LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden
This is another of my favorite spots to take little kids. The peacocks are the big attraction, but the Arboretum is also a great place to observe Canada geese, ducks--wood ducks and mallards--and turtles. Also, look for wading birds such as egrets--great and snowy--and great blue herons around the edge of the two ponds.
I'll never forget a recent trip when I saw a bob cat dart out a bush! It's not often you see these shy, nocturnal cats, so don't expect to see one. But you could get lucky: staffers say the Arboretum has at least two in residence. (Don't worry about safety: these guys are quite small and not aggressive to people.)
A fun spot for kids is the teaching garden and neighboring pond. They can peer at sunbathing turtles through a blind, run through arbors, or a wander a small rosemary bush maze. The Canada geese here don't seem as aggressive as domestic geese, but, to be safe, tell your child not too get too close. Bring shoes you can hose off, and perhaps a spare pair: some lawns are a mine field of goose poop.
You can picnic at the Arboretum on the third Sunday of the month, but I don't really recommend it. Keeping goose poop off your kid(s) feet--and, hence, off your blanket--is a big distraction. Picnics are only allowed near a specific tree that we couldn't find.
You can learn a lot at Arboretum classes and workshops. Among the current offerings:
- Family Bird Walks: first Saturday of the month, starting at 8:00 a.m. (free)
- Family Adventures: first Saturday of the month, 10:00 a.m. (free)
- KIds Art Classes: for 4-12 year olds, Saturdays ($155 for 10 weeks)
- Garden Talks with horticulturalist Lili Singer, Thursday mornings
301 N. Baldwin Avenue
Arcadia, CA 91007
Open Daily, 9 - 5
Kids (5-12 yrs): $2.50
Under 5: free
Note: Admission to the Arboretum is included in a membership to Descanso Garden.