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.
The Arboretum, has it all:
- 100 acres of gardens with a meandering creek at the UC Davis site, a recreational trail for running, walking or just a little sauntering (main loop is 3.5 miles but you can connect to trails all over town),
- documented plant collections for the plant nuts among us,
- a teaching and research nursery with regular plant sales,
- special events and music programs, and
- volunteer or internships at the UC Davis Arboretum.
UC Davis Arboretum a top-rated garden
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).
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
Table Mountain Preserve
Spring Wildflowers - Foresthill Divide Loop Trail
Lynch Canyon Open Space Preserve
Wofford Acres Vineyards
Apple Ridge Farms
Larsen Apple Barn
Smokey Ridge Farmstand and Charcuterie
Allez French restaurant
UC Davis Arboretum
Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
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.