DALLAS, March 23, 2017 -- People visit the flower show "Dallas Blooms: Flower Power" at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden in Dallas, the United States, March 22, 2017. The flower show was held from Feb. 25 to April 9 under the theme "Peace, love and flower power". (Xinhua/Zhang Yongxing via Getty Images)

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Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Top choice in Dallas

Spreading northeast of Dallas along the shores of White Rock Lake, this gorgeous 66-acre arboretum is a rainbow-colored wonderland of plants and flowers, plus dotted artworks and sculptures, man-made waterfalls, mock-up forest brooks and more. Just six miles from downtown, it's one of the city's loveliest green spaces, and a great place to escape Dallas' motor city vibe and breathe clean, plant-filtered air.

Sculptures at the Dallas Arboretum
Dale Chihuly sculptures at the Dallas Arboretum © Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Exploring the Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

The gardens that make up the Dallas Arboretum were once part of a private estate known as Rancho Encinal, built for geophysicist Everette Lee DeGolyer, who – predictably, for Texas – made his mark in the petroleum industry, working as a field geologist for big oil companies. The garden that remains today was established by his wife, Nell DeGolyer, offsetting a little of the carbon released by Texas oil. The gardens were later expanded to include the neighboring Alex Camp House and grounds.

Today, it's a place to escape the city traffic and recharge in front of elegant floral beds and trimmed topiary, admiring the views across the lake to the Dallas' skyline. There's an appealing courtyard restaurant in the former DeGolyer ranch (with indoor and outdoor dining), but the best place to eat is on a picnic blanket laid out on the lakeshore. Some parts of the garden feel European, others feel Japanese – the graceful Sunken Garden hints at the urbane tastes of the wealthy families who set up home on this stretch of the lakeshore, suggesting Great Gatsby-style garden parties.

More themed gardens are dotted around the grounds – look out for the Woman’s Garden, an elegant space of water features, terraced walkways and bronze nudes set in free-standing stone picture frames. Expect to see plenty of wedding parties posing for pictures amid the posies.

It's also a great spot for families traveling to Dallas with younger children. The Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden was designed to connect kids with the natural environment, with zones laid out specifically to appeal to different age groups.

Children's garden at the Dallas Arboretum
The Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden was designed to connect kids with nature ©Shutterstock / Ritu Manoj Jethani

Tickets & Practicalities

Tickets for the gardens are best reserved online in advance. This is doubly true during the spring wildflower season when it can get so mobbed in the gardens that nearby streets are closed. Other busy times to visit include Christmas, when the arboretum hosts the the 12 Days of Christmas display, and fall, when the Arboretum is filled with pumpkins arranged into artistic patterns.

The March cherry blossom season also pulls in a crowd, with 150 cherry trees filling the gardens with snow-drifts of fallen petals. Parking is expensive – book online before you pull in for a $5 discount. During the month of August, the admission fee drops to $2 per person and parking drops to $5 all-in.

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