Botanical Gardens in Los Angeles You Should Visit

categories: Southern California

From mountains to beaches, California is a state full of natural beauty. With so many things to do in Los Angeles, the simplicity of a romantic walk in the park can get lost among the city’s bustle. When checking out the colors of LA, visit these must-see glamorous gardens. Your colorful flower journey awaits.

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Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Besides the animals, the Los Angeles Zoo has several stunning gardens. The Botanical Gardens feature native flowers such as California poppies, columbine, coral bells, and monkeyflowers.

Distinctive trees like bald cypresses, Chilean wine palms, and cycads line garden walkways. Among the various species at the zoo, the Bird Gardens attract woodpeckers, jays, hummingbirds, sparrows, and orioles.

Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden

Manhattan may be a borough of New York City, but here in Los Angeles, it’s a beautiful garden of paradise. The Manhattan Beach Botanical garden on North Peck Avenue features different habitats. You’ll find dunes, chaparrals, wetlands, and coastal prairies

You can take a pre-arranged tour or wander around the grounds on your own. The park is open from dawn to dusk, and admission is free.

Japanase Garden Bridge

Descanso Gardens

With more than 34,000 flowers and plants, the Descanso Gardens have a lot to offer nature lovers. The park has a stunning 5-acre rose garden, camellia collection, and a Japanese garden (complete with a koi stream that leads to the teahouse.) You’ll also see plenty of azaleas, mondo grasses, cherry, and plum trees. Oak trees and woodlands are part of the enchanting scenery.

Los Angeles County Arboretum

Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Near the Santa Anita racetrack is an oasis of trees and flowers that will keep you busy for hours. Wander around the flowers, waterfalls, tropical forest, trees, and fishponds at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

While strolling around the gardens, you’re bound to see a host of native blooms like golden yarrow, monkey flowers, and California aster. You might even see a peacock or two.

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James Irvine Japanese Garden

Nestled in an area of Little Tokyo is the stunning James Irvine Japanese Garden. Located on South San Pedro Street, the garden isn’t accessible from the street. To reach the 170-foot waterfall, blooming flowers and trees you’ll have to enter through the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center on San Pedro Street.

The Garden is a great place for weddings, parties, photoshoots, and other events. While you’re there, check out the Aratani Theatre, a cultural pillar in Little Tokyo.

The cacti walk

Huntington Botanical Gardens

Libraries aren’t just about books. The Huntington Botanical Gardens are on the grounds of the Huntington Library, on Oxford Road in San Marino.

Check out the Japanese tranquility garden, desert landscape, bamboo forest, Australian garden collection, herbs, camellia, Chinese and desert plants, and tropical species from around the world. The gardens also feature dozens of sculptures and various works of art.

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Robinson Gardens

The 6-acre estate of Virginia Robinson is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Open by appointment only, the Robinson Gardens feature aquatic plants, trees more than 100 years old, an Australian king palm forest, an Italian Renaissance Terrace, rose gardens, and many plant species.

The Robinson Gardens (and estate) are located on Elden Way in Beverly Hills. The mansion was built in 1911 in what is now Beverly Hills. Mrs. Robinson gifted her estate to the citizens of Los Angeles County in 1977.

Pond, Exposition Park, LA

Exposition Park

Stop and smell the roses at Exposition Park right next to the USC Coliseum on State Drive in Southern Los Angeles. Exposition Rose Garden is open to visitors from mid-March through December each year, with sprawling beds of blooms during spring, summer, and fall. You might see the filming of a movie or commercial — the garden is a popular backdrop. Exposition Rose Garden offers more than 100,000 square feet of event space for rent. The park is open daily from 9 a.m. to sunset.

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South Coast Botanic Garden

While on a garden tour through Los Angeles, be sure to include a trip to the nearby South Coast Botanic Garden in the Palos Verdes Peninsula. With more than 2,500 species of flowers, trees, shrubs, and other plants, this botanic garden sits on 87 acres. Bring along a digital camera with a telescopic lens or simply rely on your phone. You’ll want to photograph the roses, geraniums, cacti, sunflowers, and everything else in bloom. Butterflies, birds, and wildlife enjoy their visits to the South Coast Botanic Garden — you will too. Bring a picnic lunch and spend the day in this flowering paradise.

Arlington Garden

Cozy and beautiful, Arlington Garden in nearby Pasadena has three acres of plants, trees, and flowers that draw birds, butterflies, bees, and native wildlife. Admission is free (but donations are accepted to help with upkeep costs). This non-profit garden is open every day during daylight hours. While you’re there, pick up a jar of sweet marmalade made from the garden’s orange grove.

Japanese Tea House

Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden

Find your Zen at Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden, nestled in the heart of Pasadena. This two-acre garden setting features authentically-styled bridges, ponds with a cascading waterfall, stately oak, and sycamore trees, and stone statuary among its greenery. The Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

California Botanic Garden

While you’re on a garden tour, take a short trek to Claremont to check out the California Botanic Garden. Dedicated to growing and preserving California’s native plants, the CBG promotes conservation, and education, and inspiration. Settled on 86 acres, you can see (and photograph) more than 22,000 of California’s native plants — some of them rare or endangered. Just 35 miles southeast of LA, the California Botanic Garden presents classes and lectures throughout the year. You can also sign up for tours, exhibitions, festivals, and private events.

Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum

Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum

The gardens at the Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum are teeming with orchards filled with lemon, orange, pear, apple, and other fruit trees. Located in Rancho Dominguez, the gardens are part of the oldest existing portion of the first Spanish land grant in California. The Dominguez family presents educational programs about the original homesteaders who lived in adobe houses during California’s early years. The garden is open for afternoon tours on Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and the first Thursday and Friday of the month. Admission is free but the garden accepts donations.

UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden

Free admission is always a draw, and so are college campuses. Visit UCLA and stop by the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden. This 7.5-acre spread is a living museum of plants from around the world. You’ll see Australian natives, bromeliads, conifers, cycads, palms, lilies, ferns, Hawaiian natives, subtropical plants, and desert ecosystems. The ancient forest provides a unique historical outlook of plant evolution.

Dr. Clark's Office

Fullerton Arboretum

The Fullerton Arboretum is on Associated Road next to Cal State Fullerton. It takes you to a desert garden, a tropical ecosystem, and everything in between. Watch ducks and geese swim in a nearby pond, listen to the wind, and feel the wave of calm as you lay in a sun-drenched grassy field. Admission is free, but the arboretum does ask for donations.

La Casita Del Arroyo

La Casita Del Arroyo is a sweet spot on South Arroyo Boulevard in Pasadena that was part of a public works program during the Great Depression. Builders recycled the lumber used for the 1932 Olympics bicycle track. Modern structures on the garden site include a butterfly sanctuary and stone walls built with rocks from the Arroyo. A white alba rose bush, planted in 1933, thrives on the south wall. Matilija poppies with their white blossoms and large yellow centers bloom in spring and summer.

Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

Earl B. Miller Japanese Garden

The Earl B. Miller Japanese Garden on the CSU campus in Long Beach combines Japanese garden design with Southern California art. Among the varieties of trees, flowers, and plants in the 1.3 acre garden are orchids, Japanese plums, maples, and ginkgo. Fragrant pink cloud cherry, evergreen pear, saucer magnolia, and a host of pine trees offer tantalizing scents to perk up your senses.

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Biddy Mason Park

Biddy Mason Park – Downtown at 331 South Spring Street.

Named for a former slave who became one of the first black landowners in 19th century Los Angeles, this courtyard park celebrates Mason’s life and legacy.

Union Station

Union Station – 800 Alameda Street

The east side of Union Station is surrounded by flower beds, benches, cascading waterfalls, and fountains.

02 Amir's Garden - Park Sign (E)

Amir’s Garden – Griffith Park Drive and Mineral Wells Road

This garden features nearly five acres of jacaranda trees, pines, geraniums, yucca, roses, and oleander.

Japanese Garden Visitors

The Japanese Garden at Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area

Originally built for Japanese feudal lords in the 18th and 19th centuries, this garden at 6100 Woodley Avenue spans 6.5 acres.

Heuchera (Coral Bells)

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

On North College Avenue in Claremont, the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden sits on the plain of the San Gabriel Mountains. Flowers bloom heavily in March and April. Manzanitas bloom from late November to early March.

Los Angeles River Center and Gardens

Los Angeles River Center and Gardens

In Cypress Park on West Avenue 26, you’ll see pepper plants, roses, and unique mission architecture. In the 1950s, this park was a showcase for the Lawry Seasoning company.

Wattles Park

Adjacent to Runyon Canyon on North Curson Avenue, this park offers several gardens filled with greenery. The Wattles Mansion nearby was designed and built in the early 1900s.

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Debs Park

Nestled on Monterey Road in Montecito Heights, Debs Park has many trails and picnic spots. There’s a nearby Audubon center for learning about the park’s birds and wildlife.

Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens

Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens

For meditation and spiritual reflection, visit the gardens on West Adams Boulevard to take a guided tour or wander through the labyrinth of peace and tranquility.

Cascades Park

If you like waterfalls, this Park on South Atlantic Boulevard has a lot of green space and one very long waterfall. Relax and listen to the gushing, gurgling sounds of the cascading waters.

Garden Guidelines

In today’s COVID-19 world, some garden properties are temporarily closed. But those that are open to the public have specific rules or guidelines in place to promote the health and safety of visitors and employees. Rules vary, depending on each location, but they may include:

  • Face coverings required
  • Online ticket sales, reservations, and staggered arrival times
  • Reduced attendance numbers to ensure more space available for visitors
  • Limited hours
  • Requests for 6-foot separation from others not in your group
  • Limited parking availability
  • Tables and benches roped off to discourage seating
  • Limited access to restrooms
  • Water fountains turned off (bring a couple bottles of water)
  • Closed indoor facilities like gift shops and restaurants
  • No hand sanitizer available (bring your own)

Because of the Coronavirus, gardens are frequently changing their rules as they hope to continue or resume operation during the pandemic.

Before heading out on your LA garden tour, check out websites for information on any restrictions or schedule changes.

The next time you feel like catching a wave near the Los Angeles area, consider making it a wave of color among rows of flowers and plants in the city’s vast acreage of gardens and landscapes. While you’re surfing the waves and colors, post a few great pictures on Instagram.

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by Juanita Hawkins

Juanita Hawkins is a writer and travel expert. She has a passion for flower gardens and trying new restaurants and new foods around the country.

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