Thriving on land that once was the site of an orange grove, the Fullerton Aboretum, on the north end of the Cal State Fullerton campus, is the largest botanical garden in Orange County. Developed with huge input and fundraising from CSU Fullerton students, the arboretum is a lovely place to stroll among more than 4,000 plants, and watch ducks and turtles navigate their way around the garden’s ponds and streams. Visit collections devoted to woodland, desert, and Mediterranean plant species, as well as extensive cultivated gardens, an orchard, and a wildflower section. No reservations are needed for a DIY tour (ask about the location of a hidden redwood grove), though groups of five or more are recommended to have one so the garden can better accommodate. Private at-your-own-pace guided tours for groups of five or more are available.
If you’re feeling more energetic, there are a number of recurring public guided tours to be experienced. On weekdays, there are nature tours lasting an hour and a half, or visit the 1894 Heritage House, a tidy Victorian-era cottage open Tuesday-Thursday and on weekends. It once housed a medical practice, so visitors to the restored interior get an idea of what a visit to the doctor was like in the late 19th century; docents dressed in period attire add to the experience. Explore the arboretum’s secret trails and take in stories and folklore shared by your guide on public nature tours, offered on the second and fourth Saturday mornings of each month.
Know before you go: Familiarize yourself with the grounds before visiting with this map. There is no charge to enter the arboretum, but a five-dollar donation is recommended.