The 8 Best Botanical Gardens in North Carolina

Written by Stella Bouldin
Updated: October 13, 2023
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North Carolina is a land of natural beauty and diversity, with its picturesque landscapes, stunning mountains, and pristine coastlines. Among its many attractions, the state boasts some of the most breathtaking botanical gardens in the country. 

In this article, we’ll take a captivating journey through the lush landscapes of North Carolina’s botanical gardens, each offering a unique blend of natural wonders and horticultural excellence. 

These gardens are not just important for their beauty, but also for their role in conservation and education. Let’s dive into the green oasis of botanical gardens in North Carolina and discover what makes each of them a must-visit destination.

1. Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Durham

Nestled within the heart of Duke University, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens is a 55-acre paradise for nature lovers. It features four distinct sections, each with its own character, including the Historic Gardens, Doris Duke Center Gardens, Culberson Asiatic Arboretum, and Blomquist Garden of Native Plants.

The Sarah P. Duke Gardens is a living classroom, a hub of botanical research, and a serene retreat. It offers year-round educational programs, making it an essential resource for horticultural enthusiasts.

This garden shines in every season, from the fiery fall foliage to the blooming azaleas in spring. Its Japanese Tea House and koi pond add an air of peace and serenity.

Location: 420 Anderson St, Durham, NC 27708

Must-See Nearby: Duke Chapel, a stunning example of Gothic architecture, is just a stone’s throw away.

2. North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville

NC Arboretum

The North Carolina Arboretum’s Quilt Garden showcases stunning horticultural designs.

©JillLang/iStock via Getty Images

Located in the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, the North Carolina Arboretum spans over 434 acres. It features beautifully landscaped gardens, walking trails, and a wealth of educational exhibits.

This arboretum plays a vital role in conserving the region’s native plants, making it an essential site for ecological preservation.

The Bonsai Exhibition Garden, with its intricate miniature trees, is a must-see. Also, the Quilt Garden showcases stunning horticultural designs.

Location: 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC 28806

Must-See Nearby: The breathtaking Blue Ridge Parkway, offering unparalleled scenic drives, is just minutes away.

3. Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, Belmont

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden Fountain, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, North Carolina

The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden features themed gardens, sparkling fountains, and an Orchid Conservatory.

©Robert Nunnally, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden spans 380 acres along the banks of Lake Wylie. It features themed gardens, sparkling fountains, and an Orchid Conservatory.

The garden hosts various events and educational programs, making it an engaging place for both visitors and locals.

The sparkling fountains in the Allee Garden and the Orchid Conservatory, home to a diverse collection of orchid species, are highlights.

Location: 6500 S New Hope Rd, Belmont, NC 28012

Must-See Nearby: The nearby Nellie’s Southern Kitchen offers a delightful dining experience.

4. Cape Fear Botanical Garden, Fayetteville

Located in Fayetteville, this 80-acre garden offers a delightful escape into nature. Cape Fear Botanical Garden features a butterfly house, camellia collection, and serene water features.

The garden’s butterfly house is one of its unique attractions, providing visitors with an up-close look at these delicate creatures.

The Heritage Garden showcases plants significant to the region’s history, and the natural beauty of the Cape Fear River is just a stone’s throw away.

Location: 536 N Eastern Blvd, Fayetteville, NC 28301

Must-See Nearby: The historic downtown district of Fayetteville offers a glimpse into the area’s rich past.

5. Juniper Level Botanic Garden, Raleigh

This 28-acre garden is part of Plant Delights Nursery, renowned for its rare and exotic plant collection. The Juniper Level Botanic Garden showcases a diverse range of plants.

Plant lovers and researchers find this resource invaluable for preserving rare species.

The garden’s extensive collection of agaves, yuccas, and other exotic plants is a standout feature.

Location: 9241 Sauls Rd, Raleigh, NC 27603

Must-See Nearby: The nearby J.C. Raulston Arboretum is another horticultural gem in Raleigh.

6. Elizabethan Gardens, Manteo

Elizabethan Gardens in North Carolina

Elizabethan Gardens is a tribute to the first English settlers and features period-appropriate flora.

©Captain-tucker, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Tucked away on Roanoke Island, the Elizabethan Gardens is a tribute to the first English settlers in America. It covers 10 acres and is filled with period-appropriate flora.

This garden transports visitors back in time to the Elizabethan era, offering a unique historical perspective.

The famous statue of Queen Elizabeth I and the tranquil sunken garden are highlights.

Location: 1411 National Park Dr, Manteo, NC 27954

Must-See Nearby: Roanoke Island Festival Park offers an immersive look into the area’s history.

7. Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet

Night Heron perched on a fence with Bokeh background. Taken in Brookgreen Gardens, South Carolina.

Brookgreen Gardens combines horticultural excellence with art and wildlife conservation.

©Trisha McQuade/

Although technically in South Carolina, Brookgreen Gardens is a short drive from North Carolina’s border. This 9,100-acre garden features sculpture gardens, wildlife exhibits, and more.

It’s one of the largest and most diverse botanical gardens in the Southeast, combining horticultural excellence with art and wildlife conservation.

The extensive collection of American figurative sculpture is a rare sight in a botanical garden.

Location: 1931 Brookgreen Dr, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576

Must-See Nearby: Huntington Beach State Park, known for its pristine beaches and bird-watching opportunities, is just a short drive away.

8. Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve, Cary

Hemlock Bluffs is a 245-acre nature preserve located in the heart of Cary. It’s known for its unique population of Eastern Hemlock trees and diverse flora.

This preserve plays a vital role in the conservation of the Eastern Hemlock, a tree species threatened by invasive pests.

The elevated boardwalk trail offers stunning views of the bluffs and the rare Piedmont Monadnock terrain.

Location: 2616 Kildaire Farm Rd, Cary, NC 27518

Must-See Nearby: The town of Cary is filled with charming shops and restaurants.

North Carolina’s botanical gardens are not just places of beauty and tranquility; they are living classrooms, centers of research, and hubs of conservation. 

From the serene Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham to the historical Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo, each garden offers a unique experience for visitors. Whether you’re a plant enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat into nature, these gardens have something for everyone.

So, the next time you find yourself in the Tar Heel State, don’t miss the opportunity to explore these lush green sanctuaries. Whether you’re marveling at exotic plants, strolling through themed gardens, or learning about the history of the region, North Carolina’s botanical gardens have it all. Plan your visit today and let the natural wonders of these gardens inspire and rejuvenate your soul.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © klenger/iStock via Getty Images

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About the Author

Stella is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel and animals. She has over 20 years of professional writing experience. She holds a doctorate degree and several writing certifications. Stella is a digital nomad currently living in Mexico. As she has a passion for travel, she has also lived in China, S. Korea, Thailand, Kenya, and Ecuador in the past ten years. Stella has two rescue dogs, Paisley and Tinosa who travel with her around the world. Her hobbies include reading, quilting, and meeting new people.

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