For the first time, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden has been honored with a “Best of Santa Barbara” award in the category of Family Fun Spot in the annual readers’ poll held by the weekly Santa Barbara Independent newspaper. The Garden was voted Runner-Up to the longtime winner Santa Barbara Zoo.
“We feel that this is in direct response to the opening of our new kid-centered Backcountry last June, which has proven to be a hit with local families.” says Scot Pipkin, director of education at the Garden. “It encourages kids to explore nature in an unstructured way, and is designed to present surprises and challenges that engage their imagination and sense of discovery. When I meet people in the community and tell them where I work, the sincere gratitude and enthusiasm I’ve received for the Backcountry and what it means to their families has been overwhelming.”
Readers of the Independent vote for their favorite local businesses and organizations in 208 categories encompassing food, entertainment, romance, children and family activities, home improvement, sports, recreation, and more.
“Being named ‘Best of Santa Barbara’ means more than just bragging rights,” writes the Independent’s Culture Editor Leslie Dinaberg, announcing this year’s winners. “It’s a meaningful vote of confidence from the community.”
The 4.5-acre Backcountry garden has been specially designed for all visitors, but particularly ages five to 13, to pursue nature play – climb on fallen trees, rock-hop, build forts out of natural materials, navigate a maze, and more. Nature educators called “Backcountry Rangers” are on site to ensure safety, maintain the garden, and help guide the visitor experience.
Backcountry opened in June 2022 after a two-year design/build process. The $4 million budget was raised through community donations and includes a $2.5 million endowment to ensure staffing and upkeep in perpetuity.
For more information, visit www.SBBotanicGarden.org.