Santa Barbara has a plethora of beautiful parks and gardens, each offering something special. One of the most visited is Ganna Walska Lotusland. Once home to the famous Polish opera singer/socialite Madame Ganna Walska, who spent 44 years creating this impressive estate turned public garden, Lotusland is now recognized as one of the ten best gardens in the world. Here you’ll find exotic plants, unique gardens, and whimsical details throughout its 37 acres, which you can admire during a self-guided tour. Another must-see for horticulture fans is the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, where you can spend an hour or two meandering around the 5.5 miles of walking paths while exploring California’s native plants, wildflowers, and towering Redwood trees. The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden also has an on-site nursery, open year-round.
As far as parks go, Alice Keck Memorial Garden is a picturesque destination in downtown Santa Barbara, home to 75 different tree and plant species. It’s also got grassy areas, a gazebo, and a pond with resident ducks and turtles. Across the street is Alameda Park, a favorite among families due to the large “Kid’s World” playground structure. If you’re looking for a park with a view, Franceschi Park, an urban park located on Santa Barbara’s Riviera, offers spectacular views of the city. Once home to famed botanist Francesco Franceschi, the park features several types of exotic plants, but the pristine city views are what will leave a lasting impression. Across town, Shoreline Park, situated on a bluff above Leadbetter Beach, is a popular kid-friendly spot to walk, BBQ, play, or just take in views of the ocean, while nearby Douglas Family Preserve is another bluff-top park, ideal for ocean-view walks amidst the Eucalyptus trees — especially great if you have the dogs in tow, as off-leash dog use is allowed.