Alongside the roar of Interstate 80 connecting the San Francisco Bay Area to Lake Tahoe is an award-winning botanical garden that beckons plant-lovers, gardeners or anyone looking for a relaxing park setting – the UC Davis Arboretum.

UC Davis Arboretum is one of the US top rated botanical gardens.

The Arboretum, has it all:

UC Davis Arboretum a top-rated garden

UC Davis Arboretum plant signage is tops

Plants are clearly labeled, many with smartphone QR codes to find more detailed botanical info for the serious gardeners.

This university-run gem is in fact considered one of the top 10 most beautiful botanical gardens in the United States! There are no gates or fences. It’s open 24/7. And, best of all, it’s free (OK, OK, you have to pay $8 for a day pass to park on campus).

What’s not to like? When HI Travel Tales is home, the female half loves to play, plant and prune in her garden. But forget your run-o-the-mill, water-sucking geraniums and prissy roses. She prefers the global and the unusual, the natives and the drought-tolerants – and the spring and fall plant sales  at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery have all of that – not to mention friendly students to help you carry your treasures to the car.

The park-like arboretum itself beckons with winding paths, benches and plant collections with different themes.

Spring is an ideal time to visit

Spring is a great time to visit since so much is in bloom. Try scheduling your visit – if you are a gardener or plant fan – to one of superintendent emeritus Warren Roberts’ monthly walks the second Wednesday of the month, spring and fall/winter. (He takes the summer off since it can be sizzling hot in the Sacramento Valley!) Don’t come if you want an agenda. There is none. He lets the season, weather and participants guide his route and his stories (or, should we say, puns and yarns).

UC Davis Arboretum entrance sign

Heck, just get to the Arboretum. Careful though: Go once, and you’ll be hooked.

Click here for a map of the UC Davis Arboretum.

Map of California

In the map below, pins mark the exact location of all the sites mentioned in our articles on California. Zoom in or out on the map using the controls. Switch easily from map to satellite view. Click on each pin to pull up a tooltip with the name and any additional information.

Villagio Inn and Spa

Feather River Fish Hatchery

Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve

https://hitraveltales.com/rose-hill-cemetery-at-black-diamond-mines-regional-preserve/

Table Mountain Preserve

https://hitraveltales.com/table-mountain-preserve-boasts-wildflowers-and-waterfalls/

Liberty Cemetery

https://hitraveltales.com/liberty-cemetery-california-a-ghost-town-burial-ground/

Michigan Bluff

https://hitraveltales.com/historic-gold-rush-town-michigan-bluff-off-beaten-path/

Spring Wildflowers - Foresthill Divide Loop Trail

https://hitraveltales.com/sierra-foothills-wildflowers-hike-abundance-hidden-places/

Mozzeria Pizzeria

https://hitraveltales.com/mozzeria-pizzeria-provides-diners-with-much-more-than-extraordinary-food/

Lynch Canyon Open Space Preserve

https://hitraveltales.com/postcard-san-francisco-lynch-canyon-open-space-escape/

Apple Hill

https://hitraveltales.com/apple-hill-yummy-visit/

Wofford Acres Vineyards

https://hitraveltales.com/apple-hill-yummy-visit/

Apple Ridge Farms

https://hitraveltales.com/apple-hill-yummy-visit/

Larsen Apple Barn

https://hitraveltales.com/apple-hill-yummy-visit/

Rainbow Orchards

https://hitraveltales.com/apple-hill-yummy-visit/

Smokey Ridge Farmstand and Charcuterie

https://hitraveltales.com/apple-hill-yummy-visit/

Allez French restaurant

https://hitraveltales.com/allez-french-restaurant-delight-near-placerville-california/

UC Davis Arboretum

https://hitraveltales.com/uc-davis-arboretum-free-award-winning-gardens/

Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History

https://hitraveltales.com/pacific-grove-museum-area-natural-history-comes-alive/

Crema Restaurant

https://hitraveltales.com/monterey-wildflowers-spectacular-shows/

Alhambra Theater Historic Site - Sacramento

Today, the former movie showplace is not much of a show. And not many folks seem to even be aware of the meaning of these palm trees, and non-functioning fountain as they dash in and out of the store for groceries. A plaque that was said to be placed there was nowhere to be found when I visited. Read our story here.

Palo Corona Regional Park - Carmel

South Yuba River State Park - Bridgeport

Underground Gardens - Fresno

The Underground Gardens is what it sounds like: A weaving labyrinth of caverns, rooms and passages all dug underground and filled with fruit trees, vines and plants in spaces that open to the sky. This oddity was built – or shall we say, dug – by Italian immigrant Baldassare Forestiere for about 38 years starting in 1906.

Heads up! This information on the UC Davis Arboretum was accurate when we published it on HI Travel Tales, but, as we know, traveling is all about changes (and inflation, sadly). Please be sure to confirm prices, transportation schedules, hours of operation, safety and health considerations, request for perfect weather during your entire visit, and any other important details before your adventure.