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|Hayley Matthews • 1/20/17|
The Short Version: Located on campus at the University of Utah, Red Butte Garden opened its doors in 1985 to nature lovers in need of an escape. The botanical gardens cultivate a romantic air and host many social events like concerts, film screenings, and weddings. In springtime, the gardens bloom with over 450,000 bulbs and offer a beautiful place to take a date. Through frequent classes, guided tours, and volunteer opportunities, the community-funded space works to educate and entertain people of all ages. Photos hardly do justice to the sprawling vistas, tranquil ponds, vibrant flowers, and visual delights of Red Butte Garden. You and your date can explore the gardens at your leisure or join an engaging activity to connect through a shared interest in the natural world.
At the University of Utah’s Red Butte Garden, stunning floral displays delight visitors with a romantic ambiance around every corner. Two people on a date there can take in the fragrances of more than 450,000 blooming flowers, enjoy the fresh mountain air, and wander down tree-lined paths hand in hand. The botanical gardens have many secluded areas where visitors bond in nature’s embrace. To cap off their visit, couples can rest on benches at the edge of a pond where ducks drift along with the current.
A favorite retreat for Utah residents, Red Butte Garden sees over 250,000 visitors a year. The 18 acres of displayed areas and five miles of hiking trails give daters plenty of space and privacy in a beautiful outdoor setting.
Red Butte Garden is open all year round and free for students of the University of Utah (with a valid ID). This picturesque and award-winning botanical space is a 10-minute drive from downtown Salt Lake City, but all vestige of the city dissolves once you’re in the middle of the greenery. Beautiful awnings of flowers and fun special exhibits give couples much to admire, no matter what season it is.
The garden’s extensive plant collections include endangered species as well as a wealth of pink, red, and yellow roses. During summer afternoons (from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), Red Butte Garden’s botanical experts provide complimentary guided tours on foot and by tram. These private tours can give you and your date an intimate look at the gardens and plant the seeds for a lively conversation.
“It’s a great place, in all four seasons, to bring a college date and walk around together,” said Bryn Ramjoué, Communications Director for the garden. “Everything you see along the paths is going to spark a conversation whether it’s your first date or your 50th date.”
Throughout the year, Red Butte Garden attracts outdoorsy singles and couples by presenting numerous exhibits and programming for people of all ages. During unique interactive events, the garden’s staff invites visitors to come together to appreciate their plants, flowers, and scenery.
The Garden After Dark event, for instance, draws a young crowd during the Halloween season with family-friendly (and somewhat spooky) programming. Special art and LEGO exhibits also enrich the visitor’s experience and incite discussion among curious onlookers. Special events draw people into the gardens, and the ever-changing beauty of the place keeps them coming back for more.
For music lovers looking for a lively date night, Red Butte Garden has a terrific summer treat. From Memorial Day until Labor Day, Red Butte Garden transforms into an open concert hall for special performances of popular artists like Weird Al Yankovic, Willie Nelson, the Goo Goo Dolls, and Wilco. The garden hosts about 30 shows out on their lawn throughout the summer, rain or shine. Attendees can bring blankets, low-back chairs, food, and drinks to accompany the concerts.
Snacks, wraps, beverages, and grilled fare are also available at the Cuisine Unlimited Concert Café inside the Amphitheatre. You can pre-order your picnic to save time (and impress your date with your planning skills), and then sit back to enjoy the show.
“People love it. They set up their spread and dance and sing along to the music.” Bryn said. “There’s this really casual community feel. It’s definitely the biggest and most popular event we have.”
Red Butte Garden members get a discount on their tickets to the concerts and also enjoy first dibs during a ticket pre-sale period. You can learn more about the garden’s concerts here.
Every year, the garden’s Sundance Institute Summer Film screenings tempt daters to spend an evening outdoors watching a movie. Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre shows a handful of Sundance Film Festival movies for free at dusk on select evenings. Crowds of students turn out, often with a date in tow, to watch a movie under the stars.
“Those films are fantastic,” Bryn said. “It’s nice and cool outside in the garden, so everyone can relax together.”
Rooted as they are in a university setting, Red Butte Garden staff provides an array of instructional activities focused on promoting environmental awareness. They have educational programs for kids as well as adults. You can take a date to learn how to build a succulent terrarium or how to tend a garden — and grow closer together in the experience. Red Butte Garden Members will get a discount on all courses.
The sheer beauty of Red Butte Garden makes it a natural choice for wedding ceremonies and receptions. The flowery scenery surrounds couples with fragrances and colors to captivate the senses. Romance is easy to find in such an entrancing place.
“People love to use the garden as a wedding venue because the space is already decorated. It’s just gorgeous,” Bryn told us. “We do a ton of weddings.” Every year, Red Butte Garden hosts more than 180 weddings for happy couples of all orientations and backgrounds.
You can see for yourself the magical quality of the garden in the video compilation of Ashley and Jesse’s wedding day:
Red Butte Garden offers couples their pick of two indoor and three outdoor spaces. Married couples also get a free year of membership at the garden and complimentary wedding-day golf cart rides for you and any guests who have trouble walking. Whether they’re dancing under the open sky or embracing in the shade of the trees, brides and grooms delight in 100 acres of charming spots found at the garden.
“Everything went so smoothly and my wedding was a total dream. I had my ceremony out in the Fragrance Garden and my reception in the Orangerie, and both were so beautiful,” Kelsey wrote in a review on the Wedding Wire.
“All my guests were wowed by how beautiful it was. Hands down was the best wedding I’ve ever been to, and I’m lucky that it was my own!” added April, another satisfied bride.
“The colors are incredible,” Bryn told us. “Everyone looks good because they’re in this natural environment and framed by all these beautiful flowers and trees, so the wedding photos are just phenomenal.”
Coming from the corporate world, Bryn was blown away by the open, friendly atmosphere nurtured by Red Butte Garden staff. The fun-loving group passionately tend the gardens and fosters a place where the public can learn, grow, and connect in nature.
“We don’t force results. We have expertise, but we also know that things might be better if you just see what comes,” Bryn said. “That’s very much our culture.”
These community-minded gardeners work toward protecting the environment by engaging with the public. Their displays are often as educative as they are striking. Soon, a new water-conservation garden will show visitors how to grow plants using less water. This special exhibit is set to open in May 2017.
At Red Butte Garden, volunteer opportunities bring in fresh blood every summer with hundreds of seasonal helpers coming out of the woodwork to share their passion for the botanical arts. While giving back to the community, many volunteers form tight bonds. You can meet dedicated naturalists by joining Red Butte Garden’s network of more than 300 volunteers working on service projects, conservation efforts, youth programs, and special events.
“Everyone is so accepting and helpful. It’s quite an amazing place to spend your day,” Bryn concluded.
Red Butte Garden is an open and welcoming place for a date. The rolling hills, the bright patches of flowers, and the green landscape set the scene for intimate moments between like-minded visitors. Every plant is a potential conversation starter as daters meander through visual wonders and enjoy the fresh Utah air together.
Whether it’s on your first date or your wedding day, the beauty of Red Butte Garden inspires romance and makes a lasting impression.
Thousands of visitors come to the botanical garden for reflection, learning, recreation, and connection. The garden’s rare plants and seasonal events serve as the background for special memories between loved ones. Every time you visit, you’ll find yourself swept away into a natural wonderland that tantalizes the senses.
“Our gardens have something for everybody,” Bryn told us. “As a place to go for a date, the space offers a really good time, no matter what age you are or stage of life you’re in.”