A Place to Smell the Roses
Recently rated in the top 10 parks in the United States in the Trip Advisor Travelers Choice Awards, Balboa Park features 16 unique gardens including the Japanese Friendship Garden, the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden featuring over 2,400 rose bushes, and the Botanical Building with adjacent Koi and Lily Pond. The Botanical Building houses more than 2,100 plants including a fascinating collection of cycads, ferns, orchids and palms. Join the weekly 45-minute docent-led Botanic Building Garden Tour to learn about the origins, design and horticulture housed in the building. Balboa Park is also home to 15 museums and theaters as well as the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
And speaking of the Zoo, both the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido, boast wonderful botanical collections. Both parks employ a team of horticulturists, arborists and gardeners who care for more than a million plants on a combined 1,900 acres. One of only six zoos recognized for their plant collections by the American Association of Museums (AAM), the Zoo holds distinctions in acacias, aloes, bamboos, coral trees, cycads, figs, gingers, orchids, and palms. Treat yourself to a self-guided walking tour, or join a monthly Botanical Bus Tour or look for special days with access to Orchid Odyssey. The Safari Park's accredited collections are the Baja Garden, Old World Succulent Garden, Conifer Forest, figs, palms, and the Native Scapes Garden.
A don't miss for plant lovers, the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas encompasses four miles of garden trails, including a wide collection of native and endangered plants, a whimsical children's garden, and the nation's largest collection of bamboo species. The garden offers a full line up of engaging events including workshops, plant sales and bird-watching tours.