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Move over out Legoland! South Coast has new four-acre outdoor play area for kids

Families at the new Santa Barbara Botanic Garden "Backcountry" area, which is intended to provide a place for kids to have fun while exploring nature.

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden addition opens this week; It hopes to provide a place for familles to have fun, and kids to learn about nature.

Move over Disneyland, and Legoland. Santa Barbara County is home to what could be one of the most popular new adventure spots for kids. And, instead of relying on technology, and rides, the four acre park gives children the chance to experience nature by doing things like climbing up hills using ropes.

"I loved it...I did the ropes," said Jamien Mann. "I had so much fun here," said the seven year old.

“Here” is the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s new Backcountry play area designed specifically with kids in mind.

"It's a place to climb rocks, climb over trees, to discover the natural world," said Steve Windhager, the Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. "Our goal here at the garden is to get people to love nature, so they want to protect it in the future. So, we build up the next generation of conservationists."

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden "Backcountry" area includes lots of interactive play spots for kids, like this where kids can job, or hop from stump to stump.

The new addition to the Botanic Garden isn’t quite finished yet, but it opened this week. Judy Guillermo-Newton says her family loves it.

"It's amazing what they've done...I have two of my grandkids here from Pasadena, and they had so much fun," said Guillermo-Newton.

Alicia Baretto is in part of the garden’s Backcountry area that’s filled with about two dozen tree stumps. They are cut low, so kids can step, or jump from stump to stump. Baretto’s three year-old son Ryder is busy going from stump to stump.

"I love it, because we go hiking quite a bit, but it's kind of nice to have a space that's easy to get to," said Baretto.

Among the thinks to do are some little areas known as “Casitas”, with special activities for kids. One includes a lending library of nature-related books. And, among the favorites is a tree-like playhouse made out of recycled materials.

The Backcountry is focused on activities for kids from five through 13.

Scattered throughout the new area are Backcountry Rangers who offer education and supervision.

The project cost about $4 million, but more than $2.5 million of it is an endowment to staff, and maintain the new four acre section of the Botanic Garden.

Admission to the Backcountry area is free with tickets to the 78 acre Botanic Garden. Because of parking limitations in the Mission Canyon area, visitors must make reservations to visit.