Established in 1938 as one of the world’s largest collections of tropical plants, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is an integral part of the history of Florida botany and of Coral Gables. Landscape architect William Lyman Philips developed the formal design that channels your attention to specific points in the garden, especially the sweep of dramatic floral-edged, palm-lined lawns down to the lakes.
Location: Coral Gables
Fees: $25 adult, $18 senior, $12 ages 6-17
Open: 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM daily except Christmas. On festival days, the gardens open at 9:30 AM.
Following in the footsteps of botanical conservationist David Fairchild and gardens founder Colonel Robert H. Montgomery, an important part of the garden is the Center for Plant Conservation, working with a consortium of botanical gardens to preserve endangered plants.
Some of the plantings here date back to Fairchild’s day, such as the African baobab nears the old Gate House. Over the decades, the collections have greatly expanded beyond the original arboretum, palmetum, and conservatory to encompass an in-depth assemblage of cycads, a 2-acre rainforest, tropical fruit pavilion, and endangered plant garden.
There are also natural communities such as the Keys coastal habitat, Bahama collection, and pine rocklands. With more than 700 species, the Montgomery Palmeteum is one of the most outstanding collections of palm trees in the world. It is officially the United States’ National Palm Collection.
Plan to spend a full day exploring the 83-acre facility, and start by taking the tram tour first for a narrated introduction to the collections. Over the next five years, expansion plans include enhancements to the gracious old Windows to the Tropics conservatory, a conservation laboratory for endangered species, and a children’s garden.