Frequently Asked Questions
Why is there an admission fee? Isn’t this a City Park?
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden is not a publicly funded park or recreation area, but rather a private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) California charitable trust. We are a mission-driven institution – promoting botany, conservation and horticulture to inspire, inform and educate the public and the scientific community about California’s native flora.
The Garden is devoted to the collection, cultivation, study and display of native California plants and to graduate training and research in plant systematics and evolution. Through all its programs, the Garden makes significant contributions to the appreciation, enjoyment, understanding and thoughtful utilization of our natural heritage. We are a living museum. Not funded by tax-payer dollars, we rely upon diverse sources of funding including generated revenue, private contributions, grant funding, and the support of our members.
The Garden did not charge an admission fee until early 2009. The decision to charge was not an easy one, but was (and still is) financially necessary to support the quality of experience we believe our visitors deserve. We do offer several free days a year, and hope to find sponsors for more free days soon.
Admission is free for members. Become a member today and enjoy free Garden admission, discounts at Grow Native Nursery and the Garden Gift Shop, invitations to special events, and more!
Do you allow dogs (or other pets) in the Garden?
With the exception of identified service animals, we do not allow dogs or other pets in the Garden. Service animals must show proof of registration and remain on a leash (no longer than 6') at all times.
The rule of ‘no dogs allowed’ is as much for the safety of pets as it is for the safety of our plants and native wildlife. Showcasing a tremendous diversity and richness of plant species from around our state, the Garden provides wonderful habitat for myriad species of native wildlife. While exploring the Garden, visitors frequently encounter chattering squirrels, fluttering birds, coyotes, and may even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a bobcat. The normal habits of these native species are affected by the presence of domestic dogs and other animals. In addition, many of the plants in our living collection are subject to trampling and damage if dogs (or humans) stray from designated foot paths. Thank you for respecting our “living museum”.
Why is picnicking not allowed in the Garden?
As a living museum, much different from a park or other recreation area, we ask that personal food remain within vehicles at the parking lot.
While catered food service may be available and outside food is allowed in designated areas during some special events (such as the Gift Shop Patio or California Courtyard during concerts), general picnicking in the Garden introduces foodstuffs that may be harmful to our native wildlife. Wildlife may also become accustomed to human food thus altering their normal habits (if you’ve ever been harassed by pigeons in city environments or approached by hungry squirrels in urban parks, you know what we mean!). While perhaps unintentionally left behind, trash (as well as the challenges of aesthetically locating trash receptacles) can mar an otherwise lovely experience.
Can spaces at the Garden be rented for outside events like weddings or meetings?
YES. Whether your needs call for an intimate setting or a spacious venue with room to dance the night away, you’ll find a place here. From milestone birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and private parties to celebration of life services, family gatherings, corporate meetings and business retreats, you can find a location to match your needs. With multiple venues and even more beautiful Garden settings to choose from, the possibilities are endless. Visit our website at http://rsabg.org/rentals, where you can download an information packet that includes venue descriptions and pricing. Peruse our Facebook page to view venue photos.
Are guided tours of the Garden available?
YES. Throughout the year there are different types of guided tours offered, both for private bookings or the general visitor. Guided tours enrich the visitor experience with layered interpretation provided by knowledgeable guides, beyond what can be gleaned from casual observation or interpretive signage. Our tour programs offer a variety of opportunities for visitors including adults, K-12 school visitors and tour groups. Tour offerings include:
One-hour private walking tours, scheduled in advance for groups of 4 or more
One-hour private guided tram tours (seating is limited) scheduled in advance
Public Tram Tours of the California Plant Communities (third Sunday of each month, 10 a.m., weather-permitting)
Guided School Tours, offering grade-level and California State Standards-based tour content including engaging, hands-on activities
Free Garden Tours included with membership or paid admission on weekends, March through May at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Free special event tours, including Annual Wildflower Show, National Public Gardens Day, and more – follow our website/Facebook page, sign up for The Buzz e-newsletter, or call for details and schedules.
I love to paint outside, and was wondering if I might be able to set up an easel from time-to-time in the Garden. Is this possible, or do I need to be part of a group?
OF COURSE! We are happy to allow painting in our Garden, as we wish to be a showcase place that encourages that type of engagement with our environment. The Garden means so many different things for so many different people. We're more than just a pretty place for a stroll. :)
We simply ask that painters/sketchers follow the same rules as other visitors, including: staying on pathways and out of the plant collection areas, not impeding other guests/blocking, and being courteous to others’ needs. Admission fees or membership applies, and we would like to be credited when possible with our name: Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.