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Best Botanical Gardens In The Bay Area

(credit: Clemens Bilan/Getty Images)

Plant lovers of all types flock to Bay Area botanical gardens in the summertime. Plants from all over the world thrive in California's combination of temperate climate and endless days of sunshine. Check out one of the best botanical gardens in the Bay Area to enjoy some peace and nature outside of the hustle and bustle of busy bay life.

San Francisco Botanical Garden
1199 9th Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 661-1316

Nestled inside of Golden Gate Park and close to the California Academy of Sciences, the San Francisco Botanical Garden is a 55-acre oasis, home to over 8,000 plants. Visitors can easily spend hours perusing the numerous plant collections that include everything from a Redwood grove and fragrance garden to succulent and high-altitude plant collections. Regular adult admission is $7, but San Francisco residents can get in for free with proof of residence. Monthly plant sales are held on Saturdays, there is a well-stocked bookshop and free docent-led tours. Outside food is welcome, and many visitors enjoy a picnic on one of the numerous picnic benches or in the meadow.

UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley
200 Centennial Drive
Berkeley, CA 94720
(510) 643-2755

Free to Berkeley students and faculty, the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the Bay Area. Formally established in 1890, the garden was moved to its current location in 1920. General admission is $10. Plants are grouped by region of origin, and over one third of the garden is filled with native California plants. Bathrooms are available and outside food is welcome for those looking to enjoy a picnic among the plants. The garden also has an extensive selection of plants for sale, as well as frequent special events, many of which are free with admission.

Tilden Regional Park Botanic Garden
Wildcat Canyon Road and South Park Drive
Berkeley, CA 94701
(510) 544-3169

Part of the East Bay Regional Park District, Tilden Regional Park Botanic Garden is a 10-acre garden free to the public. The garden was established in 1940, and is entirely devoted to the preservation of California native plants. Plantings are grouped into 11 different
areas and divided by native environment. Visitors can stroll through the Pacific Rainforest, Canyon and Shasta-Klammath gardens. Parking is available nearby, as are bathrooms.

86 Canada Raod
Woodside, CA 94062
(650) 364-8300

Part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Filoli estate dates back to the 1900s, and includes a house, museum, nature preserve and gardens. Originally established as a remote gentleman's farm, Filoli is now one of the Bay Area's oldest extant estates of the era. Visitors can peruse the grounds and view the bonsai garden, heritage oaks, citrus collection and olive grove. General admission is $18 during the summer months, and includes entry into the house and gardens, as well as guided tours. There is an on-site gift shop with plants for purchase.

Hakone Estate Gardens
21000 Big Basin Way
Saratoga, CA 95070
(408) 741-4994

Over 100 years old and part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Hakone Gardens is the oldest Japanese garden and estate in the western hemisphere. The garden includes 18 acres of fragrant wisteria, bamboo, tea and koi pond gardens. General admission is $8. Docent-led tours are available, and there is a recently opened on-site café with drinks and snacks. See the Hakone website for a list of plants currently blooming.

Joanna Metheny is a freelance writer covering all things South Bay. Her work can be found on

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