Botanical Gardens Near Santa Barbara

Zack Garhart
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Exploring Botanical Gardens Near Santa Barbara

Southern California is filled with green, rolling hills and spectacular beaches. Nestled between the gentle hills and ocean are exotic blooms and botanical gardens that offer a delightful escape. Near Santa Barbara are the towns of Ventura and Montecito, and both offer excellent botanical gardens.

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Tucked away in the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains lies the enchanting Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. As you cruise its winding paths, you’ll discover a treasure trove of California’s native plants, from vibrant wildflowers to majestic oaks. Take a stroll along the Meadow Trail, where colorful blooms blow in the breeze, or meander through the Redwood Section, where ancient giants tower overhead, casting lanes of shade below.

For a truly immersive experience, don’t miss the Japanese Tea Garden, where tranquil ponds, graceful bridges, and bonsai trees create a serene ambiance reminiscent of Kyoto. And be sure to visit the Garden Shop, where you can pick up unique souvenirs, native plants, and gardening essentials to bring a piece of this botanical paradise home with you.

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Ventura Botanical Gardens

Nestled atop the Ventura hills, overlooking the sparkling Pacific Ocean, lies the Ventura Botanical Gardens—a hotbed of stunning beauty and biodiversity. As you ascend the snake-like trails that crisscross the hillside, panoramic ocean views unfold, providing the perfect backdrop for a leisurely hike or a peaceful picnic. We recommend packing a lunch and taking your time to enjoy the scenery with friends.

Explore the Mediterranean Garden, where aromatic herbs, colorful succulents, and exotic palms transport you to distant shores. Wander through the Chilean Garden, where rare plants from the rugged landscapes of South America thrive in the California sun. And don’t forget to pause at the Gazebo, perched high above the coast, for a moment of quiet reflection amidst the splendor of nature.

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Lotusland in Montecito: A Botanical Paradise Beyond Imagination

Prepare to be enchanted as you step into the colorful wonderland of Lotusland, nestled in the exclusive enclave of Montecito. This unique garden, created by the visionary Madame Ganna Walska, is a living work of art. It’s a place where imagination knows no bounds, and every corner reveals a new surprise. The garden encompasses more than 35 acres of greenery.

Explore the Cycad Garden, home to ancient ferns that have stood the test of time for millions of years. Wander through the Blue Garden, where vibrant blooms in shades of azure and indigo create a dreamscape straight out of a fairy tale. And don’t miss the Cactus Garden, where spiky succulents from around the world thrive in the arid California climate.

With its majestic charm and jaw-dropping beauty, Lotusland is a must-visit destination for any botanical enthusiast. Book your tour in advance since Lotusland is only open to the public on select days of the year.

Keep an eye on Lotusland’s events calendar, as well. They offer fun workshops and tours, plus members-only exclusive events. These can be a fun way to get out for the evening and enjoy the space with friends.

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Getting to the Gardens

From Santa Barbara, each of these botanical gardens is easily accessible. Ventura is the furthest away from Santa Barbara but is reachable by bus, train, or car. The Amtrak runs to Ventura daily, and tickets are reasonable. To save money, consider taking the bus to either Ventura or Montecito. MTD has different schedules and fares, and the price of a ticket is cheaper than a train ticket.

The Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens are not accessible by public transportation, so car access is necessary. Consider car-pooling or ride-share options, as these can be one way to save money.

Once you’ve spent the day exploring the botanic gardens near Santa Barbara, book a night at our Beach Hostel in Santa Barbara! It’s a great place to meet fellow travelers and see all that Santa Barbara has to offer.

Want to see more of the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens? Watch this video!

Join our Traveler’s Club at ITH! Signing up is free, and you can save money on all future bookings at our hostels.


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