Given our oh-so mild winters, spring inevitably comes early to Los Angeles, which means the city’s botanical gardens are already blooming with tulips, cherry blossoms, daffodils and more. From the 127-acre Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden to smaller hidden gardens around town, here are seven kid-friendly spots to visit. Read on for all our insider tips on when to go, what to see and where to get the snap the most unforgettable pics with your family.

photo: Shannan Rouss

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Discover roaming peacocks, hidden trails, sunbathing turtles and more at this 127-acre oasis in Arcadia. With timed ticket entry, wide open spaces and countless paths, it's fairly easy to social distance in this setting. Pack a picnic or pick up food from the Peacock Cafe near the entrance. While the waterfall is on everyone's list to see, the best way to check it out is to actually 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, 9a.m.-4:30p.m.; advanced tickets required
Cost: $15 for adults; 11 for seniors students with ID; $5 for children 5-12; children 4 and under are free

301 N. Baldwin Ave. 
Arcadia
626-821-3222
Online: arboretum.org

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. In late February and March, be sure to check out the tulips, camellias, irises, lilacs and cherry trees, which are all in bloom. 

Insider Tip: Behind the Stuart 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 here

Hours: Daily, 9a.m.-5p.m.; advanced tickets required
Cost: $15 for adults; 11 for seniors students with ID; $5 for children 5-12; children 4 and under are free

1418 Descanso Dr.
La Cañada Flintridge
818-949-4200
Online: descansogardens.org

Huntington Botanical Gardens

The pristine Huntington Botanical Gardens is home to 16 themed gardens spread across 120 acres. Although the Children's Garden is currently closed, little ones will enjoy visits to the Lily Ponds (home to turtles, bullfrogs and turtles, bullfrogs and ducks), along with 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 Chinese Garden alone is 15 acres, and well worth the visit regardless of how much time you have to spend. In addition to the meandering paths and waterfall, be sure to explore Stargazing Tower, situated on the highest point in the garden and with breathtaking views. 

Hours: Daily, except Tues., 10a.m.-5p.m.; advanced tickets required
Cost: $25 for adults ($29 on weekends); $13 for children 4-11; children under 4 are free

1151 Oxford Rd.
San Marino
626-405-2100
Online: huntington.org

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, playing tag on the sprawling Upper Meadow, and discovering the Garden's latest exhibit, 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: Pssst... find out the best spots for snapping selfies and family photos here. Also, good to know: Every third Sun. of the month, the Garden allows visitors to bring their four-legged friends!

Hours: Daily, 8a.m.-5p.m.; advanced tickets required
Cost: $15 for adults; 11 for seniors students with ID; $5 for children 5-12; children 4 and under are free

26300 Crenshaw Blvd.
Palos Verdes
424-452-0920
Online: southcoastbotanicgarden.org

Arlington Garden

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

Insider tip: Picnicking is permitted in the garden, so plan accordingly in case you want to dine al fresco with the fam.  

Hours: Daily except Tues., 8a.m.-6p.m.
Cost: Free

275 Arlington Dr.
Pasadena
626-578-5434
Online: arlingtongardenpasadena.com

Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden

This pint-sized garden is conveniently located right next to popular Polliwog Park. After playing on the swings and slides, you can short stroll along the garden's paths to discover plants, flowers, birds, butterflies and more. 

Hours: Daily, sunrise to sunset
Cost: Free

1236 N. Peck Ave.
Manhattan Beach
310-Online: mbbgarden.org

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. 

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

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

701 State Dr. 
Los Angeles
213-763-0114
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 fifteen unique, hillside specialty gardens, and onto the hiking trail along the steam, the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden is a destination not to be missed. Although the Kids' Adventure Garden is currently closed, you can still visit the Herb Garden, Butterfly Garden and Lillian's Meadow (featuring a variety of native and drought-tolerant plants).

Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset
Cost: Free

400 W. Gainsborough Rd.
Thousand Oaks
805-494-7630
Online: conejogarden.org

Closed due to Covid

As of Feb. 16, 2021, these gardens remain closed to the public. Check back regularly for updates.

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!

Hours: Open daily; exact times vary depending on the season.
Cost: Free

707 Tiverton Dr. 
Westwood
310-825-1260
Online: botgard.ucla.edu

S. Mark Taper Life Science Botanical Garden

If you're looking for a quick garden 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. Wildlife-loving kids can have fun spotting hummingbirds, egrets, ducks, squirrels, cottontail rabbits, frogs, lizards and turtles. 

Cost: Free; parking permit required on weekdays
Hours: Open daily, 6a.m. to 11p.m.

6201 Winnetka Ave.
Woodland Hills
Online: piercecollege.edu

–Shannan Rouss

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