Explore California—or at least its plants—with a visit to this expansive site. The largest botanic garden focusing solely on the Golden State’s native plants, the site functions not only as a welcome retreat on the northeast side of Los Angeles County, but also as an important research and educational facility—and a terrific place for inspiration if you want to add California natives to your garden. Conservation of critically endangered plants is a big part of the garden’s mission, and it now protects a number of them that barely survive in the wild, such as Catalina mountain-mahogany (less than a dozen individual plants remain in a secluded valley on Santa Catalina Island).
Explore the grounds on your own, or take a guided tram tour. In about one hour, you’ll learn about plant communities from the California coast to the state’s southeastern border in the Mojave Desert. Check the calendar for free walks for beginning birders, and wildflower walks in spring (typically weekends, late March to early May).