10 Things To Do At Descanso Gardens, California

10 Things To Do At Descanso Gardens, California

Discover 10 Exciting Things To Do at Descanso Gardens

Descanso Gardens is a serene and beautiful botanical garden that provides an escape from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. The 155-acre garden features an array of trees, flowers, and plants, making it a perfect destination for a day trip. Let's go!

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Travel Tips
  • For flights, Skyscanner is excellent for comparing the best airline deals.
  • For accommodations, our family trusts Booking.com for reasonable prices.

Here's Everything You Need To Know To Plan Your Visit:

Location and Hours
  • Location: 1418 Descanso Dr, La CaƱada Flintridge, CA 91011
  • Opening Hours: 9:00 am to 7:00 pm
  • Free parking is available on-site. 
  • Be sure to check their website for any updates on hours or closures.


Admission fees vary depending on the day of the week and whether or not you are a member. Discounts are available for seniors, students, and children.

Here are the ticket prices for Descanso Gardens:

  • Adults: $15
  • Seniors (65+): $11
  • Students with ID: $11
  • Children (5-12 years old): $5
  • Children 4 years and younger: Free.
Check out: Descanso Website for more details.

Membership Perks

They also offer membership options. If you're a member, you can receive discounts on events and classes and early access to certain exhibits.

What To Do At Descanso Gardens, California

When To Go

The gardens are open year-round, but the best time to visit depends on what you want to see. Spring is the peak season for tulips and other colorful blooms, while fall is a great time to see the changing foliage. We went on the first week of May and the weather was tolerable and the roses were in bloom.

What To Wear

Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, and a hat if you plan on spending much time exploring the gardens. The gardens cover a lot of ground, so you'll want to be prepared for walking and standing for extended periods.

Top 10 Things To Do at Descanso Gardens

1. Take a Leisurely Walk

Descanso Garden has over 100 acres of walking trails for you to explore and appreciate the stunning natural landscape. Discover the local flora and fauna while appreciating the beautiful scenery.

One of the highlights of our visit to Descanso Gardens is the Japanese Garden. Take a stroll through this peaceful oasis and admire the carefully crafted landscaping, koi ponds, and traditional Japanese architecture.

What To Do At Descanso Gardens, California

2. See The Colorful Flowers

Descanso Gardens features a vast array of vibrant flowers like irises, camellias, roses, and more. The best times to see the flowers in bloom are Spring and Fall. The Japanese Garden and the Rose Garden were my favorites.

  • Japanese Garden - a peaceful retreat inspired by traditional Japanese gardens.
  • Rose Garden - home to over 3,000 rose bushes.
  • Camellia Forest - a tranquil grove of over 34 species of camellias.
  • Maple Forest - a magical forest that comprises over 650 Japanese maple trees and is one of the Descanso Garden’s signature attractions.
  • Oak Woodland - a collection of many native California plants and animals. Keep an eye out for birds, squirrels, and even the occasional rabbit.

What To Do At Descanso Gardens, California

3. Take a Train Ride

Enjoy a ride on the Enchanted Railroad, a miniature train that takes visitors on a scenic tour of the gardens. Take advantage of the convenient train schedule to easily access the gardens and enjoy the scenery from a different view.

As you ride the Enchanted Railroad through the gardens, you'll get to experience the beauty and serenity of the surroundings from a whole new perspective.

  • The train runs on a loop around the gardens, so you'll have the opportunity to see everything from different angles.
  • The ride lasts about 10-15 minutes, depending on the park's busyness.
  • The train is wheelchair accessible, so everyone can enjoy the ride.
  • If you have young children, they'll love the excitement of riding a train through the gardens.
  • The Enchanted Railroad is a popular attraction, so be sure to check the schedule ahead of time to avoid long waits.
  • Don't forget to bring your camera – there will be plenty of photo opportunities along the way!

What To Do At Descanso Gardens, California

4. Take a Guided Tour

Purchase tickets for a private tour of the gardens, led by a knowledgeable and friendly guide. The private tour is a great way to learn about the history and unique features of the gardens. Your guide will be able to answer any questions you have and provide interesting insights about the different plants and flowers you'll see.

What To Do At Descanso Gardens, California

We also celebrated Mother's Day in Descanso Gardens. Here with me is my mother-in-law whom I'm so grateful for the love and support she has given our baby.

5. Grab a Bite to Eat

Come and grab a delicious bite to eat at The Kitchen at Descanso, open daily from 9 am to 6:30 pm.

The Kitchen at Descanso is the perfect spot if you're looking for a peaceful outdoor dining experience with a beautiful view. The menu features a variety of seasonal and locally sourced dishes, including salads, sandwiches, and pastries. You can enjoy your meal on the spacious outdoor patio, surrounded by lush foliage and blooming flowers. The Kitchen at Descanso also offers a selection of beer, wine, and cocktails to pair with your meal. After your meal, take a stroll through the gardens to lose all those calories as you admire the many different plant species and landscapes.

Whether you're looking for a quick bite or a leisurely lunch, The Kitchen at Descanso is the perfect destination for foodies and nature lovers alike.

Reminders: Unfortunately, bringing food from outside is prohibited at Descanso Gardens.

What To Do At Descanso Gardens, California

6. Stroll through Time

Visit the Boddy House, a historic mansion located on the grounds of Descanso Gardens. This beautiful home was built in the 1930s and offers visitors a glimpse into the past. For those who love art, the Boddy House is also home to the USC Pacific Asia Museum's Gamble House Gallery, which features a collection of Chinese and Japanese decorative arts.

Learn about the history of the gardens and its founder by visiting the Sturt Haaga Gallery, which showcases a variety of rotating exhibits. If you're a history enthusiast, you'll be pleased to know that the Sturt Haaga Gallery offers a fascinating exhibit that covers a range of topics, from the life of the founder to the plants and animals that call the gardens home. Visiting the gallery is a great way to support the gardens and their ongoing conservation efforts.

What To Do At Descanso Gardens, California

7. Take Beautiful Pictures

If you want to take amazing photographs, consider visiting during golden hour (the hour before sunset) when the light is soft and warm.

What To Do At Descanso Gardens, California

8. Attend Events: Explore the Gardens' Art Exhibitions and Installations

Descanso Gardens offers a variety of events throughout the year, including concerts, art exhibits, and festivals. Be amazed as you walk through the gardens and enjoy the beautiful art installations on display.

The events and ticket information for Descanso Gardens vary depending on the specific event. You can visit their website or call their visitor center for more information on upcoming events and ticket prices.

What To Do At Descanso Gardens, California

9. Watch for Seasonal Events

Don't miss the opportunity to see the seasonal displays, such as the spring tulips and the winter holiday lights. There are special events such as outdoor movie screenings and summer concerts in the summer. Keep an eye on their website for the latest updates.

Descanso Gardens is the perfect destination for you if you're a nature lover and enjoy the arts.

  • The Summer Concert Series is a popular event that takes place every year, featuring a variety of musical acts from jazz to classical to pop. You can bring a picnic and enjoy the music in the gardens.
  • The Camellia Festival is another popular event that celebrates the blooming of the camellias. Visitors can enjoy live music, food, and a variety of activities for all ages.
  • The Enchanted Forest of Light is a must-see event during the holiday season. The gardens are transformed into a magical light display, featuring interactive exhibits and stunning light installations.

What To Do At Descanso Gardens, California

10. Visit the Gift Shop

Check out the gift shop for unique souvenirs and gifts to bring home with you. In the main store, you can find a wide array of Descanso Garden souvenirs and items for the home and garden.

If you're looking for more than just souvenirs, the gift shop at Descanso Garden also offers a selection of locally handmade crafts and artisanal goods. Here are a few things you might want to check out:

  • Handcrafted pottery and ceramics
  • Locally sourced honey, jams, and other gourmet food items
  • Handmade jewelry and accessories
  • Unique home decor items, such as woven baskets and handmade candles
In addition to these one-of-a-kind items, the gift shop also has a selection of gardening tools and supplies, so you can bring a piece of Descanso Garden home with you and start cultivating your own beautiful garden. Whether you're shopping for yourself or looking for the perfect gift, the gift shop at Descanso Garden has something for everyone.

Descanso Gardens is a hidden gem in Los Angeles that offers visitors a range of activities for everyone to enjoy. Whether you are interested in nature, history, or culture, you will find something to love at Descanso Gardens.

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