California’s beauty goes far beyond sandy beaches, swaying palm trees, and boardwalks. The Golden State is also home to some of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the country.
From San Francisco to the warm shores of Encinitas, California’s best botanical gardens can be found along the coast, inland, and even in the desert.
If you are planning a visit and want to see some of the unique landscapes, coastal terrain, and native plants that cover the northern and southern parts of California. In that case, this post has everything you need to experience the best botanical gardens in the state.
Here you can discover 15 Best Botanical Gardens in California to Visit :
Table of Contents
California’s Best Botanical Gardens
1. Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens
Address: 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108
The Huntington Library is home to extensive gardens, exotic plants, an orchard, koi ponds, and many more beautiful places to explore during your visit. It is the site of a famous library, art museum, and several research institutions.
At 130 acres, its enormous size makes the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens the largest botanical garden in California. The gardens have 16 themed areas and nearly 83,000 live plants.
On site, you’ll find a mausoleum, sculptures and fountains, lily ponds, a conservatory, a Chinese garden, and many other unique garden spots. The area is home to notable orchids, cycads, and bonsai, among thousands of others.
The Huntington Library is undoubtedly one of the best botanical gardens in California. Its beauty and serenity have to be experienced to be appreciated. It gets our vote for the best botanical garden in California, but there are plenty of others worth seeing.
For a nearby hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn Arcadia/Pasadena has an outdoor pool and fitness center and is pet-friendly.
SEE RELATED POST: 10 parks in Los Angeles you must visit
2. South Coast Botanical Garden
Address : 26300 Crenshaw Blvd, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274
Located in Palos Verdes, the South Coast Botanical Garden has 87 garden acres in the Palos Verdes Hills, ten miles north of Los Angeles.
Developed on a sanitary landfill, the South Coast Botanical Garden is a refreshing urban oasis bursting with color and a variety of plants and wildlife, including incredible tropical butterflies in the SOAR butterfly garden and tarantulas in the Spider Pavilion.
The garden hosts 12 flower shows a year, as well as lectures, classes, concerts, and weddings. Guests will see hundreds of native California plants that are drought tolerant and provide habitat and food for wildlife in the area.
The Desert Garden at the South Coast Botanical Garden has cacti, euphorbia, aloes, and other succulents from the United States, Africa, Mexico, and South America.
Wander around the enchanting koi pond for a relaxing experience, and take in the sight of stone lanterns made from Okazaki stone over 200 years ago. The garden also features a Mediterranean garden and a beautiful rose garden with over 80 selections of roses that provide beauty throughout the year.
The garden offers many classes available to the public, including wreath making, evening walks, and other seasonal events. With easy paved trails and a picturesque picnic area, the South Coast Botanical Garden is one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in California.
For an affordable and easy stay near the gardens, the Best Western Plus Redondo Beach Inn is close to the beach, has an outdoor pool, and is within walking distance of many nearby restaurants and attractions.
3. Santa Barbara Botanical Garden
Address: 1212 Mission Canyon Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93105
The Santa Barbara Botanical Garden is 78 acres of beautiful botanical garden and outdoor space with more than 1,000 rare and indigenous plant species.
The Santa Barbara Botanical Garden showcases the unique plant species of California’s native flora and topography. The garden features 11 sections of different ecosystems, including desert, meadow, redwood, canyon, island, and more.
The Island View garden offers guests breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, the Channel Islands and Baja California. On Channel Island, many plant species have become extinct on the mainland, encouraging the merger of new species and old lineages there.
Visit the Tea House to experience a recreation of traditional Japanese gardens. Visit Mission Dam which was established in 1806, Blaksley Boulder which was moved to its location 12,000 years ago, and learn more about plants and wildlife here at the Blaksley Library.
For a quaint and historic stay in Santa Barbara near the botanical garden, visit the Virginia Santa Barbara Hotel.
4. Mendocino Coastal Botanical Gardens
Address: 18220 CA-1, Fort Bragg, CA 95437
Located in Fort Bragg, California, the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden is set on 47 acres and includes canyons, wetlands, coastal bluffs, and a closed-cone pine forest.
The Mendocino Coastal Botanical Garden aims to engage and enrich lives by conserving plants in harmony with Northern California’s coastal ecosystems and by preserving public access to the shoreline.
Plants featured in the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens’ garden collection include rhododendrons, heathers, heathers, conifers, and Mediterranean plants.
Explore the Coastal Bluff and Marine Zone, filled with hardy, low-growing plants that have adapted to the swampy climate. You’ll see California poppies in the spring, along with woolly seaside sunflower and seaside daisies here.
Guests can stroll through the closed cone pine forest along Fern Canyon Creek. The ancient forest is home to bird and wildlife species, while the creek helps with the restoration of the local salmon.
Don’t miss a stop at the Heritage Rose Garden if you’re visiting from May to August. This beautiful space contains hybridized heirloom roses from the 1830s to the early 20th century. The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens offer weekly tours for visitors: a trained garden manager will walk you through the gardens, explaining the rich history and diversity of plants.
Fancy an outdoor adventure? Mendocino Grove offers a luxurious tent for a camping experience you’ll never forget!
5. San Diego Botanic Garden
Address: 398 Quail Gardens Dr, Encinitas, CA 92024
The San Diego Botanic Garden is located in Encinitas, a coastal town in southern California. It features 37 acres of bamboo groves, a desert garden, a tropical rainforest, native plants, Mediterranean climate landscapes, and subtropical fruit gardens.
This California coastal botanical garden has 4 miles of trails and ocean views and features more than 5,000 species of plants. There are 29 unique themed gardens on site, including a spacious Children’s Garden area, a collection of bamboo gardens, along with a glass conservatory with plant chandeliers and rare tropical plants from around the world.
Explore the largest living collection of bamboo in North America at the San Diego Botanic Garden. With more than 100 species within the collection, visitors can experience many unique ecological plants up close.
Guests can stroll through the international gardens, including the South African Garden, South American Garden, Mexican Garden, Succulent Gardens, and Herb Garden.
For other attractions in the gardens, try Tony’s Tree House, the mountain stream, the waterfall and the miniature railway. The San Diego Botanical Garden is easily one of the best botanical gardens in Southern California. You’ll find plenty to see no matter your age!
For a luxury coastal stay in Encinitas, check out the Inn at Moonlight Beach.
6. Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden
Address: 301 N Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007
The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden contains 127 acres of outdoor space, containing an arboretum, botanical garden, and historic site in the foothills near the San Gabriel Mountains.
Enjoy collections of plants from around the world, including rare and endangered species, peacocks, migratory birds, aquatic creatures, small reptiles, and mammals.
Visit the Water Garden with gentle pools, lily pads and shady benches. It is a serene place to enjoy the warm Los Angeles weather and peace and quiet. Celebration Garden offers landscaped gardens for inspiration and enjoyment. Crescent Farms showcases the beauty of California’s drought-resistant landscapes and plants.
Take in the beautifully designed Grace V. Kallam Gardens, featuring perennials, shrub borders, and flowering trees from all over Southern California. Stroll through the Casa Verde Tropical and immerse yourself in the beauty of tropical plants and a few thousand orchids.
The botanical gardens are home to plants from around the world, including Africa, Australia, Madagascar, and the Canary Islands. Plant species include aloe, magnolia, plumeria, and more.
For a comfortable stay near the Arboretum, try the Embassy Suites Arcadia-Pasadena.
7. Balboa Park Botanical Building
Address: 1549 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
The beautiful Botanical Gardens at Balboa Park are a must-see attraction in San Diego, California. The vibrant displays of seasonal flowers draw crowds from around the world. The Botanical Building, its garden, and adjacent lily pond were built for the 1915-16 Exposition, making it a historical relic in Southern California.
The Balboa Park Botanical Building features more than 2,100 brilliant and unique collections of cycads, ferns, orchids, other tropical plants, and palm trees. Balboa Park is also home to the famous Japanese Friendship Garden, a 12-acre Japanese garden in San Diego.
8. Moorten Botanical Garden
Address: 1701 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264
Moorten Botanical Garden is located on 1 acre in Palm Springs, California. It is a family-owned botanical garden that specializes in desert plants and cacti. Home to 3,000 species, the Moorten Botanical Garden has been open to the public since 1938 and shares the beauty and extraordinary variety of desert plants with every visitor.
Visitors will wander through exhibits dedicated to unique arid biomes, such as the Baja California Peninsula, the succulent South African Karoo, the Mojave Desert, and Mexico-Gran Desierto de Altar. The gardens display agave, Bombax, South African aloe plants, rocks, crystals, fossils and relics from gold mining.
Moorten Botanical Garden has a nursery in the complex where guests can buy succulents, cacti, and other plants they love.
For an eclectic and hip stay in downtown Palm Springs, near the Moorten Botanical Gardens, we suggest a stay at the Weekend Palm Springs.
9. Fullerton Arboretum
Address: 1900 Associated Rd, Fullerton, CA 92831
The Fullerton Arboretum is a 26-acre botanical garden with a collection of plants from around the world and is located on the campus of California State University, Fullerton in Orange County.
Guests can venture along a nature trail and witness a waterfall, streams, lake, and pond at Fullerton Arboretum. The four collections on the site are the Cultivated Collection, the Mediterranean Collection, the Desert Collection, and the Woodlands Collection.
Visitors will see a variety of fruit trees such as bananas, avocados, and oranges, along with palm trees, a giant ombú, cactus gardens, and turtles in the pond.
Fullerton Arboretum also features a nature center, potting shed, greenhouse, outdoor classroom, and community gardens. The Fullerton Arboretum has plenty of walking paths and benches to avoid the shade, and it’s a great place to picnic and enjoy the outdoors.
Keep your eyes peeled for unique wildlife including alligator lizards, kingfishers, hawks, coyotes, and many species of insects and critters.
If you want to stay close to campus, the Fullerton Marriott at California State University has spacious rooms, an outdoor pool, and great restaurants.
10. Conejo Valley Botanic Garden
Address: 400W Gainsborough Rd, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
Located in Thousand Oaks, Conejo Valley Botanic Garden consists of 15 botanical gardens on the slopes of 33 acres of beautiful outdoor spaces.
Visitors will enjoy beautiful scenic vistas, a rare fruit grove, butterfly garden, herb garden, desert garden, bird habitat, and Australian garden at this memorable California botanical garden.
In the Australian garden, guests will enjoy views of plants from Brisbane to Perth, which thrive in environments similar to plants in southern California. The bird habitat is home to local and migratory birds and a beautiful grape covered gazebo.
The Path of the Trees presents 50 varieties of trees for the enjoyment of the public. You can’t miss a peak at the butterfly garden, where you can experience the entire life cycle of a butterfly. The Desert Garden offers a panoramic view of Valle Conejo, desert trees, cacti and succulent plants. The herb garden is home to traditional, medicinal and legendary herbs that are quite a spectacle.
Adjacent to the Conejo Valley Botanical Garden is a children’s garden called the Kids’ Adventure Garden that is open on Sundays.
For a pleasant stay in Thousands Oaks, the Palm Garden Hotel features great outdoor space, comfortable rooms, and a great location.
11. University of California Berkeley Botanical Garden
Address: 200 Centennial Dr, Berkeley, CA 94720
The University of California Botanical Garden is a 34-acre botanical garden located on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley in Strawberry Canyon.
Known as the UC Botanical Garden, this open-air refuge features the most diverse landscapes in the world. The UC Botanical Garden has more than 10,000 types of plants, including many rare and endangered species. The garden has nine planting regions from South Africa to Australia and many native California plants.
The plant collections at the UC Botanical Garden are impressive; visitors can wander for hours and still find new plants to admire. From rhododendrons from Asia and monkey puzzle trees from South America to rufous hummingbirds from Mexico, you’ll be amazed at all the plants and wildlife in the garden.
UC Botanical Gardens hosts special events throughout the year, including an annual Bug Day, plant sales, kids’ summer camps, and holiday pop-up shops.
Want to stay near the University of California at Berkeley? Claremont Resort Spa Hotel is an eco-friendly hotel with state-of-the-art rooms just two blocks from campus.
12. San Francisco Botanical Garden
Address: 1199 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122
Located in Golden Gate Park, the San Francisco Botanical Garden is home to more than 9,000 native plants from Australia, California, Venezuela, Chile, New Zealand, and South Africa. The garden has 55 acres of walking paths, flowers, and streams where families, couples, and solo travelers can relax amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.
The San Francisco Botanical Garden has the world’s fourth largest collection of Magnolia species for conservation purposes.
The Ancient Plant Garden features groups of living, non-extinct plants, also known as living fossils. The Moon Garden is full of beautiful plants and stone pagodas from Japan. Children’s Garden offers story hours, garden crafts and bug hunts for the little ones. The Fragrance Garden is home to some of the most delicious and unique-smelling plants in the world.
The San Francisco Botanical Gardens offer impressive flowers and many plants during all seasons of the year. Witness the unique flora of New Zealand, the South African proteas in the summer and the rhododendrons of Southeast Asia.
During a stay in San Francisco, enjoy a few hours away from the busy city at the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park. Stop by the romantic Shakespeare Garden for a memorable picnic. It is a place that you will not regret seeing! For the best botanical gardens in Northern California, San Francisco is hard to beat!
For a walk through the gardens from where you’re staying, try the Stanyan Park Hotel.
13. Descanso Gardens
Address: 1418 Descanso Dr, La Canada Flintridge, CA 91011
Descanso Gardens is a 150-acre botanical garden located in La Cañada Flintridge in Los Angeles County.
Five acres of Descanso Gardens are dedicated to its impressive rose garden, with more than 1,600 roses growing there. Vintage garden roses and modern roses make up the space, and their beauty will take your breath away. Varieties of roses have adapted to become sustainable in the hot climate of California.
At the Japanese Garden, you’ll cross an arched bridge, past koi ponds, and wander past a tea house that was built in 1966. The Japanese Garden is one of its most popular spaces due to its lush green space, beautiful cherry trees, and garden of raked gravel.
You can’t visit Descanso Gardens in California without seeing the camellia garden, especially if you’re there from early fall through spring. The Coastal Live Oak Forest features trees that are centuries old and represent the natural coastal landscape of Southern California.
From a stunning forest to native plants, a charming Japanese garden and beautiful roses, guests will be amazed by all the plants and flowers they will experience at Descanso Gardens in Southern California.
For an easy trip from Descanso Gardens, the rooms at the Patrician Hotel are spacious and amazingly lluxurious.
14. Conservatory of Flowers
Address: 100 John F. Kennedy Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118
The Conservatory of Flowers is a greenhouse and botanical garden that houses a collection of rare and exotic plants in San Francisco. The Conservatory of Flowers features five unique galleries: Aquatic Plants, Highland Tropics, Lowland Tropics, Potted Plants, and the West Gallery.
The Aquatic Plants Gallery is home to a giant water lily, orchids and carnivorous pitcher plants. The Highland Tropics exhibit features dense moss, enveloping rocks, tree ferns, and delicate orchids in its cool, humid climate.
The lowland tropics are humid and boast coffee berries, cocoa pods, tropical fruits, philodendron, and cycads. You’ll find ferns from around the world in the West Gallery, including Antarctica and New Zealand.
The up close and personal experience that visitors will gain at the Conservatory of Flowers is unmatched. Whether you’re a local from San Francisco or from another part of the world, we know you’ll be amazed by everything you see here.
For a cozy stay near the Conservatory of Flowers, try the Sunset Edwardian Bed and Breakfast.
15. California Botanical Garden
Address : 1500 N College Ave, Claremont, CA 91711
The California Botanical Garden is a botanical garden in Claremont, California, just south of the San Gabriel Mountains.
It is the largest botanical garden dedicated to California native plants. The garden promotes botany, conservation, and horticulture to educate the public and scientific community about California’s native flora.
As a living museum, the California Botanical Garden features more than 22,000 native California plants, many of which are endangered species. Complete with a sage garden, sensory loop trail, majestic oak grove, palm oasis, and many more areas within the park, there is something for everyone at the California Botanical Garden.
The garden offers guided walks and tours for visitors who want to see behind the scenes of the garden and its many beautiful species.
For a relaxing stay in Claremont with a convenient and central location, try the DoubleTree by Hilton Claremont.
If exploring the California Botanical Gardens is on your bucket list, don’ wait ! I am sure you’ll be entertained, surprised and inspired by this collection of must-see outdoor gardens. The beaches may draw you to California, but the gardens are real nature gems worth seeing!