Huntington Botanical Gardens
Exotic varieties take a back seat to native blooms on a garden stroll at Huntington Botanical Gardens near Pasadena. Towering yuccas and cacti are current favorites on the 207-acre property with fourteen nipped and tucked gardens. Head for the 10-acre Desert Garden where hundreds of Golden Barrel Cacti resemble massive, round pincushions with yellow buds—some weighing several hundred pounds! The whip-like Ocotillo plant is identifiable by its thin branches with red lobe flowers that appear in clusters at the tip. Yuccas dominate the garden's lower side, with some California natives reaching 60 feet. Meander to the palm trees, one of the broadest representations of its species in the state. The California Fan Palm is the only native palm to Southern California (not to be confused with the Canary Island date palms that frequent many Los Angeles boulevards). For a splash of international flair, visit the gardens containing Australian eucalypti and manicured bonsai trees.

BONUS: Relax at the Chinese Tea Room and sample traditional Silver Dragon Jasmine tea while overlooking the Liu Fang Yuan (loosely translated: "Garden of Flowering Fragrance"). Outdoor seating overlooks a pond and gondolas designed in authentic detail.

Take the I-110 Freeway until it ends in Pasadena and becomes Arroyo Pkwy. Continue on Arroyo for 3 traffic signals to California Blvd. Turn right on California and right again at a traffic signal on Allen Ave. Follow for two blocks to the Huntington Botanical Garden’s Gate. Entry is $20 on weekends for adults, $10 for students with ID, and free for children under 5. Parking is free. Open 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends. Complimentary guided tours are offered every weekend between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. for the flora curious. No dogs.