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!
About 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.
Geographical Gardens, Local and Native Gardens
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.
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.
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.
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!