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Photo By Cecilia Rosell, Courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara

Key Info

1212 Mission Canyon Rd.

Price & Hours

$14 for adults; $8 kids 3-17
9 a.m.-5 or 6 p.m. daily


Parks and Gardens, Recreation Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend


  • 3.5Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

North of downtown, the 78-acre Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a refuge for bored beachgoers and nature enthusiasts alike. Visitors walk on unpaved paths through what, at times, looks like unremarkable brush. However, what you see here is carefully designed. According to the official website, the garden is committed to protecting plants unique to central California's coastal region – indifferent to their individual beauty. And it's this diversity (along with Santa Barbara's stunning mountain views), which differentiates this botanical park from others.

Highlights of the garden include the historic Mission Dam and aqueduct built in 1807, an authentic Japanese teahouse and tea garden and a redwood grove. In all, there are almost 6 miles of paths to explore and more than 1,000 types of plants. Recent visitors praised the peace and quiet to be found at the garden, calling it a great place to recharge. Others recommended the attraction if you enjoy walking trails and warned that this is not your typical, landscaped botanic garden.

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. November to February and until 6 p.m. the rest of the year. Admission costs $14 for adults and $8 for children ages 3 to 17, with discounts for seniors and students available. Guided tours are offered at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the weekends and 2 p.m. on Mondays and included with admission. Visit the garden's website for further details.

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Time to Spend
#1 East Beach

There are four major beaches in Santa Barbara: Leadbetter, Arroyo Burro, West and East. While Leadbetter has the harbor, Arroyo Burro is best for travelers with dogs and West Beach is home to the fireworks on the Fourth of July, East Beach is the best stretch to catch some rays without being mobbed by crowds. 

The shoreline may still fill up more on the weekends, but East Beach is a bit more removed from State Street and the downtown area than the other beaches, offering more space to stretch out or take a walk along the sandy shores. You may have to protect yourself from the occasional rogue volleyball though, as there are more than a dozen sandy courts here. 

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