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Travel Inspiration | Central States | Road Trip
Take This Garden-Inspired Road Trip in the South-Central States


From Missouri west to Kansas, south to Oklahoma and east to Arkansas, garden lovers traveling through the south–central US have a plethora of bloom-filled sites to visit. Using mostly interstate highways, this trip covers more than 1,155 miles.

Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MissouriMissouri Botanical Garden; Photo courtesy of Claire Cohen/Missouri Botanical Garden


314-577-5100 |

In south St. Louis, you’ll find 79 acres of beauty that belong to the nation's oldest botanical garden in continuous operation. Founded in 1859, this National Historic Landmark includes highlights such as a tropical rainforest housed in a geodesic dome, a 14-acre Japanese Garden, and a bountiful assortment of rare and endangered flora.

The Missouri Botanical Garden operates two other properties outside the St. Louis city limits. The Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House, located in Faust Park in Chesterfield, showcases more than 60 species of butterflies in the 8,000-square-foot glass conservatory. At the Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit on the Meramec River, you’ll find 2,400 acres dedicated to the diversity of this ecosystem. Trails take you through woodlands and wetlands.

Powell garden, Kingsville, Kansas City, MissouriPowell Gardens; Photo courtesy of Visit KC

816-697-2600 |

From St. Louis, head west to Kingsville, home of Powell Gardens, also known as Kansas City’s Botanical Garden. With more than 970 acres, Powell Gardens offers a variety of plants—6,000 to be exact—with 225,000 plants in seasonal displays. Looking for ideas for your garden back home? Check out the 3.5 acres of perennials in the aptly named Perennial Garden. The Island Garden includes more than 200 varieties of water plants, and the Heartland Harvest Garden offers what is considered the nation’s largest edible garden.

Powell Gardens hosts a number of special events and festivals throughout the year, including a butterfly festival and farm-to-table dinners.

Overland Park Arboretum, Overland Park, KansasOverland Park Arboretum; Photo courtesy of Kansas Tourism


913-322-6467 |

Next, travel to Overland Park for a major natural and cultural resource in the Kansas City region.

With more than 800 plant species in 300 acres—45 acres of which are dedicated to botanical gardens—Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens is an ecological wonder. Follow 5 miles of walking trails through limestone bluffs, a cedar forest and over the banks of Wolf Creek. Gaze at the beauty of the Monet Garden in the style of Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny, France. Let the hobby-train bug bite as you watch G-Scale model trains chug through bluffs, over streams and through model villages. In the Erickson Water Garden, enjoy birdsong, butterflies and wildflowers, along with the brooks that wander through the garden.

Tulsa Botanic Garden, Tulsa, OklahomaTulsa Botanic Garden; Photo courtesy of Oklahoma Tourism


918-289-0330 |

At the Tulsa Botanic Garden, 8 miles from town, you can hike through Osage County tallgrass prairie and forest on the garden’s 1.5-mile Cross Timbers Trail. Check out carnivorous plants, a tree fort and spitting animal fountains in the Children’s Discovery Garden. At the Tandy Floral Terraces, you’ll find an ornamental garden with more than 8,000 plants in seasonal displays. There’s also an aquatic garden, the Lotus Pool, containing lotuses, waterlilies and floating gardens with hibiscus and iris.

Myriad Botanical Gardens, Oklahoma City, OklahomaMyriad Botanical Gardens; Photo by Carl Shortt Jr

405-455-7080 |

When you arrive in downtown Oklahoma City, seek out the 15 acres of bliss at Myriad Botanical Gardens. Here at this admission-free oasis, you’ll find a vintage carousel, a children’s garden, ornamental gardens and fabulous foliage. You can’t beat hours of free bliss!

Seasonal activities include spring bulb displays, concerts, a children’s festival, an outdoor ice rink and even an off-leash dog park.

Don’t neglect the Inasmuch Foundation Crystal Bridge Conservatory at the Gardens, now open after a nearly two-year, $11 million renovation. Visitors delight in the conservatory’s waterfall and plant collections.

Garvan Woodland Gardens, Hot Springs, ArkansasGarvan Woodland Gardens; Photo courtesy of Arkansas Tourism


800-366-4664 |

Your journey now takes you into the Ouachita Mountains of southwest Arkansas. Outside Hot Springs, you’ll find Garvan Woodland Gardens, the botanical garden of the University of Arkansas. With a mission to preserve a portion of the unique Ouachita environs, Garvan Woodland Gardens’ 210 acres provide a home for wildflowers, 160 different types of azaleas, and more than 128 species of ornamental and native shrubs. Be sure to spend some time under the welcoming canopy of pines along 4.5 miles of Lake Hamilton shoreline.

If your calendar is open in early April, here’s an event worth considering. Hot Springs, including the gardens, will be in the path of totality for the 2024 solar eclipse on April 8. As you might imagine, the folks at the gardens expect tickets to sell out quickly.

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks butterfly houseBotanical Garden of the Ozarks butterfly house; Photo courtesy of Ironside Photography


479-750-2620 |

Twelve themed “backyard” gardens encircle the Great Lawn at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. Each of these gardens is maintained with local gardeners in mind, illustrating the types of gardens that can thrive in the challenging northwest Arkansas environment. Included in the themes are a Japanese Garden, a Children’s Garden, a Vegetable and Herb Garden, and a Sensory Garden. The Butterfly Garden, filled with milkweeds and nectar sources that attract butterflies, leads to the Garden’s Butterfly House—the only one in Arkansas.

AAA Trip Tik map image
Are you inspired to set out on this garden-themed road trip? We’ve mapped it out for you with a AAA TripTik.

A: Missouri Botanical Garden—St. Louis, Missouri
B: Powel Gardens—Kingsville, Missouri
C: Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens—Overland Park, Kansas
D: Tulsa Botanic Garden—Tulsa, Oklahoma
E: Garvan Woodland Gardens—Hot Springs, Arkansas
F: Botanical Gardens of The Ozarks—Fayetteville, Arkansas