The 23-acre Denver Botanic Gardens on York Street, just east of downtown Denver, is filled with more than 50 gardens providing year-round beauty, whether in the renaissance of spring, the dormancy of winter and seasons in between.
The Gardens is known for the diversity of plants from all around the world, and features thousands of plants of all genius and taxons. There’s a special emphasis on the flora of the American West, where arid and sometimes harsh climate conditions have created fascinating adaptations. In fact, the native plant collection alone boasts over 700 species.
Also visit the international-themed gardens including ones inspired by Japan, China and South Africa. In the center of the gardens visitors can find the exquisite water feature with a dedicated area inspired by Claude Monet’s paintings of his famous waterlily pond in Giverny, France.
On cooler days, when the main gardens aren’t as lively, step into the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory. The towering greenhouse became a landmarked building in 1973 and houses exotic plants from tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Think of it as an indoor tropical forest, complete with a stunning corpse flower that blooms every few years.
No matter where it’s located, each plant is meticulously cataloged in the venue’s database. Not only does this system give visitors and in depth look at what can be found in the gardens and when, but allows the botanists to see how each plant really grows.
There’s a handy search function on the website so you can see if your favorite cactus, tree or flower is in the garden, and where it might be located.
Those with children should absolutely visit the 3-acre Mordecai Children’s Garden, which is only open March 1 through October 31. This special spot is across the street from the main gardens, accessible from the top of the elevator and stairwell in the parking garage.
As part of the Gardens of the West display, all the plants in the Children’s Garden thrive in Colorado’s arid climate. Kids can run around, explore with hands-on exhibits, splash about in the stream and dig in sand.
There are picnic tables here too, making it a great spot to have lunch while taking in the controlled wildness the venue offers.
Aside from gardens, visitors can also dip into the Science Pyramid to witness a world of plants through a scientific lens, complete with interactive technology. The beehive-inspired space features the exhibit, Welcome Home: Meet Your Habitat, which explores how our homes are not only part of human lives, but that of plants, animals, bugs, fungi and more. Find out how these living things intertwine through digital stories and artifacts.
The Helen Fowler Library by the conservatory showcases a large collection of botanical and horticultural materials centering on the Rocky Mountain region and similar areas around the world.
There are tomes for kids and adults, as well as special programs. Both the library and the Science Pyramid are especially great when you need to get a dose of air conditioning on a hot day.
While wandering the Gardens any day proves lovely, there are special events here too. During the summer months the Gardens hosts outdoor concerts, yoga, plant shows and the popular annual plant sale.
During October and December the annual light exhibits prove popular, and a great way to tip toe through the dormant tulips at night.
All year long guests can add art to the visit with the ever-changing artist in residency program and shows. Finally, take a class on growing herbs, making bitters with plants, botanical drawing and more. There is a list of camps and courses for kids and adults to take, all with one thing in common–the great world of plants.
Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York St., Denver, 720-865-3501
How to save at the Denver Botanic Gardens
Tuesday and Thursday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Monday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Check website for random early closures.
General Admission Prices
Currently, you MUST buy all tickets online in advance and reserve a day and time.
Seniors (65+) & Military (w/ID): $11.50
Children 3-15 & Students (w/ID): $11
Children 2 & under: Free
To learn more about about FREE DAY policies and reserving tickets, go here.