Santa Barbara Botanical Garden

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Jeffrey on December 1, 2001

The Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens were a pleasant surprise to us. The gardens are situated on 65 acres in the foothills of the Santa Ynez mountains in a wonderful setting. I was expecting beautiful and perfectly manicured man-made gardens, like other botanical gardens I have visited, and like the grounds at the Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens (see other journal entry).

The grounds were very nice, but they were left natural, and walking through the gardens was like a hike in a forest with occassional meadows. The natural setting of the grounds is very fitting with everything about the people of Santa Barbara and their attitudes toward preservation and recycling.

The gardens include over 5 miles of walking trails, but you don’t have to walk all of them to enjoy the park and not feel like you missed a lot of the gardens. The main trail (wider than all the others) that loops around the gardens is about a mile long. You can take this trail and see the main sights in the gardens.

There are many small trails that loop off and back on the main trail into gardens with particular themes. Along the way, they provide stopping points with tips for your own gardens, with a focus on water conservation. You can see everything from redwood forests, a desert section, and a section for plants indiginous to the nearby Channel Islands. During our visit (right after Thanksgiving) our young daughter enjoyed the huge maple leaves that were as big as her head. There are also remnants from old Indian water purification facilities along a creek and a waterfall. Some of the areas of the forest were fragrant and wonderful.

The Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens are located about 2-3 miles from downtown Santa Barbara. To get there from downtown, take State Street or Santa Barbara Street north to Los Olivas and turn right. Take Los Olivas past the Santa Barbara Mission and turn right. Take to Mission Canyon Road and turn left. The Gardens will be on the left.

Their phone number is 805-682-4726 and web site is Their hours are 9am to 4pm Mon-Fri (open until 5pm on weekends). Wear good walking shoes, and take your time. Use the many benches they have to stop and rest.

Santa Barbara Botanical Garden
1212 Mission Canyon Road
Santa Barbara, California, 93105
(805) 682-4726

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