Santa Barbara Botanic Garden | A Living Museum

Santa Barbara’s glorious beaches and sublime weather are usually the primary reasons for a visit, but once you are here, consider a trip to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. There are displays and activities perfect for the avid outdoors person, amateur gardener, or conservation advocate. You will fill your phone with hundreds of gorgeous pictures and selfies.

Here are the details you need to know and our picks for visit highlights:

Planning Your Visit to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Address: 1212 Mission Canyon Rd, Santa Barbara
Hours: 10 am – 5 pm
Cost: $20 per adult (some discounts available for Seniors, Military, and Children)

  • Please note that reservations are required due to capacity limitations for visitors and vehicles. You may make reservations online for an arrival time. The reservation includes parking for one vehicle.
  • Look at the property map and consider the areas that interest you the most. The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden covers 78 acres!
  • There is a greenhouse onsite with one of the largest collections of native Central California Coast plants for your home garden. You do not need a reservation for the Botanic Garden to visit the nursery, which is open daily from 10 am to 4:30 pm.

History of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden at a Glance

These are the historical highlights of the century-old Botanic Garden:

    • 1925: The Carnegie Institution coordinates with the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History to create a botanic garden stretching “from the sea to the mountains with plants from throughout the world.”
    • 1927: Anna Dorinda Blaksley Bliss purchases 13 acres in Mission Canyon for the garden, with mountain and ocean views.
    • 1936: Although the garden’s focus had always been native plants, it now narrows to California, Baja, Mexico, and southwestern Oregon. The Gardens are organized in various plant communities, such as scrub, desert, and prairie.
    • 1940s: Trails were developed to access all parts of the expanded landscapes.
    • 1983: The Garden becomes a Santa Barbara County Historic Landmark, while the dam on Mission Creek is already a State Historic Landmark.
    • 2009: The Jesusita Fire burned portions of the Garden, along with several buildings.
    • 2016: The John C. Pritzlaff Conservation Center opens on the grounds of the destroyed Ganes House.

Looking upward through a grove of redwood trees to the sky.6 Must-See Stops in the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

The Botanic Garden covers 78 acres and is home to over 1,000 rare and indigenous plants. It also contains 11 distinct California Ecosystems: Desert, Meadow, Redwoods, Manzanitas, Canyon, Backcountry, Island View, Home Demonstration, Wooded Dell, Pollinator Garden, and Arroyo.

The five miles of trails range from paved to gravel to rocky and are divided into quarter- to half-mile segments. These are some of the most popular areas to see:

  1. The Redwood Grove contains some hundred-year-old trees, making them some of the oldest plants in the Garden.
  2. The Mission Dam and Aqueduct were built in the early 19th century by Native Americans for the Franciscan Fathers. They aimed to provide water for the Old Mission Santa Barbara and adjacent Native lands, fields, and orchards.
  3. Japanese Tea Garden and Tea House are in the Arroyo Section of the Garden. Using native California plants, this traditional tea garden and house serve as the backdrop for Urasenke tea ceremonies. Check the schedule for opportunities to observe this fascinating ritual.
  4. The Wildflower Meadow is spectacular if you visit during a super bloom year.
  5. The Desert Section houses plants mostly from both the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts. Marvel in these plants’ adaptation to harsh conditions with limited water.
  6. The Caretaker’s Cottage was one of the original buildings on site. It began as a Sears and Roebuck kit house and was moved to its current location in 1941.

These are only a half dozen of the Garden’s many intriguing areas. Choose what interests you the most!

Events and Classes

Make sure you look at the Events and Classes offered at the Garden. They range from Nature Walks to Guided Meditations and Art Classes utilizing botanicals.

Capping Off the Day

Suppose spending a day at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden whets your appetite for our flora and fauna. Lotusland is another and very different garden attraction. However, if you want to switch it up and visit some of Santa Barbara’s fun and iconic sites, we have a list of fun and free ways to spend a day.

There is always so much to do in the Santa Barbara area you will return again and again. Make The Eagle Inn your favorite getaway stop! We love to pamper you with a scrumptious from-scratch breakfast in the morning and help you plan the perfect day or evening.

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