Whether you’re an amateur botanist, a backyard gardener, or even just a curious kid, you should beeline to California’s incredibly diverse botanic gardens. These protected oases are often peaceful retreats—and a great way to chill out on a go-go-go vacation. Some gardens are fascinating looks at individual passions, like the underground lair hand-dug by Sicilian immigrant Baldassare Forestiere, or a railroad magnate’s collection of international gardens near Los Angeles. Add one or more of our favorite green gems into your itinerary, listed here north to south, and who knows what you’ll be inspired to do—or grow—back home.
—by Harriot Manley