The year-round perfect weather makes for a perfect spot to grow the gorgeous Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens (1212 Mission Canyon Rd., 805/682-4726, www.santabarbarabotanicgarden.org , daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m., until 6 p.m. Mar.–Oct., adults $8, youth $6, children $4). The gardens focus solely on the indigenous plants of California, with plantings from the deserts, chaparral, arroyo, and more.
The gardens spread out over many acres, and crosses several hiking trails. Check out the coastal redwood forest, the centerpiece of the park, which remains shaded and cool even when the sun beats down in the heat of summertime. Another proud garden shows off the beauty of native California lilacs.
The mission of the gardens encompasses conservation of not only the California wilderness areas, but the water and soil in developed areas as well. Visit the Home Demonstration Garden for an example of beautiful landscaping using California natives that are suited to the climate and conditions, and thus need less irrigation and chemical fertilizers.
Guided tours are offered each day with your admission ticket—join the standard tour or call ahead to arrange a private tour. You can take your own self-guided tour with a map and the advice of the docents. The shop offers books and garden-themed gifts, while the nursery sells native Californian plants.
The garden does not include a restaurant or snack bar.