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Blog · Los Angeles · The 18 Most Beautiful Gardens In and Around Los Angeles

The 18 Most Beautiful Gardens In and Around Los Angeles

By Fiona Chandra
Los Angeles Gardens
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Los Angeles may be a sprawling urban city, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t green spaces around. There are plenty of botanical gardens and flowering fields, both large and small, in LA and the surrounding areas. These colorful green spaces boast plants both native to California and imported from around the world.

From famous floral attractions to smaller community-run gardens, these are our favorite gardens in LA.

1. Descanso Gardens

Descanso Gardens

The 150-acre Descanso Gardens has one of the largest collections of camellias in the Western hemisphere. Their newest garden is — funny enough — the ancient forest. The forest features plants that have been around since the days of the dinosaurs, including several endangered species. 

Descanso Gardens also often has art and sculpture exhibits throughout the gardens as well as annual Halloween and holiday light installations.

2. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

Perhaps the most well-known of LA’s botanical gardens, The Huntington started as a library and arts collection of Henry Edwards Huntington and his second wife, Arabella Huntington. The collection opened to the public in 1928 in accordance with his will. 

The botanical gardens sit on 120 acres of land with plants from around the world, including a program to propagate endangered plant species. It takes some time to stroll through the gardens, which include a Chinese Garden with multiple pavilions, a bamboo forest leading to the Japanese Garden, and even some “corpse flowers” in the carnivorous plants wing.

3. The Japanese Garden

The Japanese Garden is also named SuiHoEn, or “garden of water and fragrance. 

Located right next to Lake Balboa Park, it’s a 6.5-acre oasis in Van Nuys with a Zen meditation garden, a “wet-strolling” garden with waterfalls and lakes, and a tea garden with an authentic Japanese teahouse.

Local tip: Admission is free but by reservation only and it fills up quickly.

4. Blue Ribbon Garden at the Walt Disney Concert Hall

Flower art on the Walt Disney Concert Hall rooftop garden

This is one of our favorite “hidden gems” right in the middle of Los Angeles.

The Blue Ribbon Garden is a small rooftop garden tucked above the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and it is one of the hidden oases in bustling downtown LA. Rest under the shade and enjoy the surrounding trees and flowers. Don’t miss A Rose for Lilly, a fountain created as tribute to Lillian Disney, the late wife of Walt Disney.

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5. Arlington Garden

Pasadena’s only dedicated free public garden, Arlington Garden is a 3-acre botanical garden that is maintained and supported by the local community. The garden is planted with climate-appropriate plants including an oak grove and citrus grove and there are plenty of benches to rest and enjoy the scenery. It’s open to the public seven days a week.

6. Getty Center

Gardens at the Getty Center

Most people know Getty Center as an art museum, but the Getty Center also has some of the prettiest gardens in the city. 

The Central Garden is the most popular with 500 varieties of plants, a stone waterfall, and a maze of azaleas. You’d find many locals reading a book or eating a picnic here as well. Check out the cactus garden that offers a panoramic view of Los Angeles and the sculpture gardens boasting works from Alexander Calder, Joan Miro, and more. The Getty is free to visit, but parking is $20. 

Looking for more museum fun? Check out our picks for the top free museums in LA.

7. Greystone Mansion

The Greystone Mansion is a Tudor Revival mansion with formal English gardens built by oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny. It is now owned by the City of Beverly Hills and operates as a public park where anyone can stroll the beautiful gardens.

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Features include a centerpiece Italian Renaissance fountain, a walkway lined with cypress trees, and flowers in bloom most of the year. The park grounds are open to the public every day, unless there is a filming or special event. 

Greystone Mansion tour photo

See it: You can conveniently visit Greystone Mansion and much more in LA on our Private LA Highlights Tour.

8. Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden is perhaps most famous for their peacocks (there are about 200 peafowl here), but do stroll through their many gardens. There are the aquatic gardens with water lilies, a rose garden, tropical greenhouse, and also a water conservation garden that showcases drought-friendly plants. Admission is $15 per person. 

Local tip: Don’t get too close or taunt the peacocks. They can be quite aggressive.

9. Gardens of the World

Gardens of the World

A botanical garden gifted to the city of Thousand Oaks by a local travel agency, Gardens of the World is a lovely garden to stroll through or enjoy a picnic. 

There are five themed gardens, each one picture-perfect:

  • the French garden right at the entrance with cascading waterfalls
  • a Japanese garden with a pagoda and koi pond
  • a courtyard featuring native California plants and murals depicting the California Missions
  • an Italian garden with cypress trees, fountains, and Italianate architecture
  • the English Perennial & Rose Garden with seasonal blooms

10. South Coast Botanic Garden

There are over 200,000 plants at the 87-acre South Coast Botanic Garden including a rose garden, a banyan grove with Moreton Bay fig trees, and a greenhouse filled with tropical plants. 

South Coast Botanic Garden is also great for children as it has a Children’s Garden where the plants are matched to nursery rhymes. The garden is open every day except for Christmas, and admission costs $15.

11. James Irvine Japanese Garden

The Japanese American Cultural and Community Center has a beautiful garden right next to it. The James Irvine Japanese Garden was completed in 1980 and received the National Landscape Award in 1981. 

The garden is a tranquil space with a stream that goes from a waterfall in the upper garden, ending in a calm pond below. Thanks to an eco-friendly focus, the stream has been upgraded to recycle the stream water and the lights along the footpath are now solar powered. 

12. Exposition Park Rose Garden

Exposition Park Rose Garden
Credit: Los Angeles / CC BY-SA 3.0

At the urban Exposition Park, there is a sunken rose garden with over 20,000 flowers when in peak bloom, arranged in an oval surrounding a central fountain. 

Built in 1871, the rose garden was almost turned into a parking garage, but thankfully it has since been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The garden is a popular spot for photo shoots and weddings. 
Local tip: Make sure to visit after March 15. The garden is closed to the public for annual maintenance each year from New Year’s Day through mid March.

13. Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden

The Storrier Stearns Japanese garden in Pasadena is the only Japanese-style garden created for a residence pre-World War II in Southern California. The garden was created by Kinzuchi Fujii for Charles and Allamae Storrier Stearns. It is a tranquil garden with a pond, waterfall, and formal teahouse.

The garden is open to the public on Friday and Saturday evenings and during the day on Sundays.

14. Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens

Love animals, too? This LA garden is for you.

The LA Zoo became a certified botanical garden in 2003. While there is no separate botanical garden area, there are more than 800 different plant species across their 133 acres of land. 

The plants are organized by the same native locations as the animals in the nearby habitat. Tickets to the zoo are $22 for adults and $19 for children 12 or younger. 

15. Getty Villa

Getty Villa

The Getty Villa may not be as well known as The Getty Center, but it is equally stunning, just in a different way. 

Located in Malibu, the villa is modeled after an ancient Roman villa. There are four different gardens, lush with Mediterranean plants common in the ancient Roman era. The most iconic is the Outer Peristyle garden, featuring rows of date palms surrounding a long pool. 

Admission is free, but parking is $20. 

Local tip: pay for parking at either Getty Center or Getty Villa and get free same-day parking at the other.

16. Virginia Robinson Gardens

Virginia Robinson Gardens

The Virginia Robinson Gardens sit in a 6-acre historic estate which once belonged to Virginia and Harry Robinson (of the Robinson Department Stores). There are six areas, including the Great Lawn, which was once the site of many Hollywood parties, and the Italian Terrace Garden, home to the largest coral tree in California. 
Self-guided tours aren’t allowed, so to visit you need to schedule a docent-led tour, available for $15.

17. Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine

Looking for a place to really get away from it all? Lake Shrine was built as part of the Self-Realization Fellowship to create a “spiritual environment where people from all over the world could come and experience peace of heart and mind.” Not just fellowship members, but the public is welcome to come and enjoy the space that includes a lakeside meditation garden and hilltop temple.

18. Los Angeles River Center and Gardens

Just across the river from Elysian Park is Los Angeles River Center and Gardens. It may primarily be known as an event venue with Mission-style buildings, but it’s otherwise open to the public to walk through its beautiful grounds with roses, fountains and pools. Bring your camera. There are plenty of great photo ops here!

More Natural Beauty in LA

Want to get outdoors and see more of LA’s natural wonders? We recommend exploring Griffith Park.

Join us for a guided hike through Griffith Park as you learn about LA and see the Hollywood Sign. Incredible views of the Los Angeles skyline included!