20 Places You Need to See If You Love Plants

The term "tourist attraction" usually evokes visions of long lines, inflated prices, and man-made marvels. But for those who prefer to walk on the wild side, some of the best vacation destinations come courtesy of Mother Nature. America's vast and varied ecosystems are home to countless natural wonders that you can encounter along hikes, drives, or in a stroll through a botanic garden. Check out these incredible destinations that every plant lover should put on their bucket list.

  1. Cherry Blossoms in Washington, D.C.

    Cherry Blossoms in Washington

    In 1912 the mayor of Tokyo gifted the United States with 3,000 cherry trees, and thousands of people still journey to see the descendants of these flowering trees every spring. Peak bloom usually occurs in the beginning of April and is celebrated with a large festival.

    Related: 15 Places Every American Should Visit at Least Once


  2. Leaf Peeping in New England

    New England Leaf Peeping

    Gawking at the spectacular colors of the fall leaves in New England is known colloquially as “leaf peeping” by the locals. Popular ways to see the fall foliage include scenic drives and hiking.

    Related: 12 Destinations You Should Actually Visit During the Off-Season


  3. Sequoia National Park in California

    Sequoia National Park In California

    Travelers journey from far away to see the spectacle of the giant sequoia trees that can grow to be more than 250 feet high and 20 feet in diameter. This national park is also home to the largest tree in the world, affectionately named General Sherman.

    Related: 18 Small Towns with Strange Claims to Fame


  4. Bridge of Flowers in Massachusetts

    Bridge of Flowers MA

    Nestled in the quaint town of Shelburne Falls, this abandoned turn-of-the-century trolley bridge was converted into a garden by the local Women’s Club in 1929 and is still lovingly maintained by locals today. The bridge features more than 500 varieties of flowers that bloom from April to October.

    Related: Before and After: 6 Landscapes Totally Transformed


  5. Silverswords in Hawaii

    Mauna Kea Silversword

    Some plant enthusiasts make it their mission to spot a blooming silversword because these exceptionally rare and endangered plants are unique to the volcanic Haleakala summit area in Maui. These exotic plants can grow to more than six feet tall and bloom only once before dying.

    Related: The 10 Toughest Houseplants to Keep Alive


  6. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

    Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

    Located near Tucson, this 98-acre botanic garden, zoo, and museum celebrates the unique habitat of the Sonoran Desert. The acclaimed destination features two miles of walking paths and 1,200 varieties of native plants such as the blooming prickly pear cactus.

    Related: 14 of the Best Plants for Your Drought-Tolerant Garden


  7. Crested Butte Wildflowers in Colorado

    Crested Butte Wildflowers

    This winter ski destination transforms into a summer paradise as dreamy wildflowers cascade down the hilly trails. The week-long Wildflower Festival in July treats tourists to group hikes, tours, and art workshops.

    Related: 20 Must-Visit Mountain Towns Across America


  8. Joshua Trees in California

    Joshua Trees In California

    The twisty, spiky Joshua trees may look like something out of a Dr. Suess book, but you can spot thousands of them in this national park in southeastern California. The large park is located at the intersection of the two unique desert ecosystems, resulting a unique mix of plants and wildlife.

    Related: Here’s What Your Favorite Houseplants Look Like in the Wild


  9. Green Animals Topiary Garden in Rhode Island

    Green Animals Topiary Garden

    Not all plant lovers like ‘em wild. Visitors can celebrate the whimsical art of sculpted topiaries, like the varied designs that line the impressive estate of this mansion in Newport.

    Related: The Secret Histories of 15 Grand Old American Mansions

    flickr.com via Garret Voight 

  10. Wild Venus Flytraps in North Carolina

    Green Swamp North Carolina

    The Green Swamp Preserve of North Carolina is home to some of last surviving wild Venus flytraps. Visitors can spot the endangered carnivorous plant along the area’s hiking trails.

    Related: The 9 Spookiest Houseplants on God's Green Earth


  11. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas

    Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

    This protected region is one of the last surviving areas of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem that once covered 170 million acres of North America. Visitors can explore beautiful vistas, seasonal wildflowers, and observe a wild bison herd.

    Related: Endless Acres: 14 of the Biggest Properties in America


  12. Bristlecone Pines in Great Basin National Park, Nevada

    Great Basin Bristlecone Pine

    Theses twisted bristlecone pine trees, which can live for more than 4,000 years, strike impressive silhouettes in the landscape of the American West. Growing only in high altitudes, these ancient trees have tightly bundled tufts of needles that make them a sight to behold.

    Related: 10 Trees That Spell Trouble for Your Yard


  13. Air Plants in the Florida Everglades

    Everglades Plants

    These unique plants, native to the Everglades, grow nonparasitically on other trees and do not need to root in soil because they can absorb water and nutrients directly through their leaves. Formally known as bromeliads, they are actually part of the pineapple family.

    Related: 8 Exotic Houseplants You’ve Never Heard Of


  14. Wildflowers in the Great Smoky Mountains

    Great Smoky Mountains Wildflowers

    The rolling hills of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, straddling Tennessee and North Carolina, are home to more than 1,500 kinds of flowering plants. Blooms can be found year-round in this renowned preserve of wildflower diversity.

    Related: 25 Plants for Your Easiest Garden Ever


  15. Bluebonnets in Brenham, Texas

    Bluebonnets In Brenham

    Bluebonnets are the Lone Star State flower and spectacular sightings of them can be found in the fields and pastures of Brenham, Texas. The town operates a website that keeps a wildflower watch so prospective visitors know when the flowers are in full bloom—usually in early April.

    Related: 10 Fast-Growing Plants for (Almost) Instant Curb Appeal


  16. Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve in California

    Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve

    Seas of golden poppy flowers abound in this 1,700 acre preserve that features eight miles of trails through the gentle rolling hills. The poppies bloom from late March to early April, but can be slow or quick to flower when weather and sun conditions fluxuate.

    Related: 10 Ways to Weather-Proof Your Garden


  17. Fort Pierre National Grassland in South Dakota

    Fort Pierre National Grassland

    If you love wide open spaces and the beauty of grass waving in the wind, then this sprawling short grass prairie is an ideal destination. Cinephiles will note that the film "Dances with Wolves" was shot in this region.

    Related: 7 Fictional Towns You Can Visit in Real Life


  18. Rhododendrons Along the Blue Ridge Parkway

    Blue Ridge Parkway

    This flowering shrub has become an icon of the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 470-mile scenic road that connects Shenandoah National Park in Virginia with Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. The parkway also features flame azalea shrubs with brilliant orange flowers.

    Related: America's 50 Favorite Streets


  19. Forget-me-nots in Alaska

    Alaska Forget Me Not

    The charming blue forget-me-not is Alaska’s state flower and can be found in the alpine meadows of Denali National Park, along with a host of other spectacular scenery, both of which attract a stream of visitors during the growing season.

    Related: 17 Log Cabins We Love


  20. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in South Carolina

    Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

    The wild Romantic-style garden is one of the oldest public gardens in America, having welcomed visitors since 1870. Nestled on an antebellum plantation just outside Charleston, the gardens are said to be home to first azaleas brought to America.

    Related: The Best Small-Town Inns in All 50 States


  21. Don't Miss!


    With a pinch of effort and almost no upkeep, you can have the lush, beautiful garden of your dreams. The secret is to choose plant varieties that enjoy a little hardship. We’ve compiled the essential list of hardy flora, with tips for care and maintenance. Go now!