LA Botanical Gardens & Flower Fields to Visit Now (Plus Insider Tips)

places you've probably never been in LA Amber B. via Yelp
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With spring’s long-awaited arrival, it’s time to spend more afternoons outside, perhaps languishing over a picnic and communing with nature. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the most beautiful botanical gardens and flower fields near LA to take your family for the day (with most of them being free!). So whether you want to stop and smell the roses, discover a waterfall, or gawk at some peacocks, these spectacular garden spots around LA are blooming with possibilities. 

Botanical Gardens in LA Worth Visiting with Free Admissions

 

Jonas A. via Yelp

Arlington Garden

Arlington Garden in Pasadena is a climate-appropriate, water-conserving, habitat garden offering learning and inspiration to all its guests. Its mission is to promote urban wildlife habitat and demonstrate the use of regenerative gardening techniques which refrain from the use of herbicides, pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

Insider Tip: This garden is one of our favorite spots to picnic in LA and families are welcome to bring their pets as long as they are leashed.

Hours: Daily, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Cost: Free

Arlington Garden
275 Arlington Dr.
Pasadena
Online: arlingtongardenpasadena.com

Mei H. via Yelp

Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden

Stroll along the garden’s paths to discover plants, flowers, birds, butterflies and more at this lovely, pint-sized demonstration garden in Manhattan Beach.

Insider Tip: Conveniently located right next to ever-popular toddler and big-kid friendly Polliwog Park, after strolling through the garden head over to this playground and let the kids swing and slide their hearts out.

Hours: Daily, sunrise to sunset, except Fri. from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. when the garden is closed for maintenance
Cost: Free

Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden
1236 N. Peck Ave.
Manhattan Beach
Online: mbbgarden.org

 

where to find flowers around LA
Hillary F. via Yelp

Exposition Park Rose Garden

After being closed for annual maintenance from Jan. 1 to Mar. 15, the Rose Garden has reopened and is showing off its latest blooms. Located in Exposition Park, next to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, stroll through to discover beds of breathtaking roses and visit the beautiful central fountain perfect for making wishes. 

Insider Tip: Because this is such a great place to take photos, go in the morning just after opening or afternoon just before closing, when the so-called magic light will help deliver the best shots.   

Hours: 9 a.m. – sunset
Cost: Free

Exposition Park Rose Garden
701 State Dr. 
Los Angeles
Online: laparks.org

Shaida P. via Yelp

Conejo Valley Botanic Garden

The Conejo Valley Botanic Garden is 33 acres of natural terrain in Thousand Oaks. From the sweeping vistas at the peak of the Garden through 15 unique, hillside specialty gardens, and onto the hiking trail along the steam, this is a destination not to be missed.

Insider Tip: The Kids’ Adventure Garden is open on Sun. from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. and features a tree house, zoo garden and more. The Herb Garden, Butterfly Garden and Lillian’s Meadow (featuring a variety of native and drought-tolerant plants) are worth a visit as well.

Hours: Daily, sunrise to sunset, except Jul. 4
Cost: Free

Conejo Valley Botanic Garden
400 W. Gainsborough Rd.
Thousand Oaks
Online: conejogarden.org

Jame N. via Yelp

UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden

Located on the UCLA campus, this garden is a true urban oasis, packing a variety of settings into 7.5 acres. Bring your pooch along as well—pets on leashes are welcome!

Insider Tip: Don’t miss the Subtropical Woodlands with their fairy-tale-like willow and fig trees; a stream that runs through the center of the garden and is home to koi, turtles and crayfish; the Habitat Garden, a favorite spot for butterflies and hummingbirds.

Hours: Open Feb. – Oct., Mon. -Fri. from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sat. – Sun. from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Nov. – Jan., Mon. – Fri. from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.;Sat. – Sun. from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Cost: Free

UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden
707 Tiverton Dr. 
Westwood
Online: botgard.ucla.edu

S. Mark Taper Life Science Botanical Garden

If you’re looking for a quick nature fix in the San Fernando Valley, visit this two-acre garden on the Pierce College campus in Woodland Hills. The peaceful spot features drought-tolerant trees and cactuses, flowers and bushes, and grapevines trellising the central pergola.

Insider Tips: Looking for some animal encounters? Wildlife-loving kids will have fun spotting hummingbirds, egrets, ducks, squirrels, cottontail rabbits, frogs, lizards and turtles. 

Hours: Daily, 6 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Cost: Free; parking permit required on weekdays

Mark Taper Life Science Botanical Garden
6201 Winnetka Ave.
Woodland Hills
Online: piercecollege.edu

Alisha S. via Yelp

Stoneview Nature Center

Tucked away in the Blair Hills of Culver City (across the road from Kenneth Hahn Park) as part of the Park to Playa Trail, is Stoneview Nature Center—a lovely five-acre site that encourages families to discover a new passion for the great outdoors. Through Stoneview’s meditative garden spaces, inspiring artwork, urban nature walks, Demonstration Garden, and Community Kitchen, guests gain a new understanding and respect of their environment by making positive connections with their bodies, minds, food, communities and ecosystems.

Insider Tip: Every Sat. at 10 a.m. and at noon, the nature center holds a free, weekly program where kids can meet and learn more about the park from the Natural Area Superintendents. 

Hours. March – Oct., Tues. – Sun., 8 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.; and Nov. – Feb., Tues. – Sun., 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.; closed Mon.
Cost: Free

Stoneview Nature Center
5950 Stoneview Dr.
Culver City
Online: parks.lacounty.gov/stoneview-nature-center

Coutney M. via Yelp

The Japanese Garden

After a lengthy closure, The Japanese Garden in Van Nuys has finally reopened to the public—this spot also makes our list of incredible places around LA you’ve probably never been. We certainly could all use a little zen right now and this is the perfect place to find it. With 6.5 acres that include a meditation garden, Tortoise Island, Wisteria Arbor, breathtaking waterfalls, a Water Garden, beautiful bridges and lanterns throughout the property, you’ll instantly be transported to Japan.

Insider Tip: While the garden alone is worth the visit, once life returns to normal, come back and make reservations for tea service at the Shoin Building—an authentic 4 1/2 tatami-mat teahouse adjacent to the tea garden. 

Hours: Open Mon. – Thurs., 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. and closed Fri. – Sun.
Cost: Free, advanced reservations required

The Japanese Garden
6100 Woodley Ave.
Van Nuys
Online: thejapanesegarden.com

Botanical Gardens in LA Worth the Price of Admission

Elizabeth S. via Yelp

LA Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Discover roaming peacocks, hidden trails, sunbathing turtles and more at this 127-acre oasis in Arcadia. With wide open spaces to romp and run, as well as countless paths to explore, kids will zonk out by the time you get back in the car – you’re welcome. If the crew gets hungry during your visit, grab a bite at the Arboretum Peacock Cafe or bring food from home and enjoy it in the picnic area outside the Arboretum. While the waterfall is on everyone’s must-see list, the best way to check it out is to take the steps down through it. Make your way to Tallac Knoll, where you’ll discover the lily pond and a meandering set of steps and walkways that takes you to the waterfall at the bottom. 

Insider Tip: If you venture through the Madagascar Spiny Forest or along the Aloe Trail (both noted on the Arboretum’s map), you’ll happen upon a tangle of ancient trees, roots and branches made for climbing. 

Hours: Daily, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; advanced timed tickets required
Cost: $15 for adults, $5 for children 5 – 12, and children 4 and under are free

LA County Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
301 N. Baldwin Ave. 
Arcadia
Online: arboretum.org

Maria E. via Yelp

Descanso Gardens

Travel about 15 miles north of DTLA to discover this 160-acre garden in La Cañada Flintridge. You could easily spend all day wandering the grounds, which include the majestic Oak Forest with trees hundreds of years old, the serene Japanese-style garden with its shaded paths and koi-filled stream, and the Children’s Maze, located just beyond the rose garden. In late March, be sure to check out the tulips, camellias, irises, lilacs and cherry trees, which are all in bloom. During your trip, don’t miss a ride on the Enchanted Railroad – a 1/8th– scale replica of a diesel train that travels a section of the Gardens near the Promenade. Riders must be at least 30 inches tall and able to ride on their own. Be sure check the website ahead of time to make sure the train is operating the day of your visit.

Insider Tip: Behind the Sturt Haaga Gallery, you’ll find the tucked-away Hope’s Garden. Venture up a set of stairs for amazing views. Afterward, take the stairs down to the Camellia Forest and you’ll find yourself immersed in the garden.

READ: Our Full Guide to Exploring Descanso Gardens with Kids

Hours: Spring/Summer hours are Mon. – Fri., 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Sat. – Sun., 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; advanced tickets required
Cost: $15 for adults, $5 for children 5-12, and children 4 and under are free. Enchanted Railroad tickets are $5 and must be purchased at the visitor center the day of your visit.

Descanso Gardens
1418 Descanso Dr.
La Cañada Flintridge
Online: descansogardens.org

David G. via Yelp

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

The pristine Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens is home to 16 themed gardens spread across 120 acres. The whimsical Helen and Peter Bing Children’s Garden is a prime highlight of any family visit and encourages imaginative play as littles splash in the water, romp and run among topiary animals, discover fairy doors, and even hold the magic of magnetic forces in their tiny hands. Kids will want to check out the Lily Ponds (home to turtles, bullfrogs and turtles, bullfrogs and ducks); the tropical Jungle Garden with its canopy of trees, giant leaves and climbing vines; and the Chinese Garden where you can wander behind a waterfall and across bridges.

Insider Tip: The 15-acre Chinese Garden is a definite must-see regardless of how much time you have to spend. In addition to the meandering paths and waterfall, be sure to explore the Stargazing Tower, situated on the highest point in the garden with breathtaking views. 

Hours: Advanced online reservations are only required on weekends and Mon. holidays, but reservations are strongly recommended for weekdays as well. Open daily (except Tues.) from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: $25 for adults ($29 on weekends); $13 for children 4-11; children under 4 are free

The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens
1151 Oxford Rd.
San Marino
Online: huntington.org

best places to see flowers in LA
Christopher Y. via Yelp

South Coast Botanic Garden

Located on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the South Coast Botanic Garden boasts 87 acres and features more than 2,500 different species of plants. Kids will love climbing the limbs and tree roots in the Banyan Grove and playing tag on the sprawling Upper Meadow.

Good to Know: The SOAR exhibit in the Host and Nectar Garden runs Apr. 1 – Jul. 31 where kids get to interact with the butterfly habitat and learn about the emergence of new species. Also, worth your time is the exhbit, Hide and Seek: Art Meets Nature. Download the Hide and Seek activity guide before you go, and see who can find all eight sculptures placed throughout the grounds first!

Insider Tip: Find the best spots for snapping selfies and family photos here. Also, every third Sun. of the month, the Garden allows visitors to bring their four-legged friends!

Hours: Daily, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.; advanced tickets required
Cost: $15 for adults, $5 for children 5 – 12 and children 4 and under are free

South Coast Botanic Garden
26300 Crenshaw Blvd. 
Palos Verdes
424-452-0920
Online: southcoastbotanicgarden.org

Flower Fields Worth Driving to from LA

Regis K. via Yelp

The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch

With gorgeous blooms as far as the eye can see, The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch are well worth a day trip. From Mar. until early May, families will love exploring 50 world famous acres of ranunculus whether they take in the sights through a leisurely stroll on foot or opt for an open-air wagon ride pulled by a tractor. 

Insider Tip: Don’t forget to stop by the Artist Gardens, Bird Aviaries, American Flag of Flowers, Sea of Sunflowers and the Butterfly Garden during your visit. And if your trip falls between Thurs. – Mon., there are plenty of food vendors on site to keep hangry littles happy – everything from pizza and strawberries to kettle corn and soft serve ice cream.

Hours: Open daily, Mar. 24 – May 8, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; advanced timed entry tickets required
Cost: Adults are $22 and kids ages 3 -10 are $10

The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch
5704 Paseo Del Norte
Carlsbad
Online: theflowerfields.com

– Jennifer O’Brien

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