The San Diego Botanic Garden, Known by Locals as “Quail Gardens” is An Adventure in Discovery
“One who plants a garden plants happiness.” – Chinese Proverb
The San Diego Botanic Garden is one of the best “secret gardens,” and a crown jewel of San Diego. Tucked away on a small side street, this botanic garden has hundreds and hundreds of flowers, shrubs, plants, succulents, and just about anything you can imagine that grows outdoors. It is the best outdoor plant world for wandering eyes young and old. As you walk down the winding paths there are several sections of different gardens sectioned into climate and weather conditions. They also have farm food gardens and all sorts of unique trees.
When you drive up to the welcome station next to the parking lot, an employee will ask that you pay admission, and most likely recommend that you see the Hamilton Children Garden during your visit. The price seems a bit high at first, but once you explore the gardens you start to truly understand why. There are several art galleries for adults, and a lot of interactive activities for children to do as well. On the way to the children’s garden, located in the back of the botanic garden, my son and I traveled along the paths and saw many informational stakes that showed us the names of the flowers and trees and explained the unique qualities of each.
When we got to the Hamilton Children Garden, we saw statues, drinking fountains and restrooms, which was very convenient to have at the back of the garden. Nearby we saw a tic-tac-toe board formed by sticks in the dirt and wooden X’s and O’s. There is also a building station where you can stack up logs to build a house. My son spent 20 to 30 minutes trying to build a nice house, and I helped. It is very fun getting to act like a kid again here and there. Once we built our beautiful house we headed up the path farther, and found another delightful thing!
A treehouse is the focal point of the children’s garden. It is built into a huge tree with different sections winding around to create different levels. This treehouse is equipped with stairs, a look out at the top, and even tunnels “under” some of the roots. It leads you from the lower-level to another upper-level of the garden. The top, second-half of the garden includes a mountain creek. The San Diego Botanic Garden has boats set up by the creek so that kids can drop their boats at the top and watch them float all the way down. This was one of my son’s favorite activities. He raced another child’s boat down the mountain creek and we had fun playing in the water and splashing. After we left the treehouse and the creek we walked back through some of the children’s garden, and decided to check out some other gardens.
Next we came to a tropical rain forest garden. In the tropical rain forest garden there was a waterfall and also a huge tree that created a blockade on the path. The San Diego Botanic Garden posted a sign saying that this tree drops Bunya Bunya cones that are 10 to 15 pounds! When my son and I looked on the other side of the blocked path, we saw one of the big cones on the ground. We snuck over to take a picture of it and see just how big it is. It definitely could cause injury if it fell on someone’s head, so I’m glad they blocked the path off for our safety.
There’s also a look-out at the San Diego Botanic Garden. When my son and I walked the path all the way up to the look-out it wasn’t very scenic, however, once we got to the look-out we could see the entire ocean. It is a beautiful landscape and there is a sign attached to the look-out too that says, “Way in the distance you may see a tortoise. We are working hard to have the tortoise part of the Botanic Garden so that you can see it more closely.” My son and I were so excited about the tortoise so we looked through the look-out binoculars. We looked and looked, and sure enough there was a tortoise.
A girl was feeding the tortoise and it was bigger than her! Another lady was trying to push the tortoise and you could tell the tortoise weighed a lot!! We finally left the lookout and walked down past the gift shop where my son bought a small stuffed bird and we also got some snacks to eat. We went down to the parking lot and decided to cross over to the other small section that had a few other awesome activities to see and do. There was a mechanical train, a play house, and a big tub full of bubble soap and wands.We played with bubbles for a while trying to take pictures of each other blowing them and popping up.
Finally, our last stop was to see the green growing, live roof that has plants on the top! We also stopped by the chicken coop. The Botanic Garden has a lot of very fuzzy chickens! They’re hilarious to see! Overall, it was a great day and definitely a place where you can spend hours and hours. It’s a great place to bring the whole family, however, dogs are not allowed so remember that. Have you been to the San Diego Botanic Garden? What were your favorite gardens within? We didn’t get to see the whole garden so we will definitely be back! Let us know what not to miss next time!