Huntington Library And Botanical Gardens 2Visiting The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in April is a transformative experience. It epitomizes the essence of spring with its vibrant colors, refreshing scents, and serene ambiance, which encapsulates the entire estate. 

Nestled in San Marino, California, this destination is a haven for plant lovers and art aficionados and a delightful adventure for families seeking an enriching experience amidst nature and culture.

The Huntington was founded by Henry E. Huntington in 1919. A successful businessman and avid collector, Huntington transformed his San Marino ranch into a large estate, housing extensive gardens, a comprehensive research library, and art collections. 

Upon his death in 1927, he bequeathed his estate to the public, creating a center for education, research, and culture. Today, The Huntington spans approximately 120 acres and is renowned for its botanical gardens, rare books, manuscripts, and art collections, continuing to attract scholars, artists, and visitors worldwide.

Read more about The Huntington and plan your visit here.  

The Botanical Gardens

Huntington Library And Botanical Gardens 4Spanning approximately 120 acres, the botanical gardens are a tapestry of more than a dozen specialized gardens, each presenting a unique theme and plant collection. 

April is a particularly magical time to visit, as many flowers are in full bloom, creating a kaleidoscope of colors and an intoxicating blend of fragrances. 

The Japanese Garden, with its iconic moon bridge, koi-filled ponds, and meticulously maintained bonsais, offers a tranquil retreat that feels worlds away from the bustling city life. 

The Rose Garden is another must-see, boasting an array of roses in every conceivable hue, their fragrances filling the air with sweetness. 

The Chinese Garden, with its beautiful pavilions and tranquil lake, invites visitors to ponder the beauty of nature and the art of landscape design that dates back centuries.

Tip: Check the Huntington's calendar for special events and exhibitions that might interest your family.  

Rose Garden

Huntington Library And Botanical Gardens 5 The Rose Garden is an aromatic paradise, especially during the peak blooming season, from around April 15 to early June. 

 This garden showcases an extensive variety of roses, from the classic reds to the softest pinks, vibrant oranges, and deep purples. 

Wandering through the Rose Garden, visitors can appreciate the delicate beauty of individual blooms and the intricate landscaping that brings this floral masterpiece to life. It's a perfect spot for reflection and admiration of nature's diversity.

Our visit took place at the beginning of April, and although the roses had not yet reached their peak bloom, we were delighted by the early bloomers we encountered. For updates on the bloom progress, you can check the latest information here.

Japanese Garden

Huntington Library And Botanical Gardens 7 The Japanese Garden is a serene sanctuary that embodies the principles of traditional Japanese landscape design, emphasizing harmony between humans and nature. 

The iconic moon bridge arching over a koi-filled pond is a highlight, offering a picturesque setting that invites contemplation. 

Bonsai collections showcase the art of miniature tree cultivation with precision, each telling its own story of time and patience. 

Huntington Library And Botanical Gardens 8 The teahouse and Zen Garden add layers of cultural depth, providing insight into the Japanese way of life that values simplicity and mindfulness. 

This garden is a tranquil retreat where one can momentarily step into another world, finding peace and balance amid its beauty.

Tip: The gardens are located on a hill and involve climbing numerous stairs, which might be difficult for elderly visitors. Fortunately, there's an alternative route that leads to the top. While this path is somewhat lengthier, it conveniently bypasses the challenging stairs.

Chinese Garden

Huntington Library And Botanical Gardens 10 Reflecting the elegance and philosophy of Chinese landscaping, the Chinese Garden, named "The Garden of Flowing Fragrance," is a harmonious blend of architecture, water, and vegetation. 

Pavilions and walkways offer views of the lake and surrounding landscapes, inviting visitors to meander and explore. 

Huntington Library And Botanical Gardens 12 The garden's design is influenced by the traditional Chinese concept of creating a microcosm of the natural world, where every rock, water feature, and plant has its place and meaning. 

It's an immersive experience that encourages one to appreciate the intricate relationships between the elements of nature and the artistry required to encapsulate them.

Strolling through this magnificent haven, you'll discover numerous spots to sit back, unwind, and take in the beautiful views.

The Conservatory

Huntington Library And Botanical Gardens 15 The Conservatory is a haven for plant enthusiasts and curious minds alike, showcasing a fascinating collection of tropical and subtropical plants. 

This climate-controlled environment houses several ecosystems, including a cloud forest, a carnivorous plant bog, and an orchid collection. 

The interactive exhibits are designed to educate visitors about plant biology and the importance of biodiversity, making it an engaging experience for all ages. It's a place where the wonders of the plant kingdom are on full display, offering a glimpse into the complexity and beauty of ecosystems from around the world.

Our excursion through this preserved area brought back memories of our recent journey to the Costa Rican rainforests. The only thing missing were a few tropical animals.

On this visit, we saw just a fraction of the gardens. The Australian, California, Camellia, Palm, Ranch, Shakespeare, and subtropical gardens await our exploration. It's clear we'll require several return trips to experience all these collections fully.

Tip: Don't miss the interactive Children's Garden, where young visitors can learn about plants and nature through hands-on activities.

The Art Collections

Huntington Library And Botanical Gardens 17 The Huntington's art collections are housed in several galleries and exhibit spaces across the estate, showcasing an impressive range of works from the 15th to the 20th century. 

The European art collection, with masterpieces by Gainsborough, Reynolds, and Greuze, is a highlight for many visitors, offering a glimpse into the artistic achievements of the period. 

The American art collection tells the story of the country's history through the eyes of its artists, featuring works by Mary Cassatt, Edward Hopper, and John Singer Sargent, among others. 

The thematic exhibitions, which change periodically, provide deeper insights into specific artists, movements, or historical periods, making each visit a unique experience.

Check this page for all the permanent and temporary exhibits.

The Library

For those with a penchant for history and literature, The Huntington Library itself is a treasure trove of rare books and manuscripts. With over nine million items, the collection spans from the Middle Ages to the present, including the famous Gutenberg Bible and the early editions of Shakespeare's works. 

While not all of the collection is on display, selected items are exhibited in the library's main hall, and special exhibitions offer visitors a chance to see some of the library's most precious holdings.

Dining

During our visit to The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, we had the pleasure of dining at the 1919 Café for lunch. 

Tucked away within this vast estate, the café offers a refreshing break amidst a day filled with exploration and beauty. 

Opting for the outdoor balcony seating, we found ourselves enveloped in the tranquility of the gardens, a serene backdrop that made our meal even more enjoyable.

The 1919 Café, named in homage to the year The Huntington was founded, blends casual dining with a touch of sophistication. 

Its outdoor balcony seating is particularly delightful in April, when the weather is mild and the surrounding gardens are in full bloom. From our vantage point, we could see the vibrant hues of flowers and hear the subtle sounds of nature, adding an extra layer of relaxation to our lunch.

Three of us selected the cheeseburger meal with fries, and it was an excellent choice. The burgers were flawlessly cooked, succulent and packed with flavor, complemented by a rich layer of gooey cheese around the patty.

My wife, on the other hand, chose a healthy salad option, which she found delightful.

The café is set up in a food court style, offering a variety of culinary selections. During our exploration of what was available, we came across a Mexican food stand, a sushi stand, and a deli section.

Tip: While indoor dining options are available, packing a picnic to enjoy in one of the gardens' many beautiful spots can be a delightful way to savor the surroundings.

Membership

Membership at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens offers a unique opportunity to become part of a community that supports and enjoys access to one of the world's most comprehensive cultural, educational, and botanical resources. 

Members receive a host of benefits, including unlimited free admission, early entry to the gardens, discounts at the gift shop and dining facilities, and exclusive access to members-only events and previews of new exhibitions. 

The Huntington

1151 Oxford Rd, San Marino, CA 91108