Spring is in full bloom in San Diego and it’s time to celebrate! Add color, flavor and new life to the season and let your little ‘buds’ discover their inner green thumb by planting organic veggies, watching flowers blossom and butterflies take flight, frolicking with chickens and climbing through an amazing treehouse at our favorite local gardens and nurseries. Read on for where to take your sprouts to inspire a love of gardening!
photo: City Farmers Nursery
Nurseries for New Gardeners
City Farmers Nursery
This family-owned garden supply nursery located in the heart of San Diego is a hidden gem. Kids will love visiting the chickens, ducks, goats, bunnies, miniature horse and other farm animals. There is even a fun playground area for them to relax and unwind in. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop for kid-sized tools, hats and gloves for harvesting their own garden at home. Be sure to check out the organic produce stand and get some free advice on how to grow your own while you’re at it. City Farmers Nursery also specializes in unique items such as organic seeds, animal feeds and beekeeping items. And don’t miss the free gardening and cooking classes every month!
Don’t miss: City Farmers hosts an annual Fall Harvest Festival! Grab your pumpkin seeds now and enter the pumpkin growing contest in October. It’s a great tradition for young farmers.
3110 Euclid Ave.
San Diego, Ca 92105
Walter Anderson Nursery
Entertain the kiddies with a super fun garden railroad at this inviting nursery in Poway. Ducks and a quaint rock garden will also delight and occupy them as you peruse the large selection of plants and gain valuable advice from the helpful staff. The staff at the nursery know their stuff and they offer Saturday classes for adults on topics such as soil amendment, bulbs, vegetable growing and orchids.
12755 Danielson Ct.
Poway, Ca 92064
photo: Water Conservation Garden via Yelp
Learn to be Water Wise
Water Conservation Garden
Little ones can engage in interactive water activities and learn about water conservation at this gorgeous East County treasure. Educational exhibits like the Native Habitat Garden, the Sensory Garden and the Succulent Garden will help teach kids how to make their own gardens beautiful and drought tolerant. And with six acres of land to explore, they won’t get bored anytime soon. Relax, eat a picnic lunch in the scenic gazebo and enjoy the huge variety of landscapes. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!
Don’t miss: The garden will feature a beautiful Butterfly Festival on April 28th where kids can participate in a variety of activities and learn how to create butterfly-friendly habitats.
12122 Cuyamaca College Dr. West
El Cajon, Ca 92019
photo: Wendy H. via Yelp
Gardening Classes for Kids
Olivewood Gardens & Learning Center
This gorgeous, historic property in National City offers hands-on experience through science, ecology and nutrition, including cooking classes. Much of the garden’s education is taught through field trips offered to South Bay students, but the center also offers public tours of its organic garden Tuesday mornings as well as during a monthly open house.
Don’t miss: Mommy and Me time at the gardens on March 29th! This one hour class is for 2-5 year olds and will include a garden walk, story time, and craft activities. Little ones will also get to try a garden-fresh snack and feed the chickens. Tickets are $10 for each child/adult pair.
2525 N. Ave.
National City, Ca 91950
Alta Vista Botanical Gardens
This unique garden in Vista seeks to provide a fun learning experience for people to connect with nature, art and each other. Kids can release their inner musician at the cute little music garden and admire the inspirational artwork and metal sculptures throughout the whole garden. Set on a hillside, it’s a great place to reflect on nature’s beauty and play together as a family.
Don’t miss: The Kids in the Garden Classes the second Saturday of each month. Upcoming topics include veggie critters, recycled art and water conservation. Pre-registration is requested. Cost for classes: $5
1270 Vale Terrace Dr.
Vista, Ca 92084
photo: Rachel Cobb
San Diego Botanic Garden
You’ll want to take your time exploring this 37 acre botanic wonderland in Encinitas. This garden is surrounded by lush greenery, spectacular waterfalls and multiple kids areas for perusal and play. The miniature garden railroad train at the Seeds of Wonder Garden is a must see. Kids can also plant a succulent to take home. The larger Hamilton Children’s garden features an amazing treehouse kids can climb in, an herb garden and outdoor homemade instruments. And if your kiddos want to kick off their shoes and get some active water play in, there’s also a fun little stream that they can splash through.
Don’t miss: The Fairy Festival on June 23rd! Kids can wear their favorite fairy costume and participate in crafts and entertainment for a small extra fee.
230 Quail Gardens Dr.
Encinitas, Ca 92024
photo: Rose H. via Yelp
Summers Past Farms
If a quiet day in the country is what you’re after, pay a visit to Summers Past Farms. Enjoy the scenic view of the East County mountains and step back into simpler times. Sipping a cup of tea from the outdoor cafe is the perfect way to spend the day, while kiddos can frolic with local chickens, relax by the pond or dig in the pint-sized sand box. They might even make friends with one of the local kitties that call the garden home. This is a great place to be at peace and get inspired by the enchanting landscape. Don’t forget to visit their popular gift shop – they’ve got myriad tiny whimsical items and ideas to build your very own fairy garden at home. Free admission.
Don’t miss: Sweet Pea Day on April 14th. Kids can walk through the sweet pea maze, cut their own sweet pea bouquets and enjoy a perfect spring day.
15602 Olde Hwy 80
El Cajon, Ca 92021
photo: Beth Shea
Myrtle Creek Botanical Gardens and Nursery
This magical garden retreat in Fallbrook just might have it all. The historic Fallbrook getaway offers pretty gardens to walk through, huge oak trees and an extensive variety of flowers, shrubs and trees at the nursery. Kids will be enthralled by Fallbrook Barn, a real livestock barn from the 1800’s complete with animals to greet them. Stroll through the Wild Bird Sanctuary and see how many different species your little birdwatchers can spot. The colorful Butterfly and Hummingbird Gardens are sure to be a hit as well. They can even create their own fairy garden to take home at the Fairy Garden workshop area. And for a small fee, kids can gain entrance to Happy Goat Mountain and feed the garden’s rescue goats. And since kiddos are always hungry, there’s Café Bloom right onsite, serving up delicious organic farm dishes including their famous Myrtle Berry Pie.
Don’t Miss: Be sure to pick up some of Fallbrook’s famous avocados during your visit! Also, the garden is closed on Tuesdays, so call ahead to make sure they’re open before your visit.
Read our full review of Myrtle Creek Botanical Gardens and Nursery here.
2940 Reche Road
Fallbrook, Ca 92028
photo: Robyn H. via Yelp
Learn From Neighborhood Experts
Got a passion for planting but don’t have the space at home? Join a community garden! Surround the kids with great neighbors and come together to create something precious and beautiful. Community gardeners share tools, soil and advice on everything from pest control to composting. For a fee of about $100 per year, families can lease a garden plot that includes the water. This is a great way for kids to take an active role in the community and learn about health and nutrition. In various community gardens across the county, you’ll find Eagle Scouts completing projects, Girl Scouts planting their first seedlings and even school kids painting signs to put up in their garden. Check out this website to find a community garden near you.
Where are your favorite spots to find gardening inspiration? Tell us in the comments below!
––Cherie Gough & Marissa Mullen