UC Davis Arboretum: free award-winning gardens

by Mar 23, 2015California

UC Davis Arboretum

Just outside of Sacramento, the UC Davis Arboretum offers trees and flowers as well as various themed gardens, and a loop trail around a small lake for students, teachers, employees, garden fans and travelers. On California’s UC Davis campus, the arboretum remains a teaching and research garden.

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:

  • 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

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? Therese loves to play, plant and prune in her garden when we’re not traveling. 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.

UC Davis Arboretum Map

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.

You might also be interested in reading:

Free Travel Guides

Subscriber Club Ebooks Ad-1

Activate a HI Travel Tales Subscriber Club newsletter subscription and start receiving premium stories, photography and travel tips that do not appear on our website. And you'll become part of a fun travel community. Once you are a newsletter subscriber, simply click on any content for paid subscribers and you will be invited to activate a 7-day trial account granting you full access to our free travel book, archived premium content, and amazing recipe library. Simply cancel within 7 days and you will owe us nothing ... no strings attached. As an additional thank you, once you have set up your 7-day trial account, send us an email with "I'd like an ebook please" and once we've verified your account, we'll send you one of our ebooks for FREE. No strings attached.


As an affiliate for Get Your Guide, Amazon.com, iVisa, Global Rescue, Think Tank, 5.11, Kuhl, Adorama, and others, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you should you choose to purchase through the links in our posts. It is essential to mention that we only endorse products we believe in and personally use. Your support for HI Travel Tales through these purchases allows us to maintain a sustainable platform for creating valuable and relevant content for you. 


Are you protected IF a travel emergency happens?

Global Rescue Travel Insurance Rescue Banner