Climb into the Berkeley Hills to visit the University of California Botanical Garden, a dramatic 34-acre research garden and museum. Shaded by soaring (and native) coast redwoods, the site, which belongs to the University of California at Berkeley, lets you follow winding paths to see naturalistic landscapes that are organized geographically into nine regions worldwide, including at least one from every continent except Antarctica. (Here’s a map; you can see what will be in bloom during your visit here.)
Start your explorations just inside the entrance amidst the flora of Southern Africa, and a short stroll north will take you to Asia, Australasia, South America, and the Mediterranean. Bend back around and you’ll pass through Mexico and Central America, Eastern North America, California, and finally the deserts of the Americas. There’s also a large section that features Chinese medicinal plants, an herb garden, and a greenhouse featuring such unusual plants such as “living stone” succulents. In total, more than 13,000 plant species, including rare and endangered plants, are here, making it one of the most diverse landscapes in the world. Throughout the grounds, there are benches, lawns, and shaded areas that welcome relaxation; distant views of the San Francisco skyline make the experience all the more magical.
Make sure to swing by Julia Morgan Hall, a rustic, wood-sided structure laboriously moved to the site from its original location on campus, and named in honor of its architect. Now overlooking the garden’s California native plant collection, the simple cottage-like building is a polar opposite to Morgan’s best-known and arguably most lavish project: Hearst Castle along the Central Coast.
Know before you go: Visit the garden’s events page to see what’s on the calendar in the coming months; at the Garden Shop + Plant Deck visitors can pick up garden-related gifts. Reservations, which can be made online, are required to enter the gardens.