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“The gardens, and the Garden of Lights in December, are magical”

San Diego Botanic Garden
Ranked #3 of 32 things to do in Encinitas
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Explore four miles of garden trails, enjoy restful vistas, flowering trees, majestic palms, and the nation’s largest bamboo collection. Thanks to our mild climate, plants from all over the world thrive here. Our diverse topography provides a variety of microclimates giving the visitor a sensation of going from a desert environment to a tropical rainforest, all within 37 acres.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. In June of 2009, we opened the Hamilton Children's Garden, the largest interactive children's garden on the West Coast.
Reviewed February 8, 2012

The gardens are truly wonderful for people of all ages. We've been there on the weekends, and for special events, like their chocolate festival last year.

But in December, they decorate the gardens with thousands of lights and it is truly magical -- "the Garden of Lights" -- it is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. This year, I brought my daughter's girl scout troop up, and they had an amazing time.

We all ate a great Mexican dinner there in the garden (tasty and reasonable, from El Pollo Loco), then walked through to see all the lights, had our picture taken with Santa, roasted marshmallows over a fire pit (w/ complimentary sticks and marshmallows), the girls sang Christmas carols and danced along to a wonderful caroling guitarist on stage. Then -- the highlight for them -- we went sledding and had snowball fights on their manmade snow hill, and finished the evening off doing crafts.

We intend to make this an annual Christmas tradition. AND we got season passes, so hope to continue to visit the gardens throughout the year. It is truly a special place.

Thank SDTraveler01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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379 - 383 of 420 reviews

Reviewed February 6, 2012

The Botanical Garden is a twenty minute drive north of San Deigo. It is worth the trip. The admission price is reasonable. The paths are an easy walk. There are many varieties of plants. The Hummingbirds are an additional treat.

1  Thank RedMustangPeg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 30, 2012

What I really liked about this attraction is that most of the plants, shrubs and trees had information plaques to tell the non-native San Diegan like me what they were. The grounds are beautifully kept and even in January there are lots of things that bloom in this part of the world. The bamboo was particularly impressive and who knew there were so many varieties of palm trees. The lookout is a good hike up but the view is well worth the effort.

Thank Tricia14009
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 22, 2012

This was a nice surprise to all - we orginally went for grandma "green thumb" but everyone liked it (kids were 4,6,8) Lots of walking but they had plants, trees, waterfall, bridges, flowers, herbs, fruit, bamboo - Set up as different areas and from all over the world. Some cool sculptures with plants growing on them (people and the plants were their hair or clothes) a tree house for kids to run around in. a tiny gift area and only a few drinks and hot dogs to eat - they said they plan on expanding casue they need some kind of out door patio...

Thank family0f3kids
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 20, 2012

This is a real suburban oasis. Several acres on a hillside showcasing California, Australian, South African and tropical plants. Great place to kill a couple of hours on a bench with a book. There is a small snack bar and book store as well as a wee nursery selling scions of the garden's plants. There's a special senior entry that can apply to a yearly membership if you're going to stay in the area.

Thank BlueNWashington
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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