25 Gardens Hidden Around Los Angeles

Los Angeles has the ocean and the mountains and the desert all within a couple hours’ drive, but there are a good amount of parks large and small that dot the city that make it easy to get a dose of nature whether you’re in Downtown or in the Valley.

Many of these places, especially the larger parks, are better known to locals than people on the other side of town (though few things are really a true secret in the age of Instagram).

We’ve listed 25 of our favorite under-the-radar gardens, parks, and quiet green spaces across town, including quiet rooftops, folk art gardens, and even a serene spot at Union Station. They’re all open to the public in one form or another, though hours, access, and cost vary.

1. Union Station

800 N Alameda St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Union Station is known for the gardens and courtyards close to its main, Art Deco building, but this little gem sits on the far east side of the property, behind the Metro building. This sunken hideaway has gardens, benches, fountains, and waterfalls.



2. Biddy Mason Park

331 South Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Biddy Mason Park is a quiet little courtyard Downtown named for a former slave who became a prominent figure and one of the first black landowners in 19th century Los Angeles. The park is lined with a black concrete art wall designed by Sheila Levrant de Bretteville.


3. The Medallion

334 S Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90013

M2A Architects designed the mind-bending park in front of the Medallion rental building in the Old Bank District.


4. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Los Angeles Downtown

120 S Los Angeles St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

It may be one of the worst kept secrets in LA, but the Japanese garden at the DoubleTree (formerly the Kyoto Grand) is still pretty lovely. Just take the elevator to the third floor for a half acre of waterfalls, bamboo, and stone paths.


5. Walt Disney Concert Hall

111 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 972-7211

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It’s true, there’s nearly an acre of public park and garden up on the third level of Disney Hall—take the stairs up from the street near First and Grand. The Blue Ribbon Garden is also where the Patina restaurant below grows a lot of its ingredients.


6. Amir’s Garden

Griffith Park Drive & Mineral Wells Road
Los Angeles, CA 90027

After a fire in the seventies, Iranian immigrant Amir Dialameh took it upon himself to replant a hillside in Griffith Park—today it’s nearly 5 acres of “pine and jacaranda trees along with rose bushes, geraniums, oleander, and yucca.”


7. Virginia Robinson Gardens

1008 Elden Way
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 276-5367

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Built as a home for Virginia and Harry Robinson of the Robinsons department store chain, this 1911 estate is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The gardens are open to the public by appointment (and for a fee).


8. Japanese American Cultural & Community Center

244 S San Pedro St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

The James Irvine Japanese Garden has a 170-foot-long stream flowing through it, cedar bridges, and stone lanterns. It’s closed Mondays. Admission is free.


9. The Japanese Garden at Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area

6100 Woodley Avenue
San Fernando Valley, CA 91406

The Japanese Garden is six and a half acres “fashioned after ‘stroll gardens’ constructed during the 18th and 19th centuries for Japanese Feudal lords,” its website notes.

Adjacent to the futuristic-looking Donald J. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant, the garden was intended to show that reclaimed water could be used for lots of things, even a delicate-looking Japanese garden.


10. Los Angeles River Center and Gardens

570 West Avenue 26
Los Angeles, CA 90065

This spot in Cypress Park originally opened in the 1950s as Lawry’s California Center, a showcase for Lawry’s seasoning and condiments. It’s filled with pepper trees, roses, and Mission architecture.


11. Los Angeles Police Academy garden

1880 Academy Road
Los Angeles, CA 90012

One of the more unexpected sites in LA is the charming, rocky garden at the LAPD’s police academy, tucked in Elysian Park by Dodger Stadium.


12. Garden of Oz

3106 Ledgewood Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90068

This mosaic-adorned folk art garden was originally created by Gail Cottman and is a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. It’s often gated, but we’ve heard a rumor (probably untrue!) that the local kids have keys.


13. Wattles Park

1850 North Curson Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046

This Runyon Canyon-adjacent site is perhaps most popularly known as the site of the Freddy in Troop Beverly Hills. The house was designed in the early 1900s by Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey, and is surrounded by several gardens (including a community garden) in various states of upkeep.


14. Debs Park

4235 Monterey Road
Los Angeles, CA 90032

Tucked in Montecito Heights, Debs Park has a lake, tons of trails, and lots of spots to picnic (plus barbecues). It also has an Audubon Center so you can learn about all the birds that hang around the area.


15. Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens

3500 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA

Busby Berkeley’s old mansion in West Adams is now home to the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness. There, they’ve created meditation gardens and a labyrinth (“Walking a labyrinth in modern times is a great way to bring peace and relaxation to our minds”). You can take a guided tour on select days of the week (sign-up is required but there is no fee— they will take donations though).


16. Cascades Park

700 South Atlantic Boulevard
Monterey Park, CA 91754

Super-simple and relaxing, Cascades Park is basically just grass and a long waterfall.


17. Self-Realization Fellowship International Headquarters

3880 San Rafael Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90065

While the Self-Realization Fellowship’s Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades is better known, locals swear by the peaceful gardens at their Mt. Washington headquarters, which was built in the late 1800s as the Mt. Washington Inn. There is no cost to visti the grounds.


18. Arlington Garden

275 Arlington Drive
Pasadena, CA 91105

Caltrans owns this property—it was originally planning to do construction staging here for 710 Freeway work—but it’s been turned into Pasadena’s only dedicated public garden. It has an app too for identifying all its plants.


19. Runyon Canyon rock mandala

Artist Robert Wilson created this mandala off the hiking path at Runyon in 2008. According to the directions on the mandala’s Facebook page, hikers can find it “at the end of N. Fuller Ave, North of Franklin Ave and Hillside Ave, go up into the park and don’t take the hairpin turn, go up the path less traveled.”


20. Museum of Jurassic Technology’s rooftop garden

9341 Venice Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232

MJT creator Robert Wilson used part of his MacArthur genius grant to build this lovely rooftop garden and aviary. It’s the perfect counterpoint to the dark, detail-packed museum. (Museum admission fees are listed here).


21. Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden

Across From Botany Building
Los Angeles, CA 90095
(310) 825-1260

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This seven-acre botanical garden at UCLA is used as a teaching and research lab and as “a long-term repository for unusual plants, a refugium for biodiversity.” The school offers guided tours once a month, or you can go on your own. The garden is open seven days a week, and there is no admission charge.

22. La Casita Del Arroyo

177 S Arroyo Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91105

La Casita del Arroyo was built during the Great Depression using lumber from the 1932 Olympics bicycle track and boulders from the Arroyo Seco, with design by famed architect Myron Hunt. Today, it’s got a water demonstration garden and butterfly sanctuary.


23. Old Trapper’s Lodge

6201 Winnetka Avenue
Woodland Hills, CA 91371

Tucked by the stables at Pierce College is the Old Trapper’s Lodge. It was built by a man named John Ehn in the 1940s as part of his western-themed motel (called the Old Trapper’s Lodge). Today it’s a landmarked collection of weird Old West art surrounded by trees and trails.


24. Orcutt Ranch

23600 Roscoe Blvd
Canoga Park, CA 91304
(818) 346-7449

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The Orcutt Ranch in West Hills was built in the 1920s by William Warren Orcutt, the geologist who first discovered fossils at the La Brea Tar Pits. It has oak and citrus trees, gardens, ranch structures, and an adobe residence on site.


25. Earl B. Miller Japanese Garden

Cal State University Long Beach
Long Beach, CA 90815

This little, 1.3-acre garden on the CSU Long Beach campus was designed by Edward R. Lovell and opened in 1981 as “a hybrid art form that combines typical elements of Japanese garden design within the context of its Southern California location.”


Story courtesy of Curbed.