The mountains that form Santa Barbara’s backdrop run east and west, which is unusual for California coastal ranges, while the Pacific lies to the south. Thanks to these quirks of geography, the area enjoys a particularly temperate climate, never too hot during the dry summers, never too cold in winters that may be rainy. This Mediterranean-like weather pattern creates a long growing season wherein many kinds of plants from around the world can flourish. The happy result for visitors is a profusion of unusual and gorgeous Santa Barbara gardens.

In the 19th century, landscapers and botanists here often imported rare and exotic specimens from South America, Australia, and Europe, and some of their estates have formed the basis of world-class horticultural gems that have been refined and developed further by private homeowners and philanthropists.

Many sites comprise a variety of Southern California environments — expansive meadows, interesting canyons, cactus gardens, quiet woodlands, even examples of redwoods or sequoias. Still other gardens are the work of imaginative landscape designers, illustrating the elegance of Japanese gardens, for example, or the dramatic planting of a single species or color of flora.

Santa Barbara is home to prize rose gardens, estates that evoke the Victorian age, and venues that hark back to Spanish-Moorish styles, which complement Santa Barbara’s distinctive architecture. In addition, there are also nature preserves with trails that allow visitors to experience the region’s native flora in its original setting.

Gardens in Santa Barbara


Bask in Santa Barbara’s botanical beauty on a visit to Lotusland, a stunning 37-acre Montecito estate once owned by the late Madame Ganna Walska. A well-known opera singer and socialite, she purchased the property in 1941 and spent the next…

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Explore California’s unique natural landscape at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, a 78-acre living museum designed entirely with California-native plants. Five miles of easy walking trails crisscross the wild-crafted gardens, so you can…

Santa Barbara County Courthouse

For a firsthand look at one of the country’s most beautiful public buildings, look no further than the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. Designed in the Spanish-Colonial style and completed in 1929, the fully operational Courthouse is an…

Old Mission Santa Barbara

Due to county and state COVID-19 mandates, docent guided tours are not available until further notice. Self-guided tours are now open Mon -Sat from 9:30am -4:00pm and Sun 11:00am - 4:00pm. The Mission Gift Shop, parking lot, and restrooms are open…

Casa del Herrero

Experience Montecito as it was during the 1920s and 1930s on a tour of Casa del Herrero, one of Santa Barbara’s finest architectural landmarks. Built in 1925 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2009, Casa del Herrero is an…

Additional Experiences