Just Add Water: 4 Cool San Diego Garden Centers to Explore

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Dirt, water, sunshine and a little TLC is the recipe for your next San Diego adventure (We know, sounds a lot like parenting, doesn’t it?). Creating a special garden with your little darling is easy when you know where to go for supplies. If you want to pack serious fun with an educational twist, introduce your muddy monsters to the world of nurseries. The practice of growing and cultivating plants is one great way to teach kiddos about colors, shapes, textures and the life cycle of plants and trees. Get down and dirty at these super cool San Diego nurseries!

City Farmers NurseryPhoto credit: City Farmers Nursery

City Farmers Nursery
Escape the hustle and bustle of busy city life. Step into a garden nursery oasis, right in the heart of San Diego. The massive grounds at City Farmers Nursery offer unique organic plants and supplies not carried by other stores. Each month the nursery hosts classes ranging from growing your first vegetable garden, to canning and cooking, to beekeeping. Your curious beansprout will love exploring the grounds, visiting farm animals (chickens, goats and turkeys, just to name a few), and having a ball in the play area. Future farmers and gardeners have a special place at the nursery: they offer real, working pint-sized tools as well as kid-friendly events. The nursery also features an onsite restaurant, Nate’s Garden Grill, and a coffee bar, Sunflower Coffee Company.

Insider’s Tip: If you’re lucky, you might even catch live music on the restaurant’s dog-friendly patio. Parking is plenty.

4832 Home Ave.
San Diego, Ca 92105
Online: cityfarmersnursery.com

Moon Valley NurseryPhoto credit: Natalie Galati

Moon Valley Nursery
Known for specializing in water-wise plants, trees, palms, and shrubs, Moon Valley Nursery has been planting trees across the desert for more than 30 years. Blooming arborists can explore the spacious grounds, pond, and turn hidden alcoves into a wonderland of trees while parents peruse the nursery’s expansive selection. Make your trip to Moon Valley an educational one by having kiddos identify unique trees; for a list of the nursery’s selection of palms, click here. If you want to have even more family fun, enter the nursery’s Ugly Tree Contest by posting a photo of your ugliest tree on their Facebook page by November 8. One lucky family will receive a new tree worth up to $3,000!

26334 Mesa Rock Rd.
Escondido, Ca 92026
Online: moonvalleynurseryca.com

Walter Andersen Nursery Railroad LayoutPhoto credit: Chris W. via Yelp

Walter Andersen Nursery, Poway
Walter Andersen Sr. opened his first nursery in Old Town in 1928. Since then, the nursery has expanded to include two locations: San Diego and Poway. Parents looking for a fun and easy kid-friendly adventure and a large selection of plants should check out the Poway location. But can we be honest? Little garden enthusiasts will ditch the gardening when they see the railroad that runs throughout the nursery. With a layout at almost 4,500-square-feet, 7,000 gallons of water, 60 tons of rocks, and 15 bridges, your mini horticulturist-turn-engineer will be charmed, we’re sure. The nursery staff is friendly and knowledgeable – they even offer classes for adults on topics such as drying herbs, caring for fruit trees and strawberry potting.

12755 Danielson Ct.
Poway, Ca 92064
Online: walterandersen.com

Mission Hills NurseryPhoto credit: Angie O. via Yelp

Mission Hills Nursery
As the oldest garden center in San Diego, Mission Hills Nursery is a secret garden right in the middle of the city. Parents will enjoy this family-operated garden center complete with roses, landscape shrubs, trees, interior plants, pottery, flowers galore, and friendly, knowledgeable staff. Little sprouts will love the koi ponds, on-site chickens, and resident cat! If the family loves ladybugs and snails, they’ve got those, too! The staff at Mission Hills Nursery always wears big smiles and is oh so knowledgeable.

Insider’s Tip: The nursery may be closed on rainy days – make sure to call ahead when skies are gray!

1525 Fort Stockton Dr.
San Diego, Ca 92103
Online: missionhillsnursery.com

Fun Tip:
For ideas on the best plant choices for the kiddo’s garden, check out Gardening Know How.

What’s your favorite nursery to check out? Got a few kid-friendly suggestions? Tell us in the Comments below!

—Elizabeth Silva