The 16 Most Beautiful Gardens in Los Angeles

Path along the Aloe Trail, in the Africa section of the LA County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

Viviana Rivera Photography / Getty Images

While the parks get the most attention, Los Angeles is also home to some amazing gardens. You can stroll in traditional botanic gardens, gardens filled with plants native to California, or relax for a while in a tranquil Japanese garden. Some gardens are in historic settings and one even is co-located with the popular Los Angeles Zoo. Read on to discover the top public gardens in L.A.

01 of 16

Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens

Cacti Garden at Huntington Gardens

Robert Landau / Getty Images

1151 Oxford Rd, San Marino, CA 91108, USA
Phone +1 626-405-2100

The Botanical Gardens at the Huntington Library feature 130 landscaped acres with 16 themed gardens and a conservatory on the former San Marino Ranch just outside Pasadena. The themed gardens range from a collection of plants native to the state to plants affiliated with Shakespeare to one of the world's largest outdoor collections of cacti and succulents.

You can easily spend all day in the gardens, but the extensive art collection and illustrated manuscripts, including a Gutenberg Bible, at the Huntington Library are also worth seeing. Garden walking tours are available for a fee.

02 of 16

Descanso Gardens

Descanso Gardens in Pasadena

Mitch Diamond/Getty Images

1418 Descanso Dr, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011-3102, USA
Phone +1 818-949-4200

Descanso Gardens contains 150 acres of gardens, woodland, and chaparral. Nine different themed gardens welcome more than 750,000 visitors each year. Descanso's 40,000 camellia bushes are a highlight and have been a part of the gardens for decades. The flowers bloom in the 20-acre California live oak forest from October to March. Peak bloom for the 4,000 roses in the Rosarium is April through December.

03 of 16

Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden

Peacock perched in tree at Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden

Hanlu C/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0 

301 N Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007, USA
Phone +1 626-821-3222

The 127 acres of trees, shrubs, flowers, and historic buildings at the LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden are arranged in several large sections but the dedicated African and Australian gardens are especially impressive. The park also includes a waterfall, prehistoric forest, the spring-fed Lake Baldwin, a research center, greenhouses, and several historic buildings.

04 of 16

South Coast Botanic Garden

pring blooms surround a pretty white gazebo at the botanical gardens on the Palos Verdes peninsula in southern California.

Angel La Canfora / Getty Images

26300 Crenshaw Blvd, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274, USA
Phone +1 424-452-0920

The South Coast Botanic Garden features over 2,500 plant species on 87 acres with an emphasis on drought-resistant plants. Called “The Jewel of the Peninsula,” the garden is located on the beautiful Palos Verdes Peninsula, just 10 miles south of the Los Angeles International Airport. The garden has a wide variety of plants, with some coming from as far away as Australia, the Mediterranean, and southern Africa. There is a small lake, a garden for the senses, a children's garden, a Japanese garden, and other specialty gardens.

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Exposition Park Rose Garden

Exposition Rose Garden in Los Angeles

Matthew Dillon/Flickr/CC BY 2.0 

701 State Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90037, USA
Phone +1 213-763-0114

The Rose Garden at Exposition Park in South Los Angeles is a popular spot for USC students to hang out and study as well a busy spot for weddings and photoshoots. This 7-acre garden has 15,000 rose bushes of more than 100 different species. The Rose Garden is open daily, though it closes to public from the beginning of January through mid-March of each year for annual maintenance.

Exposition Park is also home to a variety of museums including the Natural History Museum, California Science Center, and the California African American Museum, so you can combine some indoor and outdoor time.

06 of 16

The Getty Center, Central Garden

Getty Center garden in Los Angeles

P. Eoche/Getty Images

1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049, USA
Phone +1 310-440-7300

The J. Paul Getty Museum, commonly referred to as the Getty, is an art museum in California housed on two campuses and each campus has its own impressive garden. The manicured gardens at the Getty Center campus are a work of art designed by Robert Irwin. Zigzagging walkways, a stone waterfall, and a floating maze of azaleas are surrounded by a variety of more than 500 plant species.

07 of 16

Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Sloth at the Los Angeles Zoo

Greg Doherty/Getty Images

5333 Zoo Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA
Phone +1 323-644-4200

Most people go to the zoo to see the animals, but the habitats at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Griffith Park are just as impressive. The Botanical Gardens house a variety of specialty gardens including a collection of contraband plants that have been confiscated by airport customs from people trying to smuggle them into the country. Another fascinating garden is the cycad garden, a living time capsule full of plant species that have been in existence since the age of the dinosaurs.

08 of 16

California Botanic Garden

1500 N College Ave, Claremont, CA 91711-3157, USA
Phone +1 909-625-8767

The California Botanic Garden, formerly the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic in Claremont has 86 acres dedicated exclusively to California native plants, including some impressive wildflower displays. Home to more than 22,000 plants, the garden also provides resources to help people develop and maintain native gardens on their own.

In addition to plants, the California Botanic Garden features special art installations, festivals, shows, concerts, and seasonal events. When visiting in the summer, be cautious of the heat and bring plenty of water.

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09 of 16

Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Gardens

Mildred E. Matthias Botanical Garden on the UCLA campus

Nafpaktitism/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

707 Tiverton Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
Phone +1 310-825-1260

A part of the UCLA campus, this 7.5-acre public garden has around 3,500 species of tropical and subtropical plants on display. Explore ancient trees, fern gardens, and subtropical woodlands before moving on to gardens dedicated to Hawaiian flora and plants native to California.

The nest, a small amphitheater, was designed and built by the garden's staff and volunteers who constructed it with Northern California incense cedar and boulders shipped in from Duarte, California.

10 of 16

Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine

Windmill house overlooking lake at Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine
vikramjam/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
17190 Sunset Blvd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272, USA
Phone +1 310-454-4114

The 10-acre Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine is just a quarter-mile from the Pacific Ocean. It honors the five major world religions and includes a memorial to Mahatma ​Gandhi where a portion of his ashes are said to be enshrined. The grounds are especially beautiful with everything manicured and pristinely perfect. The outdoor pathways and meditation benches provide a quiet environment for personal reflection.

The indoor sanctuaries are for silent meditation and prayer. Since this is a retreat and spiritual center, a quiet demeanor and respectful dress are requested. The gardens are open free to the public but reservations are required.

11 of 16

The Getty Villa

Courtyard pool at Getty Villa Art Museum

nik wheeler / Getty Images

17985 E Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272, USA
Phone +1 310-440-7300

The Getty Villa in Malibu offers visitors the chance to experience ancient Greek and Roman art in a recreation of a first-century Roman villa. Other features include a reflecting pool, fountains, and sculptures. The villa has four gardens that serve to blend Roman architecture with open space and a variety of Mediterranean plants that existed during the Roman Empire. Stroll the gardens at your leisure or take a guided tour.

12 of 16

Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden at CSULB

Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden on the campus of CSULB

Sergei Gussev / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Earl Warren Dr, Long Beach, CA 90840, USA
Phone +1 562-985-8885

The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden is a 1.3-acre oasis hidden away on the campus of California State University Long Beach. The garden is a hybrid art form that combines typical elements of Japanese garden design with the natural beauty of Southern California. The garden is frequently used for small classes and discussion groups by the school, so don't be surprised if you see a lot of students on a visit.

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Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden

Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden in Manhattan Beach

Daderot/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

1237 N Peck Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266, USA
Phone +1 310-546-1354

The Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden is a compact, volunteer-run demonstration garden focusing on California native plants in Polliwog Park. It's where locals go to learn about sustainable native gardening and to get some landscaping inspiration. The free garden features interpretive signs that serve as a self-guided tour appropriate for ages 12 and older.

14 of 16

Virginia Robinson Gardens

View of pool area in the Virginia Robinson Gardens

Zigzig20s / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

1008 Elden Way, Beverly Hills, CA 90210-2805, USA
Phone +1 310-550-2087

The Virginia Robinson Gardens are 6.2 acres of tropical gardens on the grounds of the former Robinson estate in Beverly Hills. The Robinson mansion, built in 1911, was one of the first homes in Beverly Hills and is now a historical landmark. Now it attracts visitors to see the more than 1,000 palm trees, a heritage rose garden, an edible garden, and more.

The gardens and home can only be viewed by going on a paid docent-led tour. Tours must be reserved in advance online.

15 of 16

The Japanese Garden

The Japanese Garden in Van Nuys

timwinter79 / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

6100 Woodley Ave, Lake Balboa, CA 91406-6450, USA
Phone +1 818-756-8166

This is a traditional 6.5 acre Japanese garden in Van Nuys with plenty of meditative elements. The garden, located on the grounds of the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant, is used as a tool to teach visitors about water reclamation. As a chisen-style garden, waterfalls, lakes, and streams are focal points and all of the water is reclaimed. In addition to the wet strolling garden, there is a dry mediation garden, a tea garden and teahouse, and a traditional Japanese shoin building.

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James Irvine Japanese Garden

James Irvine Japanese Garden in downtown Los Angeles

Frank Fujimoto/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

244 San Pedro St, Los Angeles, CA 90012, USA
Phone +1 213-628-2725

This secret Japanese garden is an urban oasis located in the sub-ground level of the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC) in L.A.'s Little Tokyo district. Known as Seiryu-en or "Garden of the Clear Stream," this garden was designed in the Zen tradition of the famous gardens of Kyoto, Japan. The site features a 170-foot long stream flowing from a waterfall at the upper end of the garden, blooming trees and foliage, and the peaceful sounds of cascading water throughout.

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The 16 Most Beautiful Gardens in Los Angeles