Not all college memories come from sitting in a classroom or pulling all-nighters in the library. Some of the best ones come from spending time in nature and immersing oneself in their surroundings. There are a number of reasons why a college may choose to support an arboretum. It is a valuable resource for individuals looking to study diverse plant life or even just those looking for a peaceful corner of campus. The benefits of an arboretum aren’t just for humans. They also play a significant role in conservation and preservation. Just as zoos are vital for educating people about animals, arboretums educate about protecting the biological diversity of our planet. Green spaces are vital for helping people feel physically, spiritually and emotionally healthy. They allow for individuals to connect with nature and the environment around them which leads to feeling less stressed and much more grounded. We are proud to highlight our choices for the 30 Best College Arboretums.
The following factors contriubted to the overall ranking of these 30 arboretums:
- Total size/acreage of the arboretum
- Educational resources and community outreach
- Various collections that the arboretum maintains
- Total number of species that the arboretum boasts
30. F.R Newman Arboretum – Cornell University
F.R Newman Arboretum is located at Cornell University in the beautiful hills of Ithaca, New York. Guests will be able to learn about many different species of plants, trees and shrubs that are native to the area as well as species that have been brought in from other locations. There are lookouts all around the area that will allow visitors to see striking panoramic views. The arboretum is situated on 100 acres and is the perfect place to participate in one of the many marathons held there each year. It is also a great place to walk on the scenic trails and take in the amazing sites that F.R Newman Arboretum has to offer.
You can learn more about the F.R Newman Arboretum here
29. Ozarks Arboretum – Missouri State University
The Ozarks Arboretum of Missouri State University is committed to educating the community about the environment and creating a public appreciation for nature. The arboretum is currently home to several unusual specimens including the balsam fir, the English walnut, and several growth trees. Students from the Vocational Agricultural Program use the campus for tree and plant identification studies. Several students from Missouri State University created a geographical information system that maps the arboretum grounds, the fields, and maintenance areas.
You can learn more about the Missouri State University Arboretum here
28. Henry Schmieder Arboretum – Delaware Valley University
The Henry Schmieder Arboretum of Delaware University can be described as a horticultural jewel. The arboretum consists of 40 acres of the main campus and compliments the school’s mission. The faculty teachings are reflected in the living collection of plants. The arboretum serves as a green resource for the community. It is a member of the American Public Gardens Association and the Greater Philadelphia Gardens. Volunteer opportunities include seasonal gardening; events planning and hosting; planning and staffing the booth at the annual Bucks Beautiful Garden Fair; member’s plant swap and annual display at the Philadelphia Flower Show.
You can learn more about the Henry Schmieder Arboretum here
27. UC Davis Arboretum – The University of California: Davis
The UC Davis Arboretum is open seven days a week and does not charge an admission fee. The arboretum is made up of 100 acres of gardens, documented plant collections, exhibits, and demonstrations. UC Davis experts lead the guided tours and family programs for everyone who visits this arboretum to enjoy. Student internship opportunities are available through the university and anyone that chooses to participate will be able to learn new tips about landscaping, sustainable horticulture, habitat & naturalized lands and plant propagation & nursery. The arboretum received a four out of four-star accreditation from the Professional Grounds and Management Society.
You can learn more about the UC Davis Arboretum here
26. University of Idaho Arboretum – The University of Idaho
The University of Idaho Arboretum and Botanical Gardens are open from dawn until dusk every day of the week. Admission is free for all that want to come and explore. The arboretum sits on 63 acres of the school campus. It is organized by geographical groupings from the Asia and North America. The collection consists of over 120 trees, groves, trails, water features and 27 granite benches perfect for contemplation. The arboretum also serves as a unique place to view resident and migratory birds throughout the year. The ever-changing habitat brings rare songbirds and other avian visitors.
You can learn more about the University of Idaho Arboretum here
25. Palomar College Arboretum – Palomar College
The Palomar College Arboretum is located in northern most part of San Diego County, California on more than 200 acres of land. This arboretum is open to the public, and admission is free for all those that wish to visit. Noteworthy areas of the arboretum include the Palomar Cactus and Succulent Garden, which has about 40 individual gardens . The gardens provide examples of Xeriscape and fire resistant plants. There are about 3,000 different species from around the world that can be observed at this college arboretum. Plants are cared for in an organic way so plant life will not be harmed at any time. They try to avoid the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides when caring for the plants.
You can learn more about the Palomar College Arboretum here
24. University of Nevada: Reno Arboretum – The University of Nevada
The arboretum at the University of Nevada was established in 1985. The campus has numerous plants, trees, shrubs, flowers, ornamentals and native flora as part of the collection. These specimens represent over 60 genera and about 200 species. Highlights of the arboretum include the Cherry Blossom Garden which is especially beautiful in the spring with all of the flowers are in bloom. The Benson Gardens, the Main Quad, the Albert E. Hilliard, the Foliage Quad, Jimmie’s Garden, the Fleischmann Agriculture Quad, the Merriam A. Brown Rose Garden, the Hettich Garden and the Manzanita Lake are also beautiful places to visit when you are visiting the arboretum.
You can learn more about the University of Nevada Arboretum here
23. JC Raulston Arboretum – North Carolina State University
The JC Ralston Arboretum at North Carolina State University is a nationally acclaimed garden. It has one of the biggest and most diverse collections of Southwest plants. The arboretum’s mission is to introduce and promote plants that create diversity in American landscape. Some of the arboretum’s goals include collecting, evaluating and selecting landscape plants. This arboretum also serves as a living laboratory for the university that is able to provide an educational experience for plant enthusiasts or other casual visitors.
You can learn more about the JC Ralston Arboretum here
22. Temple University Arboretum – Temple University
The Ambler Arboretum of Temple University is 187 acres of several grounds consisting of different kinds of gardens and trees. Students, faculty and staff use the grounds for teaching and learning. Several of the school’s programs utilize the arboretum as an educational resource. These programs include horticulture, landscape architecture, floral design, aquaponics and community development. Credit courses offered include sustainability, environmental education, and sustainable initiatives. Non-credit courses are available as well and include beekeeping, vegetable garden design, flower arrangement, landscape design and more. The arboretum is open to visitors. Self-guided tours are available throughout the whole year and offer something new each season.
You can learn more about the Ambler Arboretum here
21. LSU Hilltop Arboretum – Louisiana State University
The LSU Hilltop Arboretum showcases an extensive collection of Louisiana native trees and shrubs on 14 gorgeous acres. Special features include an old footbridge that overlooks a twenty-foot deep ravine. Once you cross the bridge, you will wander into a tranquil “cathedral” made up of tree canopies. A bamboo grove welcomes you to sit and listen to the wind in the trees while the tall grasses and wildflowers tempt you into the shimmering meadow under the bright sunlight. An arboretum is a quiet place perfect for solace and contemplation. It will carry you away from the pressures of life. The arboretum is open to the public seven days a week. There is no admission fee.
You can learn more about the LSU Hilltop Arboretum here
20. Linnaeus Arboretum – Gustavus Adolphus College
The Linnaeus Arboretum provides fields of prairies, woodlands, and ponds for exploration and study. There are miles of trails available for running, walking, biking or skiing. Beautiful gardens and open space are perfect for events and gatherings. The arboretum is named after 18th-century Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus. The arboretum was founded in 1973 on agricultural land. It was designed to showcase Minnesota’s three major ecosystems: northern coniferous forest, tall grass prairie, and deciduous woodland. Educational programs are available. Visitors are welcome year-round during daylight hours.
You can learn more about the Linnaeus Arboretum here
19. Davidson College Arboretum – Davidson College
The campus at Davidson College was registered as an arboretum in the year 1982. The College is located in in Davidson, North Carolina on a beautiful plot of land that is covered in trees and other plants. Many of the founders dreamed of the campus being recognized as an arboretum but it took over 100 years to get the campus recognized as an arboretum due to many challenges. The arboretum now sits on 450-acres of land, which is the size of the entire campus. The arboretum was populated with exotic species as well as plants that have been native to North Carolina for many years. Since its conception, about 3000 trees and shrubs have been labeled for people to study. Five of the trees that were discovered in this area were believed to be extinct in North America.
You can learn more about the Davidson College arboretum here
18. The Roger Milliken Arboretum – Wofford College
The Roger Milliken Arboretum is covered with nearly 4,500 beautiful trees. This amazing site can be seen spanning over 150 acres of lush land. This horticultural display has inspired the students that attend the college to make sure the campus is more taken care of to preserve the beauty it has to offer. It educates the community and brings awareness to how important trees are in the rapidly developing urban world around us. There are currently two tours available: the Central Campus Tour and the South Campus Tour. The arboretum is connected to Liberty Trail, which is located in the northern part of the campus. It makes a great spot to come and learn about nature and enjoy all of the beauty it has to offer.
17. Donald E. Davis Arboretum – Auburn Univerity
The Davis Arboretum of Auburn University is committed to displaying native woody plants of the Southeastern United States. It is a valuable teaching resource for the University. One of its goals is to promote ecological education by offering opportunities to study and observe plants and their natural habitats. Their efforts for conservation are aligned with groups such as the American Public Garden Association, the North American Plant Collection Consortium, Botanic Gardens Conservation International U.S. and the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance. The arboretum works passionately to bring awareness to biodiversity threats, habitat destruction and the invasion of non-native exotic species.
You can learn more about the Davis Arboretum here
16. Crosby Arboretum – Mssissippi State University
The Crosby Arboretum of Mississippi State University is committed to educating the public about their environment. Preserving, protecting and displaying plants native to the Pearl River Drainage Basin ecosystem accomplish this. The arboretum provides environmental and botanical opportunities. It offers cultural, scientific and recreational programs. Three essential habitats are on display at the arboretum. These are the Savanna exhibit, the Woodland exhibit, and the Aquatic exhibit. Each display offers drastic and subtle changes to each landscape for observation. The arboretum cares for 700 acres of off-site natural areas that are used for scientific study and has a 104 interpretive site.
You can learn more about the Crosby Arboretum here
15. University of Wisconsin Arboretum – The University of Wisconsin: Madison
The Arboretum of the University of Wisconsin-Madison hopes to restore and conserve arboretum lands as well as advance restoration ecology and foster the land ethics. The arboretum serves as a global source of knowledge. It is a model for restoring ecologically sustainable relationships between the environment and people by integration, innovation and collaboration of science, stewardships, education and public engagement. The ecological communities found at the arboretum include woodlands, savannas, prairies, and wetlands. The arboretum offers free drop-in walks, garden tours, and family activities.
You can learn more about the Arboretum of the University of Wisconsin – Madison here
14. Haverford College Arboretum – Haverford College
Haverford College Arboretum is located in Haverford, Pennsylvania on more than 216 acres of land. The mission of this arboretum is to preserve the historic trees on campus as well as to perpetuate the unique design, which was created by William Carvill in 1834. The arboretum believes it is their responsibility to maintain and build upon the diversity of the tree collection. It is their responsibility to enhance the study of this history so that those who visit the college have a better understanding of their past. Services provided by the arboretum include educational programs such as nature walks, lectures, talks and newsletters. It also offers advice on horticultural matters. It maintains a tree database and labels trees. The arboretum establishes and maintains flower and shrub beds, supports outdoor events and more.
You can learn more about the Haverford College Arboretum here
13. Cowling Arboretum – Carleton College
Carleton College is a private college located in Northfields, Minnesota. The Cowling arboretum sits on 880 acres of land adjacent to the campus. It is often referred to as the “Arb” for students that attend the college. The arboretum was created under the leadership of President Donald J. Cowling and Professor E. Stork during the 1920s. Today students enjoy hundreds of trees and wildflowers when then visit the arboretum. The arboretum has a master naturalist program for students that want to help keep the environment as can as possible. There are also many volunteer opportunities, workshops, field trips and day camps as well. The goal of Cowling Arboretum is to educate the students and general public about nature and the environment that surrounds them.
You can learn more about the Cowling Arboretum here
12. The Hamilton College Arboretum – Hamilton College
The Hamilton College Arboretum is dedicated to preserving the magnificent historic campus landscape, building upon the diversity of the collection and reinforcing the aesthetic character of the campus. Hamilton College hopes to provide visitors with a better understanding of nature. This arboretum promotes the long-term stewardship of the environment and shows that it is important to keep the land around you as clean as possible. The goals of Hamilton College Arboretum include developing the arboretum into an outdoor laboratory so that it can provide opportunities for botany, biology, and horticulture programs that take place at the college.
You can learn more about the Hamilton College Arboretum here
11. Saint Johns Abbey Arboretum – Saint Johns University
In collaboration with Abbey Arboretum, Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict provides an outdoor program, which offers environmental and outdoor education courses, events and initiatives. The arboretum consists of more than 2,500 acres of lakes, prairies, oak savanna and forest. Their goals include preserving native plant and wildlife communities, providing opportunities for education and research, practicing sustainable land use and making the natural environment inviting for spiritual renewal.
You can learn more about the Saint Johns Abbey Arboretum here
10. Doane College Osterhout Arboretum – Doane College
The Doane College Osterhout Arboretum is made up of 300 acres of wooded rolling hills with green open spaces, and beautiful bodies of water. It provides an intrinsic setting for over 160 species of flowers, trees and bushes. It is home to flora such as Exbury Azalea, Star Magnolia and Flowering Dogwood and many more. Much of the landscape has an English cottage style. There are winding paths through century-old tree groves as well as meadows of other beautiful flowers. The many buildings, bridges and historic pergola complement the natural and stylized spaces of this amazing arboretum.
9. University of Arizona Campus Arboretum – The University of Arizona
The Campus Arboretum at the University of Arizona is built upon the historical concepts of the Land Grant Institution to promote stewardship. The college continues to research and promote sustainable land management and conservation. The arboretum provides education opportunities to the students of the University of Arizona as a living laboratory and also provides student employment opportunities to further their studies. The arboretum’s outreach program provides a plethora of free online resources, statewide programs for all ages, free tree tours, and events.
You can learn more about the University of Arizona Campus Arboretum here
8. University of Kentucky Arboretum – The University of Kentucky
University of Kentucky is also known as The State Botanical Garden of Kentucky. It was founded in 1991 and has become 100 acres of beautiful colorful plants year round. It has been described as a paradise and is a place people can melt their stress away thanks to the many marvelous sights and sounds. There are activities for everyone year round. The arboretum’s purpose is to showcase Kentucky landscapes and provide resources for environmental and horticultural education, research and conservation.
You can learn more about the University of Kentucky Arboretum here
7. Connecticut College Arboretum – Connecticut College
The Connecticut College Arboretum offers visitors a convenient connection to nature and many opportunities for teaching, research, conservation, recreation, and public education. The arboretum is open seven days a week from dawn until dusk for public enjoyment. The 770 acres of landscaped grounds serves as a conservation classroom for the college and allows the college to prepare the next citizen-leaders who will create a sustainable relationship with the natural world. At least 30 different courses are taught within the living laboratory. The arboretum has three significant plant collections, which are the Campus Landscape, the Native Plant Collection, and the Caroline Black Garden. There is another 200 acres available for hands-on projects such as controlled bring experiments and vegetation management demonstrations.
You can learn more about the Connecticut College Arboretum here
6. The Arnold Arboretum – Harvard Univesity
This fall, the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University launched “The Campaign for Living Collections” which is a 10-year initiative to increase plant exploration and to further develop collections. The arboretum has been collecting woody plants such as trees, shrubs and vines since 1872. It now has around 15,000 plants which represent 4,000 kinds of flora. Collections include the Azalea Border, the Bussey Brook Meadow, the Bradley Rosaceous Collection, the Conifer Collection, the Cosmopolitan Meadow, the Cranberry Collection, the Explorers Garden, the Hemlock Hill, the Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection, the Leventritt Shrub and Vine Garden as well as Lilac Collection, Maple Collection, Rhododendron Dell, and Spontaneous Flora. The arboretum offers educational programs for adults, schools, and the university. Families can enjoy numerous activities including Wildlife Bingo, photo hunt, and discovery packs.
You can learn more about the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University here
5. University of Maryland Arboretum – The University of Maryland
The Arbor Day Foundation has named the University of Maryland Arboretum and Botanical Garden Tree Campus USA for the sixth year in a row. Maryland received this honor because of its commitment to meeting the five core standards set by Tree Campus USA. These standards include maintaining a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures towards trees, an Arbor Day observance and student service-learning projects. The arboretum has several gardens including the Native Garden; Peace and Friendship Garden; Rain Garden; Garden of Reflection and Remembrance; Tawes Plaza Garden; Chemistry Courtyard; Dance Courtyard and Topiary Testudo. Visitors may participate in arboretum walks and talks or schedule a customized guided program.
You can learn more about the University of Maryland Arboretum here
4. Morris Arboretum – The University of Pennsylvania
The Morris Arboretum is the perfect place to spend time with family and friends. Visitors can explore 92 acres of lush, colorful gardens while learning from over 12,000 labeled plants, trees and flowers. There are more than 100 classes, educational tours and lectures available in the spring and fall for all ages. The arboretum provides opportunities for school field trips, summer camps, internships and serves as a research consultant. The universities goal is to educate the public as well as the students that attend university there to get a better relationship with plants that are native to the state. They believe it is important to get a better understanding of nature so we can enjoy a better standard of living.
You can learn more about the Morris Arboretum here
3. The Scott Arboretum – Swarthmore College
The Scott Arboretum hopes to delight, educate and inspire all visitors through the numerous benefits of horticulture. The arboretum has a library filled with over 1,300 garden-related books, magazines, catalogs, newsletters and brochures from gardens around the world. The collections and gardens of Scott Arboretum show how botanical, horticultural and landscape aspects can be integrated into harmony. Many of the mature trees and shrubs serve as a guiding point for homeowners looking to find the right plants for their landscaping needs.
You can learn more about the Scott Arboretum here
2. Orland E. White Research Arboretum – The University of Virginia
The State Arboretum of Virginia, known also the Orland E. White Arboretum located on 172 acres of Blandly Experimental Farm. It was founded in the 1930s and is now home to over 5000 woody trees and shrubs from all over the world. It is used as a reference garden by the Southeast Region of the American Conifer Society and the American Boxwood Society’s Memorial Garden. This arboretum is known for the many different varieties of collections that it has to offer. There are also programs and other educational resources available to those who wish to learn more about the different species of plants. Book clubs, Arborfest, garden fairs, summer youth camps and research opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students are all offered at the State Arboretum of Virginia.
You can learn more about the State Arboretum of Virginia here
1. Lyon Arboretum – The University of Hawaii Manoa
The mission of Lyon Arboretum is to appreciate the unique flora of Hawaii and the tropics by conserving, curating and studying plants in their habitats. The arboretum hopes to provide inclusive educational opportunities, encourage use by a broader community and support the many University of Hawaii activities. It is nestled in the deep Manoa Valley on the island of Oahu. It is a leader in conservation biology, Hawaiian ethnobotany, and horticulture. Spread throughout 194 acres, the Lyon Arboretum maintains a world famous collection of more than 5,000 tropical plant species. Some of the plant species gingers, heliconias, bromeliads, native Hawaiian flora and one of the biggest palm collections. There a total of twelve gardens. These gardens include the Children’s Garden, the Economic Section, the Herb and Spice Garden and the Young Memorial Garden.
Visitors can enjoy many of the community classes available. Some of these classes include yoga in the garden, Indigo art, healthy cooking and children’s classes. School tours and audio tours are available.
You can learn more about Lyon Arboretum here