Top Philadelphia-Area Gardens and Arboretums

Historic and Beautiful Gardens to Feast the Senses On

Longwood Gardens
••• Longwood Gardens. Moment Editorial / Getty Images / Getty Images

The Greater Philadelphia/South Jersey area is home to some of the nation's oldest and most beautiful botanical gardens and arboretums. No matter where you are in the area, you can reach one of these gardens in an easy drive. Besides being list-toppers, these are geographically diverse and have appeal for a variety of ages. 

  • 01 of 10
    An Italian water garden in Longwood Gardens
    ••• An Italian water garden in Longwood Gardens. Getty Images/John Greim/LOOP IMAGES

    The queen of the region and one of the world's premier horticultural display gardens, Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, was created by industrialist Pierre S. du Pont and includes 1,050 acres of gardens, woodlands, and meadows; 20 outdoor gardens; 20 indoor gardens; spectacular fountains; and performing arts events that include concerts, organ and carillon recitals; musical theater; and fireworks displays. Longwood is open every day of the year and annually attracts more than 900,000 visitors.

  • 02 of 10
    Bartram's Garden, landmark garden, oldest living botanic garden in America, 1728, Philadelphia, Pennyslvania
    ••• Bartram's Garden, oldest living botanic garden in America. Getty Images/Barry Winiker

    Just minutes from the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and the Betsy Ross House is America's oldest botanical garden, a pastoral 18th-century homestead surrounded by the urban bustle of Philadelphia. You won't believe you are in the city when you see the wildflower meadow, majestic trees, river trail, wetland, stone house and farm buildings overlooking the Schuylkill River, and, of course, the historic botanical garden of American native plants.

  • 03 of 10
    the main house at the Chanticleer Garden.
    ••• The main house at the Chanticleer Garden. Wikimedia Commons/Chanticleer Garden/Derek Ramsey

    Located on the Main Line in Wayne, Pennsylvania, Chanticleer is the former residence of chemical magnate Adolph Rosengarten Sr. Now a "pleasure garden" designed to illustrate the beauty of the art of horticulture, Chanticleer features orchards of flowering trees with native wildflowers blooming in the woods, a vegetable garden, cut-flower garden and numerous fruit trees. A woodland garden carpeted with exotic groundcover leads to a water garden surrounded by grasses and sweet-smelling herbs.

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    Morris Arboretum
    ••• Morris Arboretum. Wikimedia Commons/Daderot

    The Morris Arboretum is an interdisciplinary center that integrates art, science and the humanities amid thousands of rare and lovely woody plants. These include many of Philadelphia's oldest, rarest and largest trees set in a romantic, 92-acre, Victorian landscape garden of winding paths, streams, flowers and special garden areas.

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  • 05 of 10
    Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Philadelphia in spring.
    ••• Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Philadelphia in spring. Wikimedia Commons/松風荘

    The Japanese House and Garden (Shofuso) is one of the most notable and unusual attractions in Philadelphia. This shoin-zukuri (desk-centered) house, built in 16th-century style, is on the grounds of the Horticultural Center in the West Philadelphia section of Fairmount Park. The perfectly proportioned architecture of the main structure and adjoining tea house is enhanced by an ornamental garden and picturesque pond.

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    Camden Children's Garden is a great place for the young to explore and discover the natural world. Located adjacent to the Adventure Aquarium (formerly the New Jersey State Aquarium) on the Camden, New Jersey waterfront, the garden provides horticultural experiences for creative and imaginative play. The 4-acre interactive garden includes an amphitheater, butterfly garden, carousel, dinosaur garden, maze, picnic garden, railroad garden, storybook gardens, and treehouse.

  • 07 of 10
    Wissahickon Creek in Fairmount Park.
    ••• Wissahickon Creek in Fairmount Park. Getty Images/John Couture

    America's first zoo is located in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, and, in addition to its superb animal collection, includes a 42-acre Victorian garden with more than 30,000 species of plant life. Among its special horticulture features are a 216-year-old English elm planted by John Penn, William Penn's grandson; a rare Chinese wingnut tree; and endangered American chestnut trees.

  • 08 of 10
    Observatory at Swarthmore College
    ••• Observatory at Swarthmore College. Wikimedia Commons/Smallbones

    The Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, is a garden of ideas and suggestions. Encompassing more than 300 acres of the Swarthmore College campus and exhibiting more than 4,000 kinds of ornamental plants, the arboretum displays some of the best trees, shrubs, vines, and perennials for use in the region.

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  • 09 of 10
    General view of John J. Tyler Arboretum
    ••• John J. Tyler Arboretu. Wikimedia Commons/Daderot

    Located in Media, Pennsylvania, in Delaware County, the Tyler Arboretum is one of the oldest and largest arboretums in the Northeast, encompassing 650 acres of horticultural collections, rare specimens, ancient trees, historic buildings and extensive hiking trails. Highlights include an 85-acre pinetum, the Stopford Family meadow maze, Pink Hill, and 450 uncultivated acres that remain natural and contain 20 miles of marked trails used by hikers, birders and naturalists.

  • 10 of 10
    View of the House from the Reflecting Pool
    ••• View of Winterthur from the reflecting pool. Wikimedia Commons/Flickr/Harvey Barrison

    Located on Delaware Route 52, in the Brandywine Valley, 6 miles northwest of Wilmington, Winterthur is less than an hour south of Philadelphia. It was founded by Henry Francis du Pont. It has color throughout the year, which may be seen on a narrated tram ride or self-guided walk featuring early spring blooming plants, hillsides of daffodils, 8 acres of mature and rare azaleas and rhododendrons, a quarry garden with rare primulas, the Sundial Garden, reflecting pool and ponds, and a 3-acre children's garden -- the Enchanted Woods.