San Diego County is home to many different amazing garden spaces, outdoor trails, unique plants, and other outdoor wonders. If you head up to the beachside town of Encinitas in the north part of the county, you’ll find a 37-acre urban oasis that visitors love to explore.

Opened in 1970 under the name Quail Botanical Gardens, the San Diego Botanic Garden became what it is today over decades of change, restructuring, and new ownership. For example, quail no longer live in the gardens, so the name has been changed to center on the plant life that is the star of the show at this Encinitas garden.

Between the numerous exhibits, rare bamboo groves, succulent gardens, tropical rainforest, herb garden, desert gardens, and even the largest interactive children’s garden on the West Coast, this family-friendly spot is a must!


What is the San Diego Botanic Garden?


Previously known as Quail Botanical Gardens, the San Diego Botanic Garden is an Encinitas staple, making San Diego’s North County even more beautiful for over 50 years. Overall, there are 29 unique, themed gardens that span the property, including 4 miles of trails, beautiful ocean views, and North America’s largest public bamboo collection.



Visitors can expect an extremely diverse, immersive experience as they stroll through the many different gardens onsite.

The Gardens at San Diego Botanic Garden

With gardens displaying plants from around the world, the Botanic Garden almost takes on a zoo-like feel, as guests are exposed to many exotic, unique, and diverse plants. The hillside Old World Desert Garden, the South Africa Garden, and the Mexican Garden help to give a sense of the rich botanical treasures of both our neighbors and places half a world away.

There are also local and Native gardens, which offer insight into the knowledge and practices of the local Kumeyaay people. Enjoy ocean views mixed with expanses of California native plants like rare coastal sage scrub and southern maritime chaparral.

Dickinson Family Education Conservatory

The Dickinson Family Education Conservatory is comprised of 8,000 square feet surrounded by geometric-looking glass and unique plant chandeliers that put some of the most impressive plants on display in an exciting way. Open since 2019, this is a newfound highlight of the space and attracts new visitors daily. The main hall can also be rented for events like weddings and showers.

Hamilton Children’s Garden – The Star of the Children’s Gardens

Hamilton Children’s Garden is geared towards middle school-aged children and is the largest interactive children’s garden on the West Coast. With mountain streams, jungle canopies, and plenty of interactive learning elements, there is so much to explore here. A fan-favorite is undeniably Toni’s Treehouse, the playground area features spiraling stairs, and rope bridges, and will make parents wish they’d had something like this to enjoy as kids!



Hamilton Children's Garden is not the only kid-geared space here, though. You’ll also find the Seeds of Wonder, for toddlers, and the Junior Quail Trail, for older kids, full of fun activities like log-balancing, a miniature railroad, and more.

Demonstration Gardens

Much like the demonstration gardens at the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch, those at San Diego Botanic Garden are curated to help guests envision a more sustainable, effective combination of plants for their own spaces. The idea here is to showcase plants that can tolerate drought and thrive in areas with low water, which helps with the ongoing water supply concerns that exist throughout the state of California. You’ll also learn about water-saving systems, and water-smart landscaping, and have a chance to see food being grown in the herb garden, subtropical fruit garden, and the ‘Incredible Edibles' Garden.

Bamboo Garden

The largest living collection of bamboo in North America sits right here in Southern California, thanks to the San Diego Botanic Garden’s Bamboo Garden. Explore over 100 different cultivars and species of this incredible greenery and feel as if you are transported out of southern California almost immediately.

You could easily spend hours at any of these portions of the Botanic Garden, but make sure not to come when they are closed Tuesdays. Standard opening hours are 9 am to 5 pm, and garden winter hours are 9 am to 4 pm.

Wrapping Up

The San Diego Botanical Garden is just one of the many outdoor gems of San Diego’s North County. You can also head to the nearby Carlsbad Flower Fields, the Self-Realization Fellowship and Meditation Gardens, and the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park Botanical Collections. Whether you’re in town for a week trip or have been meaning to head to the gardens for years, here is your sign to make the trip to this beautiful space, with more than one superlative to stand on!

Are you familiar with the San Diego Botanical Gardens? Tell us your favorite part of this massive park!

Wildlife at San Diego Botanic Garden

At San Diego Botanic Gardens, a harmonious tapestry of diverse wildlife unfolds amid the vibrant flora. Delight in the dance of butterflies, the melodies of songbirds, and the gentle rustle of resident critters. This haven hosts a spectrum of species, from elusive reptiles to buzzing pollinators, creating an immersive experience where nature's inhabitants thrive alongside meticulously curated plant collections. Discover the enchanting synergy between flora and fauna, making every visit to the garden a captivating exploration of Southern California's biodiversity.

Plants at San Diego Botanic Garden 

San Diego Botanic Garden unveils a kaleidoscope of botanical wonders, showcasing an extensive array of plant life. From the arid beauty of desert gardens to the lush greenery of tropical paradises, the garden's diverse ecosystems offer a captivating journey through the world of flora. Wander through themed gardens that highlight the rich tapestry of plants, from rare succulents to exotic orchids. With an emphasis on conservation and education, this botanical haven celebrates the beauty and importance of plant diversity, making it your go-to among places to relax in San Diego, California.

Weddings & Private Events at San Diego Botanic Garden 

Whether you want a website for a wedding that really pops or a show-stopping backdrop for your nuptials, the San Diego Botanic Gardens provides a dramatic setting for weddings and private events across its 37-acre oasis in Encinitas. Offering a variety of stunning locations, from the romantic Walled Garden to the serene Lawn Garden, it's an ideal venue for creating unforgettable experiences. The garden's natural beauty and expert staff ensure that every event, from intimate celebrations to larger gatherings, is unique and memorable.

Frequently Asked Questions About the San Diego Botanic Garden

What are the hours of operation for the San Diego Botanic Gardens?

The gardens are typically open daily, but hours may vary by season. It's best to check their official website for the most current hours.

Is there an admission fee to enter the San Diego Botanic Gardens?

Yes. There is an admission fee, with rates varying for adults, seniors, children, and military personnel. Members and children under a certain age may enter for free.

Are guided tours available at the San Diego Botanic Gardens?

Guided tours are often available and can be a great way to learn about the plant collections and history of the gardens.

Are there any special events or programs offered at the San Diego Botanic Gardens?

The gardens host many different events throughout the year, including educational programs, plant sales, art exhibits, and seasonal celebrations.

Is the San Diego Botanic Gardens accessible for visitors with disabilities?

The gardens are committed to accessibility, with many paths wheelchair accessible. However, some areas might be more challenging to access due to the natural terrain.

Can I take my dog to the San Diego Botanic Gardens?

Dogs are allowed on certain days and times, usually for a special fee. It's best to check the gardens' pet policy before your visit.

What should I wear when visiting the San Diego Botanic Gardens?

Comfortable walking shoes are recommended, as the gardens cover a large area with varied terrain. Also, consider weather-appropriate attire, as most of the gardens are outdoors.

Are there dining or picnic facilities available in the San Diego Botanic Gardens?

The gardens usually have a café offering light refreshments and snacks. Picnic areas may also be available, but checking the current facilities and policies beforehand is advisable.