Visiting the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens
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Nick and I kicked off our Valentine’s Day celebration early by going to Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens last weekend and it was STUNNING. It is located in San Marino, California (near Pasadena) and is totally worth the 30 - 60 minute drive from Los Angeles.
Keep reading for details and tips, because there’s definitely an art to being able to go.
OPEN DURING THE PANDEMIC?
Yes! Well, kind of. The botanical gardens are 100% open, but everything else (the library and art museum) is closed. That’s alright though because the grounds are BEAUTIFUL. They do temperature checks and masks are required, but everyone is really spread out and there’s plenty of land (and fresh air!) to go around. Tickets required so it isn’t a free for all or anything like that. We felt very safe.
YOU HAVE TO BUY TICKETS?!
Yes. This is important! Tickets are released every other Tuesday at 12:00 PM PST for the following 2 weeks. Here’s a direct link to the ticket page. I logged on at exactly noon on 01/26 hoping to get a slot for Valentine’s Day weekend, but was met with a 2500+ person waiting room. It moved quickly (about 15 minutes), but all of the V-Day weekend tickets were gone. Definitely go to the website ahead of time to “get in line”. Note also that members do get first dibs. A benefit of the pandemic is that the tickets are actually cheaper. It’s $29 for adults (youth ages 4 - 11 are $13 and they have student and senior discounts as well). I wanted to go right before the pandemic hit and tickets were $50 - $60 (I can’t remember). I would go back and pay full price, but just wanted to mention that. $30 is easier to spend per person than $50+! You obviously don’t have access to library or art exhibits but the grounds alone are worth the visit!
Note that you select a time when you are purchasing tickets. This time slot is the earliest you can get in the door, but say you arrived at 3:15 pm for your 3:00 pm slot, you aren’t going to get in trouble. They do encourage guests to arrive as close to their time as possible, so the flow of guests goes smoothly though.
OH, parking is free! AND they do have free entry days about once month. You still need to get in line to grab a ticket, though - members included. Max of 5 tickets per household is allowed.
Note you can use the payment for your ticket and put it towards a membership if you’d like! Members get lots of benefits like discounts and being first in line. We didn’t do this, but might consider it if we lived closer.
Everlane Blazer (old, similar here) | Everlane T-shirt (c/o) | Levi’s Jeans (yes these are the same, the hole in my knee has just gotten bigger) | Suede Booties | Uncommon James Crossover Huggies | Tom Ford Tote Bag
WHAT DO YOU DO AT HUNTINGTON LIBRARY?
Take in all the views! You can walk the whole grounds and in “normal times” visit the library and art exhibits. Lots of people find a spot to read, write, draw, etc. We were there for about an hour and half and continually walked the entire property, stopping for about 15 minutes at a bench by the lily pond. So serene!!
They have cafes and such, but they were closed when we went due to the pandemic. As of 02/03/21 they opened them back up so you should be able to picnic. You can’t bring your own food in, but you can of course use theirs. They do check bags for this at entry. No bag size restrictions though!
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PART?
Honestly it is all gorgeous. I thought the Japanese Garden was going to be my favorite, but I think the Camellia Garden ended up stealing my heart. I want to go back just so I can sit on the lawn, drink rosé, and pretend I am in France! The Japanese Garden was a close second though!
I also love all the plants and flowers present. Even though we were wearing masks, we could still smell the fragrance from the flowers in bloom. I can only imagine what it is like maskless and in the spring. They have a 3 acre rose garden that I would love to experience in bloom.
MAKE A DAY OF IT… or at least an afternoon ;)
We could have spent a lot longer at the gardens, but were kind of boxed in by our own doing. When you buy tickets you also select a time and that is the earliest you can go in. I had a previous engagement the same day, so we picked a late afternoon time of 3:00 PM. We should have taken our dog out before we left, but didn’t and therefore had to make sure he was able to go to the bathroom. Anyway, it is a good area and there is a quite a bit to do.
We arrived a little early in the area to stop at a coffee shop. We always like to see what’s local in the area! We had planned on going to Two Kids Coffee, but they closed right before we got there. Instead we visited Copa Vida and grabbed coffee and tea. I ordered the ginger lemongrass tea and it was delightful. Their food menu looked yummy too! We considered grabbing dinner in the area after our garden visit, but like I already mentioned, we went home. We considered Maestro and Babita Mexicuisine before we decided to trek home to let out sweet Dino. Both looked phenomenal. We well have to try them when we go back, because we will! I for sure want to visit again. It’s a great place to bring people visiting Los Angeles who have done all of the other touristy things, plus you get out of the hustle and bustle of the city. Nearby is Audubon Center at Debs Park. I saw people hiking and it looked like a great trail! Next on my list is Descanso Gardens (about 15 minutes from Huntington Library). It is a little smaller (and cheaper ticket wise!), but still looks like a great perennial experience!
Pro Tip: I wore heeled booties because I wanted to look cute, but I should have gone with sneakers. It is a lot of walking! I was slightly worried regarding mud because it rained the entire day before we visited, but the majority of the paths are paved and there was little to no mud on the areas without pavement.
Love any fun gardens or experiences like Huntington Library in the Los Angeles area? I love the Getty Museum and it is free, but I’d love to know more and of course check them out. Enjoy your visit!!
Side note - yes I did take my mask off for a hot second to snap a couple pics. No one was around us when I did so :)
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