Welcome to the season of renewal in Virginia! It is the best time of year to explore the beautiful blossoms that are making the Commonwealth so colorful this spring. While you can spot bright buds practically anywhere you look during this time of year, some destinations have impressive examples of native Virginia wildflowers, while other locations offer pristine gardens of roses, tulips, and other stunning floral displays. Use this guide to find the most colorfully beautiful flowers this spring.
Historic Garden Week—Locations Throughout Virginia
This year marks the 90th annual historic garden week in Virginia. This week-long event offers a great opportunity to visit more than 250 different gardens across the state of Virginia. Experience spring blooms at their peak and visit historic homes with colorful arrangements created by the Garden Club of Virginia.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden—Richmond
Situated minutes away from Downtown Richmond on a historic property, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is one of the most incredible spots in Central Virginia to see a variety of spring flowers. Fifty acres of gardens include a conservatory with hundreds of orchids and several themed gardens, including a children’s garden that offers a treehouse and an adventure pathway. Whether you are visiting for a day of family fun or to bask in the beauty and charm, this year-round garden is particularly sweet in the spring. It is no surprise that Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is a top attraction in the Richmond region.
Another gorgeous Richmond attraction, Maymont is a 100-acre property that was gifted to the community by Mr. James and Mrs. Sallie Dooley, who resided in the estate from 1893-1925. Maymont features several themed gardens including an Italian Garden made up of geometric flower beds, sculptures, and fountains that are reminiscent of the Villa Torlonia near Rome. Maymont’s Japanese Garden transports visitors with fragrant cherry blossoms in full bloom, water irises, and intricate stonework surrounding a tumbling waterfall. Stroll through their Arboretum or visit one of several specialty gardens to experience the beauty of the spring season.
Edith J. Carrier Arboretum & Botanical Gardens— Harrisonburg
Image Courtesy of Visit Harrisonburg
Situated on the campus of James Madison University, the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum & Botanical Gardens showcases the natural beauty that the spring season promises. Visitors are invited to walk the trails and pathways brushed with Virginia native plants, landscaped gardens and lush lawns perfect for a picnic or an afternoon of relaxation. Offering a number of cultural and educational programs throughout the year, guests can leave with a newfound appreciation for environmental preservation. Popular native spring flowers include blue bells, blood root, trout lily, wild larkspur, true geranium, and several trillium varietals.
New River Trail State Park
Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson
A 57-mile linear park that meanders along the shores of its namesake river, New River Trail State Park contains dozens of rare wildflowers that burst into bloom come spring. While you can enjoy these wildflowers on your own while hiking through the park, the nearby town of Fries will host the second annual free wildflower walk on Saturday, April 22, 2023. The tour will span about a mile of the trail starting at the Dixon Ferry bridge between Galax and Fries, then return along the same route.
Photo Credit: Rich Grant, @richgrantdenver
Take a trip back in time with a visit to Colonial Williamsburg, where you’ll enjoy 90+ gardens spanning over more than 100 acres of colonial era public buildings, homes, shops, and exhibits. Partake in a guided stroll through Rockefellers’ Bassett Garden, where an expert will share family stories and explain the design of the garden. If you have ever wondered about gardening techniques used back in colonial days, pick a date and visit the “Meet the Gardener” program. Explore the ornamental garden at the governor’s palace, or visit the vegetable gardens behind private homes on Duke of Gloucester Street.
Blandy Experimental Farm—Boyce
During the spring and early summer, Blandy Experimental Farm offers guided wildflower walks, identifying spring wildflowers during the one-mile leisurely stroll along the Native Plant Trail. Additionally, an audio trail with eleven stops gives visitors the option of taking a self-guided tour of the property and learn about the flowers at their own pace.
Norfolk Botanical Gardens—Norfolk
Image courtesy of Norfolk Botanical Gardens
The Norfolk Botanical Gardens offer an experience that is unique to Norfolk. Surrounded by Whitehurst Lake, guests have the unique ability to tour the gardens on foot or by boat as well as by tram. During the spring season, there are 15 gardens open to visitors, including one garden entirely dedicated to showcasing native Virginia plants. Visit one of the largest, most diverse collections of roses, azaleas and rhododendrons on the East Coast.
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens—Vienna
Photo Credit: Patrick Lennon
With 95 acres to explore, spring is an excellent time of year to enjoy the unique and elegant Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, which contain a wide collection of native perennials. The gardens boast over twenty different varieties of cherry blossom trees, along with irises, peonies and colorful tulips. Experience the spring foliage while walking along one of several maintained trails within the gardens. The sunniest spring days offer the opportunity to visit the shade garden, home to many birds, butterflies and blooming wildflowers. Learn more about horticulture and gardening at a workshop, or partake in a tour of the grounds, while discovering all that there is to know about conservation.
The Blue Ridge Parkway
Photo Credit: Savannah Martin, Savannah Martin, @visually_capturing
Many travelers choose to take the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway in the fall to admire the vibrant foliage, but spring brings bright colors in the form of stunning wildflowers. Just south of Roanoke, Poor Mountain is one of the best places to see piratebush, a rare plant found in only a handful of areas in the United States. Mountain laurel can be seen along the entire parkway beginning in early summer, and for Bright Flame Azalea, take the Whetstone Ridge Trail, accessible from Milepost 29. Thunder Ridge Overlook is another excellent vantage point for catching emerging wildflowers blanketing the surrounding mountains.
Bull Run Regional Park—Centreville
One of the best places for spotting vivid wildflowers in Northern Virginia, Bull Run Regional Park is best visited during April, when the 1.5-mile Bluebell Trail is in bloom. In addition to Virginia bluebells, the trail supports more than 25 varieties of native wildflowers that can be seen throughout the spring and summer.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon—Mount Vernon
Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson, @cameron.davidson.usa
George Washington’s Mount Vernon is the perfect place to view spring flowers if you are a history lover. Displaying a variety of colonial-era buildings, including a functioning gristmill and distillery at the historic estate, Mount Vernon also boasts unforgettable gardens and landscapes. Originally overseen by George Washington himself, the gardens surrounding his mansion and were naturally designed with hundreds of plants, many native to Virginia, and trees, twelve of which are still alive today.
Natural Bridge State Park—Natural Bridge
Photo Credit: Chad Williams, @echadwilliams
Natural Bridge State Park is well known for the towering 215-foot tall stone archway created long ago by Cedar Creek, but the park is also a great place for spring wildflowers, such as trillium, Virginia bluebells, flame azalea, wild yam, cranes bill, and pennywort.
Use Wintergreen Resort as a home base during a spring getaway and explore the mountain’s many trails to take in beautiful spring wildflowers. You’ll find mountain laurel, blueberries, and rose azalea along Blackrock Trail during June. Chestnut Springs Trail has wildflowers like rhododendron, bloodroot, wild ginger, and violets, all of which bloom in April, while Fortune’s Ridge Trail passes through laurel thickets (blooming in June) and Trillium Field is blanketed in white and pink trillium in early May.
Bluebell Island—St. Paul
A hiking trail that runs through the small southwest Virginia town of St. Paul, Bluebell Island is a 1.3-acre area true to its name, blanketed in Virginia bluebells come spring. The trail passes through the heart of downtown and along the pristine Clinch River, making for an easy but scenic wildflower hike.
Photo Credit: Fred DeSousa
The gardens at Monticello have been acclaimed as a botanic showpiece. The gardens were more than just ornamental; during Jefferson’s lifetime, they acted as a source of food for the estate. Documented evidence suggests that Thomas Jefferson grew more than 105 species of herbaceous plants. The estate boasts several gardens, including the winding flower border that outlines the west lawn and twenty oval gardens within proximity to the house. The grove, originally housing Jefferson’s ‘pet trees’, offers visitors the opportunity to take a trip back in time, while exploring the spring blossoms and colors.
Paradise Creek Nature Park—Portsmouth
After 20 years of restoration efforts, Paradise Creek Nature Park along the Elizabeth River has become a peaceful oasis within the busy coastal area. The 40-acre park contains a wildflower meadow that is in full bloom come spring, as well as butterfly gardens, two miles of wheelchair-friendly trails through forests and wetlands, a river-themed playground, and a kayak launch for those looking to spot the wildflowers from the calm waters of the creek.
Shenandoah National Park
Photo Credit: Scott Jacobson, @scottjacobsonphotography
Wildflowers can be found throughout Shenandoah National Park; in spring and summer, small blue and yellow blooms of bluets and Quaker ladies can be found along the trails, while in May, wild azaleas add their colorful flowers to the mix, and mountain laurel’s white flowers blossom in June. Other wildflowers seen in the park include milkweed, ox eye daisies, goldenrods, asters, and wild sunflowers. As with most protected lands, it is against the law to pick any flowers inside the park, so please leave these spring flowers to be enjoyed by future guests.
Whitetop Mountain—Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Photo Credit: Trevor Frost, @tbfrost
Wildflowers burst into color in mid-spring along Whitetop Mountain in Mount Rogers National Recreation area, but the best time to visit is in June, when the native flame azalea is at its peak. The second highest summit in Virginia, the mountain is accessible by the Appalachian Trail, and while it shares a similar landscape with nearby Grayson Highlands State Park, the mountain is typically less busy when it comes to hiking.
Seven Bends State Park—Woodstock
Seven Bends State Park sits on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River about 40 miles northeast of Harrisonburg, and has more than eight miles of hiking trails. The riverside trails are covered in Virginia bluebells from early spring until May, and when the bluebells fade, Dame’s Rocket, Dutchman’s breeches, bee balm, bergamot, sunflowers, Queen Anne’s Lace, rue anemone, and other lovely wildflowers sprout throughout the park. You’ll also spot an array of woodland flowers, including May apples, trillium, mountain laurel, blood root, sawtooth leafwort, and various asters.
Head over to Burnside Farms in Nokesville, Virginia for their annual Festival of Spring. This is the perfect colorful backdrop for a new family photo to display in your home or as your newest screensaver. At the opening of each spring season, visitors are welcomed onto the grounds, filled with over one million spring blooms. Fifty varieties of tulips are bursting with color in their fields. This family friendly event allows visitors to pick daffodils (2 for $1), and tulips ($1 per stem). For an additional dollar, you can take the bulb home to plant in your own garden. Admission includes games, activities, live music and vendors on weekends.
Gloucester Daffodil Festival—Gloucester
Take part in what has been a Gloucester tradition since 1987. Each year, the town of Gloucester hosts a Daffodil Festival to welcome the new spring season. This event offers fun for the entire family, with a parade, face painting, games, activities, and live music. Participate in the daffodil show, attend the History of Bulbs and Blooms presented by Brent Heath, or tour the farms at Brent and Becky’s bulbs.
Photo Credit: Tom Hamilton, @tomhamiltonphotography
Netherlands Carillon offers a truly unique experience to visitors. Gifted to the United States by the Netherlands after World War ll, the bell tower is comprised of 50 bronze alloy bells, each delicately engraved. The bell is a symbol of the Netherlands’ friendship and gratitude towards the United States. Located next to the “Iwo Jima” Memorial and the Arlington National Cemetery, the tower offers an excellent view of the D.C. skyline and several monuments. The tower is surrounded by a colorful collection of tulips, all of which bloom during the spring season.
Other Virginia Destinations Known for Spring Wildflowers:
- Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve–Russell County
- Falls on the Little Stony–Jefferson National Forest near Coeburn
- Cabin Creek Falls–Grayson Highlands State Park
- Blue Ridge Discovery Center–Troutdale
- Boxerwood Nature Center & Woodland Garden–Lexington
- Birdsong Pleasure Garden–Luray
- Mill Mountain Wildflower Garden–Roanoke
- The Well Fields–Saltville
- Museum of the Shenandoah Valley–Winchester
- Southwest Virginia State Park Museum–Big Stone Gap