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6 Great Botanical Gardens in the Mid-West

We're members of the Dallas Arboretum, and with our membership we receive reciprocal benefits at gardens around the United States. On our last trip we took advantage of this perk and looked up gardens along the way to visit. We encountered some of the most beautiful places along the way! Even if you're not a member, this list is a great way to find destinations worth investigating on your next road trip.

1. Overland Park Botanical Gardens - Kansas

Located in Overland Park, KS, just outside of Kansas City, this beautiful garden is a hidden oasis. We didn't even need our pass to get in free here because it's free every Tuesday! My youngest and I had visited this garden in June, so it was fun to bring the rest of the family back for a tour.

Our favorite features of this garden include:

  • The Monet Garden - this lovely location features blooms in soft colors and shapes typical in the original Monet gardens. You can sit by the bronze Claude painting his famous Bridge Over a Pond of Water LiliesWe were fascinated by the Weeping Blue Spruce.
  • The Train Garden - This one is so fun! Shrubs and flowers complement a real railroad caboose, full-size railroad crossing gate and model trains that wind through bluffs, streams and through a model of old Overland Park.
  • Margaret's Pond - This garden has an excellent walking path all the way around Margaret's Pond with excellent views all the way around.

2. Chicago Botanic Garden - Illinois

Just 20 miles north of downtown, this garden is spectacular. From the moment we walked in till we left, we were overwhelmed by the incredible layout and design of this garden. This garden is free, but there is a fee for parking. Our pass covered that though!

When you first walk in the garden, you are struck by the vivid colors of stunning blooms leading you right up to the water.

There is so much garden to see, but they have tram tours you can take to give you the big picture overview of the gardens. We opted just to stroll through and we were totally satisfied. My daughter loved the giant lily pads which inspired further research when we made it back home!

3. Milwaukee Domes - Wisconsin

On our way from Chicago to Green Bay, we passed through Milwaukee and decided to stop and see their horticultural domes. These were a fascinating find.

Each dome has a theme garden to explore. There is a desert dome, a tropical dome, and a show dome. My succulent loving daughter loved the desert dome of course with all of the different varieties cacti. It was a fascinating place for all of us though!

4. Green Bay Botanical Garden - Wisconson

This garden was probably the biggest surprise to us because we caught the garden at the perfect time in the season for maximum impact of the blooms. Everything was showing off in this garden when we were there at the end of July! 

My mom was in love with their cottage garden which at the time was bursting with giant sunflowers (her favorite). I found my new favorite artist, Jim Budish, who makes the most incredible bronze sculptures.

Throughout the garden, there were incredible LEGO sculptures that were incredible works of art. My kids also enjoyed the giant slide in the children's garden that led to a hedge maze. Nearby, there was a restroom that looked like a hobbit hole! The entire display was just so lovely, we could have stayed there all day!

5. Frederick Meijer Gardens - Michigan

We only had a little over an hour at this garden in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but it was an hour well spent. This garden really blew me away with how massive it was and stunning. We decided to spend our time touring the Japanese gardens, as those are typically my favorites.

This garden is like a work of art. They have done a phenomenal job of sculpting a garden that seamlessly unites nature and design. This was the largest Japanese garden I've ever seen and surprises welcomed us around every corner.

This was only one of the many extraordinary gardens at Frederick Meijer. You can enjoy their sculpture garden, children's garden, and farm garden. We also enjoyed their conservatory which featured many succulents.

6. Garvan Woodland Gardens - Arkansas

We ended our trip returning to the Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs, AR. The kids and I visited this garden with my mom back in March for my daughter's birthday, so it was fitting to stop back by and bring my husband on my son's birthday.

This garden is so peaceful I really just wanted to bring a book and come and sit and read. Even in August, the shade throughout the property makes it easy to enjoy.

One of the newest features of this garden is an incredible tree house sculpture. As a collaboration between the garden and the University of Arkansas's Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, this work of art invites kids to enjoy the garden in a magical way.

While these gardens can sometimes be a bit off of the fastest path to your destination, they are a great way to get outside, work off some energy, and soak up some beauty. We'll definitely keep seeking out gardens to stretch our legs.

What are some of your favorite gardens around the United States?

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