Ah, what wonders grow when the weather is perpetually delightful! Such is the case in San Diego, where the San Diego Botanic Garden is able to grow a ridiculous 4,000-plus species of plants in 37 acres across 30 different microclimate gardens representing pretty much the whole dang world!
Four miles of dirt and paved trails convey you on a global journey here, with plenty of interpretive signage to guide the way. Head east toward the Mediterranean, Australian, Canary Island, Central American, and New Zealand gardens first, where art harmonizes with such vegetation as the Portuguese cork tree (yep, it keeps your wine fresh), kangaroo paws, and thick, spiny dragon trees that provide shade for a perfectly situated bench. Continue north to check out the Hamilton Children’s Garden, which is fun even for adults. Its treehouse would make the Swiss family jealous.
Next, head west past the South American Desert Garden to a tropical rain forest. Continue west past a gazebo to stairs on your right that lead you past an African garden to a charming overlook tower. As you enjoy city and garden views, scan the coast chaparral habitat below for Sam, the local Galapagos tortoise. He’s the hero of a children’s book called Too Big to Lose.
Up for further world travels? Head west to a subtropical fruit garden, a Mexican Garden, and—who knew?— the nation’s largest collection of bamboo. By then you’ll undoubtedly be inspired to explore interpretive trails for a quick education in gardening, native plants, fire safety, and even underwater succulents. You’ll head home with a very full passport!
From the north, take the I-5 to Leucadia Blvd. and exit east, taking it for 0.8 mile. Turn right onto Quail Gardens Dr. and follow it for 1 mile. The entrance will be on your right. From the south, take I-5 to Encinitas Blvd. east. Turn left onto Quail Gardens Dr. The entrance will be on your left after 0.3 mile. No dogs.