The Garden is Always in Season
1212 Mission Canyon Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
Navigating the Garden
What to Expect
As a living museum, every plant in Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is part of a special collection of California’s native plants managed by our team of gardeners and horticulture professionals. Whatever time of year you plan your visit, there is always something new to explore and discover.
A Thriving Habitat
Just a stone’s throw from downtown Santa Barbara, the Garden has dedicated our 78 acres (31 hectares) with 5 miles (8 kilometers) of meandering trails to California’s native plants. This commitment has led to a maintained but natural space teeming with life. Letting native plants do what they do best, the Garden grounds are a thriving habitat for insects, pollinators, and birds – and additionally to coyotes, deer and other wildlife.
With its Mediterranean climate, California enjoys cool, wet winters and long, dry summers. Often, it will not rain from May until November. This annual drought influences the seasonal splendor you will see at the Garden.
Garden Topography & Primitive Trails
Many of the Garden’s display areas are accessible by stone-paved pathways and compact earthen trails. Other areas can be reached in a variety of ways including stair-free options; however, these paths may be narrow, rough, uneven, or steep. Due to this varied topography, portions of the Garden’s historic landscape may be inaccessible to some visitors.
Red Flag Warnings
Due to the nature of the Garden’s location, in the event of a red flag warning (critical fire weather conditions are forecasted) in our area, the Garden will close. A notice will be posted on the site if there is a warning in effect.
Meadow Live Cam
Get a Look at the Garden Meadow
Know Before You Go
Garden Etiquette & Safety Considerations
The Garden is visited by more than 100,000 visitors every year. Due to the environmentally sensitive and rustic nature of the area, we’ve provided a few tips to ensure you and those around you have a safe and enjoyable visit.
- Due to high fire danger, smoking is strictly prohibited in all areas, including the parking lot.
- Watch your step as some paths and trails can be uneven.
- Beware of poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum). If you need help identifying this plant, please see a Backcountry ranger.
- Bring water.
- Wear a hat and sunscreen.
- Dress in sturdy shoes with a tread.
- Shirts and shoes are required at all times.
- Use caution on boulder crossings of the creek as rocks can be slippery and unstable.
- Supervise young children at all times, especially when near water.
- Recreational sports (including skating, ball playing, cycling, etc.) are not permitted. Bicycle racks are located in the parking lot.
We are proud to be a dog-friendly Garden. However, we are a living museum. This means we need your help to maintain the beauty of our Living Collection – which includes every plant you’ll see on your visit.
Thank you for following these guidelines when bringing your furry friends for a visit.
- Dogs must be on a leash at all times. No exceptions.
- Both parent and pup should stay on paths at all times. (We know it’s tempting for you both!)
- Please pick-up after your dog. Mutt Mitts are provided at the kiosk if you need them. (Our gardeners have to do this work if you don’t so please help us respect them.)
- Urine has high levels of nitrogen which harms plants so please keep this in mind and not let your pets mark every spot they find. (Yes, we know this can be tough for some dogs.)
- Please do not let Fido swim or drink from water features as these areas support very delicate plant life and ecology. (Plus our turtles really, really don’t like company.)
- Aggressive pets should skip this outing, the Garden can be busy at all times of the day.
If you’d like to support our efforts in keeping the Garden dog-friendly, please consider making a donation.
Leave No Trace
The Garden is a place of natural beauty. Due to our collection of California’s stunning native plants, the Garden attracts an array of wildlife. Please remember:
- Stay on the designated pathways and trails.
- Do not pick flowers or climb trees.
- Leave wildlife and their habitats undisturbed.
- Deposit trash and recyclables in designated receptacles.
- Do not feed wildlife.
- Picnic only in the designated picnic areas.
- Keep dogs on a leash and kindly pick up after them. (Our gardeners thank you!)
The Garden follows the current CDC guidelines related to COVID-19. At this time, masks are optional throughout the Garden unless specifically requested by staff when visiting some behind-the-scenes areas such as labs, herbaria, and archives. If you would like to learn more about requesting access, please contact us.
Limited Parking Available
Because of the geography and shape of our parking lot, buses longer than 31 feet (9.4 meters) are not permitted. The Garden only has one bus parking space. Your reservation will include a preset number of parking spaces. If you are coming by car, carpooling is strongly encouraged. We will not be able to accommodate extra vehicles in your party.
All patrons entering these premises voluntarily assume all risks and dangers incidental to admission and/or any event, and waive and release all claims against Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, its affiliated companies, partners, joint ventures, representatives, members, designees, officers, directors, employees, and assigns. Admission is subject to compliance with all laws and facility rules and the patron consents to reasonable examinations and searches to ensure compliance. Failure to comply with the law or facility rules may result in refusal of admission or expulsion.
Enhance Your Visit
Things to Consider Bringing
Whether you’re just getting started or a seasoned professional, here are a few items you’ll want to consider adding to your explorer tool kit.
- A hand lens and binoculars. Hand lenses are for sale at the Garden Shop if you’re building your tool kit.
- A notebook to capture your observations. Don’t forget something to write with.
- A camera and tripod to capture still and time-lapse photos.
Printable Nature Journals
Download a free nature journal ahead of your Garden visit. To assemble the journal, print this document double-sided, flipping on the short edge (or short edge binding), and be sure the scale is set to 100%. Afterward, fold the pages together in half with the front and back cover on the outside. Staple along the edges to secure it.
For a fun collection of items to find during your visit, download one of our scavenger hunts and get ready to explore.
Garden Bird List
Based in part on a previous publication, “Wildlife in the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden” (Bevier, 1986), our bird checklist was first compiled under the direction of Garden Director of Research Dr. Robert N. Muller (2002 to 2012) in partnership with Larry Ballard, Louis Bevier, and Florence Sanchez. A special appreciation goes out to the many birders not listed who may have also contributed to this list.
Taxonomy follows the “Check-list of North American Birds” (Seventh Edition, 1998) from the American Ornithologists’ Union (now the American Ornithological Society) and its subsequent supplements.
Weather in the Garden can vary dramatically from downtown Santa Barbara, depending on the season. The Garden maintains our own Remote Automatic Weather Station (RAWS), which is visible from the Porter Trail. This station transmits hourly weather data to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. The data is also used by our local National Weather Service in Oxnard to make accurate weather forecasts.