Exploring Los Angeles Arboretum

3 minutes read

Marvel at historic landmarks and surrounded yourself with natural beauty at the Los Angeles Arboretum. Nestled in the San Gabriel Valley, it is a desirable destination to escape the city. Let’s unlock this intimate and unspoiled place. Follow me!

A pinch of history

  • This place was originally named Aleupkigna, the “place of many waters.”
  • In 1806, it was an agricultural outpost for the Mission San Gabriel.
  • Hugo Reid became the first owner of Rancho Santa Anita in 1839.
  • In 1847, the State of California and County of Los Angeles purchased it and created an arboretum.


Botanical Garden and Wildlife Sanctuary


Spread over 127 acres, the botanical garden regroups plants by geographical region: Africa, Australia, Madagascar, and Canary Island. Follow paths to navigate between continents, explore rare species, enjoy fountain ponds, and relax on the grass of the central wide-open field.






Did you know? The Baldwin Lake is a natural lake, extended in1880 by Mr. Baldwin.


I enjoyed getting lost in the paths to discover the diversity of plants, and appreciate colorful and fragrant flowers. I also appreciate the size and quietude of the area.


The Los Angeles Arboretum is a wildlife sanctuary for hundreds of birds (more than 200 species), reptiles, and mammals. I observed a great egret, ducks, turtles, birds and I was particularly impressed by the number of colorful peacocks and peahens roaming the garden. Back in 1879, Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin imported peafowl from India for his ranch. Since then, birds walk free in the Arboretum and surrounding neighborhoods.



Did you know? The peacock is now the symbol of Arcadia city



Historic Landmarks

Explore Arcadia’s architectural past with Don Perfecto Hugo Reid Adobe, Queen Anne Cottage, Queen Anne Coach Barn, and Santa Anita Depot.

Reid-Baldwin Adobe

Scotsman immigrant Hugo Reid was the first European landholder in Arcadia. In 1840 he acquired 13,319 acres of land. He developed a rancho, Rancho Santa Anita, and built a one-story adobe near the lake.

In 1875, Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin, California businessman and investor, purchased 8,500 acres of the Rancho Santa Anita for $200,000. Two years later, he renovated and extended Reid adobe constructing an eight-room house with large verandas.


Adobe – Credit: Arboretum archive

The adobe is currently under renovation. The two-year project will reflect the structure as it was back in the 1900s, as Mr. Baldwin residence.

Did you know? Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin planted grapes on his property and developed his brand of wines and won gold medals.

Mr Baldwin
Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin – Credit: LA Arboretum archive

Did you know? Mr. Baldwin earned his nickname “Lucky” following successful business deals.


Queen Anne Cottage


Built-in 1885 as a honeymoon cottage for Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin fourth wife Lillie Bennett, the Queen Anne Cottage is an exquisite and elegant Victorian structure.  The newlywed never lived there as they separated the same year.


Did you know? The cottage is named after the British 19e century architecture style “Queen Anne”


The cottage became a guest house dedicated to Mr. Baldwin’s third wife, Jennie Dexter, the love of his life. He never lived there but in the adobe.


Did you know? There are four bedrooms, a music room and no kitchen (the dining facilities were located in the adobe)


Queen Anne Coach Barn


As the Queen Anne cottage, the Queen Anne Coach Barn was designated by State architect Albert A. Bennett (Lillie Bennett’s father). The entire interior is decorated with cedar and redwood imported from North California. It’s beautiful!



The large coach would welcome until 14 carriages as this 1876 carriage (see picture below)

Mr. Baldwin’s carriage purchased at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.

Passionate by horses, Mr. Baldwin founded the Santa Anita Park racetrack on his property. Santa Anita Ranch was home of his thoroughbred racehorses including American Derby winners Volante (1885), Silver Cloud (1886), Emperor of Norfolk (1888), and Rey El Santa Anita (1894).


Did you know? The Queen Anne dog house was for Mr. Baldwin guard dogs


Did you know? The fire engines were located on the property to prevent fires.


Santa Anita Depot


Back to a busy 1890 train station with Santa Anita Depot, a historic station moved and recreated a quarter-mile from its original ground.

Credit: Arboretum archive
Credit: Arboretum archive

Half-passenger, half- freight depot, Santa Anita depot cost $5,000 to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Company. Step inside to discover artifacts from the 19e century.




Hollywood’s favorite Jungle set

Wake of the Red Witch (1948) with star John Wayne on the deck of the boat, center – Credit: Arboretum archive

Since 1936, Hollywood framed the botanical garden for movies and TV shows. The Baldwin Lake and the Queen Anne Cottage have particularly appreciated sceneries.  Among the most popular productions, they shot scenes for Tarzan, Sheena Queen of the Jungle (1954), The New Original Wonder Woman (1975), Fantasy Island (1977-1982), Dallas (1981), Jurassic Park, Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Anaconda with Jennifer Lopez (1996), and many more.

Fantasy Island television pilot (1977) – Credit: Arboretum archive


Did you know? Tarzan Escapes! was the first movie to be shot at Baldwin Lake in 1936.

Tarzan and the Huntress (1946) with Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan, Brenda Joyce as Jane and Johnny Sheffield as Boy – Credit: Arboretum archive

Sounds like a must-see?



  • Location: Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, 301 N Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007
  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 9:00 am -5:00 pm
  • Entrance: $9.00 for adult, $4.00 for children (ages 5-12)
  • Parking: free on-site.
  • Free day: On the third Tuesday of the month.
  • More information available at https://www.arboretum.org/

Article based on my visit in Summer 2019.


If you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment and share it with a traveler visiting Los Angeles.

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