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4 Most Beautiful Garden Cemeteries in the U.S.
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December 1, 2019
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Travel Trivia Editorial
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There are numerous cemeteries around the world that are renowned for their beautiful and peaceful gardens. Since cemeteries offer an open green space unbothered by the outside world, it makes sense that so many would feature garden landscapes. These garden cemeteries both honor those who have been laid to rest and provide tranquility for those who come to visit. Like flowers left at a grave site, these permanent gardens serve as symbols of remembrance for those who have passed on. With that in mind, here are four of the most breathtaking garden cemeteries in the United States.

Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, GA

Headstones in Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah Georgia with trees, ferns, and Spanish moss
Credit: Dana J Lewis/ Shutterstock

When it was founded in 1846, the Bonaventure Cemetery was privately owned and known as the Evergreen Cemetery. Since then, the Bonaventure grounds have expanded from that first 14.6-acre section of land on the original Bonaventure Plantation to the over 100 acres of sprawling gardens and lush greenery honoring the dead buried there today. When it was designed, it followed the traditional Victorian cemetery aesthetic which included curving pathways, a variety of trees and greenery, and grassy spots for picnicking with family near the graves, which was a common way of honoring the dead at the time. No longer a private space, the Bonaventure Cemetery is now maintained by the City of Savannah and open to the public, who can marvel at its expansive shrubbery and old-world charm. You can take a tour of this historical site, wander at your own pace, or even book it as a unique and offbeat choice for a wedding. Further, the Spanish Moss and other garden features of the Bonaventure Cemetery have come to symbolize Savannah and the Southern Gothic style with which the city is associated, making it one of the most popular destinations in the city.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, CA

Mausoleum, headstones, and foutain at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, California
Credit: Alizada Studios/ Shutterstock

Sure, many people who come to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery are drawn in by the lure of seeing the final resting place of some of Hollywood's luminaries, but at the end of the day, it is the garden ambiance of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery that makes it such a special place to visit. The city knows this, and they frequently schedule cultural events (like film screenings, concerts, and holiday festivals) on the cemetery grounds. The cemetery is also well-known for hosting one of the largest and most famous Día de los Muertos events in the entire world. Visitors to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery have the option of exploring 50 acres of green space and meticulously maintained gardens, which include ornately decorated mausoleum structures as well as gardens dedicated to the spreading of cremated remains. Burial plots are available for purchase, and dedicated stonemasons will help future residents achieve their vision for how they'd like to be remembered.

Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY

Bare trees and grave markers at the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn with Manhattan skyline
Credit: Joel Carillet/ iStock

Situated on an expansive 478 acres, this cemetery and National Historic Landmark was founded in 1838 and has since become the final resting place of numerous well-known figures including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Leonard Bernstein, and Horace Greeley. It is also a well-appointed open space that includes hills, valleys, and beautiful meandering paths through which to wander. Perhaps this is why in the 1860s it was already an extremely famous tourist attraction, boasting an impressive 500,000 tourists a year, making it second only to Niagara Falls for American tourist attractions at the time. Because the gardens and green spaces at Green-Wood Cemetery are so impressive, it is also a place beloved by birdwatchers who come here to admire the impressive fauna this space attracts. It has been a National Historic Landmark since 2006 and The Green-Wood Historic Fund has been working since 1999 to make sure that all the stone structures within the cemetery are maintained against the elements so that they can be preserved for future visitors to enjoy.

Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, MA

Headstones in Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge in autumn with fallen leaves
Credit: FloridaNath/ Shutterstock

Since Massachusetts is one of the oldest states in the union, it also has some of the oldest and most historic cemeteries. Probably the most famous is Mount Auburn Cemetery, which has been there since 1831. It was established by the Massachusetts Historical Society to be a green space for plants and wildlife as well as a tranquil reserve for burying the dead. This so-called rural cemetery was meant to be a garden retreat from the city where flora and fauna could thrive amongst the headstones. Such rural cemeteries helped combat the land use issues arising from the fact that city space was at a premium and that cemeteries tended to take up a lot of land. At the time, this idea of placing the cemetery somewhere rural and natural was considered experimental, but it worked so well and produced such beautiful results that Mount Auburn soon became the model on which other later rural cemeteries (like Green-Wood) were built. Like Green-Wood, Mount Auburn is considered a National Historic Landmark. If you stroll through the gardens, you'll see how the headstones and mausoleums change over time to reflect the architectural trends and preferences of numerous eras of American history.