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Discover LA’s Gorgeous Gardens & Urban Oases

With its mild Mediterranean climate and diverse topography, it’s no wonder that Los Angeles is home to some of the world’s most gorgeous botanic gardens and lush urban oases, many just a short distance from THEA. These foliage-filled natural retreats present a vast array of native flora and fauna, as well as spectacular species from all corners of the globe. And for the intrepid hiker, the hills are alive with meandering paths, scenic canyons, and delightful dells, all waiting to be explored. Some venues require advance ticket purchase.  Check websites for details and watch for visitor guidelines at all locations.

Huntington Botanical Gardens 1151 Oxford Road San Marino, CA 91108

In 1903 Henry E. Huntington purchased the San Marino Ranch, a working ranch with citrus groves, nut and fruit orchards, alfalfa crops, a small herd of cows, and poultry. Today, the estate is home to 16 spectacular themed gardens spread across 120 acres, including Desert Garden, Camellia & Rose Gardens, Japanese Garden, Jungle Garden, and Herb Garden. New views await in the Chinese Garden – visitors can explore an additional 13 acres of gardens and pavilions in the newly expanded Liu Fang Yuan, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance. The gardens are open but galleries remain closed. All visitors including members must reserve tickets online in advance.

Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden 270 Arlington Dr. Pasadena, CA 91105

The Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden was created by Kinzuchi Fujii for Charles and Ellamae Storrier Stearns in 1935. Although Fujii designed and built Japanese landscapes across Southern California in the first half of the 20th century, the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden is his only remaining garden and the only intact example of a major Japanese-style garden created before World War II for a residence in Southern California. This pond-style stroll garden features a 15 waterfall and formal teahouse on approximately two acres of land. The garden is considered by many to be a masterwork and it demonstrates the adaptability of Japanese culture in America.

South Coast Botanic Garden 26300 Crenshaw Blvd. Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA 90274

Unique from the start, South Coast Botanic Garden is one of the world’s first botanical gardens to be developed as a masterpiece of creative land reclamation and environment improvement. The mission of South Coast Botanic Garden is to serve the community by providing a unique horticultural and wildlife habitat experience, and to represent a model of excellence for land reclamation and sustainability. This continuing experiment in land reclamation has drawn horticulturists from all over the world, including Prince Charles of England, to study the feasibility of similar projects. Today the garden is host to over 200,000 plants, and numerous resident wildlife, including hedgehogs and peafowl. 

LA Arboretum 301 N Baldwin Ave Arcadia, CA 91007

The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden is a unique 127-acre botanical garden and historical site located in what was once the heart of the historic Rancho Santa Anita in the city of Arcadia. Did you know The Arboretum is also an official wildlife sanctuary? In addition to the famous peafowl, visitors will see species of resident and migratory birds, aquatic creatures, and numerous species of small reptiles and mammals. Tickets are limited and must be purchased in advance online.

Descanso Gardens 1418 Descanso Drive La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011

Descanso Gardens is an urban retreat of year-round natural beauty, internationally renowned botanical collections, and spectacular seasonal horticultural displays, located just 20 minutes from downtown Los Angeles. The principal collections include California native plants and oak woodlands; one of the largest collections of camellias in the Western Hemisphere; a rose garden with specimens from all corners of the globe; and significant presentations of lilacs, maple trees, cherry trees and iris. Tickets are limited to preserve safe distancing. All non-members must buy tickets online in advance.

Arlington Garden 275 Arlington Dr. Pasadena, CA 91105

Pasadena’s only dedicated free public garden, Arlington Garden is a three acre community-built mediterranean garden in the heart of Pasadena on Caltrans-owned land leased to the City of Pasadena. The garden includes thousands of California-native plants such as poppies, sunflowers, cactus and succulents, orchards of orange and olive trees, and many more species. This lovely space is not only friendly to people and pets, but also exists as a refuge for Pasadena’s native fauna. Birds, bees and butterflies are particularly abundant and can be seen throughout the year. Arlington Garden is open every day except Tuesday. Please wear a mask and practice social distancing.

Earnest E. Debs Regional Park 4235 Monterey Road Los Angeles, CA 90032

Ernest E. Debs Regional Park is 300 acre urban oasis on old ranch land in the Arroyo Seco neighborhood just northeast of downtown L.A. The fourth largest park in Los Angeles, the area is home to walnut-oak woodland, grassland, coastal sage scrub, and over 140 species of birds. A five mile loop meanders through almost every section of this dog-friendly park. Please read health guidelines HERE

Elyria Canyon Park 1550 Bridgeport Drive Los Angeles 90065

Nestled on the southwestern slopes of Mount Washington, Elyria Canyon Park is a 35-acre nature park that provides a glimpse into the native habitat that once thrived in the hills near downtown Los Angeles. A network of trails meanders through lush groves of coastal sage scrub, chaparral, grassland and purple needlegrass. The park boasts one of the finest examples of California black walnut woodland in Southern California, with lovely trails that lead to vistas of the Los Angeles River, Griffith Observatory, and DTLA. Leave the paved road for a dirt path through thickets of sumac and bay laurel trees. Keep zigging and zagging until you reach a grassy bowl. Walk a bit farther and to see a perfectly charming and totally unexpected little red farmhouse.

Chavez Ravine Arboretum Chavez Ravine Rd. Los Angeles, CA 90012

The Chavez Ravine Arboretum in Elysian Park, just north of Dodger Stadium, contains more than 100 varieties of trees from around the world, including what are believed to be the oldest and largest Cape Chestnut, Kauri, and Tipu trees in the United States. The Arboretum was founded in 1893 by the Los Angeles Horticultural Society, and planting of rare trees continued through the 1920s. Most of the original trees are still standing. The Arboretum was declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1967. Admission is free.

Photo credits:

Photo #1: Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden

Photo #2: Huntington Botanical Gardens

Photo #3: Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden

Photo #4: South Coast Botanic Garden

Photo #5: LA Arboretum

Photo #6: Descanso Gardens

Photo #7: Arlington Garden in Paaadena

Photo #8: Earnest E. Debs Regional Park

Photo #9: Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority

Photo #10: Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks