Santa Barbara’s Gardens

The topiary at Lotusland.

The topiary at Lotusland.

Santa Barbara’s beauty is evident everywhere you look—and some places you don’t. There are hidden gems tucked away in the corners of our city, places you can’t even believe exist anywhere, let alone in this small city!

Has anyone read The Secret Garden, and dreamed of finding one? You will at Lotusland, a verdant, artistic oasis created on the whims of eccentric Polish opera singer, Ganna Walska. She bought the property in Montecito in 1941 and dedicated the next 43 years to creating this 37-acre property containing an exotic collection of plants, trees and oddities. They limit the number of visitors per year, and you could spend days at Lotusland without discovering everything it has to offer.

For the naturalist, the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden can’t be missed. Tucked up in the foothills, the Gardens have more than 1,000 California native plants over 78 acres, explored on your own or through docent-led tours. It is a wonderful space that gives visitors an amazing picture of the diversity of our state’s flora and vegetation. It’s wheelchair accessible and memberships are available—which you’ll want, because you won’t be able to visit just once!

Santa Barbara Mission's Rose Garden

Santa Barbara Mission’s Rose Garden

With the likes of Alice Keck Memorial Gardens in downtown Santa Barbara, Franceschi Park up on the Riviera and the Rose Garden by the Mission, you’ll get an idea of how much Santa Barbarans love their beautiful outdoor spaces. If that’s not enough to convince you, just look at the Sunken Gardens at the Courthouse—a favorite place for locals to hold weddings and other memorable events.