The 8 Most Beautiful Parks and Gardens in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is home to some of the world’s most famous attractions and prettiest urban parks and gardens.

Last updated: May 23, 2024

Urban parks and gardens in Los Angeles | Roads and Destinations
The best parks and gardens in Los Angeles: Echo Park Lake. Photo by Gerson Repreza (unsplash)

Reconnect with Nature in the City

Oh, this heat… I’ve heard this phrase countless times. With temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit most of the summer days, Los Angeles doesn’t feel like a destination where you want to go from place to place and explore the city. You long to be by the ocean or in a park, sheltered from the oppressive heat by alluring tree canopy.

Luckily, there is no shortage of lush parks and secluded gardens in the Greater Los Angeles Area. With more than 180 little natural paradises, the city lets you connect with nature and do a little forest-bathing session day after day. And while the urban parks and gardens in Los Angeles look especially enticing during the hottest season, you can walk, hike, ride a bicycle or row a boat, and even climb some rocky outcroppings here throughout the year.

To steer you in the right direction, here are some of the most beautiful urban parks and gardens in Los Angeles and the neighboring cities you may want to explore.

Parks and gardens in Los Angeles | Roads and Destinations
Lake Balboa Park. Photo by Circe Denyer | The best parks in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles


1. Los Angeles County Arboretum

Address: 301 N Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007

We first went to the Los Angeles County Arboretum, a lush urban park and botanic garden, not to escape the scorching Southern California heat, but to gaze at graceful peacocks. More than 200 peafowls meander at the Arboretum, showcasing their extravagant tails and occasionally asking for a treat.

Farther away from the entrance, the Los Angeles County Arboretum amuses its guests with a number of distinctive gardens. On one side of the paved pathway, you can find a large collection of succulents. Right across from it, mini parks with Australian eucalyptuses and African aloes and dragon trees add a different vibe to the common LA’s sights.

If you are looking for a secluded park near Los Angeles to spend a quiet afternoon with a book, head to the far end of the Arboretum. Here nestled next to the charming Queen Anne Cottage, Baldwin Lake shared the serenity with the towering trees.

Chasing peacocks in Los Angeles | Roads and Destinations
Los Angeles County Arboretum | Best urban parks and gardens in LA

2. Lake Shrine and Meditation Gardens at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine

Address: 17190 Sunset Blvd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

One of the most undisturbed parks of Los Angeles is tucked away in the Hills of Pacific Palisades a few blocks away from the Pacific Ocean. A part of the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine, the lake with the surrounding Meditation Gardens is the epitome of peace and serenity.

You can hardly hear any loud talking, running, or screaming here. Only gurgling man-made waterfalls and swans swimming in the lake disturb the tranquility of the area. No other parks or gardens in the Los Angeles area will leave you as refreshed and relaxed as this hidden gem on the outskirts of Malibu.

The best urban parks and gardens in Los Angeles | Roads and Destinations
Lake Shrine | Parks and gardens in Los Angeles

3. Echo Park Lake

Address: Echo Park, Los Angeles, California

Beautiful all year round, Echo Park Lake near downtown Los Angeles transforms into a fairytale destination in summer when lotus blooms. The big flowers unfold in the water so close to each other that it seems like an Asian floral blanket covers the lake. Rent a pedal boat and get closer to the plants to linger in their delicate aroma.

Another reason you may want to add Echo Park Lake into the category of your favorite parks in Los Angeles is its close proximity to downtown. Located less than two miles away, the towering buildings of the business district create a beautiful, contrasting backdrop for the green lawns and glistering lake of the area. So if you look for the best views of Los Angeles, it’s one of the places you want to check out.

Echo Park Lake | Roads and Destinations
Echo Park Lake. Photo by Anthony Bautista (unsplash) | LA’s urban parks and gardens

4. Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

Address: Earl Warren Dr, Long Beach, CA 90840

Located about 30 miles south of Echo Park Late, the Earl Burns Japanese Garden is one of the smallest Asian sites in the Los Angeles region. The charming little park with a lake finds its home on the campus of California State University, Long Beach. Surrounded by abundant greenery, it’s a beautiful place to relax, take a short walk, or watch large koi fish gliding through the refreshing lake water.

Sparkling waterfalls and arched bridges add a finishing touch to the garden and make it one of the most enchanting urban parks in Los Angeles.

TIP: The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden is often used for photoshoots. Yet make sure to book the site well in advance.

Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden | Roads and Destinations
Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden | Best urban parks and gardens in Los Angeles


I am a big fan of going places, exploring, discovering, taking trips, traveling… You name it. And yet there are days when being stuck in traffic doesn’t look appealing (I-405 can literally drain your energy). That’s when I’m more than pleased to discover and rediscover the prettiest parks and gardens in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles.

5. Lake Balboa Park

Lake Balboa Park is one of the favorite parks in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. The park was named after a huge man-made lake, known as Lake Balboa. A narrow, paved path runs along the shore, providing an excellent opportunity for jogging and walking. Ample picnic tables, set a little bit farther away from the water, attract families and are venues for occasional outdoor parties.

Those who prefer water activities can rent pedal boats and enjoy Lake Balboa from “inside”. Rental bikes and surreys offer the same leg-stretching opportunities, but on solid ground. For small kids, time stops at a children’s playground. Be aware, though, you will have a hard time to make them want to leave this little gem within one of the favorite parks in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles.

Lake Balboa Park | Roads and Destinations
When the sun goes down in Lake Balboa Park | Parks in Los Angeles

6. Woodley Park

Lake Balboa Park and Woodley Park are two sections of the 2,000-acre Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area.

Woodley Park is another favorite park enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Here you can find archery with free beginner classes (no equipment needed, you can borrow everything here for free). Apart from it, Woodley Park is home to an off-leash dog park, the Japanese Garden, and an outdoor area to fly your model airplane.

Asian Destinations in Los Angeles | Roads and Destinations
The Japanese Garden | Parks in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles

7. The Japanese Garden of the San Fernando Valley

Nestled in the heart of the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, the beautiful Japanese Garden, known as Suiho-en or “Garden of Water and Fragrance”, combines traditional Japanese gardening principles with the local environment.

The Garden consists of three sections: Dry Zen Meditation Garden, Water Garden, and Tea Garden. True to Japanese culture, each element of the garden represents some divine qualities and objects. So, for example, Tortoise Island in the Dry Garden is a symbol of longevity. Weeping Willow Tree exemplifies a kind, loving, bending female. The opposite of the Weeping Willow, Black Pine, is a symbol of a warlike, strong, unbending male.

The Water Garden is absolutely stunning during the summer months when water lilies and lotus flowers, two symbols of enlightenment, are in full bloom. You will see many bamboo sprouts and water basins in the Tea Garden, which, according to the Japanese traditions, are meant for guests to purify themselves before entering the Teahouse.

Last but not least, you want to walk across the Heavenly Floating Bridge. According to a Japanese creation myth, it lies between heaven and earth.

Mission of the Garden: The main mission of the Japanese Garden in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles is to teach its visitors about the importance of water reuse and recycling. All water used here comes from reclaimed wastewater.

8. Stoney Point Park: One of the Most Interesting Parks in Los Angeles

Named “the most picturesque park” in Los Angeles, Stoney Point Park is a rocky outcroppings area in the rugged hills of the San Fernando Valley. The place is unlike any other parks you’ve seen in LA before.

Large boulders cluster together to create a rocky mountain. A number of secluded hiking trails snake around the mount and meander toward the top, where astounding views of the surrounding areas open up. And at the foot of this peculiar park-mountain lies a horse riding center that offers lessons for all riding levels (ages 5 and up).

Stoney Point Park, Los Angeles | Roads and Destinations
Stoney Point Park | Parks and gardens in Los Angeles


  1. Joyce
    August 31, 2016 / 7:26 am

    I’m from LA but haven’t explored the San Fernando Valley much yet! Thanks for sharing this Japanese garden, it looks amazing, I really want to visit. Love your pics!

    • Zhanna
      August 31, 2016 / 6:41 pm

      It is a very beautiful place. I am sure you will have good time there. Check their website before going because they might be closed due to holidays or weather conditions.

  2. Aisha
    November 23, 2016 / 5:18 pm

    Its very well written

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