Springtime is blossoming at Virginia gardens and arboretums, offering radiant horticulture displays and year-round outdoor group activities.

By Heather Dale

Virginia botanical gardens provide expansive greenspaces for group gatherings and school field trips, perfect for a naturally unique experience. Learn about horticulture and conservation through diverse flowers, cacti, shrubs and trees on your group garden tour.

Some Amazing Botanical Gardens in Virginia include:

  • The National Botanic Garden
  • Norfolk Botanical Garden
  • Virginia State Arboretum
  • Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and more
National Botanic Garden Waterfall

National Botanic Garden Waterfall

Gardens to Visit in Virginia

History is blooming at the Gunston Hall Riverside Garden Restoration in Mason Neck, Virginia. Considered The Home of American Rights, George Mason’s exquisite estate welcomes groups to tour the historic Virginia garden and grounds.

The Riverside Garden Restoration combines history and horticulture to create a vintage Virginia botanical garden designed with fruit trees, historical plants and perennials to reflect the 18th century period.

This Virginia garden offers a Gardens Pass for self-guided tours of the flourishing grounds. General admission covers access to the museum, the Mason grounds, and a guided tour of the mansion for an especially spectacular view of the Riverside Garden Restoration.

Stop into the Gunston Hall Museum Shop on your way out and peruse artisanal souvenirs, local artwork, exhibit merchandise and plant-themed gifts.

Education and research-driven, The National Botanic Garden in Chantilly is a unique 250-acre Virginia botanical garden constructed of mostly reclaimed materials. Flowing rocky waterfalls and gorgeous vegetation fill The Kyoto Sculpture Gardens, which can be booked for private events of up to 100 people. Although not yet open to the public, they will offer several indoor and outdoor spaces for group gatherings. Private bookings for group tours will be available.

Island-hop through the 50-island bamboo maze at the lake or take a family photo at the impressive mountain overlook area. The beautifully manicured landscape also showcases an arboretum, expansive views and five miles of lake coastline teeming with waterfowl and other native species.

The botanical garden also boasts The Stone Barn, which can accommodate groups of up to 250 people in a charming and rustic setting. See the most extensive water-wise garden on the East Coast at the Xenic Gardens. This desert botanical garden features glorious cactus blooms and an array of unusual spikey specimens.

Edith J Carrier Arboretum Fall

Edith J Carrier Arboretum Fall

More Botanical Gardens in Virginia

At the Norfolk Botanical Garden explore 175 acres of extraordinary plant species among new innovative surroundings. The mission of this Virginia garden is to connect people with nature and bring awareness to conservation efforts.

Tour the 26,000-square-foot Perry Conservatory with four separate biomes. Groups can discover plant life from the rainforest to the desert in a space dedicated to housing some of the world’s most endangered plant species. Take the elevated skywalk for an aerial photo op of one of the most extensive rose gardens in the east.

Slated to open in 2024 The Garden of Tomorrow will welcome guests with a new entry pavilion and parking garden. The unique parking garden sets the standard for sustainability with new pervious pavement. The new 26,000 square-foot conservatory will focus on conservation, including some of the world’s most threatened plants. Sitting along the waterfront near the new entrance the Garden is both and education center and rowing events hub.

The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond features a whopping eight vibrantly one-off gardens, two arbor walks, an Asian Valley and a classical glass-domed conservatory unlike any in the eastern U.S.

World-class flowering displays welcome visitors, and themed gardens amaze groups with dynamic plant collections bursting with color. Grab a bite with your group at the Garden Café and pick out a few souvenirs at the one-of-a-kind Garden Shop before you leave.

This spectacular Virginia botanical garden boasts a children’s group tour and an adult’s group tour for an exceptional and engaging time.

EJC arboretum kids playing in the At Home in the Woods family garden Fall

EJC arboretum kids playing in the At Home in the Woods family garden Fall

Virginia Botanical Gardens to Experience Before You Leave

At the center of the 172-acre Blandy Experimental Farm in Boyce stands the Virginia State Arboretum. Groups are invited to freely roam the diverse forestry, where you’ll feel transported to faraway lands.

In this Virginia garden, witness the brilliant yellow display of some 300 Ginko trees every fall. Immerse in the lush greenery through the Conifer Forest, the largest of its kind in the southeast. Many of the labeled tree and shrub collections date back to the 1930s. Discover specimens like the Virginia State Champion, Cedar, Lebanon and boxwood trees.

The Virginia arboretum offers 1 to 2 hour guided group tours for parties of six or more. Four seasonal tours include Blandy’s History and Arboretum Collection, Garden Tour, Native Plant Trail and Conifer Collection.

Located on the James Madison University campus in Harrisonburg, the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum is an urban garden and forest sanctuary free and open to the public. This Virginia arboretum is open from dawn until dusk, providing outdoor space for learning opportunities and those seeking time with nature.

They welcome youth groups for educational field trips and others for guided and self-guided tours. Docent-led tours include a Woodlands Wildflowers, the Notable Arboretum Trees, the Stream Riparian Plantings and a General Guided Tour for modest fees.

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is an ornamental plant and animal wonderland located in Vienna. At this Virginia garden, youth groups can enjoy a colorful outdoor classroom abundant with koi fish, frogs, birds and more.

In support of the International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Conservation, Meadowlark showcases three diverse horticulture exhibits: Potomac Valley Collection (PVC), Virginia Native Wetland Collection (VNW) and Virginia Native Trees Collection (VNT). Glimpse creative garden sculptures, part of the continuing Art Naturally Exhibit, with artists from around the country featured throughout the grounds.

Absorb the floral fragrances as your group meanders through various blooming species, depending on the season. Have your next family reunion among the delicate aroma at the Lilac Pavilion or schedule your school field trip or group gathering for a memorable guided Virginia garden tour.

Virginia is an incredibly beautiful state with plenty of amazing botanical gardens and arboretums, but this state still has so much more to offer travels. If you’d like to learn more about what Virginia has to offer, just Subscribe to Leisure Group Travel magazine for FREE and get even more travel ideas for Virginia and other amazing locations.