TRAVEL THERE: LOTUSLAND, BEYOND BEAUTIFUL!
First atraction, first day: Santa Barbara’s Lotusland! Talk about a great way to start a vacation – this was it!
Hanging in SB
So, if our adventure started in Santa Barbara, why did we fly to LAX and stay in Carpenteria? Well, this was a road trip which would end in LA, so it was cheaper to fly into and out of LAX, not to mention avoiding a one-way rental car charge. And Carpenteria is only ten miles away from Santa Barbara and about a hundred dollars cheaper than any accommodations I could book in the more famous city.
We left Carpenteria early enough to spend some time in Santa Barbara, because it’s one of our favorite cities. The list of things we would have loved to do would be quite long, but all we had time for was a leisurely visit to the beach. Next was lunch and we had fast food.
Lotusland is one of those hidden travel gems people talk about, but it shouldn’t be such a secret. Their website says they’ve been having tours since 1993, so I don’t know why more people aren’t raving about it. I lived on the Central Coast of California for six years and in all that time I heard one person mention it in passing and they made it seem like a cactus farm.
Listen to me – you need to go to Lotusland. Beautiful, serene, amazing – these are the words that come to mind. Yes there are cactus gardens, but that’s only the beginning. There are twenty other gardens there, also. From a Japanese Garden to a Water Garden full of water lilies to a Topiary Garden – and the list goes on!
Here’s a map from our tour. At least, Trip Advisor lists it as the number two attraction in Santa Barbara,behind the famous Courthouse, but I’ve been to the Courthouse and it doesn’t light a candle to Lotusland. Santa Barbara Mission is pretty wonderful, but Trip Advisor rates that as number seven. What’s wrong with these people!
First you need to know Ganna Walska, the lady who planned and planted Lotusland, should have her own mini-series. A famous opera singer with five different husbands, ties to both the Polish and Russian royal families and over thirty acres of gardens in Santa Barbara – what’s not to love? Then there’s the gardens themselves. Breath-taking!
Next, you need to know that you can’t just show up at the address on the internet for a stroll through the garden. All tours are docent-led and there are two each day. To tour the garden you have to go online, make reservations and pay for the tour. Then you will get directions about where to show up for the tour. I have to confess that you might get a little sticker shock. The tours are $45/adult and $20/ child, but I am telling you it is completely worth the price of admission. Trust me on this.
We had quite a tour. About half-way through a sweet little old lady fell INTO a cactus plant, which sort of threw everything off – and certainly slowed us down on the next leg of our trip – but that’s for next week. Lotusland is one of those places that I could wear myself out talking about and still not capture the essence of it, so now I’m going to shut-up and show you some of our pictures. Just be sure and come back next week. There’s more fun to come.