Huntsville Botanical Garden named 4th best in North America—5 events you don’t want to miss at one of Huntsville’s most beautiful spots

Huntsville Botanical Garden
One of Huntsville’s favorite spots is one of the best on the continent. (Nathan Watson / Hville Blast)

Have you heard? According to a new ranking released by USA Today, the Huntsville Botanical Garden isn’t just one of the best in the nation, but in all of North America.

The Garden was one of 20 finalists chosen by USA Today’s 10Best Editors + a panel of experts. The final ranking was determined by a popular vote.

The new ranking

The Huntsville Botanical Garden is no stranger to the 10Best list. In both 2020 and 2021, the Garden was ranked in the Top 10 Best Botanical Garden Holiday Lights contest, at no. 2 and no. 7, respectively.

Still, it is a great honor to be included as one of the best overall gardens in North America. Here’s what Garden CEO Sue Wagner had to say:

“We are proud to be recognized as one of the top botanical gardens in North America. This recognition was made possible by the support of our community here in Huntsville and throughout the North Alabama region. Thanks to your support, we are able to show the nation what a special place we have here in Huntsville.”

Sue Wagner, CEO, Huntsville Botanical Garden

The complete ranking was as follows:

  1. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden – Coral Gables, Florida
  2. Cincinnati Zoo + Botanical Garden – Cincinnati, Ohio
  3. Vallarta Botanical Gardens – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  4. Huntsville Botanical Garden – Huntsville, Alabama
  5. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens – Palm Desert, California
  6. Brookgreen Gardens – Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
  7. Desert Botanical Garden – Phoenix, Arizona
  8. Mt. Cuba Center – Hockessin, Delaware
  9. Biltmore Garden + Grounds – Asheville, North Carolina
  10. Portland Japanese Garden – Portland, Oregon

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a long-time member, here are five things you should experience at the Garden this summer.

1. Stickwork

Stickwork at Huntsville Botanical Garden
Have you visited the Stickwork exhibit yet? (Huntsville Botanical Garden)

Stickwork, an interactive, sculptural installation by artist Patrick Dougherty, opened at the Huntsville Botanical Garden in March of this year. Dougherty has created similar installations at gardens and other locations around the world for decades now.

The Huntsville installation resembles larger-than-life hay bales and is inspired by the sprawling farmland that can be found just outside the city.

Stickwork is open year-round during normal Garden hours and included with your admission.

2. Peak butterfly season + butterfly releases

Purdy butterfly house
It’s the best time of year to visit the Purdy Butterfly House. (Emily Phillips / Hville Blast)

The Purdy Butterfly House is one of the Garden’s most popular attractions. Luckily, peak butterfly season began in May, which means now is the perfect time to see the various species of butterflies in action.

The Garden also hosts regular butterfly releases from May through August. Spots are limited, so be sure to register here for the butterfly release you’d like to attend. Ticket prices vary but begin at $8 for Garden members and $20 for non-members.

3. Golden Hour

Golden Hour
Don’t miss golden hour at the Garden. (Huntsville Botanical Garden / Facebook)

There’s no time like golden hour—that brief period before the sun sets that turns the whole world a beautiful shade of gold. At the Huntsville Botanical Garden, you can enjoy golden hour all summer long on Wednesday evenings from 5-7:30PM.

Golden Hour Wednesdays run from May through August and will feature local music, food and drinks. The event is free for Garden members and is included with regular admission for non-members.

4. Dog Nights

Wish you could enjoy the beauty of the Garden alongside your pup? You can amp up your Monday evening walks by taking them at the Garden.

Every Monday, your dog is welcome to join you beginning at 5PM and lasting until the Garden closes at 6:30PM. Admission is included with a regular ticket, but add $4/dog, and dogs must be on leashes. You’re also asked to provide water and waste bags for your pet.

5. Firefly Garden Hike

Maybe you can grab a better photo than this selfie. (Emily Phillips / Hville Blast)

Did you know that the plants in your garden could attract fireflies? At the Firefly Garden Hike, you can learn how. Join the Huntsville Botanical Garden for a presentation on fireflies, a guided hike and an opportunity to catch fireflies for yourself. Plus, learn how to make your yard habitable for these luminescent creatures.

Firefly Garden Hikes take place weekly through the months of June and July. Spots are limited, so registration is required. Tickets begin at $15 for members and $20 for non-members, but discounted rates are available for larger parties.

Ready to visit the Garden for yourself? Grab a general admission ticket now, or look into becoming a member so you can enjoy the fun year-round.

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Emily Phillips
Emily Phillips
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