When I tell most people that I’m going to the Huntington Library they give me a funny look and ask why I would go to a public library (assuming I’m going to the Huntington Beach one). Well, the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is anything but a public library.
I don’t often make the trek up to LA, mostly because more often than not what should be a 45-minute drive turns into 2 and 1/2 hours. But when I do go, it is usually for a few specific spots. Though I have only been a couple times, the Huntington is one of my favorite places to visit in the LA area (a close second to the Getty).
For a brief history, the Huntington was founded first as a research and educational institution by Henry Huntington in 1919. Henry was a wealthy businessman who had a love of rare books, art, and gardens (all three of which make up the current facility). Along with his wife, Arabella, he created a large research library on the San Marino property that he purchased years before his marriage. He amassed a large art collection of American and European art which are all on display, and acres of botanical gardens. They continue to grow even after their passing (they are both buried in the mausoleum on the edge of the property).
While I’ve never been in the libraries, they are one of the world’s largest in the studies of British and American history, literature, art and science. The art collections are spread across two major buildings, one of which is the former residence of the Huntingtons, that are located in the middle of the property (and on hot days provide reprieve in the AC).
By far, the most enjoyable part (in my opinion) of the Huntington is the gardens, which cover 120 acres of the almost 300-acre grounds. There are more than a dozen gardens all with specific themes. You could easily spend hours walking around them all, or pick a few of your favorites. It’s incredible and a work of art in itself.
There’s the desert garden
the jungle garden
the Japanese garden
the rose and herb gardens
the Shakespeare garden
and the Chinese garden.
As you can see, it’s pretty easy to spend an entire day there.
On a recent trip with Emily and Lorelei, we spent a little less time inside the museums and more time lazily walking around the gardens (we did have a toddler in tow). She made for some pretty cute pictures though. 🙂
After a quick lunch at the restaurant in the Chinese garden (check out my Buddha beer bottle!) and a stop at the cafe for gelato, we headed back home.
It’s definitely worth a visit if you are ever in the Los Angeles area.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens/1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108