It can take a little while, but eventually the beauty of the desert reveals itself, from its rare but brilliant flowers and unique plant to its interesting wildlife, colorful rocks and spectacular sunsets. If you don’t believe us, pay a visit to the world-class Desert Botanical Garden.
This sprawling garden contains just about every desert herb, shrub, flower, tree and cactus imaginable with carefully curated presentation and well-thought-out walking paths. At certain times of year, volunteers and experts man information stations that provide additional details.
Beyond the flora, the garden hosts regular activities and exhibitions. During the summer, enjoy night-time flashlight tours and art installations. In the fall, winter and spring, you can attend plant sales, the Music in the Garden series, the Great Pumpkin Festival, experience the butterfly life cycle and take in the spectacular Las Noches de las Luminarias that sees the garden strewn with twinkle lights and 8,000 hand-lighted luminarias.
The garden offers educational opportunities as well, such as the Desert Landscaping School, kids camps and classes on a range of subjects. Plus, it puts tons of effort and money into conservation programs.
If you get hungry while strolling around, drop by Gertrude’s with its fresh farm-to-table ingredients and seasonal menu. There’s also the Patio Café, which offers salads, wraps, sandwiches and a children’s menu.
Several of the garden’s facilities are available for rent and it makes a novel wedding venue. If you find after visiting that you can’t stay away, look into membership, which offers free admission, or become a volunteer.
Location: 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ 85008
October to April: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily
May to September: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily
Cost: $22 adults; $20 seniors; $12 students; $10 children 3-12; Free for members; Free the second Tuesday of every month
Membership: $75 to $25,000 per year
– Justin Ferris, Phoenix.org