Founded in 1948, this 127-acre botanical park is a treat for travelers, local botany buffs and bird lovers—countless peacocks and pea hens roam the grounds, a “gift” from La Cañada, which donated some of the imported birds after they’d taken care of the town’s rattlesnake problem.
Once part of Mission San Gabriel’s vast acreage, this land was deeded during the Mexicano period to Hugo Reid, a Scot with Mexican citizenship who was married to Victoria, a Gabrielina. Their sturdy adobe rancho and outdoor kitchen cira 1840 are still here, facing a re-created Tongva tent cluster. The next owner was free-wheeling Southern California real estate baron Lucky Baldwin, and the house he built for his 16-year old third wife stands across from the Tongva residence. Harry Chandler, former owner of the Los Angeles Times, was the land’s final owner, before the county purchased it.
The Arboretum is as much about education as it is about pretty grounds. Partnered with Sunset magazine and the Cal State system, it has demonstration gardens, including the totally cool Spiny Forest of Madagascar, African and cactus collections, flowering springtime cherries, a horticulture library with 20,000 titles and a knowledgeable and helpful librarian (what a concept!), a comprehensive lecture and continuing-ed series featuring Lili Singer and friends, the Art-in-the-Garden events, a plant hotline and a fabulous website. And mark your calendar for the ever-expanding L.A. Garden Show each May.
Surrounding Baldwin Lake (the setting for the Tarzan movies and the leeches scene from the African Queen) are 90 species of palms and will-labeled plants fill the desert garden.
301 N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia
Adults $8, seniors & students $6, kids $3, kids under 5 free