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A San Diego Hidden Gem For The True Nature Lovers Out There: The San Diego Botanical Garden

Updated: Dec 21, 2021

A staghorn fern attached to a tree at the San Diego Botanical Garden

If you didn't know already, I love plants. I love everything to do with them, from how they work to how they look, plants are one of my favorite things on the planet. They're one of the major reasons I love hiking and camping so much. So, if I'm not out in the natural world and stuck spending the day in the city you can imagine one of my favorite places to visit would be the local botanical garden.

In this post, I give you the short and sweet on the San Diego Botanic Garden, and tons of pictures from my visit to hopefully brighten your day, inspire you to appreciate plants a little more, and maybe even visit your city's local garden.



Walking Through the Gardens

A waterfall feature in the San Diego California Botanical Gardens

Walking into the San Diego botanical garden in Encinitas I was already so excited. I had my camera ready to take so many pictures, and my mind ready to take in all the new plants I was going to learn about!

While I had been to a few botanic gardens before this one, I never assumed just how big it would be. Even though we received a map when we walked in, we assumed the separate gardens on the map were a lot smaller in scale, but the entire place ended up being as large as a zoo!

Your first stop is a greenhouse that is full of showpieces and tropical plants such as Tillandsia (air plants), staghorn ferns, and rare orchids. All of which were elegantly pieced together with some wrapped in moss and suspended 10ft in the air! There was also a very nice woman that showed me all of her favorite plants, taught me a few new plant facts, and introduced me to my new favorite plant, the batwing.

a bat wing orchid inside the San Diego Botanical Garden

Heading out into the park you'll see waterfalls, lookout towers, and 29 different garden types. Including the nation's largest bamboo collection and a subtropical fruit garden! While this might not seem as exciting to some people, even my boyfriend was having an amazing time and of course, I was having the time of my life walking through acres of plants from all over the world.

They also have very many plaques and teaching gardens so you can learn all about the different plants and conservation efforts you can take at home to protect native wildlife. Don't forget to check out the Hamilton Children's Garden, apparently its fun for kids and the young at heart. Plus, they have a really cool lookout at the top that allows you to get a great view over the park.




A vegetable garden where they recycle water at the San Diego Botanical Gardens

Just like zoos and aquariums, botanical gardens are there to not only be beautiful and provide a fun afternoon but to raise money and conduct research for conservation issues.

The San Diego Botanical Garden has a multitude of conservation efforts in the works, including the most prevalent threat to California ecosystems which is water usage. Here, they use recycled water, rain gardens, and weather-sensitive, low-water sprinklers, being one of the most water-conscious gardens in the nation.

The garden also works with scientists to conduct research on the plants to help mitigate the effects of climate change on our delicate ecosystems. This also includes research on pollinators and their effects on commercial ornamental plants. With a large amount of native species destruction, it has become increasingly important to focus on how our pollinators will react to our non-native plantings, now and in the future.



The main entrance to the San Diego Botanic Garden in California

While the San Diego Botanic Garden is probably not on any "top 10 things to do in San Diego" lists, it really should be! It's less crowded and less expensive than the San Diego Zoo including none of the weird smells and screaming children, but still all of the beauty and outdoor fun.

Plus, you get to enjoy the neighborhood of Encinitas after your visit, which is one of the nicest areas of San Diego! With tons of breweries, and fancy restaurants and shops to chose from you may be spending a bit more money in this part of town, but it's totally worth it. I highly suggest CARiN de RiA, a Filipino restaurant with amazing lumpia and halo-halo (a crazy delicious Filipino ice-cream dessert).

Hopefully, you enjoyed learning about this amazing little part of San Diego, let me know if you have any more questions about the San Diego Botanical Garden or botanical gardens in general! I would also love to bond over a mutual love for plants if you have the same weird plant obsession I have! Feel free to comment below, DM me on Instagram, or email me.

Until next time,

Happy Trails!

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Hey there! My name is Hannah Smentkowski, I'm the photographer, writer, hiker, camper, and craft beer drinker of this blog!


Here, I share my travel, camping, and hiking tips to help anxious explorers get outdoors with confidence!

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