Stop and smell the (suburban) flowers.
A great way to explore the Bay Area? One jaw-dropping public garden at a time.
#1. The Gardens at Heather Farm (Walnut Creek)
This six-acre garden in the heart of Walnut Creek is a favorite for local weddings and engagement photo sessions. And once you visit, you’ll see why. The winding paths lead past thousands of roses, daffodils, succulents, and other vibrant flora. It’s a beautiful spot for both private events and sunny weekday strolls with your pup. (Yes, dogs are welcome on the garden paths.)
If you move to town, think about registering your kids for one of the youth programs so they can get some hands-on experience in the garden. And if they love it, you can visit the on-site nursery to pick up some flowers or vegetables for them to plant at your new home.
#2. Ruth Bancroft Gardens (Walnut Creek)
Walnut Creek residents have access to another incredible garden — just a mile from The Gardens at Heather Farm. Local horticulturist Ruth Bancroft started this drought-resistant garden more than 50 years ago. Her impressive collection of cacti and succulents quickly drew international recognition and today the 3.5-acre oasis is open to the public.
Keep an eye on the garden’s calendar for events featuring food trucks and kids’ activities. Insider tip — these kinds of events are a great way to meet other local families even before you move to town. Why not start trying to build up your community network?
#3. Markham Regional Arboretum (Concord)
New Concord families are always surprised to find out about the Markham Regional Arboretum. This peaceful 16-acre nature preserve feels like it should be outside of city limits — but you’re just minutes from downtown.
It’s a perfect spot to escape with kids or your dog when you need some fresh air but you don’t have time for Mt. Diablo State Park. Plus, in the spring, you’ll be treated to the sights and smells of the blooming flowers. And did we mention this arboretum is free?
#4. Gamble Garden (Palo Alto)
Gamble Garden was donated to the city of Palo Alto in 1981 by the granddaughter of one of the Procter & Gamble founders. It’s open every day for locals to visit for free, but we think spring really is the best time to stroll the grounds. It’s just magical to experience the garden’s tulips and cherry blossoms in full bloom. Residents look forward to the annual Spring Tour that brings together the community for garden tours, live music, and a delicious meal served on the Tea House patio.
Young families especially seem to enjoy Gamble Garden. What’s not to love? It’s a toddler-friendly spot just a ten-minute walk from the local Children’s Library. Plus, the garden is also very close to downtown if you need a break in between running errands.
#5. Filoli (Woodside)
This sprawling garden (we’re talking 654 acres) was once part of an impressive private residence. Filoli was donated to Woodside in the 1970s for the entire community to enjoy. The Georgian revival-style mansion and manicured European-inspired gardens are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
If Woodside is on your town list, you really can’t miss Filoli. Visit during the spring to see the daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, and magnolias that are starting to bloom. End your day at The Quail’s Nest Cafe for a light lunch or refreshing cocktail.
#6. Marin Art and Garden Center (Ross)
Marin Art and Garden Center is a beloved community hub for both Ross and San Anselmo residents. Be sure to visit this garden if you’re exploring either town. As you wander, you’ll pass rose gardens, ponds, and even a giant Sequoia transplanted from Yosemite. Kids especially love the butterfly garden and Pixie Park playground. And the garden hosts tons of programs for littles, including KinderCamp and gardening field trips.
Want to keep exploring? The garden isn’t far from M.H. Bread and Butter. This is a go-to pastry spot for San Anselmo locals that also serves sandwiches and salads made with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Ready to explore the suburbs this spring? We’re here to help you make it happen! Schedule your FREE Suburbs Strategy Session today so you can start touring towns while the spring flowers are still blooming.