Editor’s Note: Per the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, as of May 12, LA’s public gardens are able to open with social distancing guidelines in place. (Some gardens, like The Arboretum, have remained opened on a limited basis throughout the shutdown.) For the latest information, be sure to call or check online in advance.  

Looking to maybe, just maybe, venture out with the kids? Some of LA’s botanic and public gardens have either remained open or reopened, all with social distancing measures in place. Book your tickets in advance, go during the week if you can (when it’s likely to be even less crowded) and take a major quarantine break, at least for an hour or two. Read on for all the details.

Descanso Gardens

Travel about 15 miles north of Downtown 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. 

COVID-19 Update: Tickets are limited to preserve safe distancing. All non-members must buy tickets online in advance. Tickets are released weekly at 10a.m. on Tues. and a face covering is required for adults and children over the age of 2. Get the latest info here.

Cost: $15 for non-members; $5 for children (5-12); members and children under 5 are free

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


Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Where else can kids follow a peacock, check out a train depot from the 1800s and relax by a waterfall? Located on 127 acres, this wildlife haven truly has it all.  Grab a map at the entrance or simply wander the winding paths and discover the water lilies, shaded benches, wide open lawns and more.

COVID-19 Update: Tickets are limited to preserve safe distancing. Members are required to reserve free tickets online prior to visiting. Non-members must buy tickets online in advance. Tickets are not available at the door. Visitors are required to wear masks or other face coverings.

Cost: $15 for adults; $11 for seniors and students with valid ID; $5 for children (5-12); children under 5 are free

301 N. Baldwin Ave. 
Online: arboretum.org

South Coast Botanic Garden

Covering 87 acres, this Palos Verdes garden offers f blooming trees, shrubs, and flowers all year. Don't miss the Banyan Grove, with the ancient-looking tangled roots of fig trees, along with the enchanted Children’s Discovery Garden.

COVID-19 Update: Members and nonmembers require advance reservations and guests are required to wear protective face coverings. Get the latest info here.

Cost: $15 for adults; $11 for seniors and students with valid ID; $5 for children (5-12); children 4 and under are free

26300 Crenshaw Blvd.
Palos Verdes Peninsula
Online: southcoastbotanicgarden.org

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. There's the Subtropic Woodland with its faity-tale-like willow and fig trees; The 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; and so much more. Bring Fido along, too—pets on leashes are allowed!

Cost: Free

707 Tiverton Dr. 
Online: botgard.ucla.edu

Arlington Garden

This drought-tolerant, three-acre garden welcomes visitors (including pets!) daily, at no charge. Here, you'll find a citrus grove, kid-friendly rock maze, a succulent fountain, wishing tree and more. Birds, bees and butterflies all call this garden home and can be seen throughout the year.

Cost: Free

275 Arlington Dr.
Online: arlingtongardenpasadena.com

photo: Shahrzad Warkentin

Exposition Park Rose Garden

After being closed for annual maintenance from Jan. 1 to Mar. 15, The Rose Garden reopens to showcase its latest blooms. It's located in Exposition Park, right near the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. Stroll through to discover beds of roses and a beautiful central fountain perfect for making wishes. 

Hours: 9a.m.-Sunset
Cost: Free

701 State Dr. 
Los Angeles
Online: laparks.org

photo: Shannan Rouss

Conejo Valley Botanic Garden

The Conejo Valley Botanic Garden is 33-acres of natural terrain in Thousand Oaks. From the the sweeping vistas at the peak of the Garden through 15 unique, hillside specialty gardens, and onto the hiking trail along the steam, the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden is a destination not to be missed. In addition to the Herb Garden, Butterfly Garden and Lillian's Meadow (featuring a variety of native and drought-tolerant plants), there's the can't-miss Kids' Adventure Garden, where you'll find a tree house, tea party and much more. 

COVID-19 Update: The Ventura County garden is currently closed on weekends, which means the Kids' Garden won't be accessible for now. 

Cost: Free

400 W. Gainsborough Rd.
Thousand Oaks
Online: conejogarden.org

–Shannan Rouss


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