beautiful flowers, and gorgeous green spaces! You’ll find beautiful blooms at these botanical gardens in North Carolina in Spring and often throughout the year!

Whether traveling through the mountains of Western North Carolina, through the Piedmont and Sandhills of our center, or along the coast and coastal plain of Eastern NC, a North Carolina botanical garden is nearby.

Our guide will list all of the botanical gardens in North Carolina, explaining why each should be on your vacation itinerary, explaining their history, and providing admission information.

Here’s how we’ve organized this guide:

  • Map of Botanical Gardens in North Carolina
  • List of Botanical Gardens
  • Western NC Botanical Gardens
  • Central NC Botanical Gardens
  • Eastern NC Botanical Gardens

Whether you’re a new resident, a frequent visitor, or a local, we’re leaving no detail behind. If you live in North Carolina and are wondering, “What are the best botanical gardens near me?” we think this NC travel guide will help you out!

Read More: Spring in North Carolina (80+ Great Events and Things to Do)

Map of North Carolina Gardens

Map of Botanical Gardens in North Carolina

If you want to travel to any of these NC botanical gardens visually, you can visit this Map we created with Google Maps and any of the below maps we’ve created with Google Maps.

List of Botanical Gardens in NC

This list of North Carolina gardens is a great quick reference before you start reading about each one in more detail:

  • Western NC Botanical Gardens
    • Biltmore Estate (Asheville)
    • Botanical Gardens at Asheville
    • Daniel Boone Native Plant Gardens
    • Highlands Biological Station
    • Lake Lure Flowering Bridge
    • North Carolina Arboretum (Asheville)
    • Wilkes Community College Gardens (Wilkesboro)
  • Central NC Botanical Gardens
    • Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden (Belmont)
    • JC Raulston Arboretum (Raleigh)
    • NC Botanical Garden (Chapel Hill)
    • Paul J Ciener Botanical Garden (Kernersville)
    • Reynolda Gardens (Winston-Salem)
    • The Sandhills Horticultural Gardens (Pinehurst)
    • Sarah P Duke Gardens (Durham)
    • Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden (Greensboro)
  • Eastern NC Botanical Gardens
    • Airlie Gardens (Wilmington)
    • Cape Fear Botanical Garden (Fayetteville)
    • Elizabethan Gardens (Manteo)
    • Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden (Wilmington)
    • Wilson Botanical Gardens

Western NC Botanical Gardens

Our guide to the best botanical gardens in NC starts with a few great ones in the mountains out west. If you’re looking for somewhere specific, these places are organized alphabetically.

Gardens at Biltmore Estate

Address: 1 Approach Rd, Asheville, NC
Tickets Required
Website

pink and blue flowers among a forest of botanics at Biltmore Estate

Biltmore Estate’s rose garden has been in continuous cultivation since 1895 and boasts more than 200 different cultivars laid out in English and French garden styles.

Since 2011, the garden has also hosted an international rose trial, where over 200 varietals of roses were grown, cared for, and judged by Biltmore garden staff. The Estate itself has 8,000 acres of formal and informal gardens, conservatories–including a palm house and an orchid room–and trails.

The Estate is open daily. Ticket reservations are required and include the house and gardens.

For more things to do in Asheville (even with kids), consider these fun hiking trails, gorgeous waterfalls, and delicious restaurants!

Read More: How to Enjoy Christmas at Biltmore

Botanical Gardens at Asheville

Address: 151 WT Weaver Blvd, Asheville, NC
FREE Admission
Website

a small bridge going over a creek at Asheville Botanical Gardens

The Botanical Gardens at Asheville houses a beautiful collection of native plants and habitats, focusing on the Southern Appalachian Mountain region.

These North Carolina gardens are independently owned and operated, even though you’ll find the botanical gardens after entering UNC-Asheville

You can relax anywhere along the half-mile loop that takes you up into a shaded section. Of course, the best part is the stream that runs through the property.

Daniel Boone Native Gardens

Address: 651 Horn in the W Dr, Boone, NC
Entry Donations Encouraged
Donate Here

Things to Do in Boone NC Daniel Boone Native Plant Gardens

One of our favorite free things to do in Boone is to visit the Daniel Boone Native Gardens. The garden is open every day from May to October and hosts over 200 species of plants, including various native trees and wildflowers.

As mentioned, admission is free, though a donation is encouraged for visitors ages 16 and older.

Read More: Delicious Restaurants in Boone and Nearby (Breakfast, Casual, and Date Night!)

Highlands Biological Station

Address: 265 N 6th St, Highlands, NC
Free Admission
Website

Highlands Biological Station is part of Western Carolina University. The garden offers wide open spaces for picnics, woodland trails, lakes, and a creek.

Established in 1962, it contains nearly 500 species of plants, from mosses and ferns to wildflowers and trees. In addition, they also have several demonstration gardens, some of which include native azaleas, Cherokee plants, and a wildflower meadow.

Highlands Biological Station is part of the Highlands Plateau Greenway and the NC Birding Trail.

You’ll find some of the most beautiful waterfalls in North Carolina near Highlands. Dry Falls and Bridal Veil Falls (not the one in DuPont State Forest) are two of many!

Read More: 20+ Kid-Friendly Waterfalls In NC (Easy Hikes And Swimming Holes!)

Lake Lure Flowering Bridge

Address: 3070 Memorial Hwy, Lake Lure, NC
Facebook Page

Lake Lure Flowering Bridge walkway

Instead of demolishing Historic Bridge #7, as it was then known, the Town of Lake Lure enlisted a group of locals to repurpose the bridge. The resulting Lake Lure Flowering Bridge is one of the best botanical gardens in NC!

A stone walkway weaves between native plant gardens and beautiful views.

Whimsical sculptures, various themed gardens, and interactive areas for tiny humans are what make visiting the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge so special.

Read More: Chimney Rock State Park (How to Enjoy an NC Icon)

North Carolina Arboretum

Address: 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC
Tickets Required for Non-Members
Purchase Here

a small child among group of squares with flowers at the NC Arboretum in Asheville

One of the loveliest botanical gardens in North Carolina, the NC Arboretum in Asheville sprawls across over 430 acres within Pisgah National Forest.

It was established as an affiliate of the University of North Carolina system in 1986 with 65 acres of cultivated gardens, hiking and biking trails, and special kids’ activities (including geocaching).

Don’t miss the bonsai collection, one of the best in the United States! The Arboretum also offers extensive online classes and family programs.

Read More: NC Arboretum Winter Lights (How To Enjoy In 10 Important Tips!)

Wilkes Community College Gardens

Address: 1527 S Collegiate Dr, Wilkesboro, NC
FREE Admission
Website

Merle Watson Garden of the Senses WIlkesboro NC

The first MerleFest was put on to raise money for the Wilkes Community College’s Horticulture Department. B Townes, a professor at WCC, connected with Bluegrass legend Doc Watson and asked him to play.

He agreed to do so under the agreement that they would memorialize Watson’s son, Merle, who tragically died in 1985, with a garden. 

The Merle Watson Garden of the Senses in Wilkesboro is one of many wonderful gardens at WCC, filled with beautiful plants and even a wall with Braille plaques.

Read More: Delicious Restaurants in Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro

Central NC Botanical Gardens

These botanical gardens in North Carolina’s center sit in a mix of larger cities and smaller towns, with each providing a welcome respite from the busiest area in our state.

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

Address: 6500 S New Hope Rd, Belmont, NC
Tickets Required for Non-Members
Purchase Here

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden spreads over 100 acres in Belmont, along Lake Wylie. Its Visitor Pavilion features a 100-year-old stained-glass dome and special garden spaces such as a cottage garden with popular late 19th- and early 20th-century plants, a children’s garden, and perennial gardens.

Other attractions include 3.2 miles of walking trails, a dry Piedmont prairie similar to the landscape of 200 years ago, and North Carolina’s only orchid conservatory.

Read More: Christmas Town USA (How to See the Wonderful McAdenville Christmas Lights)

JC Raulston Arboretum

Address: Ruby McSwain Education Center, 4415 Beryl Rd, Raleigh, NC
Free Admission
Website

JC Raulston Arboretum, part of NC State University in Raleigh, was initially established as a living laboratory and professional resource.

Having opened in 1976, the Arboretum has now grown to over 10 acres and achieved international recognition for its “imaginative use of resources and the excellence of its plant collections.”

Sections include xeric and scree gardens, a Japanese garden, a winter garden, a conifer garden, and a monocot garden. Walk by the All-America Selections trial garden to see what bedding plants you might find at your local market next year! 

Read More: Free Things to Do in Raleigh

NC Botanical Garden

Address: 100 Old Mason Farm Rd, Chapel Hill, NC
FREE Admission (Open Tuesday to Sunday)
Website

The NC Botanical Garden is a conservation garden spread over 1,000 acres across several sites in Chapel Hill. Inside this garden is a botanical garden, an 88-acre forest boasting 3 miles of trails, a forest amphitheater, and various natural areas and preserves.

a single flower on a path near Chapel Hill campus

The botanical garden highlights native North Carolina ecosystems from the mountains to the coastal plains and includes a carnivorous plant collection. Much of the park and trail system is adjacent to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill campus.

Read More: Things to Do in Chapel Hill

Reynolda Gardens

Address: 100 Reynolda Vlg Way, Winston-Salem, NC
FREE Admission (Open During Daylight Hours)
Website

a scenic lookout over the Reynolda Gardens

Reynolda Gardens was originally part of the estate of RJ and Katherine Smith Reynolds, founder of the RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company in Winston-Salem.

The house and its grounds originally spanned over 1,000 acres and, today is known for its outstanding museum of American art and its beautiful botanical gardens.

The formal gardens have been restored to the original plans, with several greenhouses now onsite. What was originally a man-made lake has been transformed into wetlands, with much of their natural area being part of the NC Birding Trail.

Beyond Reynolda Gardens, Winston-Salem is also filled with historic hotels, delicious restaurants (including The Katharine), incredible breweries, and plenty of fun things to do!

Read More: 25 of the Most Amazing Winter Hikes in North Carolina

Paul J Ciener Botanical Garden

Address: 215 S Main St, Kernersville, NC
FREE Admission (Donation Suggested)
Website

The Paul J Ciener Botanical Garden is located in the Kernersville Historic Downtown District and is the only public garden between Raleigh and Charlotte. However, this botanical garden is still in development.

Once completed, the garden will have more than 25 individually styled garden areas, event spaces, greenhouses, and a children’s area.

This garden also offers a variety of lectures, a concert series, and both a tulip festival and holiday bloom festival, which are all must-sees!

Read More: 20 Awesome Wineries near Charlotte (Vineyards Within 2 Hours)

The Sandhills Horticultural Gardens

Address: 555 Lindbergh Pl, Pinehurst, NC
FREE Admission
Website

the visitor's center at Sandhills Horticultural Gardens

The Sandhills Horticultural Gardens is a hidden gem and one of our favorite things to do in Pinehurst! Free to visit, the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens cover 32 acres and are maintained and designed by students of the Sandhills Community College.

Read more: Pinehurst Travel Guide

Sarah P Duke Gardens

Address: 420 Anderson St, Durham, NC
FREE Admission (Paid Parking)
Website

a small pond among a beautiful botanical garden on Duke University Campus

Just down the road in Durham is the famed Sarah P Duke Gardens on the Duke University campus.

It features four distinct areas: the Historic Gardens, with its rose gardens and the historic Roney Fountain; the HL Blomquist Garden of Native plants, focusing on plants of the southeastern United States; the WL Culberson Asiatic Arboretum, with plants from Southeast Asia; and the Doris Duke Center Gardens which includes the Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden.

Duke Gardens offers five miles of pathways, a koi pond, terraced gardens, bird and wildlife viewing areas, a butterfly garden, and much more–there is something for everyone here! 

Read More: 50+ Easy Day Trips from Fayetteville (Great Getaways!)

Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden

Address: 1105 Hobbs Rd, Greensboro, NC
FREE Admission
Website

a small girl looking at the Radishes at Bicentennial Garden

When in Greensboro, stop by the beautiful Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden. This popular local spot was built to honor the nation’s bicentennial and enjoys 7.5 acres of plantings, various bronze sculptures, a woodland stream, and a sensory garden.

One of the newer additions is the Old Mill, which resembles a mill operated on the garden grounds in the 1780s. The David Caldwell Historic Park is near the Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden, so be sure to check this out as well!

This is one of the best botanical gardens in North Carolina, but also among our favorite things to do in Greensboro, especially with kids!

Read More: Fun Museums in Greensboro (Kid-Friendly, Contemporary Art, and More!)

Eastern NC Botanical Gardens

The last few of our botanical gardens in North Carolina are definitely not the least of them all. Some lie along our coast and others sit not too far from I-95, in case you’re passing through.

Airlie Gardens

Address: 300 Airlie Rd, Wilmington, NC
Advance Tickets Required for Non-Members
Purchase Here

a massive tree with a field located in downtown Wilmington NC

Located just northeast of downtown Wilmington, the spectacular Airlie Gardens spreads over 67 acres. Airlie is known for its 500-year-old live oak, 10 acres of lakes, a variety of gardens, a chapel made out of bottles, a seasonal butterfly house, and some walking trails.

These most beautiful of botanical gardens in North Carolina are also part of the NC Birding Trail.

We’ll always rank Airlie among the best things to do in Wilmington and its surroundings!

Read More: Colorful Fall Hikes in North Carolina (+ 20 Beautiful Places to Explore!)

Cape Fear Botanical Garden

Address: 536 N Eastern Blvd, Fayetteville, NC
Tickets Required for Non-Members
Purchase Here

Located just two miles from downtown Fayetteville and bordered by Cross Creek and the Cape Fear River, the Cape Fear Botanical Garden covers 80 acres. Highlights of this garden include camellia, daylily, and shade gardens, the Butterfly Stroll, the children’s garden, and the Heritage Garden featuring 1886 agricultural structures.

There are also a number of walking trails and shady spots.

Read More: Outdoor Things to Do in Fayetteville

Elizabethan Gardens

Address: 1411 National Park Dr, Manteo, NC
Tickets Required for Non-Members
Purchase Here

a path covered with red flowers and greens

The Elizabethan Gardens in the historic town of Manteo celebrated its 70th year in 2021. Located within the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, this garden has an extensive collection of hydrangeas, camellias, historic herbs, and coastal species.

A famous feature of this garden is a rose sent by HM Queen Elizabeth II from the rose garden at Windsor Castle, as well as a live oak estimated to be alive since 1585.

Its Discovery Cottage is designed for kids to learn through play and, as such, has a large ship, play cottages with living roofs, kitchen gardens, and dig areas. The Elizabethan Gardens is also part of the NC Birding Trail.

Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden

Address: 3800 Canterbury Rd, Wilmington, NC
FREE Admission
Website

a group of Venus fly traps at the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden

Nearby Airlie is the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden, part of the Piney Ridge Nature Preserve.

Stanley-Rehder has various carnivorous plants, from Venus Fly Traps, Pitcher Plants, and Sundews, all of which only grow within a 70-mile radius of Wilmington. This park also has a walking trail.

Read More: 30+ Amazing NC Coastal Towns (+ Things to Do in Each One!)

Wilson Botanical Gardens

Address: 1806 Goldsboro St S SW, Wilson, NC
FREE Admission
Website

Wilson Botanical Gardens has something for everyone! One of its most popular areas is a turfgrass demonstration plot with five different turf species.

Wilson Gardens also has a professional mixed-planting garden with over 200 different plants, which it uses to educate youth and adults through its special programs.

Things to Do in Wilson NC Wilson Rose Garden Image

Other areas include an extensive tree collection, perennial beds, culinary and medicinal herb garden, children’s secret garden, and native plant garden, to name a few.

Its primary focus is education, and the garden honors the area’s agricultural history by planting traditional row crops and using recycled tobacco warehouse bricks along some of the garden paths.

Read More: Things to do in Wilson

Which of these Botanical Gardens in North Carolina Top Your List?

These botanical gardens in North Carolina are waiting to share their gorgeous colors, beautiful blooms, inviting trails, and much more with you. We hope you’re as excited to visit them as we were in writing this guide.

If you’ve visited any of these amazing spaces, we’d love to know which are your favorite. And if you haven’t visited any yet (it’s okay!), we’re also interested in hearing about which are first on your list.

Let us know in the comments and we hope you’re able to make it to these wonderful botanical gardens in North Carolina, no matter where you plan to go.

More Things to Do in North Carolina

1 thought on “20 of the Most Beautiful Botanical Gardens in North Carolina”

  1. Though it is purposefully designed, the variety of plants, shrubs, and flowers surely should qualify the Tryon Palace gardens in New Bern for this list.

    Reply

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