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.

Featured Gardens in Santa Barbara


Lotusland, the 37-acre estate of the late Madame Ganna Walska located in Montecito, is a rare botanical nirvana. Lotusland features an enormous diversity of exotic plants from around the globe arranged 25 gardens, each distinctive in design but…

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

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

The Simpson House Inn

Nestled within an acre of lush English gardens is Simpson House Inn, a Santa Barbara historic landmark featuring 15 guest rooms, suites and cottages. A short walk from the bustling downtown and State Street shopping, the Simpson House Inn is…

Additional Experiences

sb. Snapshots: A Visual Exploration of Santa Barbara