Sometimes you want a quick escape without actually leaving campus. That's where the UCLA botanical garden and sculpture garden come in.
These on-campus green spaces are the crown jewels of a campus already renowned for its beauty. They're also accessible and free to visit. What more could a busy medical student want?
UCLA Botanical Garden
With more than 3,000 types of plants on offer, there's always something blooming at the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden on the UCLA campus in Westwood.
An inviting network of trails meanders through a variety of zoned areas, including an ADA-accessible loop trail. The areas most accessible from the garden's three gates are lush and tropical or semitropical. These include the sections devoted to cycads, lilies, Hawaiian natives, rhododendrons and cedars.
Near the bird and butterfly garden and the "Nest" outdoor classroom, a stream traverses the garden's center. Its ponds provide an inviting home to koi and turtles.
The eastern part of the 7.5-acre garden houses its dry microclimates, including desert and Mediterranean sections. Asters, sunflowers, legumes, Australian natives and California natives are highlights here.
Guided tours, also free, are offered the first Saturday of every month, and the garden also hosts regular bird-watching sessions.
Garden staff maintain a lively Instagram presence, making it easy to bring nature into your day even when you don't have time for a visit.
UCLA Sculpture Garden
The Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden is technically part of the Hammer Museum, whose themed shows of modern art, photography and design have made it a campus cultural stalwart.
Accordingly, while the garden's plantings provide a welcome oasis for a busy part of campus, the art is the real star here. More than 70 sculptures are sited in a 5-acre swath on the northeastern part of campus.
The garden is divided into three distinctive areas. Don't miss the formal brick-paved plaza or the walkway among South African coral trees. Perhaps most inviting is the informal sloping lawn cut with curving, textured pathways and dotted with important artworks.
The sculpture garden features both abstract and figural works from the 19th and 20th centuries. Featured artists include Hans Arp, Deborah Butterfield, Alexander Calder, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Auguste Rodin.
Taken together, the UCLA botanical garden and sculpture garden offer students a relaxing counterpoint to the bustle of campus. Not only do they beautify campus, these gardens provide the opportunity for a calming, educational study break on demand, and all without straining the budget.
For more on what medical students can do and see while living in LA, check out the Geffy Guide.
By Darcy Lewis