Hit the Road: Enhanced Alta Vista Botanical Gardens a treat for all ages

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When we decided to take our 6-year-old grandson to Alta Vista Botanical Gardens in Vista, we were relatively ignorant about the 14-acre mini-park nestled within Brengle Terrace Park.

It had been several years since our last visit, and we were delighted to find the gardens expanded and enriched. Largely the work of Vistans Todd Cure’ (landscape architect), Ron Holloway (civil engineer) and Bryan Morse (environmental artist), who has donated four of his sculptures to the grounds, the gardens are ideal for exploration by all ages.

“Totally tubular tunnels” (giant cement pipes) are one of many elements in the Children’s Garden. Kids can also challenge the Stepping Stumps, Wobbly Bridge, a Balance Beam and the Hurdles, and discover Alice’s Hidden Tea room among the foliage. Photo by E’Louise Ondash
Landon Barnhart, 6, of Carlsbad is a bit hesitant when it comes to getting friendly with a bigger-than-life scorpion, created by sculptor Ricardo Breceda. His works, including a giant serpent in the Children’s Garden, can be found throughout Alta Vista. Photo by E’Louise Ondash















A dedicated Children’s Garden and Discovery Trail features a Music Garden with oversized instruments and plenty of natural and man-made elements for jumping, climbing and crawling. A massive, mythical sea serpent and more than a dozen scarecrows challenge young imaginations.

Multiple themed gardens (Jungle, Mediterranean, California Native, South African, Medicinal and more) take visitors through various climate zones, and about 30 sculptures spark wonder and conversation.

The cactuses are in bloom in the Desert Garden . Some of these cactuses are located on the sides of steep hills, so wear sturdy walking shoes and bring water and a camera. Photo by E’Louise Ondash

Among these: eight metal animal sculptures by Ricardo Breceda, known for the dozens of welded sculptures that populate the acres around Borrego Springs.

A waterfall, lily pad pond, lots of shade trees and several resident turtles will hold youngsters’ interest and provide a bit of cool serenity. 

Plenty of rest spots and tables invite picnics and encourage visitors to just sit and contemplate. 

The gardens are certified by the North American Butterfly Association and the National Wildlife Federation, which means it is committed to being chemical- and pesticide-free, and also is the ideal place to maintain social-distancing.

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