The word on Los Angeles is that's it's all asphalt and fenced-off yards, but joke's on the haters, 'cause we've got Griffith and the Getty and, even better, a network of little under-the-radar parks and gardens and labyrinths where anyone can steal away for a little peace among nature. Today is National Public Gardens Day and Local The Weather is the Best Here Century, so we've updated our secret gardens map of Los Angeles, now with 25 lesser-known sites to explore. They're all open to the public in one form or another, but hours, access, and cost vary, so check the websites before you go. And please enjoy!Read More
25 Secret Gardens and Green Spaces Hidden Around LA
Union Station is known for its gardens and courtyards, but blogger The World on Wheels dug up this little gem on the far east side of the property, behind the Metro building—it has gardens, benches, fountains, and waterfalls.
Biddy Mason Park
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 nineteenth century Los Angeles. It's lined with a black concrete art wall designed by Sheila Levrant de Bretteville.
M2A Architects designed the mind (and ground) bending park in front of the Medallion rental building in the Old Bank District.
Also featured in:
Roybal Federal Building
There's a terraced lawn and peristyled green space between the Federal Building and the Roybal Courthouse, plus one of Jonathan Borofsky's "Molecule Man" statues.
On top of the restaurant at the new LAPD headquarters sits this circular reflection garden.
DoubleTree (formerly the Kyoto Grand)
It may be one of the worst kept secrets in LA, but the Japanese garden at the DoubleTree is still pretty lovely. Just take the elevator to the third floor for a half acre of waterfalls, bamboo, and stone paths.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
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.
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 five acres of "pine and jacaranda trees along with rose bushes, geraniums, oleander, and yucca."
Virginia Robinson Gardens
This is the estate that Robinsons department store built, back in 1911, and before becoming public (it's run by the County), it hosted many a fabulous Beverly Hills resident.
Japanese American Cultural & Community Center
The James Irvine Japanese Garden has a 170 foot long stream that flows down a waterfall and around the entire garden.
The Japanese Garden in Lake Balboa is six and a half acres "fashioned after 'stroll gardens' constructed during the 18th and 19th centuries for Japanese Feudal lords."
Los Angeles River Center and Gardens
This spot in Cypress Park originally opened in the fifties as Lawry's California Center, a showcase for Lawry's seasoning and condiments. It's filled with pepper trees, roses, and Mission architecture.
Los Angeles Police Academy
One of the more unexpected sites in LA—the charming, rocky garden at the LAPD's police academy, tucked in Elysian Park by Dodger Stadium. Warning: the babbling of the waterfall may be interrupted by the sound of a little gunfire.
Garden of Oz
This mosaicked 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.
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 in various states of upkeep.
Paul's Urban Garden
The members of the Ecclesia church created this garden out of a weedy lot on Hollywood Blvd. and are opening to turn it into an official public pocket park. It's named for Paul DeLongpre, a painter who planted Hollywood with gardens around the turn of the century.
Tucked in Montecito Heights, Debs Park has a lake, tons of trails, and lots of spots to picnic (plus barbecue pits). It also has an Audubon Center so you can learn about all the birds that hang around the area.
Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens
Busby Berkeley's old mansion in West Adams is now home to the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness—they've created a labyrinth ("Walking a labyrinth in modern times is a great way to bring peace and relaxation to our minds") and meditation gardens. You can take a guided tour on some weekdays.
Super simple and relaxing, Cascades Park is basically just grass and a long waterfall.
Self-Realization Fellowship International Headquarters
While the Self-Realization Fellowship's Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades is better known, locals swear by the peaceful gardens at their Mt. Washington HQ, which was built in the late 1800s as the Mt. Washington Inn.
Caltrans owns this property—it was originally planning to do construction staging here for 710 Freeway work—but it's been turned into Pas's only public garden. It has an app too for identifying everything all its plants.
Bamboo Charlie's Garden
A homeless man named Charles Ray Walker spent years building this lovely and eclectic folk art garden by the LA River in Boyle Heights. Since his death, fights among caretakers have put the space in jeopardy.
Runyon Canyon Rock Mandala
Artist Robert Wilson created this mandala off the hiking path at Runyon in 2008; he restored it just last month.
Museum of Jurassic Technology
MJT creator Robert Wilson used part of his MacArthur genius grant to build this lovely rooftop garden/aviary and it's the perfect counterpoint to the dark, detail-packed museum.
UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden
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.