You know what they say – “April showers bring May flowers.” That means it’s time to take advantage of strolling through one of the many gorgeous gardens near our Queen City. We’re lucky that North Carolina packs a punch when it comes to beautiful blooms and places to see them.
Below, we’ve broken down the best gardens to enjoy in NC. You’ll love these top picks for their scenery, location, and surrounding amenities. Take a peak and know everything is organized based on proximity to Charlotte – furthest away at the top and closest to Charlotte at the bottom.
Heading to the coast right about now sounds like a perfect and much needed change of scenery! Luckily, your beach trip can also be your coastal garden strolling adventure – two birds, one stone. Checkout two wonderful gardens to explore, one in New Bern and the other along the Outer Banks in Manteo.
Estimated Drive Time: 4-hours and 20-minutes to New Bern, NC | 5-hours and 30-minutes to Manteo, NC
Gardens to Stroll: Visit the The Tryon Palace Gardens in New Bern, NC to stroll through formal gardens reminiscent of 18th-century Britain. Across the 16 acres of gardens and landscapes you’ll also find historic homes and a special herb and vegetable garden next to the palace kitchen. If you or a family member is an Outlander fan, you’ll know Tryon Palace is center-stage for recent seasons of the popular Starz series – checkout their exclusive Outlander tours here.
For adventures along the Outer Banks, head to The Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo, NC. This year the gardens are celebrating their 70th anniversary and you won’t want to miss their ancient oak tree (estimated to be alive since 1585) or the rose sent by Queen Elizabeth II from Windsor Castle.
Where to Stay: In Manteo, enjoy The White Doe Inn, The Burrus House Inn, or checkout Cottages on Roanoke Island. In New Bern, book a stay at one of the town’s top B&Bs – The Jarvis at 220 or The Aerie.
Our state’s capital is a mecca for gorgeous gardens! Choose Raleigh or Durham as your home base or split your time between the two as you explore nearby blooms. The food scene and accommodation options make this a luxe getaway – imagine a morning of strolling the area’s gardens followed by an afternoon spa treatment at The Fearrington House Inn.
Estimated Drive Time: 2-hours to Durham, NC | 2-hours and 30-minutes to Raleigh, NC
Gardens to Stroll: We love the 55 acres with more than 200 colorful plant varieties that makeup Sarah P. Duke Gardens within Duke University. If you need a light bite as you explore the four distinct garden areas, be sure to checkout Terrace Cafe.
In nearby Raleigh, The JC Raulston Arboretum is another great option and boasts one of the largest and most diverse collections of landscape plants in the Southeast. JC Raulston even has plant sales that give you access to procuring over 300 different kinds of plants plus great educational events to take your gardening game to the next level.
Finally, the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill is another great place to visit! This one is a conservation garden located on 1,100 acres that features plant species from all over NC – from the coastal regions to the mountains and everywhere in between.
Where to Stay: In Durham, stay at The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club to be close the the gardens or stay at The Durham Hotel to be centrally located Downtown. In Chapel Hill, enjoy The Siena Hotel for accommodations inspired by Italy or book a room at Carolina Inn for the quintessential Chapel Hill experience. Finally, if Raleigh is more your vibe stay at our all-time favorite, Guest House Raleigh centrally located downtown or, for something luxe and pastoral in nearby Pittsboro enjoy The Fearrington House Inn.
We flock to the mountains for leaf peeping and spring is an equally beautiful time to visit. Escape the heat as temperatures rise and enjoy cooler mountain air while you meander through thousands of acres of gardens near Asheville.
Estimated Drive Time: 2-hours to Asheville, NC
Gardens to Stroll: We can’t talk about gardens in NC without mentioning the Biltmore Estate Gardens & Grounds – their gorgeous blooms fill their Walled Garden, Estate Entry, and Winery Beds and can be accessed with over 20 miles of trails.
Where to Stay: If you’re planning to spend most of your time meandering through the 8,000 acres of gardens and grounds at the Biltmore Estate, stay on property at their Inn. For a haven in the heart of Downtown Asheville, stay at Kimpton’s Hotel Arras.
Without even leaving our city, you have access to amazing gardens – walk through these blooms, buy them for yourself, and/or have them delivered to someone you love. Plus, don’t miss the upcoming “Art in the Garden Tour” this May presented by the Charlotte Garden Club – more info on that below!
Gardens to Stroll: Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont, NC is a long-time favorite. We love the garden’s 3.2 miles of walking trails and its location along the banks of Lake Wylie. Be sure to checkout their conservatory dedicated to tropical plants and orchids.
Finally, for the ultimate easy access visit Wing Haven Gardens in our very own Charlotte, NC. This gem is rich in Southern horticulture and serves as a habitat for birds and wildlife. Nearby SEED Wildlife & Children’s Gardens provide a living laboratory of learning about natural habitats and local wildlife. Be sure to checkout their special programs and events!
Once you’re back in Charlotte from your garden strolling adventure across NC, you’ll undoubtedly want to know how you can bring more gorgeous blooms into your life. Checkout this guide for local tips about how to pick, order, and/or shop for the prettiest Queen City flowers!