This Friday, You Can Visit More Than 150 of the Best Gardens in the U.S. for Free

Celebrate National Public Gardens Day May 11

The Desert Pavilion at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. (Hector A Parayuelos)
smithsonian.com

One short walk through nature can improve your short-term memory, relieve stress and even boost your immune system. So if spring’s hectic energy is starting to take a toll, mark your calendar for May 11 to celebrate National Public Gardens Day.

Since 2009, the American Public Gardens Association has hosted the day to raise awareness of botanical gardens, arboreta, conservatories and public gardens across the country. This year, more than 150 public gardens across the country will participate in the annual National Public Gardens Day. Visitors can enjoy free admission alongside special activities liked guided tours, contests or partnerships with local businesses.

New Yorkers can escape the concrete jungle with free visits to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Queens Botanical Garden. Visitors will be seeing the parks in peak spring bloom with bluebells, peonies, wisteria, roses and more at their most colorful.

Chihuly Garden and Glass Candles
Chihuly Garden and Glass Candles (Dick Thompson)

Those in D.C. can visit the Smithsonian Gardens or the United States Botanic Garden (which are also free all year long). Both gardens will host walking tours on that day, including a special look at the Botanic Garden’s Rose Garden as it blooms.

Cherry Esplanade
Cherry Esplanade (lightphoto / iStock)

In Los Angeles, admission and tours of the Getty Center and Villa will be free. A free tour of the Getty Center will allow visitors to watch the annual release of ladybugs and praying mantis egg cases.

Those who like a bit of art with their nature can visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle featuring the work of Dale Chihuly and win a prize from the gift shop for their visit. If you’re more into cacti than roses, a visit to the Tucson Botanical Gardens has free admission to all gardens, including one filled solely with cacti and succulents.

Desert Pavilion at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden
The Desert Pavilion at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. (Hector A Parayuelos)

The event includes scenic nature reserves well outside of cities, too. In North Carolina, visitors to the Southern Highlands Reserve will take home a free native plant when they visit on National Public Gardens Day.

Visit the Public Gardens website for a complete list and map of participating gardens and offers.

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