Hidden Gardens in L.A. You Didn’t Know About (But Should)
Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area
Near where the 405 and the 101 come together sits 2,000 acres of parkland with tennis courts, a velodrome and an archery range. But for those looking to just chill out, you’ll be all about the wildlife preserve where plants and animals run free—just like your mind as you’re meditating during lunch hour.
The Japanese Garden
This six-and-a-half acre beauty in the middle of the bustling San Fernando Valley consists of three gardens in one: a rock garden, a water garden and a tatami mat teahouse surrounded by a tea garden. Admission is $5—a small price to pay for some afternoon zen.
Hermosa Natural Park
Ten and a half acres just northwest of downtown and across the 110 freeway, this little hidden green island in the middle of Echo Park has walking trails, streams and even an amphitheater in a grotto. But the real draw is a park bench perfectly situated for watching the sun go down—and the lights come up—on the DTLA skyline.
Wattles Garden Park
A wealthy Nebraska banker constructed a Hollywood Hills mansion named Julieta in 1909. Today you can stroll the grounds of the manse with its overgrown remains of a Japanese tea house, tumbled stone architectural columns and rose arbors, all blossoming under towering palms along the rolling lawn.
Garden of Oz
In the hills under the Hollywood sign, there’s a super-secret garden that’s open only on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon, with rules against photographing inside the locked gate. So why bother? Because this little terraced area is as much an art project as a green space: Under a canopy of trees, there are concrete walls, steps and platforms inlaid with mosaic tiles, marbles and found objects including toys. It’s basically impossible to be sad in here, so treat yourself to a breezy midday interlude amid outsider art.
Blue Ribbon Garden
This little spot on top of the Walt Disney Concert Hall (featuring a Frank Gehry sculptural fountain) is open to the public, no tickets required. It’s a serene little slice of shade where people speak in hushed tones while the hustle and bustle of downtown fades away.