I like botanical gardens—they're a great place to photograph plants, as opposed to "landscapes." Kind of like doing environmental portraiture with flora instead of fauna.
One of the nicer ones I've stumbled upon is the Bellevue Botanical Garden, near Seattle. It's public, free, and definitely worth your time to visit, if you're within an hour or two's drive. I give it a serious B+. That's a very high rating. "A" level world-class gardens are few and far between.
From Thanksgiving to the end of December it becomes something else: "The Garden d'Lights." From the description, I thought they merely decorated the garden heavily with lights. That would have been enough to get me there. I'm a sucker for Christmas lights. (And for insight into why they fascinate me, see here.)
But this goes way beyond mere decoration—the volunteers (it's all done by volunteers) create a garden from lights. It's amazing to behold, and well deserving of my hour or so in the car. It's free, tripods are welcome, and it's utterly photographer-friendly. It's the first time I've ever felt that people were being way too polite trying to stay out of my line of sight.
Christmas displays like this are a great place to pull out some of those digital tricks. Displays are often too big (or too detailed) to be well-covered in a single photograph. Even on film, size matters (all the work in my monograph was medium format, 'cause 35mm just didn't cut it). Digital's the same. I often made multiple exposures of pieces of a scene, to be photomerged later in Photoshop, because CS3 makes doing this kind of thing easy (top picture).
It's also the ideal situation to use HDR. Unless you've got a really high-end digital camera, these subjects will sorely tax the exposure range you can capture. Well, nothing's moving and you've got a tripod; bracket like mad and combine the results in the computer to get something more like what you saw (below). I made three, sometimes four exposures of every scene I photographed.
You could go really nuts and do HDR panoramas, but I decided making 12–20 exposures for a single photo was excessive even for me.
Finally, here's a tip for calming the camera shakes. If you've got a semi-stable support for your camera but no cable release you risk of jiggling the camera a bit when you press the shutter release. Using the self-timer works, but there's a faster way. Set your camera for auto focus and don't pre-focus before making your exposure. As soon as you press the shutter button, let it go. Your camera will spend a few tenths of a second hunting for the focus before it makes the exposure, which is plenty of time for the finger-induced jiggles to die out. It's the one time when you should jab at the shutter release.