Alta Vista Botanical Gardens in Vista wasn’t really our destination. We were searching for Brengle Terrace Park, but I noticed on the map that the park has an amphitheatre, the gardens, a disc golf course, tennis courts, and even a big recreation center. We are always looking for parks in North San Diego County, because Legoland is such a draw and there are such good hotels in this part of the county. Brengle Terrace Park looked like it would be a great addition to our list and we LOVE gardens, so that was a bonus.
This park is not in Orange County, but it’s only 35 minutes to this park from San Clemente — which is closer for south county residents than heading to Huntington Beach or Yorba Linda parks. Good gardens are worth the drive anyways.
The shape of Brengle Terrace Park is not unlike half a volcano. Imagine the playground and recreation center at the base. Drive in a spiral on the way up and you’ll pass the amphitheater about halfway to the top. The flat top of the hill is where the Alta Vista Botanical Gardens fill the “crater” and overflow the hill spilling down in all directions like lava flowing towards the park below.
Location of Alta Vista Botanical Gardens and Brengle Terrace Park: I’ve attached the official map in the “Checklist” section below. We took a very roundabout route because we were exploring other parts of Vista. The most direct way to go is take I-5 to the 78 which is a little north of Carlsbad. It will take you out towards Vista. Exit at Vista Village Drive and head towards Vista Village. Eventually, you will turn right onto Vale Terrace Drive and turn left into the park. You can see from the map there are two entrances to the park from Vale Terrace Drive. We took the first entrance which is a bit roundabout to get to the gardens, but perfect if you want to start at the playground. If you just want to go directly to the gardens, I’d recommend the 2nd entrance. You’ll go past a senior center and up a big hill. Parking will be on your right and the entrance to the garden is on your left. (Address: 1200 Vale Terrace Drive, Vista) MAP TO ALTA VISTA BOTANICAL GARDENS AT BRENGLE TERRACE PARK
- I don’t want to show you too much of the garden because half the fun is discovering the plants and artwork that lines the paths
- You can see the ocean from here!
- Kids will love the Children’s Discovery Trail and Jeffrey Stein Musical Garden. My favorite was the Piano Pebble Chime.
- Kids will also love the whimsical sculptures all throughout the gardens. I was fond of the sea monster / dragon in the Children’s Garden area. And spotting DINOSAURS in other parts of the garden was a fun surprise!
- Room to roam and wander along the trails and see what comes next! It’s such a beautiful spot. We saw people using the gardens in a number of different ways: bringing elderly relatives for a bench sit to enjoy the view, meditating near a pond/fountain, exploring the trails, screaming in joy through the concrete tunnels . . . so many possibilities.
- It would be such a beautiful spot for a wedding!
- Very near Vista Village shops and restaurants, plus The Wave water park.
- The Vista Conservancy Nature Trail is right across the street from the park and looks like it could eventually link up to the village. If we had more time, I would have checked out the trail!
- Lots of benches for hanging out and enjoying the gardens.
- It can be hot in Vista during the summer
- The playground was extremely busy when we visited (hence, no photos) on a weekend
- Parking is free and right across from the garden entrance.
- There is a small admission price ($3-$5). It’s self-pay, so please be a good citizen and drop the correct amount in the slot. We paid a little extra because we didn’t have change, but we know gardens like this need all the help they can get.
- There is a map and rules posted as you enter the garden. Please respect this space and keep it nice for the next visitor.
- Official map of Brengle Terrace Park
- Official website for Alta Vista Botanical Gardens
- Official website for Vista Conservancy Nature Trail
Find out about more Kid-Friendly Farms & Gardens in my blog post featuring farms and gardens in Orange County which touches on the best in San Diego and LA counties.