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San Diego Botanic Garden, Encinitas

#3 of 28 in Things to do in Encinitas
Garden · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
The San Diego Botanic Garden, formerly Quail Botanical Gardens, is a botanical garden in Encinitas, California, United States. At 37 acres (150,000 m2), the garden includes rare bamboo groves (said to be the largest bamboo collection in the United States), desert gardens, a tropical rainforest, California native plants, Mediterranean climate landscapes, and a subtropical fruit garden. The gardens are open to the public Wednesdays - Sundays from 10 am - 5 pm. The name of the facility was changed in 2009 to better reflect the garden's status as a regional attraction.
Located 30 minutes north of San Diego in Encinitas, California, San Diego Botanic Garden features numerous exhibits, including rare bamboo groves, desert gardens, a tropical rainforest, California native plants, Mediterranean climate landscapes, succulent gardens, an herb garden, firesafe landscaping, a subtropical fruit garden, and native coastal sage natural areas. The Hamilton Children's Garden was opened in June 2011, the largest interactive children's garden on the West Coast.

Until 1957 the gardens were the private estate of Ruth Baird Larabee, at which time she donated her house and grounds to the County of San Diego. The Quail Botanical Gardens Foundation was established in 1961. In March 1970, the Quail Botanic Garden opened as a public botanic garden. The name was changed in 2009 to San Diego Botanic Garden.

Today the gardens include over 5,000 varieties of plants from all over the world including tropical, subtropical, and California native plants. Collections include a tropical plant exhibit in the Dickinson Family Education Conservatory (opened in 2020), the climate-based gardens for the New World and Old World Desert, Coastal sage scrub, Sub-Tropical Fruit, a Pinetum, a Palm Canyon, as well as geographically organized gardens for Africa, Australia, Arid Madagascar Garden, Arid South America, the Canary Islands, Cape South Africa, Central America, the Himalayas, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, New Zealand, the Pan-Tropical Rainforest with a 60-foot waterfall.

Plant varieties include fuchsias, hibiscus, bamboos, proteas, cacti and succulents, as well as other drought-resistant plants including Australian shrubs. Herbs, water plants, wildflowers, perennials, brugmansias, cork oaks, and palms are also featured.

Of particular interest is the maturing Cork Oak (Quercus suber) forest. Paths wind through a cluster of twisted and majestic Cork Oaks. Cork Oaks groves in other parts of the world are still harvested for their cork (bark) that is used in for corks placed in wine bottles, as well as for purses, jewelry and wallets.

Take a look at our Encinitas road trip planning website to schedule your visit to San Diego Botanic Garden and learn about what else to see and do during your holiday.
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San Diego Botanic Garden reviews

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546 reviews
  • This was our first visit. We had quite a fun time exploring all the little pathways. You do feel a little lost at times but the map certainly helps. Loved the secret garden, bamboo forest and citrus.....  more »
  • Visiting the gardens during the COVID-19 crisis means they only let you in if you have a reservation (which can be done easily on their website). The gardens are very colorful and relaxing.  more »
  • This place is a hidden gem. It is very beautiful and very green. When you come make sure to bring comfortable shoes as it does involve walking and sunscreen! They have plants from all over and include a fruit garden as well. They also have a pond with turtles in the bamboo section and a cute little waterfall. Overall we had a great family outing.
  • We did a day trip to this place from Orange county. It took about an hour and a half to get here. If you are an enthusiast for plants or nature I would definitely recommend going here. Very relaxing activity, and reading about the different types of species and areas they are found is interesting. I think we paid about $15 per person and if you are a senior you get $3 off the original price.

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