The Huntington: Library and Gardens, San Marino CA

There are so many great places to explore in Southern California. From the ocean, to the desert, to the mountains there is always something to be seen. In San Marino (near Pasadena) there is an estate open to the public that houses an amazing collection of art, literature, and botanical gardens.

What compelled us to visit the Huntington was the various gardens and their famous bonsai collection. When we got there we headed straight for the Desert Garden. The Desert Garden is full of very old and very rare cacti, succulents, aloes and unique varieties of desert plants from all over the world. This area ended up being one of our favorites. Filled with vivid colors and dangerous textures, a desert landscape can make you feel like you are on another planet.

After the Desert Garden we continued our trek through the Australian Garden where we saw the largest and most beautiful Eucalyptus trees we have ever seen. Next we meandered through to the Japanese Garden. This is the area where we spent the majority of our day. There is so much to see in addition to one of the most storied and gorgeous bonsai collections outside of Japan (so some say). There is even a traditional Japanese home replicated here, along with a tea house, koi pond and a zen garden.

After a quick lemonade break we found ourselves strolling through the fragrant rose garden. We then headed to the tropical greenhouse, a delicate building that is argueably the most beautiful building on the property. Within this area the bog was notable as it housed various carnivorous plants such venus fly traps and pitcher plants. After that we played at the children’s garden. Our friends brought their two children and we all played like kids in this interactive adventure area.

At five minutes to closing we snuck into the Chinese Garden, which needs much more time to truly appreciate. However, in that five minutes we saw many impressive features, such as the meticulously hand-seeded rock paving.

As we were exiting we got a quick picture of a Alexander Calder installation that you are not supposed to take pictures of... But he’s a personal favorite, so we broke the rules. We feel terrible about it.

We are already planning our trip back so we can check out the things we missed such as the paintings and the rare book collection.

Have a look at our pictures and if you are ever in that area we encourage you to see it for yourself.