The Best Botanical Gardens & Parks for Appreciating Spring in Los Angeles

The superblooms are stunning and all, but you don't need a road trip to trample on flowers for the sake of selfies appreciate the Golden State's blooming botanicals. Allow Rodarte's flower-powered runway show at the Huntington Library to serve as a reminder that Los Angeles is home to plenty of lush landscapes—and given that spring officially kicks off today, now's an opportune time to see all of their greenery in action.

Here, we've rounded up the best botanical gardens and other outdoor oases in L.A., from not-so-secret spots and historic landmarks to low-key trails. Many of these foliage-filled properties showcase native flora and fauna (yes, including California poppies) as well as spectacular species that'll transport you to distant lands (like Japan, Madagascar, and Australia). Haute horticulture-enthusiasts, take note: If you're thinking of shooting your #content at these al fresco spaces, some locations have photography policies that require permits or prohibits pro camera lenses and tripods.

Ahead (and in no particular order), we've rounded up L.A.'s most photogenic spots for appreciating superb blossoms in the springtime—or as we like to call them, nature's original immersive experiences. Let us know if we missed your favorites in the comments. Did we miss your favorites? Share 'em in the comments below.


Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Gardens

You'll find much more than 120 acres of botanical gardens (including one of the world's largest cacti and succulents collections) at San Marino's Huntington Library, which spans a total of 207 acres. Fresh off Rodarte's high-fashion takeover in February, the legendary research and educational institution's art galleries house European and American paintings, sculptures, tapestries, decorative objects, drawings, and photographs from the 15th to late 20th centuries.
Admission (weekdays/weekends): Adults are $25/$29, seniors (65+) and students are $21/$24, kids ages 4 to 11 are $13, and children 4 and under are free; entry is free every first Thursday of each month
Hours: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Tuesdays
Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino, 91108


Descanso Gardens

Catch a glimpse of the tulips, "pink cloud" cherry trees, lilacs, azaleas, and California poppies in full bloom this month at Descanso, where you'll also find a Japanese garden, an oak forest, ancient plants, a camellia collection, a dramatic evergreen landscape, and an art gallery, to name just a few. (The Boddy House is currently under renovation but reopens in late spring.) There's even a 1/8th-scale replica of a diesel train that'll take kiddos and kids at heart around the property, and famished floral enthusiasts can also grab a gourmet bite at Café Descanso (which serves up salads and sandwiches using ingredient from the gardens) or the family-friendly Maple Restaurant (which offers Latin-inspired American fare).
Admission: Adults are $9, seniors and students are $6, kids ages 5 to 12 are $4, and kids 5 and under are free
Hours: Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; closed Christmas Day
Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Dr., La Cañada-Flintridge, 91011; (818) 949-4200


SuihoEn Japanese Garden

Photo: SuihoEn Japanese Garden

Escape the 405 at this Japanese garden in the Valley, where you can enjoy waterfalls, lakes, and streams with the peace of mind that you're strolling through a water waste-free landscape. The six-and-a-half-acre oasis is situated next to a water reclamation plant (which provides the garden's aqua) and boasts hand-carved stone lanterns made by Japanese artisans, a dry Zen meditation garden that's home to tortoises and a wisteria arbor, and an authentic tatami mat teahouse.
Admission: Adults are $5, seniors (62+) and kids 12 and under are $3
Hours: Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
SuihoEn Japanese Garden, 6100 Woodley Ave., Van Nuys, 91406; (818) 756-8166


Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden

No need to be a Bruin to enjoy UCLA's "living museum," a seven-and-a-half-acre garden that also serves as a research facility. The free and open-to-the-public plant collection features Southern California and Hawaiian natives, subtropical woodlands, an ancient forest, and plenty of flowers that bloom year-round (lucky bean trees, bush lilies, California buckwheat, Bruce's Dwarf, and Natal Bottlebrush are just a few plants that'll be revealing their petals in March). Don't forget to enjoy a Zen moment at the outdoor classroom (where a large Ginkgo biloba tree provides shade) and visit the turtles and koi that hang out at The Stream.
Admission: Free
Hours: Weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., open February through October
Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden, 707 Tiverton Drive, L.A., 90095;


Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Nestled on the historic Rancho Santa Anita, the 127-acre Arboretum in Arcadia is infamous for its wandering (and sometimes chatty) peacocks and peahens. In addition to the vibrantly-feathered birds, the grounds are home to rare and endangered species from Africa, Australia, the Canary Islands, and Madagascar; over 180 different types of aloe; a Victorian rose garden; four stunning historic structures, including an adobe house built in 1840 and a Queen Anne Cottage built in the late 1800s by Elias Jackson "Lucky" Baldwin (the "colorful businessman" and founder of the Santa Anita Racetrack who inspired the Pasadena pubs of the same name), among other wonders.
Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, 301 North Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, 91007, (626) 821-3222


Virginia Robinson Gardens

Tucked away behind the Beverly Hills Hotel is the historic Virginia Robinson Gardens, one of the luxury-loving city's first estates that was previously the home of department store founders Virginia and Harry Robinson. (The duo were also legendary party hosts, and their soirées included guests like Marlene Dietrich, Fred Astaire, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.) The 1911-built property spans six acres that feature a rose garden, an Italian terrace garden, a pool pavilion, and an "awe-inspiring Australian King Palm forest."
Admission: $11 for adults, $4 for children (ages 5 to 12), $6 for students (with ID) and seniors 62+
Hours: Open for 90-minute guided tours weekdays only; see the upcoming schedule here and RSVP by emailing visit@robinsongardens.org
Virginia Robinson Gardens, 1008 Elden Way, Beverly Hills, 90210; (310) 550-2087


Ferndell Nature Museum

You won't find a ticket desk at this "museum" in Griffith Park, which is actually a relaxing (and free) trail that starts at the massive Los Angeles oasis' southernmost corner in Los Feliz. Created in the 1920s, the shaded tree-lined footpath features terraced streams and ponds (which are home to turtles and dragonflies), over 50 fern species, and tropical plants and flowers. There are plenty of benches along the short half-mile route for those that want to appreciate the sounds of nature, and the Trails Café is located further north if you're looking for a bite to eat.
Ferndell Nature Museum, 2333 Fern Dell, Los Feliz, 90027


Greystone Mansion & Gardens

While the 46,054-square-foot Doheny Estate is an architectural masterpiece in its own right, horticulture enthusiasts will especially appreciate the mansion's surrounding Gothic and neoclassical landscapes designed by Paul G. Thiene. From perfectly-manicured lawns and pristine topiaries to hillsides covered in daisies, there's plenty of nature to enjoy here in the springtime and beyond. Bonus: It's all free and open to the public.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during Daylight Savings Time (March through November); 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. all other times
Greystone Mansion, 501 Doheny Rd., Beverly Hills, 90210; (310) 285-6830


Getty Center

California artist Robert Irwin designed the Getty Center's famous Central Garden, a 134,000-square-foot maze-like wonder that boasts over 500 different types of plants (and that has kids marveling at its Mickey Mouse-esque motif). The cactus gardens located between the museum's East and West Pavilions are situated perfectly to provide breath-taking views of L.A. as far out to the ocean—not a bad way to take a breather after soaking up the Getty's massive collections of art and antiquities.
Parking: $15 or $10 after 3 p.m.
Hours: Tuesday through Friday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; closed Mondays
Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Dr., L.A., 90049; (310) 440-7330


Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine

Nestled in the hills of the Pacific Palisades, this picturesque non-denominational spiritual sanctuary is home to the world's first monument dedicated to Mahatma Ghandi and is inspired by the five major religions of the world. You can find inner peace (without the pressure of taking home religious brochures) as you stroll through the brick pathways at the Meditation Garden, which also features fern grottos, waterfalls, fountains, a Dutch windmill-inspired house, the iconic golden lotus archway (designed by spiritual guru Paramahansa Yogananda, who co-founded the retreat) and famed lake that's home to white swans—ideally without a smartphone in hand. There's also a free guided meditation every Wednesday at noon in the Windmill Chapel if you're into that.
Garden hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 12 to 4:30 p.m.
Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine, 17190 Sunset Blvd., Pacific Palisades, 90272; (310) 454-4114

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