Descanso Gardens Tulip Flower

Descanso Gardens | All in One Guide

Are you ready to jump on a journey through a botanical wonderland? Descanso Gardens awaits you with open arms, promising an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It spreads across 150 acres of natural beauty landscape in the heart of La Cañada Flintridge, California.

If you’re a nature enthusiast, a photography lover, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, Descanso Gardens offers something for everyone. Let’s explore the beauty and wonders of this botanical paradise.


Originally part of Rancho del Descanso, a sprawling estate dating back to the 1930s, Descanso Gardens was established by Manchester Boddy, a newspaper publisher and horticulturist. Boddy transformed the estate into a botanical wonderland, showcasing his passion for gardening and conservation.

Location & Directions:

Descanso Gardens Direction

Descanso Gardens is conveniently located in the picturesque city of La Cañada Flintridge, nestled within the verdant foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California. Its address is 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011. You can easily get there by car or public metro.

By Car: If you’re traveling by car, Descanso Gardens is easily accessible from major highways and thoroughfares. From the I-210 freeway, take the Angeles Crest Highway exit and head south onto Angeles Crest Highway. After approximately half a mile, turn left onto Descanso Drive. Follow Descanso Drive for about 1.5 miles, and you’ll arrive at the entrance to Gardens on your left.

By Public Transportation: For those utilizing public transportation, Descanso Gardens is accessible via the Metro Gold Line. From Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, board the Gold Line train toward Sierra Madre Villa Station. Disembark at the Memorial Park Station in Pasadena and transfer to the Metro Local Bus 3/4 towards La Cañada Flintridge. Exit the bus at Foothill Boulevard and Angeles Crest Highway, then walk south on Angeles Crest Highway for approximately 10 minutes until you reach Descanso Gardens.


Descanso Gardens offers plenty of parking for free located near the entrance, providing easy access for visitors. The parking area offers ample space for vehicles of all sizes, including cars, vans, and buses. Visitors can park their vehicles in designated parking spots marked with clear signage. Parking attendants are available to assist visitors and ensure smooth traffic flow.

During peak hours, It’s recommended to arrive early to secure a parking spot. Accessible parking spaces are available for visitors with disabilities, located close to the entrance for convenience. Descanso Gardens encourages carpooling and eco-friendly transportation options to reduce traffic and carbon emissions. After parking, visitors can easily access the garden entrance and begin their exploration of the botanical wonders awaiting them. Remember they don’t have any electronic charging stations in their parking lots.

Operating Hours:

Descanso Gardens is open to visitors daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The gardens are open every day throughout the year round except December 25. It offers a serene escape into nature’s embrace, allowing guests to explore its wonders throughout the day. Whether you’re an early riser seeking a peaceful morning stroll or a late afternoon wanderer chasing the golden hour, Descanso Gardens welcomes you with open arms.

Admission Fees:

To experience the Descanso Gardens, you’ve to buy tickets. There are two types of admission fees available here. If you are local or want to stroll early in the morning daily, you should get a membership of the gardens. But, if you are there for a holiday getaway get a general admission. Remember they don’t allow cash payments at all. The admission fees are as follows:

General Admission:

General (ages 13-64): $15.00

Seniors (ages 65 and over) and Students (with ID): $11.00

Children (ages 5-12): $5.00

Children (under 5): Free


There are 6 types of membership options at Descanso Gardens. All the admissions have an early 8 am access and member-only classes and events opportunities for one year. You’ll get presale access and discounts for Carved, Enchanted Forest of Light, and other events. It’s under reciprocal free admission through the Reciprocal Admissions program of the American Horticulture Society at 300+ gardens. They charge $70 for single, $80 for dual, $75 for the senior duel, $99 for family, $195 for family and friends, $500 for nature lovers, and $1000+ for Perennial Circle membership. Join their membership club by clicking the link.

Attractions of Descanso Gardens:

Descanso Gardens offers a variety of attractions to captivate visitors of all ages. Stroll through the enchanting Rose Garden, where vibrant blooms perfume the air with their sweet fragrance. Explore the serene Japanese Garden, complete with tranquil ponds and winding pathways. Marvel at the majestic Oak Forest, home to towering trees and native wildlife.

Discover seasonal delights in the Camellia Forest, where delicate blossoms adorn the landscape in shades of pink and white. Don’t miss the Ancient Forest, a tranquil oasis featuring centuries-old trees and lush greenery. With something to enchant every visitor, Descanso Gardens promises a delightful journey through nature’s wonders. Here are the must-see attractions you definitely love:

Rose Garden:

Rose Garden Photo at Descanso Gardens

The Rose Garden at Descanso Gardens is a breathtaking sight to behold. With over 1,600 varieties of roses, it’s a paradise for flower enthusiasts. Walking through the garden is like entering a fragrant wonderland. Each rose variety boasts its own unique color, shape, and fragrance, creating a sensory feast for visitors.

Bees and butterflies flutter among the blossoms, adding to the garden’s charm. Benches scattered throughout the garden offer tranquil spots to sit and soak in the beauty. Throughout the year, the Rose Garden is a kaleidoscope of colors, with different varieties blooming in succession.

Whether it’s a romantic stroll or a leisurely afternoon outing, the Rose Garden never fails to captivate. Photography enthusiasts will find endless opportunities to capture stunning shots amid the sea of roses. The garden’s serene ambiance makes it a popular spot for weddings, engagements, and special occasions. With its timeless beauty and romantic allure, the Rose Garden is truly a jewel within Descanso Gardens.

This is the best rose garden I have seen in the USA. I think It’s even better than the rose garden at Huntington. The color pallet is very dramatic to mix with other plants. If you visit this garden in the spring, it’ll be more than worthy you expect.

Japanese Garden:

Descanso Gardens | Japanese Garden

The Japanese Garden at Descanso Gardens is a tranquil oasis filled with serene beauty. As you enter, you’re greeted by meticulously manicured landscapes and peaceful ponds. The garden features traditional Japanese elements like bonsai trees, stone lanterns, and a charming teahouse. Winding pathways lead you through lush greenery, inviting you to wander and explore at your leisure.

Cherry blossom trees add a touch of ephemeral beauty, particularly stunning in the springtime. Koi fish gracefully swim in the clear waters of the ponds, adding to the sense of harmony and tranquility. Visitors often find themselves captivated by the Zen-like atmosphere, perfect for quiet contemplation and meditation. Stone bridges offer picturesque views of the garden, allowing you to pause and take in the scenery.

Throughout the year, the Japanese Garden hosts cultural events and activities, celebrating the rich heritage of Japanese gardening and design. Whether you’re seeking solace or inspiration, a visit to the Japanese Garden at Descanso Gardens is sure to rejuvenate the soul. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the beauty of this enchanting retreat.

Camellia Forest:

Camellia Forest at Descanso Gardens

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat, a picturesque backdrop, or just a place to reconnect with the natural world, Camellia Forest in Descanso Park offers an unforgettable experience for a place where time seems to stand still and its beauty in the natural world takes precedence.

A stroll through the forest will take you through the stunning camel trees known for their vibrant flowers and bright green foliage these timeless flowers come in colors of pink, yellow, and white, creating a striking array of colors.

It provides many opportunities to capture the delicate beauty of this beautiful flower. You can walk winding paths surrounded by tall trees and dappled sunlight breaking through the branches. The soothing sounds of rustling leaves and birds chirping add to the peacefulness of this natural oasis.

At the peak of the blooming season, usually late winter to early spring, the camellia bush bursts with all colors, creating a magical spectacle that delights the senses When the garden comes alive the energy of it is on warmth resulting from natural renewal.

Oak Woodland:

Oak Woodland Photo

Descanso Gardens’ Oak Woodland is one stunning spot with majestic oak trees and indigenous plants. As you walk into the woods, the sound of leaves rustling quietly and earthy fragrance pervades your nostrils. The lofty oaks offer coolness and refuge creating an unruffled atmosphere for people to discover. When walking beside the curving trail, you will stumble upon numerous kinds of vegetation and animals including very small wildflowers or tweeting birds. On the floor of the forest, there are dappled shadows that are cast by sunlight streaming through the canopy.

The place is a paradise for wildlife with squirrels rushing among the trees and butterflies flitting over them. Several benches can be found underneath these oaks where one can sit down in silence to meditate or watch birds fly by. The signs give readers background information on how essential oak woodlands are in California’s ecosystem. Other issues like how they were valued culturally by natives as well as early settlers can also be learned here. There is a preservation project going on that will ensure future generations have enjoyed this significant habitat.

Visiting Descanso Gardens’ Oak Woodland provides a chance to escape from city life into a peaceful natural environment. Whether taking a leisurely walk or just looking around, Descanso Garden’s Oak Woodland is beautiful and peaceful to move around within its vast compound.

Lilac Garden:

Lilac Garden Photo

The Lilac Garden at Descanso Gardens is a breathtaking oasis filled with the delicate fragrance and vibrant colors of lilac flowers. It’s a serene retreat within the larger botanical paradise, offering visitors a peaceful escape surrounded by nature’s beauty. The garden features a diverse collection of lilac varieties. It showcases hues ranging from soft lavender to deep purple. You can stroll along winding pathways lined with lilac bushes, marveling at the intricate blooms and lush foliage.

Springtime is the best season to visit the Lilac Garden when the flowers are in full bloom, filling the air with their sweet perfume. The garden’s tranquil atmosphere makes it an ideal spot for relaxation and contemplation, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Benches scattered throughout the garden provide perfect resting spots for visitors to soak in the beauty of their surroundings.

The Lilac Garden also serves as a popular backdrop for photography enthusiasts, offering stunning vistas and picturesque settings. Whether you’re a nature lover, a photography enthusiast, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, the Lilac Garden at Descanso Gardens is a must-visit destination. Take a stroll through this fragrant paradise and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature’s bounty.

Body House:

Body House Photo at Descanso Gardens

Boddy House, nestled within Descanso Gardens, reflects E. Manchester Boddy’s vision. In 1937. Boddy, owner of the Los Angeles Daily News, commissioned architect James E. Dolena, renowned as the “architect to the stars,” to design a stunning mansion. Dolena’s Hollywood Regency style resulted in a 12,000-square-foot, two-story residence with 22 rooms. It offered panoramic views of its hillside location of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Dolena incorporated cutting-edge features like steel framing and a built-in stereo system. In 1953, Boddy sold the estate to Los Angeles County. The Descanso Gardens Guild, a volunteer group, emerged to enhance the estate. Through their efforts, the Boddy House remains a testament to architectural excellence, embodying timeless beauty and rich history. Today, visitors are captivated by its charm and the legacy of Boddy and Dolena.

Train Rides:

It’s exciting to ride a train journey in Descanso Gardens. This is an approximately 6-minute ride operating daily from 9:30 am to 4 pm. For this cute train ride, you have to buy a ticket from their visitor center on the day of your ride. It costs $5 per individual ticket.

If you already get the ticket, it’s time to ride the delightful journey along the scenic route near The Promenade, covering approximately a quarter-mile of track. Their charming model chugs along at a leisurely 4 mph, offering a delightful experience for visitors of all ages. Please note: the Enchanted Railroad doesn’t operate in rainy weather. You’ll find a magical ride under clear skies.


Photography at Descanso Gardens

With its stunning landscapes and diverse plant life, Descanso Gardens offers endless opportunities for photographers to capture breathtaking images. From macro shots of blooming flowers to sweeping vistas of rolling hills, every corner of the gardens presents a unique and inspiring subject. But remember that they have strict rules & regulations regarding photography permission. They cost a significant charge for all types of photography inside the gardens. But you can take some photos of the trees and shops for free.

Remember to stay on designated paths and avoid trampling delicate plants for the perfect shot. Photography enthusiasts will appreciate the garden’s picturesque settings and diverse flora, making Descanso Gardens a photographer’s paradise. So grab your camera and capture the magic of nature at Descanso Gardens today!

Food Options:

At Descanso Gardens, visitors can enjoy a variety of food options to satisfy their hunger after exploring the beautiful gardens. The Descanso Café offers a delightful selection of sandwiches, salads, and soups made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. For those craving a sweet treat, the café also serves delicious pastries and desserts.

Additionally, visitors can opt for a picnic amidst the scenic beauty of the gardens, with designated picnic areas. Don’t forget to grab a refreshing beverage to quench your thirst, whether it’s a cup of freshly brewed coffee or a chilled lemonade to cool off on a warm day.

The Market:

Descanso Gardens Gift Shop Photo

Descanso Gardens Market located in the Descanso Courtyard is a charming spot nestled within the verdant landscape of the gardens. You can explore a variety of stalls offering artisanal goods, fresh produce, and gourmet treats. Locals showcase their handcrafted wares, from jewelry and pottery to homemade jams and baked goods.

The market buzzes with activity as guests browse through the vibrant displays and sample delicious offerings. Live music adds to the lively atmosphere, creating a festive ambiance for shoppers to enjoy. Families can delight in activities such as face painting and balloon art, making it a fun outing for all ages. It is a delightful place to shop, dine, and connect with the community. Be sure to visit during your next trip to the gardens for a memorable shopping experience. The market opens at 11 am and closes at 5 pm daily.

Unique FAQs

Can I bring my dog to Descanso Gardens?

No, dogs are not allowed in the gardens. But you can bring service animals with proper documentation.

Are there any guided tours available?

Yes, Descanso Gardens offers guided tours led by knowledgeable docents, providing insight into the gardens’ history, flora, and conservation efforts.

Is Descanso Gardens wheelchair accessible?

Yes, the gardens are wheelchair accessible, with paved pathways and designated parking areas for visitors with disabilities. They always recommend their guests bring their own wheelchairs.

Are there any age restrictions for attending events at Descanso Gardens?

Most events at Descanso Gardens are suitable for all ages, but some may have specific age restrictions or recommendations. Check the event details for more information.

Can I host a private event or wedding at Descanso Gardens?

Yes, Descanso Gardens offers a variety of venues for private events, including weddings, corporate gatherings, and special celebrations. Contact the events team for more information.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Scroll to Top