Experience Nature with the Ultimate Garden Passport

Estimated read time 20 min read

Imagine embarking on a whimsical fairy hunt with your kids at Harry P. Leu Gardens, or being serenaded by the resonant melodies of a carillon concert at Bok Tower Gardens. Picture stumbling upon a hidden unicorn in the bustling heart of Miami Beach or catching sight of the miraculous Jesus lizard walking on water at Mounts Botanical Gardens. The most exhilarating part? All these magical experiences could be yours for less than $50 a year, and not just in Florida but across North America!

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The American Horticultural Society offers a passport to nature’s wonderlands through its Reciprocal Admissions Program. This extraordinary membership gives you special admission privileges and discounts at over 345 public gardens in Florida, throughout North America, and even in Canada and some Caribbean islands. That’s right, you’re not confined to just one locale; this passport is your ticket to a world brimming with flora, fauna, and endless opportunities to experience nature in its fullest glory.

A Word of Caution: The 90-Mile Rule
When choosing your local garden membership, be mindful of the 90-mile exclusion rule. Some gardens enforce a strict policy prohibiting reciprocal visits if you reside within 90 miles of that particular garden. Before diving in, check the specifics to ensure your home base won’t limit your adventurous spirit.

Whether you’re a seasoned botanist or a family of nature-loving explorers, this membership is your gateway to some of the most breathtaking gardens across North American continent. From tropical paradises to serene woodland settings, you’re invited to experience nature in ways you never thought possible. So, are you ready to turn your green dreams into reality? Let’s make this journey unforgettable!

***Always call ahead as some gardens have changed procedures or suspended tours during the pandemic.  Some now require a reservation while others may not be accepting reciprocal members at the time.

Experience Nature at Florida’s Botanical Gardens

You can visit 24 participating members throughout Florida.  Each has its own individual style and gardens with something worth finding.

Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens

633 Osceola Avenue

Winter Park, FL 32789

(407) 647-6294

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Dive into the Creative World of Czech Sculptor Albin Polasek

Step into a realm where art and nature harmoniously intertwine at the former home of acclaimed Czech sculptor Albin Polasek. This fascinating mansion, nestled amid the tranquil shores of Lake Osceola, provides an intimate peek into Polasek’s life and creative brilliance.

You’ll feel as though you’ve entered a living gallery as you walk through the meticulously manicured gardens.

Every corner brims with artistic flair and hidden treasures, setting the perfect stage to experience nature’s beauty. The gardens themselves are a canvas, accentuating the brilliant sculptures and installations that punctuate the space.

While the gardens enchant you, the interiors of Polasek’s residence pull you deeper into his world. Learn about the milestones that marked his illustrious career, view an array of his masterpieces, and perhaps even get inspired to tap into your own artistic tendencies.

Don’t miss the chance to appreciate the panoramic vistas of Lake Osceola, serving as the natural backdrop to this sanctuary of art. Whether you’re a devoted art enthusiast or a nature lover looking for a unique outing, a visit to Albin Polasek’s awe-inspiring abode offers an enriching experience that stirs the soul. Come and be captivated!

home albin polasek

American Orchid Society

10901 Old Cutler Rd

Miami, FL 33156

(305) 740-2010

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Bok Tower Gardens

1151 Tower Boulevard

Lake Wales, FL 33853

(863) 676-1408

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Where Pulitzer Prize-Winning Legacy Meets Unmatched Natural Beauty

High atop one of Florida’s loftiest elevations stands the iconic Singing Tower of Bok Tower Gardens, a testament to the visionary spirit of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward W. Bok. But this sanctuary offers so much more than just remarkable vistas. For families—especially the little adventurers—the Children’s Garden unfolds as a wonderland teeming with imagination and discovery.

The moment you step into this enchanting space, it’s as if you’ve been whisked away into a fairy tale. Unleash your inner Tarzan as you maneuver through the oversized spider web, a challenge that promises giggles and a hint of thrill. And that’s just a start!

Venture further to discover the outdoor kids’ theatre, a stage set for budding thespians to enact their favorite tales or invent new sagas. On a hot Florida day, the splash zone offers a delightful respite, encouraging play and laughter under the sun-soaked sky.

And let’s not forget the heart of Bok Tower Gardens—the majestic Singing Tower. With its carillon bells echoing melodious tunes, the tower serves as the poetic soul of this green utopia, drawing nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

For a family-friendly, budget-conscious outing that marries nature, history, and imagination, Bok Tower Gardens stands as a must-visit jewel in Florida’s crown. It’s an experience in nature that resonates on multiple levels, leaving you and your family with memories to cherish. Get ready to be inspired!

Bok Tower Gardens

Botanical Gardens at Sanibel Moorings Resort

845 East Gulf Drive

Sanibel, FL 33957

(239) 472-4119

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Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

829 Riverside Avenue

Jacksonville, FL 32204

(904) 356-6857

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Where the St. John’s River Meets Interactive Art for the Whole Family

Nestled alongside the tranquil waters of the St. John’s River, this Jacksonville gem is more than just a set of gardens; it’s a sanctuary where families can experience nature, art, and interactive learning in one enchanting outing.

The adventure doesn’t stop at the gardens! Inside the art museum, there’s an imaginative world that unfolds for your little ones. In the interactive children’s area, hands-on activities abound. Here, kids have the freedom to create their own masterpieces, engage in make-and-take projects, and ignite their creative spark.

Cummer museum gardens

Edison & Ford Winter Estates

2350 McGregor Boulevard

Fort Myers, FL 33901

(239) 334-7419

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Where Ford’s Automotive Legacy Meets Edison’s Ingenuity Along the Caloosahatchee River

This engaging site, located along the gorgeous Caloosahatchee River, offers a rare peek into the lives and inventions of two American titans: Henry Ford and Thomas Edison.

You’re not just visiting a museum when you enter the estate; you’re entering a realm where industrial progress meets natural serenity. Witness Ford’s pioneering automotive legacy come alive as you peruse an impressive collection of iconic Ford cars. Venture further, and you’ll find yourself stepping into the past, in Edison’s very own lab. Discover where the magic of invention unfolded, and you’ll even stumble upon Edison’s private swimming pool—a testament to his ingenuity and flair for luxury.

classic ford

Everglades Wonder Gardens

27180 Old 41 Road

Bonita Springs, FL 34135

(239) 992-2591

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Wonder Gardens provides a refuge for Florida’s rescued wildlife including alligators, flamingos, tortoises, macaws, and more.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

10901 Old Cutler Road

Coral Gables, FL 33156

(305) 667-1651

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Where Expedition Discovery Meets the Ultimate Rainforest Experience in the U.S.


Fairchild Botanical Garden is your dream come true if you’ve ever wanted to descend into the depths of a tropical rainforest without leaving the United States. This beautiful paradise is the leading destination in the country for exploring the richness of tropical ecosystems.
Picture walking beneath towering palms, marveling at vibrant orchids, and hearing the distant call of exotic birds—it’s an experience nature aficionados and adventurous families alike will adore.

But the adventure doesn’t stop at mere sightseeing. The garden elevates the experience by offering the Expedition Discovery program, a treasure trove of exploratory missions designed for the youngest adventurers in the family. Just imagine the look of joy and wonder on your child’s face as they become a certified explorer, following a self-paced, month-changing series of missions designed to engage, educate, and inspire.

Whether identifying rare plants or solving nature-based puzzles, these missions turn the garden into a playground of discovery. Kids not only learn about the diversity and importance of tropical ecosystems but also develop a love and respect for the world around them—all while having an absolute blast!

Experience nature - rainforest path fairchild botanical garden

Flamingo Gardens

3750 South Flamingo Road

Davie, FL 33330

(954) 473-2955

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A once upon a time orange grove turned into one of the last natural jungles in South Florida, featuring the largest tree in Florida.  

Florida Botanical Gardens

12520 Ulmerton Road

Largo , FL 33774

(727) 582-2100

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Experience Nature and History at Florida Botanical Gardens

If you’re craving a spot where you can both experience nature and enrich your cultural understanding, the Florida Botanical Gardens is the place to be. This vibrant hub of greenery and community activities is not just a garden—it’s an eventful escape that offers something for everyone.

From calming yoga sessions to the buzzing energy of hops night, this venue’s events calendar is a feast for the senses. For the green-thumbed visitors, seasonal plant sales and informative garden tours offer a deeper dive into the world of horticulture. And when the holidays come around, the gardens transform into a magical spectacle of lights, making it a must-see for the season.

But that’s not all—this is a 2-in-1 stop that keeps on giving. Adjacent to the gardens, you’ll find the Heritage Village, a living museum featuring 33 historic attractions. Picture stepping into authentic homes, a rustic general store, a railroad depot, schools, and even a church, all beautifully preserved to take you back in time.

And for the youngest adventurers, the Majeed Discovery children’s garden is an emerging space designed for exploration and learning. Though still under development with ongoing fundraising, this is set to become an essential part of the garden’s educational offerings.

With its sprawling layout featuring numerous thematic gardens, the Florida Botanical Gardens offer a pleasantly vast walking experience for those who love to wander. Families, nature lovers, history buffs, and even the budget-conscious explorers will find it a fulfilling day out.

So why wait? Come experience nature in a setting where both natural beauty and rich history come to life. It’s an immersive, family-friendly adventure that’s sure to captivate your heart and imagination.

gazebo in the garden

Goodwood Museum & Gardens

1600 Miccosukee Road

Tallahassee, FL 32308

(850) 877-4202

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Feel free to explore the main house and grounds virtually.  Learn about its link to the Marquis De Lafayette and embrace a history told of the exchanges and fall of wealth and slavery in North Florida.  The four antebellum buildings that still stand were built by the enslaved although little else remains of their story.  

Harry P. Leu Gardens

1920 North Forest Avenue

Orlando, FL 32803

(407) 246-2620

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Where Imagination and Learning Blossom

Harry P. Leu Gardens is far from your typical garden—it’s a kaleidoscope of experiences that transforms with the seasons. During the summer, this gorgeous attraction transforms into a fanciful playground with its wonderful Fairy Hunt, kindling imaginations and generating a feeling of wonder in both children and adults.

But the good times don’t stop there! From September 10 to October 31, the gardens take an educational twist with the Alphabet Plant Hunt, making it an ideal spot for young learners. It’s a delightful mix of nature and alphabet, teaching kids in the most engaging way possible.

If you’re more into relaxing under the stars, Harry P. Leu Gardens also offers moonlit movie nights. Imagine snuggling up on a blanket with your loved ones, surrounded by lush greenery as your favorite film plays on the big screen. And for the music aficionados, the concerts here bring a touch of elegance to your visit, setting the mood with melodious tunes amid nature’s beauty.

Leu Gardens Landing

Heathcote Botanical Gardens

210 Savannah Road

Fort Pierce, FL 34982

(772) 464-4672

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The children’s garden features a chickee hut built in the traditional Seminole way with open sides and a thatched roof, a Pioneer cabin, and a mosaic hopscotch.  Other features of interest are the Japanese garden with traditional elements and symbols, the reflection garden and pond, and the Palm & Cycad Walk through the tropics with unique specimens from all over the world.

Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens

1445 Millcoe Road

Jacksonville, FL 32225

(904) 318-4342

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This one is awesome for its nature trails marked from easiest to hardest.  The live oak trail is a moderate 0.5 mile trail with a 125-year-old live oak tree, pine flatwoods, and native honeysuckle azalea. Look for the blooms in white or pink with red in early spring.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens – Downtown campus

1534 Mount Street

Sarasota, FL 34236

(941) 366-5731

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Discover the Multifaceted Beauty of This Exceptional Children’s Garden

Looking to experience nature in an unforgettable way? Step into this awe-inspiring children’s garden where natural wonders await you at every turn. A majestic 100-year-old Banyan tree rises tall in the midst of this lush haven, as if guarding the garden’s secret treasures.

But that’s just the start! As you stroll through the canopy walk, which is high above the ground and provides a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding splendor. Pause for a moment to listen to the symphony of the 12-foot waterfall cascading down, its melodious sound merging with the songs of native birds.

Fluttering amid the vibrant colors of the butterfly garden, you’ll find a dazzling array of winged wonders. And for those intrigued by unique vegetation, the air plant garden is a revelation! It’s a living exhibit that teaches while it dazzles, perfect for the nature-loving parent or the adventurous family.

selby treehouse

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens – Historic Spanish Point campus

337 North Tamiami Trail

Osprey, FL 34229

(941) 366-5731

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Unlock the Wonders of Nature and History at This Bayfront Sanctuary

Calling all nature lovers, history buffs, and educators! This Bayfront sanctuary is more than just a scenic escape; it’s a living classroom teeming with native Florida flora and rich regional history. Ideal for homeschoolers, teachers, and those yearning to experience nature in an educational setting, the garden offers an array of free resources designed to enrich the mind and ignite curiosity.

Step back in time as you explore the fascinating tales of Historic Spanish Point Pioneers. Wander through lush mangroves and estuaries that serve as the lifeblood of Florida’s intricate ecosystem. Take a deep dive into the complex world of rainforests, understanding their critical role in our planet’s health.

historic spanish point

McKee Botanical Garden

350 U.S. Highway 1

Vero Beach, FL 32962

(772) 794-0601

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The children’s garden here features Exploration, Storytime, and Moving to Music in the gardens.  It’s an 18 acre tropical hammock filled with splashing and adventure for the kids.  It’s not all about the kids though, walking through the Grand Central Stickwork Sculpture will have you feeling like a kid in a magical garden too. 

Miami Beach Botanical Garden

2000 Convention Center Drive

Miami Beach, FL 33139

(305) 673-7256

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Discover an Urban Oasis in the Heart of Miami Beach

Seek and you shall find—a hidden unicorn graces the landscape, turning a stroll into a whimsical scavenger hunt. Perfect for reflective souls, strategically placed garden seats offer havens of tranquility, ideal for introspection or casual conversations with friends and family.

But the magic doesn’t end there! Regularly scheduled events enrich the already captivating atmosphere. Energize your week with Wednesday yoga sessions designed to harmonize body and mind. Elevate your spirits with open-air concerts that showcase a variety of musical genres, offering something for every musical palate. And for those in search of spiritual serenity, the garden provides the perfect backdrop for meditative moments, connecting you deeper with the natural world around you.

Miami Beach Botanical Garden

Mounts Botanical Garden of Palm Beach County

531 North Military Trail

West Palm Beach, FL 33415

(561) 233-1757

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Experience Nature Like Never Before at Mounts Botanical Gardens

Picture this: You’re meandering through the Garden of Tranquility, a calming oasis where each step brings you closer to inner peace. Suddenly, out of the corner of your eye, you spot something extraordinary—a Jesus Lizard (Brown Basilisk), living its best life as it skips across a pond, almost as if walking on water! Yes, you read that right. This garden offers not just tranquility but also moments of pure wonder.

Mounts Botanical Gardens isn’t just any botanical garden; it’s a South Florida treasure where you can truly experience nature in all its glory. From art journaling classes designed to tap into your inner creative genius to the Garden of Tranquility where silence is golden, there’s something for everyone.

But back to that Jesus Lizard—this spectacle is a rare find and a testament to the garden’s thriving biodiversity. Nicknamed for its ability to ‘walk’ on water thanks to specialized feet, it’s a sight that will leave you and your family buzzing with excitement. And here’s the scoop: sightings of this nonnative lizard are becoming increasingly common in South Florida, making Mounts Botanical Gardens a hotspot for this unique animal encounter.

garden bridge

Ormond Beach Memorial Art Museum and Gardens

78 East Granada Boulevard

Ormond Beach, FL 32176

(386) 676-3347

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You will find interactive experiences here that blend art and garden well, such as a color hunt in the gardens in summer, a virtual felt pumpkin workshop in October, and a free virtual family art night monthly.

Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens

5800 Riverside Drive

Punta Gorda, FL 33982

(941) 621-8299

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Look forward to the Gardens Aglow in December for a walk-through experience among the twinkling lights with S’mores, Christmas Carols, & a socially distant Santa.

Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens

2410 SE Westmoreland Boulevard

Port St. Lucie, FL 34952

(772) 337-1959

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A Nature Experience for All Ages

Port St. Lucie Gardens is as a delightful pit stop on your journey to South Florida along I-95. What sets this haven apart? It’s not just a garden; it’s an entire experience for nature enthusiasts and families alike, fully ADA-compliant and welcoming to all.

Begin your exploration on a spacious six-foot-wide walking path, designed for easy accessibility. Your first stop might be the enchanting outdoor orchid room where colorful blooms captivate your senses. The kids won’t be able to resist the allure of the faerie forest, a whimsical space that captures the imagination.

But don’t rush; the experience of nature here is both bountiful and varied. Wander through a vibrant hibiscus garden, marvel at the unique foliage on Bromeliad Island, and if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, uncover the secret garden that promises a serene escape.

Oh, and did we mention the art? Sculptures and artwork are seamlessly blended into the natural surroundings, adding a cultural flair to your botanical journey. Every twist and turn reveals a new surprise, making Port St. Lucie Gardens an ever-evolving canvas of natural beauty and artistic expression.

orchid room

Sunken Gardens

1825 Fourth Street North

St. Petersburg, FL 33704

(727) 551-3102

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Visit the oldest tropical plants in the area at this hundred year old garden that used to be an Old Florida roadside attraction.  It’s also home to a captivating flock of flamingos.

University of South Florida Botanical Garden

Pine and Alumni Drives

Tampa, FL 33620

(813) 910-3274

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Reap the Rewards of Nature: Elevate Your Well-being & Immerse in Natural Wonders

Did you know a leisurely stroll through nature could be your secret weapon against stress and mental fog? You read that right! Recent studies are all buzzing about how a nature walk, compared to an urban one, not only boosts your memory but also alleviates anxiety. It’s a double win! Even spending just 120 minutes per week immersed in natural settings has been linked to significant improvements in overall well-being and health. So, what are you waiting for?

Amplify Your Nature Experience with Interactive Activities

Sure, you can opt for a tranquil walk among the blooms and greens, but why not spice up your adventure a bit? Here’s how:

Become a Citizen Scientist: Get involved with iNaturalist.org and engage in observations or contribute your own. You can join localized projects like the Orlando Wetlands Park and connect with a community that values nature just as much as you do.

Embrace the Hashtag Challenge: Get those creative juices flowing as you search for plants that fit unique hashtags. Thanks to Selby Gardens for this fun idea—tag them @selbygardens as you play along!

#iwannaliveinit

#ifiwereaplantidbethisone

#lookinsharp

#flowerchild

#canitakeithome

#cantbeleafitsreal

#newbestbud

#biggestshowoff

#sayhellotomylittlefrond

Go Old-School with Nature Journaling: Grab a journal and some art supplies to engage in these easy yet insightful activities:

  • Sketch your own shadow, capturing how the sunlight plays with forms.
  • Take note of seasonal indicators—colors, sounds, and temperatures.
  • Look up and document what’s happening in the sky—cloud formations, bird activity, and changing weather patterns.
  • Delve deep into a study of your favorite tree or flower, capturing its unique traits in your journal.

Join the Community: The Children & Nature Network champions family-oriented nature activities, enhancing communication, bonding, and memory-making. Their Family Nature Club kit can serve as your personal guide to organize outings.

More Ways to Save

On a budget? Keep an eye out on Groupon for garden membership deals. I snagged a two-year family pass to Sunken Gardens for just $30 thanks to a timely Groupon find!

So, let me know if you try any of these nature experiences! We’re ticking them off our list—one vibrant garden at a time. Which ones have caught your eye? Share your favorites in the comments below!

And hey, if you’re not near Florida, don’t sweat it. Gardens bloom everywhere, waiting for explorers like you to unearth their natural treasures. So go ahead, find your garden and dive into your very own nature experience!

OUR FAVORITE TRAVEL TIPS & RESOURCES

We know how important it is to save money so we can have more to spend on the things we love.

Here are our favorite travel resources for saving money and planning your trips.

  • Booking Flights: To compare flights and set price alerts, search on Google Flights or . 
  • Accommodations: We typically stay in mid-range or boutique hotels with loyalty programs.  That way we earn ourselves free stays to help extend our vacations and getaways for free.  Learn more about earning your free stays here.  For vacation rentals, we prefer to book using VRBO (for the lower fees and better support than Airbnb, sorry, we’re not big fans of the alternative) You can also book vacation rentals on . 
  • Travel Insurance: We feel pretty strongly about this, travel insurance is a MUST for international trips, and if you still aren’t sure why, check out our Travel Horror Stories. We recommend comparing your options with Squaremouth , learn more here
  • Local Attractions:  We utilize memberships to help us see more when we travel. NARM members get free or discounted access to reciprocal member Art museums, Arboretums, Historic Sites, and Nature Centers throughout North America. AHS reciprocal membership includes gardens throughout the U.S. and Canada. ASTC membership gives reciprocal access to Science Centers and Museums. America the Beautiful National Parks Pass allows entry into National Parks for $80 annually.  You could spend less than $300 for all 4 memberships depending on your local museums and have access to hundreds of museums, parks, and gardens.  Memberships often pop up on Groupon so always look there first.
  • Save more with loyalty programs, read how to get more free flights and hotels here.

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1 Comment

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  1. 1
    Sean

    This is a great hack, especially for families looking to save some money. I never realized you could get a pass at one place and it was good at so many places. Thanks for the great advice!!!

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