SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- About two months after temporarily shutting down, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden will welcome some members back to the grounds during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.
The Garden is allowing households that are Garden members to visit, by appointment only, starting Friday. Two-hour reservation windows are available from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Starting this weekend the Garden will be open to member reservations Friday through Tuesday each week.
The Garden welcomed the families of volunteers, staff, trustees and some members this past weekend to test the new policies.
“We started to test this past weekend, only allowing 15 households in at a time,” Garden Executive Director Steve Windhager said Wednesday. “We’ve already decided that that was really, very safe. And so we’re upping it to about 25 households at a time. So that’s 25 cars.”
That equates to roughly one-third of the Garden's typical capacity.
Guests will now be required to wear masks and adhere to physical distancing throughout the grounds. Some small trails are now one-way trails, while others are still temporarily closed. A few hand sanitizer stations are now set up on the grounds as well.
Some volunteers and staff will be along the Garden's paths to make sure rules are being followed.
“What we do have is our volunteers set up, safely behind masks, at certain places where most of them can answer lots of questions, at a safe distance,” Windhager said.
Docent tours are currently on-hold, as are all in-person classes. Virtual classes continue, as do virtual tours available on the Garden's YouTube page.
The Garden's store is closed, although people can still buy nursery items online and pick them up at the store.
Windhager says the goal is to slowly add more appointment times. He hopes that the general public can begin to return via reservations by late June or early July.
As more outdoor museums begin to open across the state, Windhager sees obvious value in visiting them during this time, as long as proper safety guidelines are followed.
“Great places to go re-experience nature, go beyond your backyard,” he said. “It’s important to be engaged. It’s important to have those opportunities to really think about the world, and reflect and to have some serenity in your life.”
To make a reservation or find out more information, you can visit the Botanic Garden's website.