Pure garden: Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden
If you’re looking for a true botanical garden experience, there is no better place in the area! Expansive grounds are filled with exotic plants and flowers and miles of trails to walk. I specifically loved the spiny trees in the Forest of Madagascar and the brilliant orchids and waterfalls.
The conservatories are otherworldly – imagine white flowers and blue fish.
What did surprise me was the fact that I could enter the butterfly house at no extra cost. Tons of exotic butterflies flying around, gorgeous flowers, and hummingbirds!
Outside you can see plenty of wildlife including hummingbirds, and other birds of course, lizards, and one of the workers told me there was a crocodile in the pond! There is an edible garden, but nothing was visibly in bloom. Another fantastic feature is the glass Chihuly pieces around the garden – one of my favorite artists who has a love for working his art in harmony with nature.
Admission is hefty, be sure to ask for AAA, military, or any other discounts you may receive. You can definitely get your moneys worth by spending many hours enjoying the garden.
10901 Old Cutler Rd, Coral Gables, FL 33156
Garden and historic house: Vizcaya Museum and Garden
Sometimes architecture and landscaping is so skilled it can transport you to another place. Entering the garden I felt like I was back in Versailles! The massive former estate of James Deering is filled with artwork and ornate furniture.
There are no pictures inside the house, but plenty to take outside. I love backside of the house at the waters edge.
A barge is used as a breakwater to protect the house from waves, but it’s also fancily decorated with mythical sea creatures. There are so many little enclaves, nooks, crannies, and a maze garden – even with so many people you can still find yourself alone.
It’s so cool how the structures are built from coral different shells material.
The formal gardens are meticulously maintained.
Flowers, exotic tree, and wildlife are in no shortage. This is another hefty price tag, but be sure to ask about various discounts. It is another garden which you can spend at least a half day exploring.
3251 S Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33129
Odd Ball: Ancient Spanish Monastery
This little hidden gem of a garden houses the oldest building in America: a 12th century medieval Spanish monastery which was shipped over to America. A technicality, maybe, but amazing nonetheless. The architecture is exquisite and there are some informational plaques to learn more about it.
The gardens are small, but lush. Sit in the shade of the banyan tree out on the lawn, or take the path less traveled.
A short hike will lead you to a secret treasure, the labyrinth serenely placed in seclusion.
There are many cats, lizards, butterflies and birds.
Free, unless you want to pay for the museum exhibit. I wouldn’t plan your whole day around this little attraction, but it is a fun pit-stop.
16711 Dixie Hwy, North Miami Beach, FL 33160
Skip: The Kampong
I expected a lot more from this National Tropical Botanical Garden, which you have to call and make reservations in advance to visit. There was some beauty here to be sure, but on the whole it seemed a bit unkempt and not a lot going on overall.
Maybe I visited at the wrong time, but I didn’t think it was worth the hefty ticket price!
4013 Douglas Rd, Miami, FL 33133