South Coast Botanic Garden
(Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA)
One of my favorite spots to go walking in something resembling nature near the South Bay. (The other is Madrona Marsh.) Up in the hills, big enough to feel like you could get lost, but not big enough to actually get lost.
The areas near the entrance and the ring road – the rose garden, living wall, butterfly exhibits etc. – are sunny and wheelchair accessible. The interior is less structured, shadier, and cris-crossed with footpaths. Sometimes narrow, sometimes rocky, sometimes hilly, they’re never more than a mild grade. Fun to explore.
A good place to spot small, relatively tame wildlife like rabbits, squirrels, lizards, etc., plus of course birds of all sorts from hummingbirds to hawks. In the right season you can see lots of butterflies.
Several permanent sculptures form a scattered art exhibit, and they often host short-term or seasonal exhibits. There’s usually an informal scavenger hunt for kids who want to comb the botanical gardens looking for the hidden garden gnomes or fairies or whatever the theme is that season.
Sometimes during wet winters and springs there’s a shallow lake in the middle, emptying into a stream. More often it’s dry or, at most, muddy.
You do need to buy tickets ahead of time now. Before COVID you could buy admission at the door, but they started doing timed reservations to keep it from getting too crowded (they never completely closed!) and have kept that going. I haven’t had trouble finding a timeslot since everything opened up, though. These days it’s only really a problem if someone’s holding an event on the day I want to go.
I need to narrow down a handful of representative photos to add here, but in the meantime, you can check out my extensive photo album on Flickr from many visits over the last few years!