Despite the city’s tall buildings and traffic, there’s plenty of nature to explore in the area.
Forget what you know about rush-hour traffic, award shows, and pipe dreams of stardom, because Hollywood already has glimmering natural gems of its own. Here’s where to escape the smoggy skyline.
VIRGINIA ROBINSON GARDENS
The six-acre historic landmark is rife with history and tranquil multilevel gardens, but the stunner is its King Palm Forest, an unexpected surprise that resides within the ritziest of zip codes, Beverly Hills. Forming a jungle, the endless canopy of fronds creates a shaded climate differing from the surroundings. Property tours, while infrequent, are tricky to book but worth it: Two-hour visits to the 107-year-old expanse also include views of its rose garden, formal lawns, and tennis court overflowing with bougainvillea.
GETTY VILLA HERB GARDEN
J. Paul Getty’s ode to classic architecture often gets lost in the shadow of its larger, tourist-friendly sister museum, but the oceanside property based on Herculaneum’s Villa dei Papiri bears fruit, literally. Set off California’s Pacific Coast Highway, the curated Roman gardens throughout impress, but its small herb garden remains a highlight. Wormwood, marjoram, and five iterations of mint serve as examples of herbs used for past-era medicine and seasonings. Also find fig, pomegranate, and other varied fruit trees reminiscent of Mediterranean landscapes. Admission is complimentary but must be reserved in advance. (Here are 9 must-see stops on California’s Pacific Coast Highway.)
SELF-REALIZATION FELLOWSHIP LAKE SHRINE
Lush and peaceful, tucked within Pacific Palisades’ mountainous basin, this spring-fed lake is nothing short of a lush Californian oasis beyond the desert. Walkways lined with waterfalls, colorful flowers, and towering palm trees provide a vaguely tropical oasis, while waterfront lookouts to swans, ducks, and turtles only add to the allure. The 10-acre, non-denominational fellowship property, run by a non-profit organization and open to the public, is intended for peaceful reflection and meditation, allowing the lakeside botanic garden to remain a wondrous secret.
From scenic outlooks to serene retreats, Greystone Mansion and its surrounding gardens retain the impeccable landscape from its heydey as a private estate in the late 1920s. A traditional English lawn edged by roses and a manicured walkway bordered by towering Cypress trees are reminiscent of European villa design, while the rock creek and lower pond filled with koi fish and red-eared turtles remember a time when a waterfall cascaded down the property. The surface hides a reservoir underground, supplying water throughout Beverly Hills. Both the grounds and parking are free to visit, and informative tours of the castle interiors can be booked online.