Across the United States, spring has officially sprung. But in the South, seasonal seeds have already taken to the warm temperatures and are in full bloom across that charming region. With such mild weather and roots as deep as the Southern pride with which they’re maintained, gardens make a great escape for groups looking to grow their experiences.
Here are some of the best Southern gardens that have blossomed into havens for group travel.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Coral Gables, Florida
Made up of 83 acres spread across the greater Miami region, the lush landscapes of the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden are a breath of fresh air in that South Florida environment. The oasis was first established in 1938 and is operated today as a nonprofit organization set to promote the conservation and preservation of tropical flora around the world. The garden boasts a gorgeous array of palms, cycads and orchids among the ever-so-popular tropical fruit tree sections and colorful butterfly exhibits.
“With more than 1,000 exotic butterflies from tropical regions of Central America, South America and Asia, the ‘Wings of the Tropics’ butterfly exhibit is a must-see,” said Brooke LeMaire, marketing associate for the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
Groups at the garden can take advantage of environmental programs such as the Fairchild Challenge that will inspire travelers to take their hands to the dirt with a newfound love for tropical plants. The garden also holds regular festivals, concerts and plant sales.
West Virginia Botanic Garden
Morgantown, West Virginia
From discovering tadpoles in a vernal pool to taking a leisurely stroll behind the gentle breeze of a butterfly, there are numerous ways to slow the march of time at the West Virginia Botanic Garden.
“Part of our mission statement is that we work in harmony with nature,” said Erin Smaldone, volunteer coordinator and education director for the West Virginia Botanic Garden, Inc. “I think that is what makes us so special. The garden is naturally beautiful and diverse. Our trails will take you through many types of forest, past meadows of wildflowers, around the former reservoir basin and across a wetland. It all flows together very nicely. This is the only botanic garden in West Virginia, and our goal is to focus on plants appropriate to the region.”
Groups can schedule a private tour or join in on one of the garden’s regularly scheduled education walks or workshops. Experiences include walking the wetlands or crossing over the boardwalk built by local volunteers. Interpretive signs along the property tell the history of how the reservoir was constructed.