The Ventura Botanical Gardens is a scenic outdoor space in Ventura that offers easily accessible hiking trails and excellent views of the coastline. If you’re looking for a relatively short and beautiful place to head for a quick outdoor adventure, put Ventura Botanical Gardens Trail on top of your list!
The Ventura Botanical Gardens allows dogs on select days and the trails are very family-friendly so it’s the perfect place to go for parents with little kids. As a Ventura local, I like to come here to enjoy the scenery and learn more about their preservation efforts.
In this hiking guide, I cover where the Ventura Botanical Gardens is located, what you can expect if you plan to hike the Ventura Botanical Gardens Trail along with other visitor tips!
Looking for more trail options in Ventura? Be sure to check out our post covering the 10 best hiking trails in Ventura next!
Ventura Botanical Gardens Hike Highlights
Here are a few quick Ventura Botanical Gardens Trail highlights before we go into more details:
- Length: 2.1-mile long loop
- Elevation Gain: 370 feet
- Time Needed: 1-2 hours
- Difficulty: Easy
- Dogs allowed?: On leash on Wednesdays and Fridays
Ventura Botanical Gardens Location & Parking
Ventura Botanical Gardens are located in the hills slightly north of downtown Ventura. Free visitor parking can be found at the end of a small side road off Poli Street behind the Ventura City Hall. If you’re using Google Maps, you can look up directions under ‘Ventura Botanical Gardens and City Hall Parking’.
Once you park in the paved visitor lot, you can head over to the Merewether Welcome Center entrance. Ventura Botanical Gardens price for entrance is $7 per person which you can pay in cash or by card. You can also purchase an annual membership for $45/year that provides access to the gardens and free passes for guests.
As an option, Ventura Botanical Gardens free day is on Friday. If you come on a Friday, you don’t have to pay the entrance fee which is a nice option making this beautiful hiking area accessible to everyone.
The Ventura Botanical Gardens is located close to the iconic Serra Cross Park so you can easily combine a visit to both on the same day.
About Ventura Botanical Gardens
Ventura Botanical Gardens is a beautiful outdoor space in Ventura that covers 107 acres of land. This garden is located in the foothills of Ventura offering stunning ocean views all around.
The garden is home to over 100,000 plants that represent various climates and regions of the world. During my visit, I passed by the Chilean Garden, California Garden, Mediterranean Garden, and South African Garden at the summit.
There are several miles of hiking trails that you can explore here. Some of the pathways intersect and can get a bit confusing so I followed the Ventura Botanical Gardens Trail route from the AllTrails hiking app. This a 2.1-mile-long loop with 370 feet of elevation gain.
Ventura Botanical Gardens Trail Map:
The botanical garden does allow leashed dogs, but only on Wednesdays and Fridays. Fridays are also free days so you can enjoy two perks in one.
Many of the pathways are stroller accessible and I saw several people hiking with strollers and little kids. This is an easy trail that is a great outdoor adventure for the entire family!
The garden is open to visitors from Tuesday to Sunday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. All visitors must exit by 5:00 pm when the gates close so come earlier in the afternoon if you plan to spend a couple of hours here.
My Experience Hiking Ventura Botanical Gardens Trail
Here is the detailed breakdown of the Ventura Botanical Gardens hike covering what the trail is like and some of the main stops.
After arriving at the visitor parking lot, I walked over to the Merewether Welcome Center and paid the $7 visitor fee.
If you’re trying to avoid the crowds, it’s best to come during the week Tuesday to Thursday. Fridays and the weekends are the busiest times when you won’t find much solitude here.
At the entrance, you can see a map of the available hiking trails. There are several miles of trails that you can walk here heading up to the summit plateau situated 1.25 miles from the welcome center. At the entrance, you can also stop by the gift shop where you can check out giant pots and plants that are available for sale.
There are several different regions & climates that you can experience at this botanical garden:
- Chilean Garden
- California Garden
- Mediterranean Garden
- South Africa Garden
I recommend setting aside a couple of hours to enjoy all the best this outdoor space has to offer!
As you enter the botanical garden, you can follow the beautiful flower art on the ground that will lead you directly to the trailhead. The trail starting point is located to the right and immediately will start climbing up gradual switchbacks. There will also be rock stairs cutting through the switchbacks if you want to shorten the hike.
The first section of the Ventura Botanica Gardens is dedicated to rare plants and endangered species from Chile. Along the way, you can stop and read various information signs with plant names and descriptions. We personally spent a couple of months traveling through all of Chile and it is truly one of the most beautiful areas in the world.
As you climb higher up the switchbacks, you will be able to stop by various viewpoints overlooking the Ventura Coastline. The higher you go, the better the views will get!
It’s best to visit Ventura Botanical Gardens on a clear day when you can see unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean, Channel Islands, and the City of Ventura. There will be some benches along the way where you can take a break, enjoy the views, listen to the birds chirping in the trees, and meditate.
In 0.7 miles the trail will cross Summit Drive next to the Rotary Plaza. Once you cross the paved road, the trail will continue along a dirt path again.
There are several routes that you explore here. Stick to the left to walk through the California and Mediterranean gardens or go to the right to visit the Cape of South Africa Garden.
In 1.25 miles you will reach the Ventura Botanical Gardens Summit Plateau, also known as Grant Park. Here you can walk around, take a break at the benches scattered at the top and enjoy the ocean views.
If you come during the week, you might encounter just a handful of people along the way and at the summit providing plenty of privacy and solitude. I did notice a few volunteers working in the garden to keep the area clean and well taken care of.
From the summit, you can make your way back down the same way that you came. If you’re cutting it close to 5 pm, you can shorten the trail by walking along the wide paved sections and then take the stairs back down.
Other Visitor Tips
Here are a few tips to keep in mind for visiting Ventura Botanical Gardens:
- If you plan to bring your dog, keep them on a short leash no longer than 6 feet and clean up after them. Dogs are only allowed on select days such as Wednesdays and Fridays.
- The best time to visit Ventura Botanical Gardens is spring and early summer when all of the flowers are in full bloom. During this time the surrounding hills are also covered in lush grass and beautiful spring flowers.
- Bring plenty of water for your visit, especially if you plan to hike with your dog. We always bring several bottles of water along with a collapsible water bowl.
- The trails at this botanical garden are easy but slip-resistant hiking shoes are highly recommended so you don’t accidentally slip and fall.
- Bicycles are not allowed on the garden pathways. This area is for walking and hiking only.
- Please stay on designated pathways and do not pick any of the plants or flowers.
- In the warmer months, I recommend wearing sunscreen, lip balm, a hiking hat, and polarized sunglasses to protect yourself from the harsh California sun.
- Bring a small day pack. I have a lightweight day pack that fits all my essentials, water, and camera gear. This Gregory Nano pack comes with a padded mesh back, several adjustable straps, and plenty of pockets where you can put everything you may need for the visit.
Ventura Botanical Gardens is one of the best hiking areas in Ventura that offers beautiful scenery and stunning views all around! If you’re looking for more things to do in the area, be sure to check out these posts next:
- 26 Best Things To Do In Ventura California (By a Local)
- 15 Best Places To Eat In Ventura, California
- 15 Best Places To Stay In Ventura CA Near The Beach
- 5 Great Breweries In Ventura For Amazing Local Beers
- 12 Best Coffee Shops In Ventura, California
- Ventura River Preserve Trail In Ojai
- 15 Best Santa Barbara Wine Tasting Tours
Some of the links used in this blog may be affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, may I earn a small commission when you book through these links for which I am very thankful!