SoCal Botanical Gardens & Nature Centers That Are Open Now
Visiting a botanical garden while social distancing is a great way to get outside. Many gardens have reopened and are following all necessary precautions. If you plan on visiting one of these nature destinations, be sure to read up on their safety guidelines and reserve tickets early, as many places are limiting the number of visitors per day.
Note: Information is updated as of 11/20/20. As changes can happen unexpectedly, we recommend contacting the business directly for the most current COVID-19 updates.
At 1,449 acres, the Bolsa Chica Wetlands is one of the largest saltwater marshes in Southern California. Approximately five miles of trails can be explored from sunrise to sunset. Live animal feedings happen every Saturday at noon. Spaces are very limited. Guests interested in attending the feeding must register online.
A 150-acre urban retreat of botanical collections and seasonal horticultural displays. Collections include California native plants, 5-acre Rose Garden, Japanese Garden with a koi-filled stream and teahouse, camellia collection, Oak Forest, an Ancient Forest with plants from the days of dinosaurs and so much more.
COVID-19 Update: Tickets are limited to preserve safe distancing. All non-members must buy tickets online in advance. No tickets will be sold at the garden. All November tickets will be released at 10 a.m. on Monday, October 26. All December tickets will be released at 10 a.m. on Monday, November 30. Visit their website for updates and to purchase tickets.
Covering 105 acres with two miles of dirt trails and a 1/4 mile paved trail wind around two lakes, a stream and forested areas. At the entrance, cross over the wooden bridge that spans the lake and you’ll find yourself on a small island that houses the Visitor Center, containing educational displays, art gallery and a small gift shop offering environmentally-themed books and gifts.
COVID-19 Update: Guests should engage in physical distancing measures and wear a face covering while in close contact with other people on the trails and when entering the park. Follow their social media for current updates.
This 120-acre botanical collection contains more than a dozen garden areas including the Japanese Garden, Chinese Garden, Dinosaur Plants, Rose Garden, Conservatory and more. Their unique Children’s Garden features interactive sculptural elements. Kids are encouraged to splash in water, make music with pebbles, dance under rainbows, discover fairy doors, and more.
COVID-19 Update: The Huntington is beginning a phased reopening; the gardens are now open (galleries remain closed). All visitors, including members must reserve tickets online in advance. See safety guidelines and updates here.
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park lies within some of the last remaining coastal canyons in Southern California. Forty miles of trails lead the visitor through oak and sycamore woodlands and up onto ridges with expansive scenic vistas. Rocky bluffs tower above the canyon trails.
COVID-19 Update: Trails are open, but the Nix Nature Center is closed. Parking lots and restrooms are open. See current updates here.
A 127-acre botanical garden and historical site that includes Native American, Rancho Period, and late 19th century treasures. Kids can also become Agents of Discovery, through an augmented reality educational app designed to encourage outdoor exploration and learning.
COVID-19 Update: Tickets are limited and must be purchased online in advance. Tickets are not available at the door. All indoor spaces including library and gift shop are closed until further notice. Classes, events, and tours are suspended for now. See safety guidelines here.
A 58-acre natural park consisting of three adjoining canyons and four miles of hiking trails. Also located on site is the John J. Collier Interpretive Center, a small museum with live animal and regional natural history exhibits.
Rancho Los Cerritos is a historic site that includes an 1844 adobe home, lush gardens, and rotating exhibits. Visit the California Native Garden and the Orchard, where you can find fruit trees that have been on site since the 1840s.
COVID-19 Update: Reservations available online. Walk-ins are welcome on a space-available basis.
Rancho Los Alamitos is a historic site and has been home to diverse cultures for over 1,500 years. It includes a ranch house (ca. 1790-1933), four acres of lush historic gardens, an interpretive center, and a restored barnyard with livestock including horses, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, and rabbits.
COVID-19 Update: Reserve a free ticket for a 60-minute, self-guided tour of the gardens and barnyard. The Ranch House and Rancho Center are temporarily closed and docent-led tours are not available at this time.
This 87-acre Botanic Garden has more than 2,500 different species of plants. Popular features include a small lake, Rose Garden, Cactus Garden, Japanese Garden and more.
COVID-19 Update: The garden remains open daily. Both members and ticket-buyers require advance online reservations. The Greenhouse is closed through the end of 2020. The Desert Garden, Banyan Grove and Bohannon Rose Garden will have limited access through the duration of their upcoming light exhibit, GLOW.
Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve represent approximately 1,000 acres of open space. The Ecological Reserve is one of the largest coastal wetlands in Southern California and is home to rare and endangered bird species.
COVID-19 Update: The interpretive center is currently closed. Parking lots and restrooms are open. See updates here.