Houstonians have been using the Gulf Freeway to escape to the island for decades. Historically, that has required a 50-mile drive from downtown to Galveston.
Now, Houstonians can get away to an island full of beautiful and exotic tropical plants—as well as subtropical and arid ones, too—just 10 miles from downtown near the intersection of the Gulf Freeway and Park Place Boulevard.
Each trip to the Houston Botanic Garden, the city’s newest can’t-miss cultural institution, begins with a drive, bike ride, or walk across a bridge onto Botanic Lane. At that point, visitors find themselves on a 70-acre island, with the original Sims Bayou meander and later channel to its south serving as site-organizers that divide the 132-acre property into The Island and the South Gardens.
The raw beauty and rolling topography of a former municipal golf course provided a lush foundation—with mature oak trees, draping Spanish moss, and more natural grandeur—upon which the first botanic garden within city limits has taken root.
As a living museum for plants, the Houston Botanic Garden is an oasis of learning, discovery, and horticultural beauty, offering opportunities for visitors of all ages to engage their senses while learning something new. The features included in Phase I of the 30-year master plan for the Garden utilize a collection of plants from around the world to showcase the biodiversity that thrives along the Texas Gulf Coast.
At the Houston Botanic Garden, visitors exchange the bustle of the city for the enveloping serenity of the three-acre Global Collection Garden, a Culinary Garden, and the magnolia collection of the Woodland Glade, which doubles as an outdoor event space for weddings and other celebrations. Just beyond lies the sensory-engaging Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden—with water and nature-play opportunities and a boardwalk maze—and natural ecosystem areas that make great escapes as well, while also promoting conservation of soil, water, air, and wildlife.
To reflect the role it will play in the cultural richness of Houston, the Garden will present an opening season of weekends this fall, with special educational opportunities to showcase how groups of people connect with plants in several regions of the world from which plants in the Garden originate. Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Mediterranean will each get a weekend in the spotlight, beginning Sept. 18–20 and continuing every other weekend through Oct. 30–Nov. 1.
There is something to spark curiosity around every corner at the Houston Botanic Garden, and each change of season will present different blooms and evolving colors, so repeat visits will be a must. To truly appreciate the value a world-class botanic garden brings to the city, residents from around the greater Houston area will want to become a member of the Garden, a status that offers unlimited general admission among other benefits.
Whether exploring solo, taking a guided tour, attending an educational program, or finding the picture-perfect backdrop for a selfie, there are practically endless opportunities to discover something new with every visit to the Houston Botanic Garden.