The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens form one of those rare places that manages to please the eye, stimulate the mind, and nourish the soul all at the same time. The former estate of railroad and real-estate baron Henry E. Huntington (1850–1927), it consists of a trio of treasures: the art collections include fine examples of British, French, and American art; the Huntington Library has about seven million rare manuscripts and books, including a Gutenberg Bible; and the Botanical Gardens are a feast of flora in a tranquil parklike setting.
1151 Oxford Rd, San Marino near Pasadena • 626-405-2100 • www.huntington.org • Open 10am–5pm Wed–Mon • Adm adults $25 ($29 Sat & Sun); seniors and students $21 ($24 Sat & Sun); children 4–11 $13; under 4s free; free first Thu of month with advance reservation
This exotic garden, with its clusters of unusual cacti and flowering succulents, has an otherworldly feel. One of the world’s finest, it’s a study of the ways in which desert plants adapt to survive in harsh, arid conditions.
This romantic garden brings you nearly 1,200 rose varieties, some of them with a pedigree going back to ancient Greece. These noble blossoms may be enjoyed from March right through December, but May is the month when most varieties flower.
A place for strolling and quiet contemplation, Huntington’s Japanese Garden is among the oldest of its kind in the US. Its canyon setting is accented by a waterfall, a shimmering pond filled with koi fish and water lilies, and a teahouse.
Camellias reached the US in the 18th century. With about 1,200 types (in bloom from January to March), this is one of the finest collections.
This garden, Liu Fang Yuan, or the Garden of Flowering Fragrance, was inspired by the Chinese tradition of using gardens for scholarly purposes. Pavilions and a teahouse encircle a small lake.
The palms and statues lining the central lawn of this Baroque garden evoke old European palaces. The lawn connects the gallery with a dolphin-studded Italian fountain.
The Huntington Library’s star exhibit, this 1455 Bible is one of only 12 surviving copies printed on vellum by Johannes Gutenberg of Mainz, Germany, the inventor of movable type. The colorful chapter headings and decorations were added by hand.
The Boone Gallery began life in 1911 as Henry Huntington’s garage. With columns that echo the Neo-Classical style of the mansion, it is used for temporary exhibitions.
Charles and Henry Greene, known for their houses and fine furnishings, were pioneers of the early 20th-century Craftsman style (see Craftsman Houses by Greene and Greene).
This rare 1410 manuscript – known as the “Ellesmere Manuscript” – of English poet Geoffrey Chaucer’s most famous work is complete, in fine condition, and filled with luminous illustrations.
Access the Huntington from either Orlando Road or Oxford Road. Both lead to a large parking lot and from there to the entrance pavilion, where you can pick up a free map. An excellent museum store stocks art books and quality gifts. While you can “do” the Huntington in an hour or two, it’s better to come early and spend the day.