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Alta Vista Botanical Gardens: Bringing Together People, Nature and Art

Alta Vista Gardens Sign

Alta Vista Botanical Gardens is a 13-acre oasis located in Vista’s Brengle Terrace Park. Nearly a decade ago, the City Council approved a newly developed master plan for the gardens adopted by the board of directors, and in the years since, the all-volunteer staff has worked diligently to bring this master plan to fruition and to continue to expand the garden’s offerings.

This member-supported collection of gardens is still under construction as far as the master plan and end goals are concerned; however, there is still plenty to do and see at this family-friendly North County attraction. For just $2.00 per person (at the time of this writing), you can meander through international gardens, admire art pieces created by local artists, read a book by a tranquil pond or spend an afternoon playing a variety of instruments in the Jeffrey Stein Children’s Music Garden.

The mission of Alta Vista Gardens is simple: “To bring together people, nature and art.” And this volunteer-driven community space does just that. Sculptures and garden art can be found throughout the property, there are several annual events that bring people together in the gardens, and nature abounds in this certified butterfly and wildlife habitat.

Annual community events at the garden include a Winter Solstice Medicine Wheel Ceremony, Spring Equinox Medicine Wheel Ceremony, Earth Day Celebration, World Labyrinth Day, National Public Gardens Day, Summer Solstice Medicine Wheel Ceremony, 4th of July Celebration, Fall Equinox Medicine Wheel Ceremony, Sukkot Festival, volunteer work days and plant sales.

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There is also a variety of classes available, including gardening classes for adults and children, sculpting classes, yoga classes, cooking classes and art classes. Little ones can visit the garden for special tours as part of their scout group or for school field trips, and parents or groups can rent the Children’s Garden for private garden parties. For grown up events, there is a ceremonial garden, reception lawn, garden house and palapa that can also be rented for private affairs.

A 35-foot obelisk greets visitors as they enter the Welcome Garden. Once inside, easy pathways lead you through a variety of garden experiences, including the Mediterranean Garden, Jungle Garden, African Garden, Australasian Garden, Prehistoric Garden, Desert Garden, California Natives Garden, Heritage Rose Collection, the Children’s Garden, the Sharon Kern Culinary Herb Garden and the Bill & Naomi Stein Medicinal Herb Garden.


Visitors enjoy views of Vista and the Pacific Ocean and can enjoy an array of experiences in the gardens, including a serene, introspective labyrinth walk or a raucous afternoon making music on over-sized instruments.

A handy trail map can be printed out before you head to the gardens, which includes the names and locations of each sculpture and art piece, as well as the names of the artists.

If you would like to help the garden grow, you can become a member with an annual donation of $45 for individuals, $60 for families and couples, or $30 for seniors and active-duty military. Members get free admission to the gardens, as well as some other great benefits, such as free classes and guest speaker events.

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Alta Vista Gardens is one of Vista’s hidden gems and is definitely worth a visit. Whether you are looking for a fun location for a child’s birthday party, a relaxing place to spend an afternoon with your sweetie or a family-friendly attraction where everyone can learn something new, you should definitely put Alta Vista Gardens on your list of local attractions to see this year!

  • Website:
  • Address: 1270 Vale Terrace Drive in Vista
  • Phone Number: (760) 945-3954
  • Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday 7:00am to 4:30pm, Saturday and Sunday 10:00am to 4:30pm (The hours of operation change with the season, so check their website for the current hours when planning your visit.)
  • Admission: $2.00 for non-members (free with membership)

Photos courtesy of and

AJ Davis-Varela: AJ is a freelance writer and blogger at Articles by AJ specializing in travel, real estate, natural wellness and green living. She is a magazine columnist, a former San Diego newspaper columnist, has been published in a variety of print and online publications, and regularly contributes to several websites and blogs. You can connect with AJ on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+