Welcome to “Field Trip Friday” where I share an idea for a fun outing in nature. The setting is specific, but the advice is intended for use wherever you might call home.
Enjoy an outdoor play date at Descanso Gardens.
To try this adventure outside of the Los Angeles area … Make a play date with friends and take it outside to a botanical garden near you.
I’m thankful for one of my favorite buddies Michele of Fun Orange County Parks, because I know when our kids get together in nature, a grand adventure will be had. I recently shared of our morning at El Dorado Nature Center; earlier this summer we also visited Descanso Gardens.
Descanso is a 160-acre urban retreat featuring gardens, woodlands and chapparel. Even though it doesn’t have a designated children’s garden, our kids discovered plenty of places worth exploring.
There was the Japanese Garden, where each child sought out space to stop for a while and be still. After all, they reminded us, that’s what a Japanese garden is for.
Insider tip: The Japanese Garden is the perfect spot to try a listening walk with little ones or allow older kids to have some space to just be.
There were fish to talk with at the pond, birds to watch for at the lake, a stream to cross, a maze to run through, roses to smell, fairies to keep an eye out for and plenty of spider webs to gawk at.
Insider tip: Instead of trying to see it all, let your kids lead the adventure. You never know where their imaginations might take them.
5 Ways to Connect With Nature at Descanso Gardens
- Play the listening game in the Japanese Garden.
- Search the Rose Garden for fairies and gnomes.
- Do some bird watching at the lake or pond.
- Go on a spider web hunt.
- Play hide and go seek in the Rose Garden.
- Descanso Gardens is a 160-acre urban retreat featuring gardens, woodlands & chapparel. Highlights include the Oak Forest (with its magnificent camellia collection), the Rose Garden, the Boddy House, the Japanese Garden, bird watching at the lake, talking to the fish at the pond & the Children’s Maze
- Descanso Gardens is open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last entry is at 4:30 p.m.); closed Christmas Day
- Admission is $9 for the general public, $6 for seniors and students with IDs, $4 for children 5 through 12; kids 4 and under are FREE
- Food & beverage can be purchased at the Café Descanso; no picnicking allowed
- Descanso Gardens is home to the Enchanted Railroad (a pint-sized train perfect for little explorers) that runs between 10 a.m. & 4 p.m. on weekends; cost is $3 per rider
- Enchanted Railroad schedules are subject to weather & availability; best to call ahead to see if the train is running at (818) 949-4290
- Ample free parking
- Gift shop is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
- Four sets of restrooms available
- Descanso hosts several programs for children & families throughout the year
- Strolling the gardens can get very hot during summer months, so come prepared with sunscreen, a hat & plenty of water
- Grounds are stroller friendly
Descanso Gardens is located at:
1418 Descanso Drive
La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011