Cost-free, suggested donation $5 + Parking $0.50/hr (overflow parking in Lot 10 is more-$1.50/hr)
On the grounds of the University of California, Riverside, hides a hidden gem. Many of the places we love to go were introduced to us by friends, and this place was one that I just don't think I would have stumbled upon on my own without some help. A big thank you to my awesome friends! I just love this place. I can't imagine a more perfect spot to spend a few quiet hours. Something about all those trees just absorbs noise and breathes peace. As you get to know me you'll come to find that gardens are one of my favorite places.
In these gardens you can be as active or as still and quiet as you want. Kids feeling rambunctious and really need to burn off some energy? Take them up the dirt trails to the top of the hill. Time for a little reflection or just need a minute of peace and quiet? Go the opposite direction and sit in the rose garden on one of the several memorial benches. If I lived closer I'd do some regular reading in the choicest spots or bring my iPad and jot down a few words. I've always wanted to take up nature journaling-this is where I'd begin.
If you have any interest at all in flora and fauna you will love this place, with over 3500 species of plants and two annual plant sales there's a lot to love. For a little exercise or a morning hike you just can't beat the surroundings. According to the small brochure, the gardens cover 40 acres and have 4 miles of hiking trails. It is also a wildlife preserve, birds in particular find the gardens accommodating.
At one point there was a stream running down the hill, but it seems it has become a victim of the drought. I was relieved to see the pond, my daughter's favorite spot, was still there and filled with koi. We even spotted the turtles-one of my her favorite things when she was seven or eight. I was delighted to see they had not become a victim of the drought.
When my kids were young and active I appreciated all the dirt paths and trails that wound up, down and through the gardens, but the reality is not everyone can manage that sort of terrain. These gardens provide a paved path which accommodates both wheelchairs and strollers, which makes it possible for absolutely anyone to enjoy.
A few of the gardens include; a rose garden, iris garden, cactus and succulent garden, a colonial herb garden, and a subtropical fruit garden. Admission to the gardens is free, but they do ask for a small donation to help with the upkeep. They are open daily, except holidays. According to the brochure the largest display of flowers is in April. (Guess where I'll be found.
For those of us making those extra-stressful university tours right now, be sure to stop by the Botanic Gardens and catch your breath before the tuition bills roll in.
UCR Botanic Gardens-open 8am to 5pm, except holidays.