Visiting the San Diego Botanic Gardens
Located in Encinitas, the San Diego Botanic Gardens offer an incredible 37 acre landscape filled with a diverse collection of plants. The gardens aim to “inspire people of all ages to connect with plants and nature,” and they accomplish this by providing a place where people can experience the rich diversity of their plant exhibits, while learning about the delicate ecosystems that are driven by them. The Gardens are open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily, and admission is $14 for adults, $10 for senior, students, and active military, $8 for children ages 3-12, and free for members and children under the age of 2. Parking is $2, but electric car owners and cars with 4 or more people are able to park for free.
When visiting the gardens, you can examine over 20 different plant exhibits, all belonging to different ecological zones similar to topographical areas found in Southern California. The differing gardens encourage patrons to take their time exploring the exhibits in order to best appreciate the rich landscape. In the Wildflower Meadow, you will find sunflowers, poppies, and the eye-catching giant phacelia. In the arid Desert Garden, look our for desert lavender, various agaves and cacti, and apricot mallow, along with a stunning peppering of colorful desert flowers. These are just several of the different California zones found within the Botanical Gardens, so be sure to check out all the others.
Another exhibit you can’t miss out on is the stunning bamboo exhibit. The extensive bamboo collection is the largest one in a North American public garden, and is quite the sight to behold. The exhibit features four different species of bamboo, and upon entry you are completely engulfed in a dense forest lush with exotic bamboo trees. They also include information about the plant group’s history of use by human civilization, along with the impact it has had on the cultures around the world.
The Overlook Natural Area is a place that is home to the native plant species found along the coast of California, including the rare coastal sage shrub and the southern maritime chaparral plant. The gardens have taken an active role in preserving these endangered plant species, and this area gives patrons a great way to experience the natural beauty of their local ecosystem. A wooded path will lead to you an elevated perch that offers a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. A free telescope is also available for those who want to catch a better view of the coast’s crystal blue waters.
While the gardens can be explored on your own using a self-guided map, the Botanical Gardens also offer guided tours. These tours will allow you to gain a deeper understanding of the complex plant ecosystems on site, and give you insightful knowledge on the conservation efforts of the garden.