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Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens

Things to do, Event spaces San Marino
5 out of 5 stars
(10user reviews)
Huntington Library
Photograph: Michael Juliano
Huntington Library
Photograph: Michael Juliano

Time Out says

The bequest of entrepreneur Henry E. Huntington is now one of the most exquisite attractions in the Los Angeles region. It’s also not a destination easily explored in full during a single day: between the art, the library holdings and the spreadeagled outdoor spaces, there’s plenty to see, and most of it is best enjoyed at lingering leisure rather than as part of a mad day-long dash.

Once you’ve paid your admission, you’ll be close to the main library, which holds more than six million items—much of it open only to researchers (apply for credentials in advance of your visit). However, some of its most notable holdings, among them a Gutenberg Bible and the earliest known edition of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, are always on display in the adjoining exhibition hall, alongside regular themed temporary shows.

The art collection is almost as notable as the library’s collection. Built in 1910, the main house is home to a very impressive collection of British art, which includes Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy alongside works by Blake, Reynolds and Turner. And over in the newer Scott and Erburu Galleries, you’ll find a selection of American paintings.

However, despite all these cultural glories, the Huntington’s highlights are outdoors in its vast jigsaw of botanical gardens, arguably the most glorious in the entire Los Angeles region. The 207 acres of gardens, 120 acres of which are open to the public, are divided into a variety of themes: the Desert Garden, now a century old, is packed with cacti and other succulents; the Shakespeare Garden evokes a kind of Englishness rarely seen in England these days; the Children’s Garden is a delightful mix of educational features and entertaining diversions; and the Japanese garden is quietly, unassumingly magical. Most recent is the Chinese-themed Garden of Flowing Fragrance, a delicate environment built in part by Chinese artisans. Like much of this fabulous place, it’s best approached in slow motion.



Address: 1151 Oxford Rd
San Marino

Price: Weekday: $25; seniors and students $21; children 4–11 $13, under-4s free. Weekend: $29; seniors and students $24; children 4–11 $13, under-4s free. Free to all 1st Thu of month (advance tickets required). Parking free.
Opening hours: Mon, Wed–Sun 10am–5pm; closed Tue
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  • Exhibitions Until Monday January 20 2020

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5 out of 5 stars

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4.9 / 5

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The Huntingdon Library probably ranks as my number 1 spot in the greater LA area. The grounds are packed with flora and fauna and are extensive enough to keep you absorbed without even taking a step inside. The library itself holds some incredible historical documents. It feels alive with people but a quiet, remote area is always close at hand. I must admit to pangs of jealousy watching the locals use the gorgeous space as an extension of their garden. It would be an interesting place to see in bad weather (when does LA get much of that?) but even then, I can't imagine it would dampen the experience of such a magical place. 


This is one of the best libraries and museums int he United States and without doubt has some of the best gardens in the world and from around the world, including the Japanese Garden (with a beautiful bridge and tea house), Chinese Garden and other gardens that make you feel that you've been transported to another time and place. Most people come to see the rare books (including a Shakesepare 1623 First Folio) and the well-known paintings (The Blue Boy), but wander to the lesser-known areas, especially the American Gallery to see the exquisite Edward Hopper painting "The Long Leg". The cactus garden is a bit unbearable in hot weather, but have a long walk around the Rose Gardens, with many of the roses part of test gardens, meaning that they are on trial and you won't see them anywhere else if they don't make the cut. The wisteria in April/May is indesbribably beautiful, and there are many small paths to wander down. Mr Huntington may have been notorious for preventing LA from having a subway for decades (because he owned the Red Line Trolley Cars) but he made up for it with this place, so visit his mauseoleum (where he's buried with his much older wife Arabella) and say thanks.


This place is perfect for a first date or if you just want to spend a relaxing day surrounded by beautiful scenery.  We came on a Saturday and it wasn't too crowded.  Strolling along the marked paths, we took our time gazing at the gorgeous botanicals and reading the displayed  information regarding the various plants growing in the gardens.  They also have an extensive art collection and a cafe where you can grab a bite to eat. 


The Huntington Botanical Gardens is like Disneyland for plant-loving adults. The immaculately-kept gardens are awe-inspiring and there are plenty of benches sprinkled throughout. I spent hours wandering through the succulents in the desert garden before I realized there was so much more ground to cover before I had to leave for the day. I can't wait to go back and see everything I didn't get a chance to enjoy.

The first Thursday of every month is a free day for non-members, but you must reserve a ticket (and they go a month in advance). 


The Huntington Library and Gardens have been one of my favorite sanctuaries in town for several decades. The gardens are ever changing. Some of my favorites include the Chinese, Japanese, Shakespear, Rose, Desert and Childrens gardens. On top of the sprawling gardens, there is the library, art galleries with changing exhbitions, cafes, plant sales and other exciting events.

One of the my favorite exhibitions was the Corpse Flower blooming, also known as "Stinky 5: Return of the Corpse Flower". This giant flower grows several inches per night and when it blooms, it's bloom releases a rotten stench. Back in 2014, this Amorphophallus titanum stood in a pot at the entrance to the Huntington's conservatory. I cleared my schedule and showed up 2-3 times during the weekend along with hundreds of others. 

We all anticipated the bloom, but eventually it happened while the gardens were closed to the public. Regardless, the anticipation and journey was definitely fun even though only the staff got to experience the bloom, in this case.

I've been a member of the Huntington for years, and whenever I go, there is always some new adventure to experience.

The grounds of the Huntington are sprawling and exceptionally lovely at any time of year. Not to be overlooked is the art collection housed within the building, which includes classic works and traveling exhibitions. Even the building itself is beautiful and so romantic. This is a perfect spot to spend a day feeling refreshed by beautiful things natural and human. 

An annual membership is well worth it too, 120 for 2 entries per day. Something for everyone:Library, Museum and Botanical GardenS, gorgeous you will forget all your worries. I'M having a good day? ToTHEE H, having a bad day? To Thee H, low on funds-something to do, free parking? TO THE H! A mile from Gold Line, easy walk too. FAVORITE is the Chinese gardens and the Green and Green exhibit, and OH The masterpiece paintings or free lectures. I get the most awesome walks in and so beautiful I forget I'm exercising 3 hours later. An annual tradition with my niece is formal tea in the Rose Garden Tea Room-Enchanting!. 11 years ago I never knew this existed - Grateful we found each other!


The price of admission may be a bit steep, but Huntington Library is home to some of the most beautiful botanical gardens I've ever seen. You could spend an entire day here and still not see everything—I always make time for the cactus garden, the Japanese garden and the rose garden (call me cliche, they're just so lovely). I tend to overlook the indoor exhibits, but they once had a really incredible spread of Charles Bukowski letters, and I'm not a religious lady, but the Gutenberg Bible they have on display is absolutely stunning.