Public gardens across Missouri combine a colorful array of flowers and foliage with iconic art and architecture. From botanical gardens and college campuses to rural retreats and urban spaces, a walk in the park becomes an experience you’ll never forget.
Here’s a look at some of the lush and creative places you can explore in the Show-Me State.
Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis
One of the country’s first and largest sculpture parks, Laumeier includes the oft-photographed Eye, created by Tony Tasset. More than 100 acres showcase 60 works of art, special exhibits and events. Also, on-site walking pathways and hiking trails, ranging from 0.15 miles to 0.77 miles, cater to all ages and abilities. The Park is free and open to the public year-round, with the exception of special events.
Serra Sculpture Park, St. Louis
This small-but-impactful park is the size of a single city block. Therefore, you can’t miss the park’s centerpiece – Richard Serra’s site-specific sculpture, Twain. The work, made of eight separate, two-inch thick steel panels, encourages viewers to interact by walking around and within the paneled area.
St. Louis University’s Lay Center, Louisiana
Surrounded by 350 acres of meadows and hills, the 20-acre Henry Lay Sculpture Park includes Story Woods, an area where artists have interpreted literature and art in a natural setting. A five-mile walking trail will take you through an oak and hickory forest with several open fields and two lakes.
Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park, Kansas City
Located on the grounds of the iconic Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the 22-acre attraction is home to 36 sculptures. Most notably, you’ll see Shuttlecocks by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen and Glass Labyrinth by Kansas City native Robert Morris.
Citygarden, St. Louis
Internationally renowned sculptures, plants, fountains and architecture come together in one lush location in the heart of downtown St. Louis. Water features, including a waterfall and spray plaza, are popular when the temperatures rise.
Webster Groves Sculpture Park, Webster Groves
Curved walls of weathered fieldstone create an artistic design that guides visitors through Webster Groves Sculpture Park. The park features the work of three artists (Catharine Magel, Ernest Trova and Carol Fleming) with St. Louis ties. The sculptures include Magel’s Inflorescence, an intricate, bird-shaped mosaic.
Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis
The 79-acre botanical park, founded in 1859, is home to an extensive plant collection and mid- to late-1800s architecture, including Henry Shaw’s historic Tower Grove House and the Linnean House. The award-winning Climatron, built in 1960, was the first geodesic dome to be used as a conservatory. Considered one of the top botanical attractions in the United States, the park also has a 14-acre Japanese Garden and one of the world’s largest collections of rare and endangered orchids. A variety of festivals and educational programs are held all year long.
Powell Gardens, Kingsville
This outdoor oasis near Kansas City covers 970 acres and boasts several structures – including the Marjorie Powell Allen Chapel and the Meadow Pavilion – designed by architect E. Fay Jones, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. The property also features an Island Garden, Wildflower Meadow, and Heartland Harvest Garden, the nation’s largest edible landscape. Check out the events and educational programs held throughout the year.
Springfield Botanical Garden
Located in the 113-acre Nathanial Greene/Close Memorial Park, the garden has more than a dozen themed areas where hostas, daylilies, Asiatic lilies, iris, peonies, roses and native flowers thrive. You’ll also find the Dr. Bill K. Roston Native Butterfly House, Gray-Campbell Farmstead (the oldest cabin in Springfield) and Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden.
Shelter Gardens, Columbia
Beyond the stone and wrought iron gates outside Shelter Insurance’s Columbia headquarters, you’ll find five acres filled with more than 300 varieties of trees and shrubs and more than 15,000 annuals and perennials. The grounds also include a sensory garden, a Vietnam Veterans Memorial and a replica of a one-room school house. Free concerts are held during June and July.
Kauffman Memorial Garden, Kansas City
Inspired by Ewing and Muriel Kauffman’s world travels, Kauffman Memorial Garden takes inspiration from European parks. Bronze sculptures and playful fountains sit among colorful annual and perennial plantings. Stone walls and brick walkways frame the lush foliage.
Mizzou Botanical Garden, Columbia
The entire campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia is a botanical park. It contains a number of specialty gardens – featuring flowering plants, a native tree collection, fountains, and sculptures amid the university’s historic architecture.
Missouri Arboretum, Maryville
With more than 1,700 trees from 160 species, the Missouri Arboretum was established on the campus of Northwest Missouri State University by the state legislature in 1993. The arboretum is dedicated to enhancing the understanding and appreciation of botanical diversity.
Laura Conyers Smith Municipal Rose Garden, Kansas City
The Municipal Rose Garden is the realization of a dream that began in 1931 when a group of women established the Kansas City Rose Society, which created the public rose garden in Loose Park. Starting with 120 rose plants, the 1.5 acre plot now has more than 3,000 plants, representing more than 150 varieties.
Carnahan Memorial Gardens, Jefferson City
Located between the State Capitol and the circa 1930s Governor’s Mansion, Carnahan Memorial Gardens is filled with flowers, trees and a reflection pool. The terraced landscape features a stone pergola built from Missouri limestone in 1938.