[Related: Need some picnic packing inspiration? We’ve got you covered.] The North Carolina Arboretum Located just south of Asheville, the North Carolina Arboretum’s 434 acres of forested coves and spectacular
Located just south of Asheville, the North Carolina Arboretum’s 434 acres of forested coves and spectacular gardens makes this landscape one of the state’s most impressive natural settings. Visitors can follow winding paths that connect bonsai tree exhibits and collections of native North American forest flowers such as bloodroots and fire pinks.
100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way
(828) 665-2492, ncarboretum.org
There are many attractions amid the 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate, but the property’s gardens, designed by one of America’s foremost landscape architects, Frederick Law Olmsted, tend to captivate visitors’ attention almost immediately.
1 Lodge Street
(800) 411-3812, biltmore.com
This outdoor oasis — deemed Carolina’s Garden for all seasons — encompasses 380 acres on the banks of Lake Wylie. It is cherished by nature lovers for its seasonal and perennial gardens, 3.2 miles of walking trails, and five-story conservatory filled to the brim with orchids and tropical plants.
6500 South New Hope Road
(704) 825-4490, dsbg.org
Currently open to members only.
Located in a quiet neighborhood just minutes from Uptown, Wing Haven Gardens not only provides visitors an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, but a chance to admire Southern horticulture and local wildlife. Visitors also have the opportunity to observe the living laboratory of world-renowned garden writer Elizabeth Lawrence.
Elizabeth Lawrence House & Garden
348 Ridgewood Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28209
Visitors that flock to Sarah P. Duke Gardens, situated in the heart of Duke University, often find themselves spending hours exploring the garden’s 55 acres. Five miles of walkways connect the garden’s four distinct areas — the Historic Gardens, the H.L. Blomquist Garden of Native Plants, the W.L. Culberson Asiatic Arboretum, and Doris Duke Center Gardens. Combined, the areas boast more than 200 colorful plant varieties.
420 Anderson Street
(919) 684-3698, gardens.duke.edu
The Elizabethan Gardens contain 10 acres of seasonal plantings and a lasting tribute to the first English colonists to set foot in the New World: A bronze statue of Queen Elizabeth I, the garden’s namesake, and a white marble statue Virginia Dare, the first English to be born in a New England colony, are the garden’s signature figures.
1411 National Park Drive
(252) 473-3234, Elizabethangardens.org
The roots of this historic garden can be traced back to 1884, when Pembroke Jones, cofounder of the Carolina Rice Mills Company, and his wife, Sarah Green, bought a parcel of land on the Wilmington waterfront along with other members of the community. Today, that land is the scenic landscape known as Airlie Gardens. The garden’s 67 acres feature walking trails that are filled with seasonal blooms and trees, which are home to more than 200 species of birds.
300 Airlie Road
(910) 798-7700, airliegardens.org
The Reynolda Gardens — once the estate of tobacco tycoon R.J. Reynolds — is now a 134-acre estate filled with working greenhouses, woodland trails, and rolling meadows. Like the city of Winston-Salem — steeped in rich history and geared toward 21st-century innovation — these gardens artfully blend past with the present: Historic plants grow alongside new introductions, while the best modern horticultural practices are utilized throughout the garden.
100 Reynolda Village
(336) 758-5593, Reynoldagardens.org