University of California at Riverside, 900 University Ave, Riverside, CA 92521 – Get Directions
Beautiful and inexpensive!
We visited on an overcast summer morning. My boys (6 and 2) and I had a blast walking through the gardens. We marveled at the pond filled with turtles and fish, saw baby lizards, and bunny rabbits. And, thankfully, no snakes. We did come in the summer when rattlesnakes are known to inhabit most open spaces in Southern California.
I loved that I was able to breathe deeply under the cool air of sycamores, banyans, and sequoias, while my kids loved that the trails criss-crossed each other across the land, making exploring, and finding our way back very fun. It is a big enough place to warrant a full morning or afternoon, but no so large that parents risk tired legs and minds.
There are two bathrooms. One at the entrance and one at the top of the hill. There are at least three trails that are paved and wheel-chair/stroller accessible. There were very few places on the trails that I didn't feel comfortable allowing my just turned 2 year old to walk on his own.
The gardens are free. A $5 donation fee is suggested, and we had no problem giving it considering how lovely the gardens were tended.
Parking was a little bit tricky since we aren't familiar with the area, and relied on our GPS. Luckily, once we found the right area, parking was easy and available in a special Botanic Garden lot up the hill from Lot 10 off of East Campus Dr. Parking was metered and the self-timer was located just inside the garden gate. Parking was 25cents an hour. The timer does not give change, so it might be better to bring quarters than the dollar bills I came with.
All in all, we felt it was a great escape from the city.
Beautiful walk for kiddies
Your family will love to go to the botanical gardens for an "adventure". There is plenty of room for the kids to run around and play hide and seek. And plenty of lovely photo opportunities. Many moms will take their kids and picnic there for lunch, because the park offers lots of shade from trees. Just make sure no to go too far into the depths of it, as there have been reports of bobcats and even moutain lions(yikes!) in/ near the park. Yes, I did hear growling from behind a bush when I was there(no joke). But it is beautiful, if not slightly run down, giving it an overgrown, rustic charm.
Fun with the Family
These gardens are nestled in the foothills of the Box Springs Mountains in East Riverside and cover forty hilly acres. The gardens boast more than 3,500 plant species from around the world. More than 200 species of birds have been observed in the gardens. From State Route 60/Interstate 215, exit at Martin Luther K
ing Boulevard and turn right. Turn right again at Canyon Crest Avenue and enter the UCR campus. Follow signs to the gardens and park in Lot 13.