When you think of Los Angeles, you most likely imagine a robust city with hundreds of sky rises, crowded freeways and a population of over 7,000 million people from all over the world. Los Angeles is know as mini-nation within itself.
We are also very fortunate to live in a city that has an impressive array of gardens and open green spaces for locals and visitors to explore.
Below is a list some of the best Botanical Gardens near Los Angeles, along with a few other lessor known spots (and some of my favorites!) that are definitely worth exploring.
20+ Botanical Gardens In and Around Los Angeles To Visit
Descansco Gardens, La Canada Flintridge
Descanso Gardens is a unique Southern California landscape distinguished by its 150-acres of specialized botanic collections, historical significance, and rare natural beauty. The botanical garden houses the largest camellia collection in North America, plus a five-acre rose garden with more than 3,000 roses. There’s also an edible garden and a Japanese garden with a tea house and a koi-filled stream.
The Huntington Botanical Gardens, Pasadena
The Huntington hosts more than 800,000 visitors each year from the United States and around the world, who come to enjoy the gardens and galleries, conduct research, and learn from the collections. Encompassing about 120 acres, the botanical gardens feature 16 stunning themed gardens and includes some 15,000 different varieties of plants. The beautiful gardens include the Children’s Garden, the Japanese Garden, the California Garden and the Australian Garden just to name a few.
California Botanic Garden (Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden), Claremont
California Botanic Garden is the largest botanic garden dedicated to California native plants, promoting botany, conservation and horticulture to inspire, inform and educate the public and scientific community about California’s native flora. The Garden is a living museum with curated collections of more than 22,000 California native plants, some of which are rare or endangered. Spread across 86 acres in Claremont, California, the Garden is located approximately 35 miles east of Los Angeles. The Garden displays about 2000 taxa of California plants and includes those native to the California Floristic Province.
UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden, Los Angeles
The Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden promotes botanical knowledge and appreciation of nature. Its diverse plant collections are designed to assist the teaching and research missions at UCLA while creating a tranquil environment within the urban surroundings.
The garden is living museum, featuring a diverse collection of plants from around the world. The Garden’s collections are organized into groupings of plants that are geographic (eg. California, Hawaii), taxonomic (eg. Palms, Bromeliads), climatic (eg. Desert, Mediterranean), or thematic (eg. Ancient Forest).
Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Los Angeles
There are three main groups of plants at the LA Zoo and Botanical Gardens, many of which overlap. Often the trees that fill the landscape (acacia, eucalyptus, ficus, mulberry) also provide food for the animals, commonly known as “browse.” Additionally, the Zoo’s plant collection includes many intriguing specimen plants—examples of unusual or distinctive species such as the Chilean wine palm, bald cypress, and cycads.
Zoo grounds also feature special gardens that highlight groups of plants. The native gardens present many of this region’s spectacular indigenous plants, while the cactus and succulent gardens contain representatives of arid climates around the world, and the cycad garden is a living time capsule full of plant species that have been in existence since the age of dinosaurs.
Arboretum, Los Angeles
The Chavez Ravine Arboretum, in Elysian Park, just north of Dodger Stadium, in LA 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.
Virginia Robinson Gardens, Beverly Hills
Built in 1911, the Robinson mansion was one of the first homes in Beverly Hills. Today, the six-acre property’ is recognized as a historical landmark and has an awe-inspiring Australian King Palm Forest, a bucolic Rose Garden and tranquil Italian Terrace Garden. Sightseers are invited to enjoy the property by appointment only.
South Coast Botanic Garden, Palos Verdes Peninsula
South Coast Botanic Garden is one of the world’s first botanical gardens to be developed over a sanitary landfill. The Garden is a masterpiece of creative land reclamation and environment improvement for all to share. The garden’s plant collection has more than 200,000 plants on the premise. Bursting with color and varied plant and wildlife, the grounds are a spectacular sight.
CSUN Botanic Garden, Northridge
The Cal State Northridge Botanic Garden has evolved over the years since its dedication in 1959. Originally planted with California natives, the 1.5-acre Garden and Greenhouse Complex is now a collection of some 1,200 plant species representing many regions and climates.
Visitors can explore areas devoted to cacti and succulents, tropical plants, California native plants, New Zealand plants, palms, herbs, butterfy plants, and much more. Inquisitive squirrels, beautiful butterflies and many species of birds and insects entertain the observer.
S. Mark Taper Life Science Botanical Garden, Woodland Hills
The S. Mark Taper Botanical Garden features plants native to California, the Mediterranean basin, Chile, South Africa and Australia, all areas that share a similar climate. The garden features drought-tolerant vegetation that thrives with far less water than traditional landscaping and provides habitat for the smaller native wildlife of Pierce College – native bees, beetles, butterflies, lizards and many species of birds.
The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, 127 acres, is an arboretum, botanical garden, and historical site nestled into hills near the San Gabriel Mountains. A stroll through the Arboretum will take you through a variety of gardens and landscapes that offer beauty and tranquility as well as ideas for your outdoor space at home. The gardens include the Aquatic Gardens, the Celebration Garden, the Herb Garden, and the Rose Garden, just to name a few.
SuihoEn Japanese Garden, Van Nuys
In the midst of the busy San Fernando Valley lies an oasis – a 6 1/2 acre garden, which features three gardens in one. As one enters The Japanese Garden, designed by Doctor Koichi Kawana, there is a dry Zen meditation garden (karesansui) containing Tortoise Island, a three-Buddha arrangement of stones, and a wisteria arbor at the end of the Plover Path.
Next along the path is an expansive Chisen or “wet-strolling” garden with waterfalls, lakes and streams, abundant greenery, and stone lanterns which were hand-carved by artisans in Japan. At the end of this path is the Shoin Building with an authentic 4 1/2 tatami-mat teahouse and adjacent tea garden.
The Japanese Garden is open to the public Monday through Thursday from 11am-4pm and Sundays from 10am-4pm (final admittance is at 3:15pm).
Exposition Park Rose Garden, Los Angeles
The Rose Garden is operated by the Los Angeles City Department of Recreation and Parks and has been since 1928. The Rose Garden is visited by hundreds of Angelinos and tourists each year. It is often used as an urban oasis by the local Community as a place of quiet and refuge.
The Rose Garden offers a classic formal display of beds of roses arranged in a grass-girded oval around a beautiful central fountain.
Arlington Garden, Pasadena
Arlington Garden is a three acre garden in Pasadena. The garden 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.
Los Angeles River Center & Gardens, Los Angeles
The Los Angeles River Center and Gardens is located near the confluence of the Los Angeles River and the Arroyo Seco, close to Elysian Park and downtown Los Angeles. Its beautiful mission-style grounds and conference facilities serve as a focal point for the renewal of the Los Angeles River, and a prime location for community gatherings, educational conferences, and special events.
Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden, Manhattan Beach
Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden ⅔ acre demonstration garden is a certified nature habitat located in Polliwog Park. It showcases California native plants and is a tool used when working with and teaching volunteers. The garden is also a great place to visit and picnic.
Japanese Garden, Pasadena
The Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden was created by Kinzuchi Fujii between 1935 – 1940 for Charles and Ellamae Storrier Stearns. It is also 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 fifteen-foot waterfall and a 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 modern America.
Amir’s Garden, Griffith Park, Hollywood
An all-volunteer ornamental garden and rest stop for Griffith Park hikers and equestrians. Over the years, they have planted pine and jacaranda trees along with rose bushes, geraniums, oleander, and yucca that grew into the beautiful oasis it is today.
The Getty Center, Los Angeles
The Getty Center features several gardens, including the Central Garden—an evolving work of art, a cactus garden that overlooks Los Angeles, and two sculpture gardens. It is an evolving work of art, designed to change with the seasons.
Created by California artist Robert Irwin, the 134,000-square-foot Central Garden lies at the heart of the Getty Center. A walk through the garden provides an extraordinary experience of sights, sounds, and scents.
A walkway crosses over a stream that winds through a variety of plants and gradually descends to a plaza, where you’ll find bougainvillea climbing through custom-made rebar trellises. The stream cascades over a stone waterfall into a pool containing a maze of azaleas.
All of the foliage and materials of the garden are selected to accentuate the interplay of light, color, and reflection. More than 500 varieties of plant material are used in the landscaping.
Throop Memorial Garden, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena
The rocks displayed throughout Throop Memorial Garden represent nearly two billion years in the geological history of California. They were brought here from the San Gabriel mountains, the backdrop to Caltech and Pasadena, where Amos. G. Throop and his family played an important role.
Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden, Cal State University Long Beach, Long Beach
The Garden is a living museum, a place of learning, art and culture for all who enter its gates. Visitor can feed the playful koi, stroll the winding pathways, view the Tea House, or reflect at the Zen Garden. Each season unfolds with colorful blossoms, exciting cultural celebrations, and intriguing exhibits.
The Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden places a special emphasis on California island endemic plants, which are plants that grow naturally on one or more of the California islands, but nowhere else in the world. Many of these plants are extremely rare, and some are on the Endangered Species list.
Happy Field Tripping!