We’ve all heard the phrase ‘take time to stop and smell the roses.’ And with spring right around the corner, the words couldn’t ring more true. Gardens offer a great way to escape from the hustle and bustle of busy life, sometimes without leaving the city limits. With blooms all the colors of the rainbow, spouting fountains, and quiet corners, relaxing seems to happen naturally. So if you’re the type of traveler who loves flowers, or quite simply the idea of slowing down for a spell, consider stretching your legs at one of these famous gardens. The roses and many more other blossoms are waiting… if only our yards could look this good.
Monet’s Garden, Giverny, France
For more than 40 years, Giverny was home to painter and gardener Claude Monet , and served as a constant inspiration in his work. Such is the fame of his Water Lilies series that even first time visitors may feel a sense of familiarity when visiting Monet’s Garden. May’s spring weather brings an explosion of tulips and wisteria, and by the end of the month the famous irises are showing their true colors. With June comes summer, the time that roses bloom, and the time the Japanese pond starts to burst with white, pink and yellow, water lily buds. Fall brings nasturtiums, dahlias and rudbeckias. The garden closes for a stretch during the winter, typically early November to late March, but work in the garden continues year round.
Where to stay in France
Chihuly Garden & Glass, Seattle, Washington
There’s a shimmer in this Seattle garden that can’t be replicated anywhere else in the world. Chihuly Garden & Glass is dedicated to the work of glass artist Dale Chihuly. The wow factor grows as you make your way through the eight galleries dedicated to Chihuly’s artistic work. All of the galleries are impressive, but the conservatory-like Glasshouse, complete with a 100-foot long glass sculpture, sets the stage for what’s waiting outside. Paths lined with flowers, plants, trees and works of art that seem to grow from the ground are centered around a whirling sun of yellow and orange glass. The garden and glass work together to create colorful landscapes that shine, even in the shadow of the neighboring Space Needle.
The Huntington Botanical Gardens, Pasadena, California
In 1903, California railroad and real estate magnate Henry Edwards Huntington purchased a working ranch about 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles. Today, The Huntington is open for the public to explore. You’ll want to spend time inside the two art galleries, and library comprised of rare books, manuscripts, and art, but save plenty of time to wander in the Botanical Gardens. Some 15,000 plant varieties thrive in more than a dozen gardens here. Plants including jacarandas and bauhinias put on a colorful show year-round in the Subtropical Garden. The Helen and Peter Bing Children’s Garden is fun for kids of all ages. (Yes, grown-ups, I’m talking to you.) Along with a fog grotto, there’s a rainbow room, pebble chimes and magnetic sand. If water lilies weren’t already enough of a draw, the fact that the Lily Ponds were the first area of the gardens to be developed in 1904, makes them a must see.
Where to stay in Los Angeles
CornerStone Gardens, Sonoma, California
In a stretch of Sonoma County wine country where grapes dominate the fields, acreage at CornerStone Sonoma is dedicated to growing 20 walk-through garden installations. Created by a talented list of landscape designers and architects, each garden is accompanied by a sign with information about the concept and the folks who brought it to life. A nice break in between a busy itinerary of wine tasting, there are also a number of shops and galleries to wander through. An added perk, popular West Coast living magazine, Sunset, is in the process of making Cornerstone Sonoma the home of its main gardens and outdoor test kitchen.
Where to stay in Sonoma
Generalife Gardens, The Alhambra, Granada, Spain
One of Spain’s most popular historic landmarks, The Alhambra is what draws many visitors to Granada. Sitting atop a hill, the spectacular palace has many parts; Palacios Nazaries (the Moorish royal palace), Alcazaba, (the fort), the Palace of Charles V, and the Generalife (or architect’s) Gardens. Along with meticulously manicured greenery and color blooming at every turn, you’ll find water features prominently displayed in the gardens, creating beautiful vistas. You’ll want to be organized and plan your visit here ahead of time to make sure you see everything you want to. Tickets for entry to The Alhambra are limited and can sell out.
Where to stay in Spain