Spring is in the air, the grass is green and it is the perfect time to stop and smell the roses. From native California landscapes to trees from around the world, there’s loads to explore at our local botanical gardens. Many offer special programs for families so read on and plan your spring adventure.

photo: Saxon Holt

San Francisco Botanical Garden

This 55-acre garden is an urban oasis in the middle of Golden Gate Park. With over 8,500 different kinds of plants from around the world, it's a feast for the senses all throughout the year. Families will enjoy the Bean Sprout Family Days through October 27. From 1-4 p.m. on Saturdays, you can create colorful crafts with flowers, help weed and water the garden, read a book or play a nature game with staff in the Children's Garden. On the first and third Sundays throughout the year, enjoy a special story in the library at 10:30 a.m. and then take a guided walk through the Garden that connects that morning’s story to living plants. 

San Francisco Botanical Garden
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA

Admission: $8/adults, $6/youth 12-17, $2/kids 5-11, $18/family (two adults and all children in the same family). Free for kids 4 and under, SF residents and Garden members
Free days: daily from 7:30-9 a.m., second Tuesday of the month, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and New Year's Day
Hours: 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m. (spring/summer) 

photo: Michael Story

Hakone Gardens - Saratoga

The hills of Saratoga are home to this 18-acre Japanese estate, garden and retreat center. Listen to the waterfalls and surround yourself in the zen of the bamboo garden when you enjoy the tranquility just outside of the hustle and bustle of Sillicon Valley. Hakone hosts a number of seasonal festivals including the annual Matsuri festival in May, where you can enjoy Asian cultural entertainment and Japanese foods. Docent tours and tea demonstrations are available to reserve in advance.

Hakone Gardens
21000 Big Basin Way
Saratoga, CA

Hours: weekdays 10 a.m.-4 p.m., weekends 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (March to October) and weekdays 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and weekends 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (November-February)
Admission: $10/adults, $8/kids 5-17, kids under 5 are free

UC Botanical Garden - Berkeley

The 34-acre UC Botanical Garden is one of the most diverse landscapes in the world, with over 10,000 types of plants including many rare and endangered species. The Garden includes a major collection of California native plants as well as plants from around the world. In the summer, kids ages 5-10 come for Green Stuff, a hands-on science camp where they learn about habitats, animals and how to be good environmental stewards. The Garden offers monthly family programs led by education staff in a range of topics from carnivorous plants to cooking. 

UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley
200 Centennial Dr.
Berkeley, CA

Hours: daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Admission: $12/adults, $7/kids 7-17, kids 6 and under are free

photo: Jim Allen

Filoli Gardens - Woodside

Visit this historic house and garden in the hills of Woodside and take in the panoramic views, lush vegetation and critters that make their homes there. Explore on your own or take a guided tour. Kids will especially enjoy walking the 1-mile Estate Trail to the Sally MacBride Nature Center, which is open Friday-Sunday. There you can explore the collection of artifacts and wildlife of the natural preserve and maybe even spot a California quail on your walk over. The trailhead is located at the Daffodil Field, on the north side of the garden.

Filoli Garden
86 Canada Road
Woodside, CA

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Admission: $22/adults, $11/kids 5-17, kids under 5 are free

Regional Parks Botanic Garden - Berkeley

Tilden Park is a favorite for local families because of the Little Farm and merry-go-round, and a trip there should always include a stop at the Botanic Garden. Not only is it totally free, but they offer free guided tours on non-rainy Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year. The garden’s primary role is to create beautiful landscapes displaying California’s diverse plant life, from the High Sierras to the southern deserts. Flowers bloom every month of the year, reaching a spectacular peak in spring through midsummer. 

Regional Parks Botanic Garden
Wildcat Canyon Road and South Park Drive
Berkeley, CA

Hours: daily 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (October 1-May 31) and 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (June 1-September 30)
Admission: free

Where do you go to see spring it all of its splendor? Let us know below!

—Kate Loweth