San Diego Botanic Garden: A Hidden Gem


The San Diego Botanic Garden, once known as the Quail Botanical Gardens, is a sweeping expanse of horticultural bounty and home to thousands of species of plants both local and exotic. Located in Encinitas, visitors to the garden can also take in the natural beauty of the surrounding coast and is one of the top places to visit in San Diego.

Local docents upkeep thirty seven acres of diverse life, with rotating bloom schedules throughout the year and several major sectors of the garden separated by location of origin. There are thirty unique garden sectors at the San Diego Botanical Garden including a sunlit bamboo den, a large cascading waterfall in the ‘rainforest’, and a subtropical fruit garden. The botanical garden also features several fanciful bronze and clay statues adorned with blooming succulents.

san diego botanical gardens

SEE ALSO: Free Outdoor Art Exhibits: The Stuart Collection at UC San Diego

Want to know if your favorite flower is in bloom at the botanical garden? Call or check the schedule online, so you can plan ahead. My favorite flower, the Chilean Sapphire Tower (Puya alpestris) pictured belowblooms for two weeks out the year at the botanical garden, and interestingly looks like a clump of tall grass the rest of the year. When in bloom,  the Sapphire Tower flower grows 2-3 inches tall with naturally blue, vivid, and waxy petals.


I was very lucky to see this bloom in person. It took several years of incorrect timing.

The children’s garden hosts many activities related to learning, crafting and playing. The bathroom nearby has a roof completely covered in succulents, which is a treasure to see. Daily mixed media projects inspired by rotating plants and artists keep children engaged in the act of ‘making.’ Children and families who enjoy music will also find this garden fun as there are natural instruments here to play with.

Visit the San Diego Botanic Garden throughout the year- to see your favorite plant in full glory, or perhaps the annual Tomatofest in Spring, or Garden of Lights (runs till Dec 30th) during the holidays. Find a pdf map of the garden here.

The San Diego Botanic Gardens is located at 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas CA 92024, and is open daily from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.

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Hannah Johansen is an artist living and working in San Diego. She is also one of Blue Book's Visitor Center staff. To see some of her artwork please visit and her nature photography at

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