Peacocks! Waterfalls! A haunted mansion and so much more! If you have more than 3 days in L. A., don’t miss the beautiful Los Angeles County Arboretum. This mesmerizing botanical garden in Arcadia, is one of the best weekend getaways from Los Angeles.
Where is the Los Angeles County Arboretum?
The historical L.A. County Arboretum is a botanical garden nestled into the hills of the San Gabriel Mountains, in Arcadia (about 20 miles away from Downtown Los Angeles.)
Arboretum sits on a remaining portion of the Rancho Santa Anita, one of the Mexican land grants of Southern California.
A Brief History of the Arboretum
The unusual thing about Rancho Santa Anita is its location: above an aquifer basin. That explains the numerous springs and underground ponds that discovered in the area. Of all these pongs, the only one remaining today is Baldwin Lake.
The presence of water and game created a permanent Indian dwelling in the area, believed to be the place of the Tongva village of Aleupkigna, but the exact location of the village is unknown.
The modern history of the L.A. County Arboretum began in 1875 when Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin, an investor and real estate speculator, purchased Rancho Santa Anita and began constructing its buildings and grounds. Baldwin was a strong influence in the area, building the Santa Anita racetrack, the Oakwood Hotel and ultimately developing Arcadia into a destination resort.
In 1947, California and Los Angeles jointly purchased the 111 acres to create an arboretum around the Baldwin site. They planted trees and developed the grounds over the next several years. In 1956 the Los Angeles County Arboretum opened its gates to the public.
Visiting the Los Angeles County Arboretum
Similar to the next door Huntington Gardens in Pasadena, the plants in the Los Angeles County Arboretum are grouped by geography. You’ll find Australian, Mediterranean, South American, African, and Asiatic-North American plants.
Besides the great variety of gardens, the L.A. Country Arboretum features a Historical Landmark: the Queen Anne Cottage, a significant example of Queen Anne style architecture.
Back in 1885, Baldwin built the cottage for his fourth wife, Lillie Bennett, who later died here of cancer.
Rumor has it that the cottage is haunted. Some claim to have seen the ghosts of Lucky Baldwin and his wife Lillie roaming the rooms. Others claim to have felt odd cooking smells, and seeing strange anomalies walk the gardens at night.
The gardens are also home to a flock of Canada geese and some 200 peacocks which hang around the main entrance area. The peacocks are descendants of the original birds imported by Baldwin from India.
L.A. County Arboretum is one of the best places to visit in Los Angeles. The garden served as the filming location for many movies and television shows, like Jurassic Park, Tarzan and Paradise Island.
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The L.A. County Arboretum offers a great value: for only $9 per adult ($7 for seniors/children) you can enjoy more than 100 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, a tram ride, a waterfall, and a “hunted” mansion.
The tram ride is $5 per seat, but it’s well worth the small charge. The ride includes a 45 minutes narration that introduces you to the gardens and its history.
There is also a small restaurant on the premisses, the Peacock Café, that offers fairly priced food and drinks, so you can spend an entire day at the Arboretum without going hungry.
I visited many times as a child and was enchanted. Two years ago we were disappointed as the lagoon was nearly dried up! Have they been able to restore it? I don’t recall a waterfall.
Unfortunately because of the drought that we are experiencing lately, the lagoon almost dried up.
Well… I thought the cottage was lovely and that I’d love to stay there until you mentioned it might be haunted.. yikes! It’s sooo cute though! I’d love to spend my day there at the gardens, botanical gardens are absolutely beautiful and such interesting places to visit!
Yea, it seems nobody likes the “haunting” part… ha, ha, ha. Arboretum is o beautiful, you should definitely visit it if you have a chance.
I love botanical gardens! 😀 One of the best I’ve ever seen is in Hamburg, Germany. The second best is in Munich. If you have the chance to go, do it! 🙂
Beth at Adventuring the Great Wide Somewhere
Haunted or not, that cottage is gorgeous! I may need to add this to my list for my third trip to Los Angeles (whenever that may be)!
I was thinking the Queen Anne cottage is beautiful and I’d love to live there, until you said it’s haunted. No, thank you, haha! Gorgeous pictures, Anda!
Thank you Vlad. No, I don’t think you’d love to live in Queen Anne cottage, but you’d surely love to visit the gardens. They are beautiful.
Dean @ La Vida Global
I had never heard mention of this place before. As a Travel Agent I send a lot of people from Australia to, or through, Los Angeles. Thanks to you I now have something a bit different to tell my clients that may be interested in something quieter than a theme park.
Glad I could be of some help, Dean. Los Angeles Arboretum is not far from the downtown and it’s really beautiful.
What a lovely place to visit – I can see why it’s been used for so many films too. Gorgeous
We love travelling in the US. It has such a diverse range of scenery and Americans are so welcoming. I don’t think we have ever been to the Arboretum. It’s on my list now for next time we visit L.A.
I’m glad you like it here, Lyn. Hope you’ll have a pleasant visit next time you are in L.A.