Tuesday, February 8, 2011

San Diego Botanic Garden

Today my sister and I drove up to Encinitas, CA to spend a few hours at the San Diego Botanic Garden. She told me that there was a children's area there that the kids would be around with run around and play. I'm always looking for new places to take Isabel that she'll be able to grab things without me worrying too much that she'll either break it or hurt herself. The weather was a little chilly today, yes San Diego gets chilly, sometimes. There was an over cast and a slight breeze which a heavier jacket handled quite nicely.

The San Diego Botanic Garden features desert landscapes, a tropical rain forest, Mediterranean landscapes, an herb garden, fruit garden and more all on 37 acres.  There is admission: adults $12, seniors, students and military $8, children 3-12 $6 and parking is $2.  We headed straight for the Hamilton Children's Garden.  The website says it's the largest interactive children's garden on the West Coast.  Armed with high expectations we hiked with the strollers and the kiddos.   

From SDBG's website

There are a few separate areas to explore, a tree house, music, arts and crafts, stream, fountain, and alphabet garden.  There was a tree house with soft matting on the floor with two tunnels crawl through, a net to climb and spiral staircase to the upper levels.  On the upper levels there was two look out stations with netting to crawl through to get to them.  Great places to explore and imagine but the tree house is better suited for preschool and up.

There is a man made stream with rock and toy boats free to use in the stream.  Although, the kids were more interested playing in the water then sailing the boats. There is a music area with wooden, metal and stone pieces set up like xylophones.  There were also a metal jug, wooden frog, tambourine and rain makers for the kids to explore.  Next to this was an area for arts and crafts with large chalk boards.  This area did not have any available supplies for drop in public that I was able to see.  

Besides this is a huge sand play area.  There are available toys like shovels, play food, and dump trucks.  We spent most of our time here since the rest of the garden was not as toddler friendly.  They had a blast here and played pretend chefs and diggers. The website lists a number of activities.
  • Every Friday from 2-4pm is Science Friday with insects, plants and birds to observe. 
  • Saturday Slugs from 11-12:30pm.
  • First Saturday: Math/Science
    • Come and learn about the plants and wildlife in our garden.
  • Second Saturday: Storytelling
    • There will be stories to listen to under the shade structure at the upper level.
  • Third Saturday: Gardening
    • Come and help in the garden with weeding, planting, or harvesting worm castings to feed the plants.
  • Fourth Saturday: Art
    • Express yourself with paint, clay, or help create a mural for our art garden.
Would I go again?  Unfortunately, not for a few years.  I think the drive, cost and the activities are not worth it for toddlers.  I do think that it's a great place for children to discover and observe nature.  However, for it to be worth the effort I would wait until my daughter is able to join in all the garden has to offer.

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