Travel up to Mission Canyon to discover a 65-acre showcase of native plants and architecture at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. Explore 5 miles of walking trails that take you through distinct gardens and meadows, providing a refreshing change of pace from Santa Barbara’s more popular beach scene.

Tea House Garden

Hidden in the live oaks you’ll find a bamboo gate that separates this tranquil tea garden from the rest of the park. At its center, an authentic Japanese teahouse (shipped from Kyoto, Japan in 1949) offers visitors a serene escape from the frantic pace of everyday life. From the elegantly simple sliding doors made of wooden lattice with translucent paper covering the windows to the traditional oriental floor mats that welcome you to kneel and relax for a moment, this teahouse is as artful and inviting.

Redwood Forest

These gorgeous trees provide an escape from the typical Santa Barbara heat. The towering Redwood Forest parallels Mission Creek and has a walking trail that offers a sensational stroll through the lush green surroundings. Many of the trees in this section of the garden are almost 100 years old and are a grand spectacle usually reserved for Northern California.

Meadow Display

At the heart of the Botanic Garden is a vast meadow that looks out over the San Ynez Mountain range including the well-known and difficult to conquer, Cathedral Peak. If you can, visit during spring when the space is littered with vibrant displays of California poppies, lupine, meadow foam and other flowers native to Santa Barbara. Keep an eye out for the Giant Coreopsis, only native to the Channel Islands. It looks like a combination of a massive bunch of daisies growing out of a small palm and when in bloom, it is a rare breathtaking sight.

Learn and Discover

The Botanic Gardens offer a variety of weekly events to their visitors. The nature, bird or beach walks lead by local naturalists and environmentalists teach visitors about Santa Barbara’s unique ecosystem. It also hosts frequent markets with live music and local vendors selling one of a kind hand crafted goods for shoppers and families. With the holidays around the corner, check out the Gardens’ Christmas wreath workshops and holiday games for children.

image via flickr