The Santa Barbara Botanical Garden is one of California’s best I have visited. The main section of the garden is not large, but the simplicity is beautiful, focusing on California plants that include things like redwoods and desert plants. A stroll through the gardens is a relaxing way to spend a lovely day in Santa Barbara, and here is all the information.
- Cost: $16 for adults, $8 for youth (as of Jan 2022)
- Hours: Everyday 10 AM – 5 PM
- Location: 1212 Mission Canyon Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93105
The Botanical Garden is most easily accessed from State Route 192, which travels through the northern part of Santa Barbara. From the 192, you will head north on Mission Canyon Road. It quickly splits, and you will bear right and follow signs that direct you to the garden. There is a decent-sized parking area that you can use.
Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens
After paying your fee at the entrance, you are free to explore the property on both sides of the street, but I stayed on the main side as I was pressed for time. The other side has a viewpoint for the Channel Islands, a short trail, and a plant propagation facility.
The main section has a couple of trails that take you throughout the garden, but one area was closed when I went for some work. Even with the closed section, the garden was a highlight for me during my trip to Santa Barbara, and here were some of my favorite spots.
I headed out on the trail that went through the desert first, showcasing plants found around California’s large desert landscape.
The trail then heads into the Wooded Dell area with a fantastic bench that sits under the shaded trees.
The trail then crosses the Campbell Bridge, which goes over the creek that runs through the gardens before connecting with the Canyon Trail.
This section is especially nice as it preserves what the area looks like naturally. It is an excellent introduction to the foliage and landscape if you are not doing any of Santa Barbara’s hiking trails.
As you walk along the canyon trail, you will reach the historic mission dam from the early 1800s. The Chumash Indians and the padres built this dam about a half mile up the stream at the mission.
The dam is beautiful and historic, so it was a highlight to see in the garden. Plus, we had just gotten rain, so the water was flowing pretty well.
After crossing over the dam, you will enter the redwoods area, the most popular spot in the gardens.
It is easy to see why, as the trail is stunning here, with massive redwoods looming over you as you walk under them.
There are a few benches here to sit and soak in the beauty if you have the time. I plan to come back here again just to spend more time in this section.
Completing the Woodland Trail brings you back to the meadow, a nice large open area in the middle of the gardens.
It is gorgeous when you look at it with the mountains in the background.
Due to prior commitments, I spent about 45 minutes here, but I would have easily spent longer. It is a hidden gem in Santa Barbara worth the visit. Check it out, and let me know what you think in the comments. You can read more of my favorite Santa Barbara spots here.