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.

The California Travel Map

California Travel MapThere is so much to see and do in California! Use our travel map of California, in tandem with our many articles like this one, to help you decide where to go, what to do next, and even find your way from one fantastic sight, restaurant or place to stay to the next.

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). It is your sole responsibility to confirm prices, transportation schedules, hours of operation, safety and health considerations, and any other important details before your adventure.