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Map: 29 Secret Gardens and Green Spaces Hidden Around LA

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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. It's summer, so once again—with help from our readers—here's the latest version of our secret gardens map of Los Angeles, now with 29 lesser-known sites to explore. There are quiet rooftops, courtyards canopied in spectacular light art, folk art gardens, Japanese gardens galore, and of course the rocky oasis at the police academy. Most are 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!


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1. Union Station

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800 N Alameda St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
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.

2. Biddy Mason Park

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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 nineteenth century Los Angeles. It's lined with a black concrete art wall designed by Sheila Levrant de Bretteville.

3. The Medallion

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334 S Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
M2A Architects designed the mind (and ground) bending park in front of the Medallion rental building in the Old Bank District.

4. Roybal Federal Building

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255 E Temple St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
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.

5. LAPD Headquarters

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100 West 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 486-1000
On top of the restaurant at the new LAPD headquarters sits this circular reflection garden.

6. DoubleTree (formerly the Kyoto Grand)

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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 is still pretty lovely. Just take the elevator to the third floor for a half acre of waterfalls, bamboo, and stone paths.

7. Walt Disney Concert Hall

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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.

8. Amir's Garden

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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 five acres of "pine and jacaranda trees along with rose bushes, geraniums, oleander, and yucca."

9. Virginia Robinson Gardens

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

10. Japanese American Cultural & Community Center

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244 S San Pedro St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
The James Irvine Japanese Garden has a 170 foot long stream that flows down a waterfall and around the entire garden.

11. Japanese Garden

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6100 Woodley Avenue
San Fernando Valley, CA 91406
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."

12. Los Angeles River Center and Gardens

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570 West Avenue 26
Los Angeles, CA 90065
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.

13. Los Angeles Police Academy

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1880 Academy Road
Los Angeles, CA 90012
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.

14. Garden of Oz

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3106 Ledgewood Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90068
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.

15. Wattles Park

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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 in various states of upkeep.

16. Debs Park

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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 barbecue pits). It also has an Audubon Center so you can learn about all the birds that hang around the area.

17. Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens

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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—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.

18. Cascades Park

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700 South Atlantic Boulevard
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Super simple and relaxing, Cascades Park is basically just grass and a long waterfall.

19. Self-Realization Fellowship International Headquarters

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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 HQ, which was built in the late 1800s as the Mt. Washington Inn.

20. Arlington Garden

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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 Pas's only public garden. It has an app too for identifying everything all its plants.

21. Bamboo Charlie's Garden

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East Olympic Boulevard & Rio Vista Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90023
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.

22. Runyon Canyon Rock Mandala

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Artist Robert Wilson created this mandala off the hiking path at Runyon in 2008; he restored it just last month.

23. Museum of Jurassic Technology

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9341 Venice Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
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.

24. UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden

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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.

25. La Casita Del Arroyo

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177 S Arroyo Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91105
La Casita del Arroyo was first 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.

26. “Dividing the Light”

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The Claremont Colleges, East 6th Street & North College Way
Claremont, CA 91711
"Dividing the Light" at Pomona College is one of artist James Turrell's Skyspaces; at dusk and dawn, a lighting program in the small courtyard "bathes the canopy in changing colors, from goldenrod to turquoise, altering the viewer’s perception of the sky."

27. Old Trapper's Lodge

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6201 Winnetka Avenue
Woodland Hills, CA 91371
Tucked by the stables at Pierce College is the Old Trapper's Lodge, built by a man named John Ehn in the 1940s as part of his western-themed motel (the Old Trapper's Lodge). Today it's a landmarked collection of weird Old West art surrounded by trees and trails. Image via J Jakobson

28. Orcutt Ranch

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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 that heavily incorporates the swastika, which to Orcutt in 1926 was just a Native American symbol.

29. Earl B. Miller Japanese Garden

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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."

1. Union Station

800 N Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
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.
800 N Alameda St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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 nineteenth century Los Angeles. It's lined with a black concrete art wall designed by Sheila Levrant de Bretteville.
331 South Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

3. The Medallion

334 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
M2A Architects designed the mind (and ground) bending park in front of the Medallion rental building in the Old Bank District.
334 S Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90013

4. Roybal Federal Building

255 E Temple St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
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.
255 E Temple St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

5. LAPD Headquarters

100 West 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
On top of the restaurant at the new LAPD headquarters sits this circular reflection garden.
100 West 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

6. DoubleTree (formerly the Kyoto Grand)

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 is still pretty lovely. Just take the elevator to the third floor for a half acre of waterfalls, bamboo, and stone paths.
120 S Los Angeles St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

7. Walt Disney Concert Hall

111 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
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.
111 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012

8. 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 five acres of "pine and jacaranda trees along with rose bushes, geraniums, oleander, and yucca."
Griffith Park Drive & Mineral Wells Road
Los Angeles, CA 90027

9. Virginia Robinson Gardens

1008 Elden Way, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
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.
1008 Elden Way
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

10. 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 that flows down a waterfall and around the entire garden.
244 S San Pedro St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

11. Japanese Garden

6100 Woodley Avenue, San Fernando Valley, CA 91406
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."
6100 Woodley Avenue
San Fernando Valley, CA 91406

12. Los Angeles River Center and Gardens

570 West Avenue 26, Los Angeles, CA 90065
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.
570 West Avenue 26
Los Angeles, CA 90065

13. Los Angeles Police Academy

1880 Academy Road, Los Angeles, CA 90012
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.
1880 Academy Road
Los Angeles, CA 90012

14. Garden of Oz

3106 Ledgewood Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068
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.
3106 Ledgewood Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90068

15. 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 in various states of upkeep.
1850 North Curson Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046

16. 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 barbecue pits). It also has an Audubon Center so you can learn about all the birds that hang around the area.
4235 Monterey Road
Los Angeles, CA 90032

17. 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—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.
3500 West Adams Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA

18. Cascades Park

700 South Atlantic Boulevard, Monterey Park, CA 91754
Super simple and relaxing, Cascades Park is basically just grass and a long waterfall.
700 South Atlantic Boulevard
Monterey Park, CA 91754

19. 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 HQ, which was built in the late 1800s as the Mt. Washington Inn.
3880 San Rafael Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90065

20. Arlington Garden

275 Arlington Drive, Pasadena, CA 91105