Island House Hotel Named in Top 25 Historic Hotels of America Most Magnificent Gardens List
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The Top 25 Historic Hotels of America Most Magnificent Gardens List Announced
Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for promoting and celebrating authentic historic hotels, is delighted to announce The Top 25 Historic Hotels of America Most Magnificent Gardens list. From lush New England to sunny Arizona, the destinations of Historic Hotels of America offer travelers a chance to wander through some of the most magnificent and beautiful storybook gardens. Many of the hotels feature extensive grounds designed by renowned landscape architects, such as Beatrix Ferrand, and Frederick Law Olmsted and his son, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. Several historic hotels on this list employ beekeepers to ensure their gardens remain pollinated and thriving, and even cultivate honey from their own apiaries to make house meads and keep their restaurants supplied with sweet, fragrant garnishes. More than a few hotels recognized here adhere to a “seed to table” or “field to table” philosophy, growing their own vegetables and herbs next door to their signature restaurants. Numerous life-long memories of special occasions celebrated in the gardens of historic hotels include romantic getaways, romantic proposals, honeymoons, anniversaries, and family reunions. Whether you are sharing a meal, a vow, or a stroll, these magnificent gardens of Historic Hotels of America will make your next tranquil getaway one you will never forget.
Williamsburg Lodge, Autograph Collection, and Colonial Houses (1750) & Williamsburg Inn (1937) Williamsburg, Virginia
Located mere blocks away from the historic Williamsburg Inn and Williamsburg Lodge, Autograph Collection is the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area, a 301-acre living history museum in Williamsburg, Virginia, where visitors can discover more than 30 meticulously researched and maintained gardens. From flowering backyard pleasure gardens and vegetable plots to the grand Governor’s Palace Gardens and Grounds, these gardens offer visitors and scholars insights into 18th-century life. The historic Williamsburg Inn and Williamsburg Lodge, and the Historic District gardens, date to the time of the Historic Area’s restoration in the 1930s. Most of the Colonial Houses in the Historic District are from its period of significance, the most historic of which dates to 1750. The restoration’s planners designed the Historic Area so that trees and shrubs would act as a screen for modern intrusions inconsistent with the world of 1770s Virginia. They also restricted plantings in the Historic Area to native species or those imported before 1800. Many of those plants are uncommon today and cultivated for their preservation, as well as visitors’ enjoyment. The Historic Area garden designs are also drawn from historical research and archaeological findings. Colonial Williamsburg’s Living Collections provide a historic and educational resource for visitors who wish to study, investigate, educate, and enjoy horticultural displays. While meandering through the quaint, historical village and its many nature paths, visitors can access the extensive research on the plantings at Colonial Williamsburg by capturing the QR codes found on labels. For those who want to learn more, Colonial Williamsburg offers a Garden Workshop for Floral Centerpieces, as well as a guided walk down Bassett Hall Trace nature path and a “Meet the Gardener” tour. The Williamsburg Inn was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 1994 and the Williamsburg Lodge, Autograph Collection, and Colonial Houses were inducted in 2000.
The Inn at Montchanin Village (1799) Montchanin, Delaware
The Inn at Montchanin Village was established at historic properties in Montchanin, Delaware, that have had decorative European-style and kitchen gardens for over 200 years. The Inn has a full-time horticulturist and its own off-site greenhouses, which provide exquisite colorful landscaping on the grounds. The gardens at the Inn today were designed by Anthony Matolla, who was invited by the Inn’s owners in the 1970s to redesign the historical gardens. According to Matolla, “The 5-acre hamlet, formerly used for the workers of the DuPont company, was my canvas. . . The spirit of design was considered with everything we did.” Tulips, dahlias, perennials, and locally prevalent trees help define spaces and create private garden nooks for guests to enjoy. The restaurant at the Inn, Krazy Kat’s, offers dishes with herbs and vegetables grown in the gardens of this historic hotel. Guests can access the historic buildings via a maze of ornate gardens featuring beautiful flowers and fragrant herbs. The gardens today are enjoyed by guests walking to their rooms and suites, as well as for outdoor weddings and private gatherings. The Inn at Montchanin Village and its gardens are associated with the nearby historical Longwood Gardens and the Winterthur Gardens & Museum.
Inn at Perry Cabin (1816) St. Michaels, Maryland
On the Chesapeake Bay, the Inn at Perry Cabin boasts 26-acres of beautiful orchards, colorful wildflowers, and manicured gardens. The grounds of this historic resort, which dates to 1816 and was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2018, are guided by design from renowned architects of OEHME, VAN SWEDEN and lovingly tended to year-round by a team of expert garden staff. Upon arrival, guests are greeted by the iconic allée known as Linden Lane, which displays rows of linden trees, pines, crepe myrtles, boxwoods, and roses along the long brick entryway. Starting in spring, a melody of colors display themselves as the temperature warms, delivering delicate daffodils, tulips, and pansies followed by flourishing perennial amsonia, coral bells, and hundreds of annuals once summer begins. Not to be missed in winter, the trees of Linden Lane shine with brilliant lights in celebration of the holidays. The bounty from the resort’s orchards, cutting gardens, and onsite apiary are incorporated daily in STARS restaurant, Purser’s Pub, and in numerous botanical treatments at Spa at Perry Cabin. Guests can join the Inn’s horticulturist for a closer look during the many walking tours or venture independently through the gardens. Winding along the picturesque waterfront are meticulously landscaped paths leading to unique and secluded areas, while strolling along the shoreline offers swings and benches to sit and admire all Mother Nature offers. From hydrangeas exploding with magnificent color against the white façade of the historic manor home, to gazing at the vibrant wildflowers that serve as a stunning backdrop to the Bocce and Croquet Court; every garden path leads to a new discovery and is worth exploring.
Antrim 1844 (1844) Taneytown, Maryland
The stunning Formal English Tea Rose Garden at Antrim 1844 is located just beyond the historic mansion’s grand front porch, greeting guests first with over fifty varieties of English Tea Roses and spritzing bronze fountains. The gardens continue throughout the 24-acre estate and boast a wide variety of boughs and blooms. The mansion – today the main house of the hotel estate – was constructed in 1844 by Major Andrew G. Ege, who inherited the 420-acre farm in Taneytown, Maryland, from his wife’s family. At the time, Major Ege oversaw the landscaping of a spectacular garden complex, which was laid out into an intricate series of geometric shapes. In the early 1990s, long after the estate was whittled down in size and the Ege family’s grand neoclassical mansion converted into a hotel, the grounds were redesigned by hoteliers Richard and Dorothy Mollett. Traditional 19th-century plantings that remain today include fragrant boxwood, peonies, holly trees, azalea, silver maple trees, jonquils, tulips, and cannas. Each year, over 5,000 annuals and 2,000 perennials bloom at Antrim 1844. As the sun sets over the Catoctin Mountains, guests should find their way to the garden to experience it in the “golden hour,” perhaps while enjoying a cocktail or hors d’oeuvres prior to dinner service. A part of lasting memories, Antrim 1844’s historic gardens have hosted countless romantic wedding ceremonies and fundraising events.
French Lick Springs Hotel (1845) & West Baden Springs Hotel (1902) French Lick, Indiana
The sprawling estate of the French Lick Resort in French Lick, Indiana, is comprised of two distinct historic hotels and their gardens: French Lick Springs Hotel, dating to 1845, and West Baden Springs Hotel, dating to 1902 and designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Between both hotels, there are over 40 different varieties of flowering perennials, and 17 different varieties of summer annuals each year. Roughly 11,000 summer annuals are planted throughout many flowerbeds, hanging baskets, and planters. Trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals can be seen in bloom from April-November throughout the resort. Summer annuals are installed by mid-May. Guests can learn more during events hosted at West Baden Springs Hotel, including “West Baden Gardening Guidance” and “Fall into Garden.” Both are small group experiences led by the Head Gardener for the resort.
Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa (1847) Point Clear, Alabama
The Grand Hotel’s gardens include 550 pristine acres featuring a stunning selection of color. The expanded estate garden offers beautiful flowers and fresh ingredients for use by the Grand Hotel’s chefs. Stunning azaleas, ornamental grasses, camellias, ferns, four varieties of bottlebrush plants, plum and Japanese yew, succulents, tea olives, banana shrubs, hydrangeas, hawthorns, palms, canna lily, ivy, and fragrant jasmine add color and life to the resort grounds. Many of the blooms appeal to Monarch butterflies, which stop at the Grand Hotel on their way to Mexico each fall. The Grand Oaks, dripping with Spanish moss, and fresh mint for cocktails are the most beloved garden elements by guests and add to the resort’s Southern charm. Mixologists from the 1847 bar visit the resort’s own mixology garden each day to create their handcrafted cocktail of the day. The resort’s culinary team uses an adjacent Grand Garden, with over 70 varieties of edible plants for their delicious seasonal cuisine. Along with magnificent flower, herb, and vegetable gardens, over 150 stunning live oak trees dripping in Spanish moss are a highlight of the Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa’s lush historic landscape. Each historic oak tree is numbered and receives monthly care for future generations to enjoy. Guests will relax and wander throughout the resort looking at the vegetation, reading the names, and asking the grounds’ team questions. A grounds tour can be pre-arranged for groups of 20 or more at various times throughout the year.
Island House Hotel (1852) Mackinac Island, Michigan
Open May through October, Island House Hotel on Mackinac Island provides cozy historic charm, gorgeous waterfront views, and the ideal location from which to walk or bike downtown. This historic estate has greeted guests from the mainland since 1852. The gardens of the Island House are open for all visitors to enjoy, whether to immerse themselves in the beauty from an Adirondack chair or to stop and smell the flowers while passing by on the sidewalk. Since rescuing the estate from pending demolition in 1969, the Callewaert-Ryba family has made the impressive garden a must-see for island visitors. Hotel staff reports that guests often approach them to ask, “How do you get these to bloom so big? I’ve never seen a flower like this, what is it?” While the garden’s styles and selections have changed some over the years, the Victorian aesthetic remains constant. An array of colorful annuals and perennials bloom in spring, summer, and fall. The hotel will plant approximately 3,700 annuals this season on its three acres of grounds. Great, big dahlias were selected for the 2023 spring season to make the garden “pop,” and colorful New Guinea impatiens, SunPatiens®, and snapdragons will be plentiful as well. Guests in the garden will also notice the wildlife because Mackinac Island is on the migration trail that Monarch butterflies follow between Canada and Mexico. Butterflies and birds tend to congregate by a splashing fountain located close to the hotel’s porch.
Mohonk Mountain House (1869) New Paltz, New York
The ornamental gardens of Mohonk Mountain House were designed by the Smiley hotelier family – who were enthusiastic about landscape architecture – to delight and inspire their guests at the New Paltz, New York, resort. Designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior and inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 1991, the resort hotel was founded in 1869 and the large formal gardens were established in 1888. That year, a stable was demolished to make room for a garden. Wagon loads of fertile soil were added to expand and enrich the chosen garden grounds. The Smiley family designed the formal gardens using the picturesque, or romantic, style of landscape gardening. As opposed to the French-style gardens that are geometric and impeccably trimmed, this style is irregular in form, with variety and boldness of composition. One of the outstanding features of the gardens is the combination of sweeping lawns and open vistas with stately trees as focal points, surrounded by spectacular rocky cliffs. Various paths invite guests to wander beyond the formal area and into the rose, herb, and cutting gardens. The gardens were designed under the supervision of the Smiley family, who worked directly with the head gardener to select the plant varieties and plan the garden layout. Overnight guests and day visitors are encouraged to explore the grounds. The resort’s beautiful greenhouse, near the gardens, sells plants and gifts for purchase. Guided tours through the garden are offered at special events throughout the year.
La Posada de Santa Fe (1882) Santa Fe, New Mexico
Set on six beautifully landscaped acres in Santa Fe’s downtown, La Posada de Santa Fe was originally constructed as a mansion known as The Staab House. La Posada has been a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2019 and is among the most exclusive destinations in New Mexico. La Posada’s history harkens back to a German émigré named Abraham Staab and his wife, Julia. Abraham had specifically arrived in Santa Fe in the mid-1850s, after taking the arduous journey along the Santa Fe Trail with his family. The gardens at La Posada de Santa Fe trace their history back to Julia Staab and the garden she planted in the late 1800s. Today, there are many walkways for guests to explore a variety of fruit trees, walnut trees, hickory trees, elm trees, aspen trees, and cherry blossom trees. Some of these historical trees are over 130 years in age. Guests can view the beauty of natural grasses with a variety of roses, all shades of lilacs, butterfly bushes, and daffodils. The best time to see the most vibrant blooms is from May to September.
Jekyll Island Club Resort (1886) Jekyll Island, Georgia
No matter the season, the Sunken Garden at the Jekyll Island Club Resort on Jekyll Island, Georgia, is sure to charm guests. The Sunken Garden is one of the most notable stops on the resort grounds, with its lush trellises making the garden stand out even in the dead of winter. A favorite of both locals and visiting guests alike, this timeless garden holds countless wedding ceremonies and receptions a year and is the most romantic garden at the resort for a proposal. Through the years, some changes have been made to the garden, but it was always part of the resort’s design. The historic Jekyll Island Club dates to 1886 and the garden is part of the resort’s Crane Cottage, established in 1917. The Jekyll Island Club was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 1994 and was honored as a winner of the Historic Hotels Awards of Excellence in 2014 and 2020. The original garden was anchored by two orange trees, and two more orange trees were added in recent decades at the front entrance to the cottage. There are nine varieties of plants and flowers in the Sunken Garden, including wisteria, box hedges, daylilies, and the iconic orange trees, as well as a rotating seasonal variety of potted flowers. Because the land is part of Georgia’s state parks system, the island is open to all to explore, and the Sunken Garden is open to the public anytime except during a private wedding.
Basin Harbor (1886) Vergennes, Vermont
Basin Harbor’s historic 700-acre resort sits on the shores of Lake Champlain and features over 15,000 square feet of gardens on-site. A member of Historic Hotels of America since 1999, the resort at Basin Harbor dates to 1886 and its original gardens date back to 1911, when Allen Penfield Beach, 2nd-generation host, completed his senior thesis at the University of Vermont on “How to Landscape a Resort.” He saw his thesis come to life, laying out the blueprint for the gardens and overseeing the landscape design. Today, as they did 100 years ago, guests can enjoy the beautiful gardens from many of the cottages on the grounds, an Adirondack chair, or with 4th-generation host Pennie Beach. An avid green thumb and beekeeper, Beach leads guided tours of the resort’s many flower gardens and the apiary. More than 12,000 annuals are planted each spring, making a lovely backdrop for weddings, family portraits or morning tea.
Grand Hotel (1887) Mackinac Island, Michigan
Any tour of the extensive gardens at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan, should always begin with the flower beds of the world-famous front porch. Measuring 660 feet long, it is the world’s longest front porch, and it is lined from one end to the other with signature Americana Red Geraniums: 1,375 geraniums in 147 planting boxes and 12 yards of planting soil. Grand Hotel uses more than 2,500 geraniums in all its flower beds. Designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in 1972, Grand Hotel’s grounds feature over 25 gardens that account for more than one and a half acres of maintained garden beds. Other gardens that can be seen from the front porch include the Tea Garden right below the hotel. The Tea Garden is home to the beautiful historic English stone fountain, horse and carriage topiary and a historic meandering stone wall lined with cedars and gardens. The Wedding Garden is adjacent to the Tea Garden, and roses line the west path to the pool and wooded areas. The Triangle Gardens are viewed walking up the hotel and are the most photographed of all the gardens. Guests should walk and view the East and West Garden Beds, The Labyrinth, which is hidden adjacent to the pool, and the Pool Gardens. Margaret’s Garden serves as the hotel’s flower shop and provides fresh flowers throughout the hotel and for special occasions daily. The majority of the gardens and surrounding areas have matured over the 136 years Grand Hotel has been established as “America’s Summer Place.”
Airlie (1899) Warrenton, Virginia
At the Airlie hotel and countryside retreat, established in 1899 in Warrenton, Virginia, the formal gardens are over 120 years in age and have remained unchanged since their initial plantings. Inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2015, Airlie was the recipient of the Historic Hotels of America Sustainability Champion at the 2021 Historic Hotels Awards of Excellence. This award is presented to a hotel that best implements and practices innovative green initiatives and programs. In addition to rows of luscious boxwood hedges, original fixtures at the hotel include an Italian bird basin, birdhouse, and sundial. Located in a secluded corner of Airlie’s front lawn is the Peterson Butterfly Garden, featuring 46 varieties of butterfly-attracting plants native to the region. It also serves as a base for the annual Airlie Butterfly Count, a conservation program of The Clifton Institute in association with the North American Butterfly Association. In addition to these two gardens is the organic garden which has been producing vegetables, flowers, and herbs in a four-acre organic plot for 22 years. The organic garden with its rows of fragrant herbs provided the best possible ingredients for the hotel’s kitchens long before the phrase “farm-to-table” became popular.
The Saint Paul Hotel (1910) Saint Paul, Minnesota
The Saint Paul Hotel’s English Garden is an oasis of year-round natural beauty. Established in 1910 and inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 1991, the hotel and its garden are landmarks in downtown St. Paul’s cultural corridor. Diners in the St. Paul Grill enjoy panoramic views of the English-inspired garden, complete with vines that drape the walls of the building. The garden is sustainable thanks to the irrigation system (EPA “Water Sense” certified). It uses a smart controller that regulates water usage based on both current and forecasted climates. With the local ecosystem and environment in mind, the hotel incorporates more pollinator-friendly native flowers and limits the use of chemicals. The hotel opts for natural or organic products and encourages natural predators to control unwanted bugs. The garden is primarily split into three areas – the “Welcome” garden, a small circular garden near its valet drop-off, the “Perennial” garden, and the “Grill” Garden. There is also a Moon Garden, Spring Garden, and a Sunken Garden. More than 250 perennials and 60 shrub roses are planted annually. One of the most unique times of the year in the garden is during the holidays, with twinkling Christmas lights strung throughout the landscape. The hotel’s gardens live most of the year in a frigid climate and hold their beauty on even the coldest of days. In warmer months, The Saint Paul Hotel garden also plays an important role as a destination for weddings, engagements, and photo shoots.
Chatham Bars Inn (1914) Chatham, Massachusetts
The historic Chatham Bars Inn on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, has long been well-known for its ever-expanding acres of hydrangea gardens, bursting with color and adding fragrance to the sea air. The Inn, which is located next to a nature preserve, was founded in 1914 and inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2021. Its whimsical, colorful hydrangeas welcome guests each summer to revel in their beauty. The Inn has over 4,000 hydrangea bushes representing over a dozen different varieties including Endless Summer, Limelight, Glowing Ember, and Blushing Bride. The hydrangeas line brick walkways throughout the oceanfront Inn’s 25 acres and spill down the grand staircase at the entrance to the Inn’s main building. Vibrant fuchsia, periwinkle, dark and light pink, and purple pastels, as well as stunning white and “lace” varieties of hydrangeas cover over 75 percent of the Inn’s grounds. The blooms’ bright colors reflect the soil types and nutrients in which they were planted, and the type of care given to them. Guests can enjoy them on walks through the resort as they go about their activities, and the Inn invites the local community to visit and enjoy the magnificent, magical blooms.
The American Club (1918) Kohler, Wisconsin
The Gardens of Kohler were planted in 1913 after Walter J. Kohler, Sr. travelled to Europe to study garden cities. He worked with the Olmsted Brothers, whose landscape firm had designed Central Park in New York City to plan the green spaces that beautify the Village of Kohler and Kohler Co. campus—including a comprehensive 50-year landscape primary plan. A second 50-year plan of growth, under guidelines established by The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, was completed in 1977. This plan actively called for continued community development in the Village of Kohler. In 1981, following the restoration and conversion of what was once a home for immigrant workers of Kohler into The American Club, a luxury hotel, the gardens were developed further. There are over 7,500 annuals planted on the grounds of the hotel each year. All the annuals are grown on the Kohler Campus by the gardening staff at the Kohler Landscape Greenhouses. These annual displays are changed out twice a year to offer returning guests a new seasonal explosion of color. There are a variety of gardens on-site, including The Wisconsin Room Courtyard. This garden’s focal point, a grand cedar arbor, supports a variety of decorative vines and casts its majestic shadow upon the bluestone terrace and its surrounding perennials. Another notable feature of the grounds at The American Club is the Fountain Courtyard. This courtyard offers outdoor seating to guests of The Greenhouse, a charming antique solarium from Chorley, Lancashire, in the north of England. There are arbors on each side of the courtyard covered in wild grapevines.
The Broadmoor (1918) Colorado Springs, Colorado
Discover the gardens of the Grand Dame of the Rockies, where landscaped flowers, trees, shrubbery, and kitchen plantings cover 35 acres at over 6,000 feet above sea level at this luxury resort. Established as a premier mountain resort in 1918, The Broadmoor was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 1989 as a charter member, and it was recognized for its excellence as a leader in historic hotels through the Historic Hotels Awards of Excellence in 2017 and 2018. The Olmsted Brothers, John Charles and Fredrick Law Olmstead Jr. were the original designers of the resort grounds. As guests drive up the entrance to the main hotel, they view a formal garden with hedged boxwood and junipers and a water feature with water lilies blooming on top of the water surrounding the 10-acre lake. In the springtime, over 18,000 daffodils and 25,000 pansies are planted. In the summer there are over 35,000 annuals and 12,000 plants scattered in pots and hanging baskets around the resort. In addition to the flowers throughout, Broadmoor Farms grows organic vegetables, herbs, edible flowers and fruits for the award-winning Penrose Restaurant and other restaurants. Honey is produced on-site by the Broadmoor bees. Notably, the 19th century writer and activist Helen Hunt Jackson drew inspiration from nature on land that is now part of the resort: Seven Falls in South Cheyenne Canon. While not a formal garden, wildflowers flank the one mile walk to the falls in the summer. Alongside her more overtly political works, Jackson wrote A Calendar of Sonnets, which described flowers throughout a year, and Bits of Travel at Home that included “The Procession of Flowers in Colorado.”
OHEKA CASTLE (1919) Huntington, New York
Built in 1919, the historic OHEKA CASTLE features French-inspired formal gardens with fountains, 10 reflecting pools, classic statuary, and tree-lined paths of London Planes, designed by the world-renowned Olmsted Brothers. As the beautiful building was being constructed, landscape architect and gardener Beatrix Farrand was commissioned by the Olmsted Brothers to design aspects of the Formal Gardens. Her English-style walking gardens blossomed in the 1920s. After saving the property from abandonment, developer Gary Melius began a careful and painstaking restoration of the castle in 1984, bringing OHEKA CASTLE back to its original grandeur. OHEKA CASTLE was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2004. A royal experience, guests are welcomed to this premier historic hotel with charming European luxury and hospitality. Between 2007-2009, the formal gardens were expanded and restored to Farrand’s original design. Forty-four London Plane trees were planted in the Formal Gardens to replace the missing trees that existed in the original design, and 2,505 boxwoods were planted around the reflecting pools to further restore the Formal Gardens to their original grandeur. Taking note of its beauty and character, Hollywood has used the backdrop of OHEKA’s gardens in the classic movie, Citizen Kane, as well as being featured in a popular Taylor Swift music video and on the television series, Royal Pains.
The Inn at Death Valley (1926) Death Valley, California
Located within famously inhospitable Death Valley National Park – 3.4 million acres of desert – there is an oasis of life. This oasis is no mirage, but an incredibly special place where one million gallons of fresh, glacial water gurgles from the ground every day. This water makes possible the lush, green environment where a railroad company founded a resort in the late 1920s – The Oasis at Death Valley, home to the historic Inn at Death Valley. The Inn at Death Valley was founded in 1926 and inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2012. Since water is precious in the desert, the historic resort ensures that every drop of spring water is carefully and purposefully managed. Any extra water is released so that it replenishes the aquifer beneath the valley floor keeping the gardens lush and the resort conservation friendly. Before Europeans colonized the region, the ancestors of the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe drew water from the springs at the oasis. Today, visitors – vacationers, outdoor enthusiasts, stargazers, and golfers – benefit from the life-giving springs. The first formal gardens appeared in 1934 when the Inn’s gardens were landscaped with grass and flowers. Thanks to the greenery, streams, and pools, the landscaping added a magnificently lush quality to the grounds. In 2017, the gardens were expanded with additional date palm trees, landscaping, and ponds.
La Valencia Hotel (1926) La Jolla, California
Surrounded by flowers, palms, and stunning pink Mediterranean architecture, the luscious garden is one of the most memorable locations at La Valencia Hotel. This oceanside hotel in La Jolla, California opened in 1926 and was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 1989. The garden also features the unique 1928 tile portrait of a Spanish maiden, the original “Pink Lady” by Ernest Batcheler, which has lived at the hotel for more than 90 years. The ocean view garden is in the center of the destination, just above the pool deck. The garden was built in the 1950s on the site of an earlier putting green and shuffleboard court. Today, white iceberg shrub roses, Valencia roses and other garden roses, fig trees, lavender, creeping fig, hibiscus, Valencia orange trees, strawberry guava trees, dragon tree, gardenias, kentia palms, sago palms, yucca, and bougainvillea thrive and add beauty to the historic hotel. The hotel staff recommends visiting the garden at sunset with a cocktail, when the light glows and you can listen to the ocean waves crash against the shore.
The Settlers Inn at Bingham Park (1927) Hawley, Pennsylvania
Muriel’s Garden at Settlers Inn at Bingham Park in Hawley, Pennsylvania, was established over 40 years ago. The garden was named for Muriel Genzlinger, the mother of one of the founders of the Inn, Grant Genzlinger. The building of Settlers Inn dates to 1927 and it was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2010. The Inn and its staff have been recognized for excellence through the Historic Hotels Awards of Excellence in 2014 and 2021. Muriel and Grant collaborated on the garden’s initial design, and the central plantings are descended from plants in Muriel’s own home garden in Philadelphia. Muriel’s Garden is an intimate cottage garden dedicated to the senses: sight, sound, scent, and taste. There are several tranquil spots throughout where guests can relax with nature. A Chef’s Demonstration Garden was added to the Inn estate in 2019, and it contains plantings that help illustrate the farm-to-table philosophy, which has been a priority at The Settlers Inn since its inception. Today many native trees and shrubs populate the garden. Berry and fruit-producing trees are planted for the birds while flowering perennials attract butterflies. Visitors can expect to see mountain laurels (Pennsylvania’s state flower), lavender, irises, black eyed susans, and hydrangeas. There are also over 20 varieties of edible flowers that are used by the chefs at the Inn’s restaurant. During warmer months, guided garden tours are offered weekly to guests. Each May, the Inn hosts a Perennial Exchange in the garden. Attendees can meet fellow gardeners, bring their favorite perennials, and find one to take home. The annual event also includes a garden talk and tour followed by a luncheon.
Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort (1929) Tucson, Arizona
Located in the breathtaking Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona, Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort was first established in 1929 as a preparatory school for girls. With its construction, a small garden was built in the present-day inner courtyard for the students. Many of the original cacti and trees observed in historical photos from its school days can be seen at the ranch today, albeit taller and fuller. Technological advancements in water conservation and uphill delivery made fuller gardens possible, even in the desert. From the first moment guests enter the 34-acre Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort, beautiful flora and fauna surrounds. The walkway up to the historic archway features stunning desert flowers, frequented by hummingbirds, butterflies, and lizards. The botanical gardens feature varieties of Agave, Yucca, cactus, and multitudes of annuals that bloom seasonally. The resort also features a chef’s garden and a bartender’s garden, filled with herbs, spices and citrus fruits to be used at both of the award-winning restaurants on-site. Because of Tucson’s mild climate and hearty desert plants, there are beautiful blooms in season year-round. Guests can experience and explore the resort gardens through walking paths. Signage accompanies many of the unique flora and vegetation to educate horticulture enthusiasts.
Omni Shoreham Hotel (1930) Washington, D.C.
The historic Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., is located in a prime location for travelers looking for urban gardens. Established in 1930, the hotel is close to the National Cathedral and gardens, Rock Creek Park, and the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park. The latter two were originally laid out by prominent 19th century landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and his family firm. The hotel itself offers visitors thirteen acres of gardens to enjoy, including three acres of back gardens that are available as private event space. The back gardens were developed and planted in 1999. Previously, this area was a tennis court. The back gardens and front gardens together boast 40,000 tulips every spring. When the gardeners uproot the tulips to prepare for the fall planting season, the bulbs are offered to Omni Select Guest members at the hotel and Omni associates. The hotel also cares for a host of cherry trees throughout the grounds. Visitors are invited to walk the grounds and are able to reserve the back garden for large group meetings including weddings and live music events. The Omni Shoreham Hotel was inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2014.
The Hotel Hershey® (1933) Hershey, Pennsylvania
The Hotel Hershey opened in 1933 to share a hilltop with Highland Park gardens, now known as the Formal Gardens. The Highland Park beds that hold The Hotel Hershey’s Formal Gardens today were laid out in 1915, following construction of the Highland Park Reservoirs. On April 29, 1915, two concrete water reservoirs with a capacity of 1 million gallons were completed on Pat’s Hill to serve the growing Hershey, Pennsylvania community. The grounds were extensively landscaped with flower beds and hundreds of rose bushes cascading down the slopes of Highland Park. This area was a popular picnicking spot at the time. Harry Erdman, who began his career with Hershey Estates as head of the Hershey Nursery and Greenhouses in 1928, oversaw the landscaping of The Hotel Hershey’s Formal Gardens in 1933. The gardens were restored beginning in the summer of 1990. The present gazebos were rebuilt, walkways repaired and circulating fountains were installed in the reservoirs. Today, guests can find tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, and pansies from mid-April to early-May; summer annuals from July to August; flowering trees from April to May and flowering shrubs from April to June in the Formal Gardens. Nearby, the Hershey Gardens (which is not part of the hotel, but where overnight guests do have complimentary admission) are a 23-acre botanical display garden that features 11 themed gardens, including a historic rose garden with 3,500 rose bushes representing 115 cultivars. In addition to the themed gardens, there is also a seasonal display garden with over 20,000 tulips in the spring, colorful annuals in mid-summer and vibrant mums in the fall.
Rancho Bernardo Inn (1963) San Diego, California
The Chef’s Garden at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego, California, is blessed with a climate that allows it to grow an abundance of fresh produce for the resort year-round. Rancho Bernardo Inn, which offers a plethora of amenities from spa and dining to championship golf, was founded in 1963 and inducted into Historic Hotels of America in 2021. The produce grown there varies from season to season and year to year, but the resort intentionally grows plants native to the region and can be incorporated into seasonal menus at its restaurants, including AVANT. Throughout the year, fresh herbs, root vegetables, tomatoes, stone and citrus fruits, corn, beans, and flowers appear on the resort’s menus – the “seed-to-table” philosophy in action. The signature restaurant’s Chef de Cuisine said of the garden: “When walking to the garden to see what I’m going to cook for the day, I feel very lost in the beauty of the nature that surrounds the property. I want every single guest who dines at AVANT to see the beauty of the amazing fruits and vegetables we grow right here on the property.” Located between the resort’s AVANT restaurant, golf course, and beautiful Aragon lawn, the Chef’s Garden is easily accessible to guests and cooks alike. Along with the living bounty of the gardens, Rancho Bernardo Inn features 21 distinctive, romantic fountains throughout the grounds. Guests can take self-guided walks to discover the gardens and fountains themselves, arrange for a guided tour, or simply sit and relax.
“Discovering, exploring, and experiencing the gardens of Historic Hotels of America should be on everyone’s bucket list,” said Lawrence Horwitz, Executive Vice President of Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide. “Whether a guest wants to walk alone, take a romantic stroll with a loved one, enjoy a perfect setting for long un-interrupted conversations, or just take a restful quiet stroll, these historic gardens are truly magnificent and create wonderful long-lasting memories guests will want to share. Congratulations to the many wonderful gardeners, groundskeepers, and landscapers for their dedication to the beautiful grounds named to The 2023 Top 25 Historic Hotels of America Most Magnificent Gardens list.”
About Historic Hotels of America
Historic Hotels of America® is the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for recognizing, celebrating, and promoting the finest historic hotels in the United States of America. To be nominated and selected for membership in this prestigious program, a hotel must be at least 50 years old; designated by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark or listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places; and recognized as having historical significance. Of the more than 300 historic hotels inducted into Historic Hotels of America from 44 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, all historic hotels faithfully preserve their sense of authenticity, sense of place, and architectural integrity.