Milwaukee's Most Stunning Gardens

  • 01 of 05

    From urban to rural

    ••• Lakeshore State Park with Discovery World in the background. Visit Milwaukee

    The Milwaukee area is filled with gardens that are a mix of suburban spreads and urban pockets. Whether you have a half day or a full day to explore, there are a variety of options. Between late spring and late October are the best times of the year to visit. Many of these gardens host events that celebrate the cultural arts, including outdoor concerts, poetry readings and educational events—such as classes, workshops and tours—that probe deeper into this region’s flora and fauna. Maybe you're a green thumb looking for new ideas for your garden, or perhaps you simply like to be in the great outdoors and taking in the beauty, here's where to go. Don't forget about the many public gardens along Lake Michigan's shoreline, in parks that include Lake Park and Atwater Park, as well as blooming beauties in front of Discovery World and the Milwaukee Art Museum. With the blue waters as a backdrop, you'll swear you've been transported to the East or West coast (yes, it's that stunning!).

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  • 02 of 05

    Boerner Botanical Gardens

    ••• Boerner Botanical Gardens. Visit Milwaukee

    What: Boerner Botanical Gardens

    Where: Hales Corners

    Tucked into a southwestern suburb, this is the Milwaukee area’s largest—and most extensive—garden when it comes to not only acreage but the vast number of plants, flowers and other living things. A visit typically takes between two and three hours. Peak season is, as you might expect, spring through fall but even then, the landscape can shift by the week. (This means you might want to visit more than once each season if at all possible!) In June the rose bushes will be in full bloom while tulips peak in May. Before your visit, check the website for news of events. For example, Wednesday evenings through the middle of May are yoga classes while garden walks are held on Wednesday nights from late May through the end of summer. Each week a different topic is the focus of the garden walk, such as herb gardens or introducing late-summer plants for increased fall color.

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  • 03 of 05

    Lynden Sculpture Garden

    ••• Lynden Sculpture Garden. Visit Milwaukee

    What: Lynden Sculpture Garden

    Where: Milwaukee (North Side)

    For art enthusiasts, this is the best garden to visit as the 40 acres are filled with 50 installations and larger-than-life sculptures. Many represent big names in the art world, such as Alexander Archipenko and Barbara Hepworth. Open only since 2010, this is also one of the area’s newest gardens, on the grounds of Peg and Harry Bradley’s former estate (the couple has since died but were collectors of art during their later years). Love nature? Then you will enjoy roaming through the garden’s woodlands and circling its lake. Classes in yoga, basket weaving and other activities blending meditation and the arts are offered at the garden. Check the website for further details.

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  • 04 of 05

    Renaissance Garden at Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum

    ••• Villa Terrace. Visit Milwaukee

    What: Renaissance Garden at Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum

    Where: Milwaukee (East Side)

    Along the eastern edge of Milwaukee’s East Side—flaunting views of Lake Michigan’s shoreline—this Italian villa built and designed by David Adler makes you feel as if you really are in Italy…and not the Midwest. Adler’s aim was to make the place feel like a 16th century villa in Northern Italy and he's nailed it. Villa Terrace hosts both permanent and rotating art shows, as well as live music in the courtyard. The best time to visit is during the summer months because that’s when the equally gorgeous gardens, also channeling Italy, are in bloom. Want to learn more about gardening? Check out the Friends of Villa Terrace Spring Garden Lecture Series, featuring celebrated garden experts like Melinda Myers.

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  • 05 of 05

    The Domes/Mitchell Park Conservatory

    ••• The Domes. Visit Milwaukee

    What: The Domes/Mitchell Park Conservatory
    Where: Milwaukee (South Side)

    This Milwaukee County park is one of the area’s few year-round spots to view plants and flowers, thanks to the conservatory domes (inside the Tropical dome, which mimics a jungle-like environment; and the Floral Show dome, with five rotating displays showcasing the seasons). (Pro tip: The Milwaukee Winter Farmers Market is held at the Domes’ Greenhouse Annex Saturday mornings between early November and early April, a great time to also stay and check out the gardens.) Bring a picnic lunch during the warmer months as the domes are in a beautiful setting in Mitchell Park, home to walking paths and a pond.