This past weekend Brandon and I finally made it down to the Missouri Botanical Gardens and it was the best! Shortly after we arrived we were invited to go on a walking tour with one of the volunteers. Apparently, no one had signed up for the time slot and she was waiting for someone to be interested. It was our first trip so we figured why not? The walking tours are normally an hour but we spent three hours with our tour guide and walked the entire 79 acres with her.
Mary was a phenomenal guide and knew so much about the history of the gardens, the plants, the founder, and all of the caretakers over the years. We were so impressed and it made our trip so much more enjoyable. If you ever have the chance to visit the gardens I highly recommend taking a tour. Learning some of the hidden facts behind the garden planning and the design made the trip very interesting.
Even though we spent three hours walking the grounds there is still a lot we didn’t have time to explore. We missed the Climatron and the Stumpery so we added those to our must-see list for our next trip. We did get to see most of the sights we set out to see including:
- Victorian District & Tower Grove House
- Ottoman Garden
- Rose Gardens
- Zimmerman Sensory Garden
- English Woodland Garden
- Japanese Garden
- Symphony Garden (part of the Japanese Garden)
- Chinese Garden
- George Washington Carver Garden
- Demonstration Gardens (23 gardens!)
The garden is open daily from 9am – 5pm (excluding Christmas Day). We arrived around 1pm thinking we would have plenty of time to stroll through the parks but we were way wrong. A visit to the garden is easily an all-day adventure so I recommend getting there as soon as possible if you want to see it all.
Tickets into the Missouri Botanical Garden are $14 for adults although residents of St. Louis city and St. Louis County are offered a discount since city taxes help fund the cost of the garden. An individual garden membership starts is $50 and we already regret not buying one when we arrived for our visit. I know we’ll be back many times so it would have been the smarter investment. Everything is in bloom during different times of the year and I know we’ll go during the holidays so membership is totally the way to go if you live nearby.
Tips for Visiting the Missouri Botanical Garden
If you’re planning to visit the Missouri Botanical Gardens, here are a few things you should know…
Pack snacks and water
You can take snacks and water into the Missouri Botanical Gardens and with 79-acres to explore it’s highly recommended that you bring them along. Along the trails you’ll find a couple of places you can refill your water bottles so drink up and stay hydrated, especially if you go during the summer.
Bring quarters to feed the Koi
In the Japanese Garden there is a bridge with a feeder station where you can buy fish food and feed the Koi that gather there. While ducks and geese also gather in the area the garden asks that you do not feed them as they become territorial and aggressive. Stick with feeding the fish!
You can also buy bags of food for the fish in the garden gift shop before you explore the grounds if you know you want to feed the fish and forgot to bring quarters with you.
Schedule a walking tour
The walking tour is included in the cost of admission and it’s well worth taking. The tours are normally an hour long but the one we took was the last of the day and our guide wasn’t in a hurry. We had her for 3 hours! The tour volunteers are extremely knowledgeable and it’s a great way to really see the best of the best.
Check out the children’s garden (if you’re visiting with kids)
The children’s garden is an interactive garden that encourages hands-on play. It’s great if you’re visiting the garden with children because the rest of the garden doesn’t allow you to walk in certain areas or touch the displays. The children’s garden has climbing ropes and bridges, encourages sensory play, and has water fountains and streams to play in. Guests that are 13 or older are allowed in the children’s garden for free but admission for minors is $5 each.
Take time to explore the buildings
It’s easy to get caught up in exploring the gardens and the grounds but there are a lot of buildings to explore too. The Climatron is a must-see and you can also tour through the house where the garden founder lived when he lived on the grounds. There are also two mausoleums on site – one where the builder is buried and another where he was going to be building until he decided against the design due to the copper top.
Plan for lunch or dinner at Sassafras
Sassafras is the Missouri Botanical Garden cafe and a great place to stop when you’re ready for a lunch break. The ingredients are locally-sourced with some of the ingredients coming from the garden itself! After exploring the herb garden and vegetable garden it’s nice to stop for lunch and enjoy a plate straight out of the garden you just spent hours enjoying.
Ride the tram for an easy trip through the garden
If it’s your first trip to the Missouri Botanical Garden I recommend catching a ride on the Tram for a narrated tour. It’s an additional cost of $5 although children under 2 ride free if they are seated on your lap. The Tram tours run continuously until 3pm and last about 30 minutes. If walking 79-acres feels like a bit too much for you or if you’re visiting with kids, the Tram is a great way to see the highlights.