Descanso Gardens is a beautiful place to visit and fun for all ages from the very young to the very old. The gates open at 8am, though the gardens do not open until 9am. It has plenty of free parking. Admission is $8 for 12 and older, $6 for seniors and students, $3 for kids 5 -11, free for kids 4 and under. Group rates are $6/person for groups of 25 or more. Train tickets are $3/ticket for anyone riding with height requirement 30 inches and book of tickets are available for $25/10 tickets or $2.50 a ride. Picnic area available next to the parking lot where you are allowed to bring your own food. Cafe inside the gardens about $8/sandwich. Tram tours also available for $4/rider. If you walk on your own, takes about 1 hour to see most of the gardens and we did not go to the historic buildings, so may take about 2 hours total for a complete visit. there are lots of little waterfalls, ponds with large koi fish, bridges, and a lake with lots of ducks. February has the camellia festival and most of the other flowers are not in bloom yet.
My son loves trains and we wanted to have his birthday party where he and his friends could ride a train. We had beautiful weather with almost no wind. We set up his party in the picnic area outside the gardens. Luckily for us, a boy scout troop had decided for their project to paint all the tables and benches the week before our party. So we went at 8am to reserve the tables and set up our decorations and food. (The gardens do not allow "outside food" to be brought in and renting the rooms requires about a $400 fee plus catering and service from the Patina group starting at about $100/person, maybe $80/kid.) Guests included babies, toddlers, elementary age kids, parents, grandparents, and a great grandma in her 80s. The picnic area was a large space where the kids could run around and climb on trees. After lunch, we all rode together on the railroad. It fits about 18-20 adults/kids per ride and takes about 5 minutes. it took about 3 rides for everyone in our group to get a ride. Then it was time for birthday cake. After the party, many of the guests returned to the gardens for family pictures and just to explore and let the kids run around. it was a fun event and my son got to ride the train 3 times that day.