Now more than ever, it's important to set aside time in your routine for self-care. From Asian gardens to labyrinths, outdoor spaces across Los Angeles offer urban sanctuaries for visitors to take a break and recharge their spiritual batteries. Book your reservations today and enjoy the best places in LA to find your moment of zen.
The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens
Founded in 1919, The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens is world-renowned as a cultural, research and educational center. The Botanical Gardens at The Huntington feature more than a dozen specialized gardens spanning 120 acres, including the California Garden, Children's Garden, Desert Garden and Rose Garden.
Completed in 1912, the iconic Japanese Garden features a stroll garden with moon bridge and koi ponds; the historic Japanese House, ceremonial teahouse and famed bonsai collection. Modeled on the temple gardens of Japan, the Zen Court has patterns raked into gravel, rock formations, and shrubbery that symbolize water, space, and movement. In another court, visitors are invited to touch the suiseki (viewing stones).
Designed to promote the rich traditions of Chinese culture, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance (Liu Fang Yuan) is one of the largest classical-style Chinese gardens in the world. In October 2020, a highly-anticipated expansion added 11.5 acres of additional landscape, new pavilions, and a display of penjing (similar to Japanese bonsai). Guests can experience the centuries-old Chinese tradition of private scholars’ gardens by meditating in a pavilion, pausing near a flowing stream, or reading the poetry that fills the garden.
Kyoto Gardens at DoubleTree by Hilton Los Angeles Downtown
Located in Little Tokyo, the DoubleTree by Hilton Los Angeles Downtown features the half-acre Kyoto Gardens, a lush rooftop sanctuary with cascading waterfalls and tranquil ponds. Kyoto Gardens is a meticulous recreation of an ancient Japanese Garden in Tokyo that was originally established for the 16th Century samurai lord Kiyomasa Kato, and became an oasis for residents of the city.
Japanese Garden at Descanso Gardens
Located in La Cañada Flintridge, the 160-acre Descanso Gardens was originally developed in 1936 by newspaper magnate Elias Manchester Boddy, whose numerous interests included horticulture and politics. Descanso Gardens offers numerous areas for exploring, including a bird sanctuary, five-acre rosarium, water-wise garden, Oak Woodland, California garden, and the world’s largest collection of camellia flowers.
One of Descanso's most beloved destinations, the Japanese Garden opened in 1966 and includes features found in many different styles of gardens in Japan, including the stroll garden, stream-and-pond garden, tea garden, and Japanese rock garden (karesansui) aka zen garden. Shaded by coast live oaks, the peaceful garden includes many plants that originated in Asia, including camellias, black pines, mondo grass, flowering cherry trees and Japanese maples.
Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden
The Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden was designed in 1935 by Kinzuchi Fujii for Charles and Ellamae Storrier Stearns, who were patrons of the arts and influential figures in Pasadena's cultural and civic life. Fujii dedicated seven years to create the garden, which he designed in the chisen kaiyu shiki ("strolling pond") style. Considered a masterwork, the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden is Fujii's only surviving garden and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in February 2005.
Under the direction of Dr. Takeo Uesugi, the garden was faithfully restored from 2007 to 2013. Dr. Uesugi's acclaimed projects include the James Irvine Japanese Garden at JACCC and the redesign of the Japanese Garden at The Huntington Library. Highlights include the rebuilt 12-tatami mat teahouse, four original bridges, a traditional cedar log waiting house, two large connected ponds, and a 25-foot hill with cascading waterfall.
Founded by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1950, the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine is a lush, ten-acre site tucked away off Sunset Boulevard in Pacific Palisades. Visitors can walk along lake-side paths and spend quiet time in various meditation gardens. One of the Lake Shrine's most famous outdoor spaces is the Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Memorial, a "wall-less temple" that features a thousand-year-old stone sarcophagus from China that holds a portion of Gandhi's ashes in a brass and silver coffer.
Pasadena's only dedicated free public garden, Arlington Garden was built in 2005 on the former site of the historic Durand Mansion. Located across from the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden, the pet-friendly garden includes both native plants and species from other Mediterranean climate regions. Visitors can do a walking meditation in the classical, seven-circuit labyrinth that was built in October 2010. In November 2008, 21 crepe myrtle trees were donated and permanently installed at Arlington Garden as part of Yoko Ono's Wish Tree series.
Suiho En: The Japanese Garden
Known locally simply as "The Japanese Garden," SuihoEn (“Garden of Water and Fragrance”) is a 6.5-acre authentic stroll garden created by Dr. Koichi Kawana to provide beauty, relaxation, inspiration and a better understanding of Japanese culture using reclaimed water. Dr. Kawana designed more than a dozen major Japanese gardens in the United States, including the botanical gardens at LACMA.
Located in Van Nuys, the Japanese Garden is actually three gardens in one: a dry Zen meditation garden (karesansui), a “wet-strolling” garden with waterfalls, lakes and streams; and a tea garden with a 4.5-tatami teahouse.
NOTE: The Japanese Garden will be reopening soon and accepting reservations for public visits on Monday-Thursday.
James Irvine Japanese Garden at JACCC
Opened in 1980, the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) is one of the largest cultural art and community centers in the U.S. Discreetly located inside the JACCC, the award-winning James Irvine Japanese Garden is one of Little Tokyo's hidden gems. Known formally as Seiryu-en ("Garden of the Clear Stream"), this intimate green space was designed in the Zen tradition of the famous gardens of Kyoto, Japan. The James Irvine Japanese Garden features a wide variety of plants, flowers and trees; a 170-foot cascading stream, handcrafted cedar bridges, a selection of stone lanterns, and a hand washing fountain.
NOTE: The entire JACCC campus is currently closed due to COVID-19.
Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens
Opened in 2002, the Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens is a nonprofit spiritual center located in the historic West Adams District. Visitors are invited to "unwind the mind" by walking the stone labyrinth, modeled after the famous Chartres Cathedral labyrinth in France. The Asian-themed meditation garden features 16 water fountains, a koi pond and several intimate seating areas for reflection and meditation. Reservations required.