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Fodor's Southern California 2014
Descanso Gardens Review
Getting its name from the Spanish word for "rest," this lovely oasis is a truly tranquil setting, shaded by massive oak trees. Known for being a smaller, mellower version of the nearby Huntington, Descanso Gardens features denser foliage, quaint dirt paths, and some hilly climbs that can make for good exercise. It's the perfect place to come in search of wonderful scents—between the lilacs, the acres of roses, and the forest of California redwoods, pines, and junipers, you can enjoy all sorts of fragrances.
Once part of the vast Spanish Rancho San Rafael, these 160 acres were purchased by E. Manchester Boddy, publisher of the Los Angeles Daily News, in 1937. He developed the area into acres of lushly planted gardens and slopes covered in native chaparral as well as an elegant 22-room mansion, which now serves as a museum. A forest of California live oak trees makes a dramatic backdrop for thousands of camellias, azaleas, and a breathtaking 5-acre International Rosarium holding 1,700 varieties of antique and modern roses. The Japanese Tea House hosts various events throughout the year—its Zen garden is a nice spot to stop for refreshments and reflection. Classes (yoga and floral arranging, for example), night walks, and activities for families are scheduled throughout the year. The oak-framed main lawn is a lovely setting for summer concerts. A small train ride draws families on weekends. There are also a child's train, a gift shop, and a café.
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