The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, CA 91108
Monday & Wednesday – Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(Closed July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day)
Adults: $25 weekdays / $29 weekends or holidays
Seniors (65+): $21 weekdays / $24 weekends or holidays
Students (12-18, or with ID): $21 weekdays / $24 weekends of holidays
Youth (4-11): $13
Children (under 4): free
– Groups of 15 or more can enjoy discounted pricing, with prices set at $19 per person on weekdays and $23 on weekends or holidays.
– There are six different membership levels that offer free entrance; plans start at $139.
– Admission is free to everyone the first Thursday of every month; advance tickets are required.
While there are two different bus systems that run in the area—the Metro buses and the Pasadena Area Rapid Transit System (ARTS) bus—your best bet with public transportation is the Metro Rail Gold Line. Take the railway to Allen Avenue Station, then walk to Allen Avenue and Del Mar, where the ARTS bus will pick you up and take you to the Allen entrance gate.
Arriving by Car
To reach the Huntington’s Allen entrance gate, travel along California Boulevard then head south on Allen Avenue.
Another option is to head west on Huntington Drive and turn right on Monterey Road, after passing Sierra Madre Boulevard. Continue to stay to the right when you reach Oxford Road and you will reach the Huntington’s Oxford entrance gate.
When visiting the Huntington Library, parking is always free. No advance parking reservations must be made unless you are part of a school or tour group arriving by bus.
The library collection at the Huntington Library has an impressive number of pieces, including 420,000 rare books, seven million manuscripts and 1.3 million prints and photographs, many of which were from Huntington’s own collection. Some highlights contained in this collection are early, limited editions of William Shakespeare’s plays and a special manuscript of Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales.” Though they date all the way back to the Middle Ages, the greatest number of pieces come from the Renaissance period.
Doubling as a research library, more than 1,700 scholars visit the center annually to study rare books and manuscripts, the findings of which are then featured in journals and textbooks for universities across the globe.
“Remarkable Works, Remarkable Times”: Featuring some of the biggest highlights from the library, this showcase includes more than 150 rare objects, including illuminated manuscripts, folios with imagery and the first substantial work printed with movable type outside of Asia.
“Beautiful Science: Ideas That Changed the World”: Located in the Dibner Hall of History and Science, which focuses heavily on natural history, medicine and astronomy, this exhibit combines science with historical context. Learn all about zoology, the natural world, human anatomy, diseases and medicine, ancient astronomical happenings and aspects of light, like optics, prisms and color.
There are various art galleries that house the art collections at the Huntington Library. Within the Beaux Arts mansion (pictured), which way built for the Huntingtons in 1911, the Huntington Library presents a European collection of world-famous paintings from Great Britain, France and the Renaissance. With more than 400 paintings, 370 sculptures, 20,000 drawings and prints and another 2,500 decorative objects, there is a lot to see, including one of the most famous pieces, “The Blue Boy” by Thomas Gainsborough.
Walk across the Shakespeare garden to the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art, where famed artists like Andy Warhol and Frank Lloyd Wright are showcased. The American collection is much smaller, but still features nearly 250 paintings, 60 sculptures, 1,800 photographs, 8,500 drawings and prints and 900 decorative objects.
Part of the Scott Galleries, the Jonathan and Karin Fielding Wing was added to highlight more American art. It houses “Becoming America,” with 200 pieces from the 18th and 19th centuries that deal with everyday objects. The artwork is from the Fieldings’ own collection.
The Virginia Steele Scott building also houses the Dorothy Collins Brown Wing, where designs from craftsmen Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene are permanently on display. The unique exhibition includes things like furniture, lighting fixtures and blueprints.
Another wing, called the Susan and Stephen Chandler Wing, is reserved for temporary exhibitions.
With more than 120 acres dedicated to the botanical gardens at the Huntington Library, there is plenty to immerse yourself in on the grounds. While there are gardens dedicated to herbs, palms, the subtropical climate and the jungle ecosystem. But, while these gardens are interesting, some of the most notable include international-themed Chinese and Japanese gardens, a romantic rose garden and a special children’s garden.
Conservatory and Children’s Garden
The Conservatory for Botanical Science and neighboring Children’s Garden are the perfect places for family exploration. Gather your group and wander the interactive conservatory, which features a cool, misty cloud forest with ferns and orchids; a lowland tropical rain forest complete with rare palms and giant Amazon water lilies; and a carnivorous plant bog with flora like Venus flytraps and sphagnum moss.
The Children’s Garden, on the other hand, offers a chance to explore the elements: fire, water, air and earth. With things like a prism tunnel, a topiary volcano, a sonic pool, a fragrance garden, a fog grotto and magnetic sand, there is plenty to experience firsthand.
This garden was started nearly 100 years ago with plants from a range of places, including local nurseries and public parks in addition to private residences. In current times, there are 60 landscaped beds in the Desert Garden that feature more than 2,000 species of desert plants. From beautiful succulents to colorful blooming cacti to agave and aloe, there is plenty to see—and Southern California’s coastal climate is the perfect place to keep this dry garden alive.
Frances and Sidney Brody California Garden
One of the first places you’ll visit upon arriving at the Huntington Library is the California Garden, named for Frances and Sidney Brody. The Mediterranean-style garden features a variety of plants that are native to California and can tolerate the dried climate. Wander the olive-lined walkway to spot almost 50,000 native, drought-tolerant plants. There are also plenty of colorful flowers, unique shaped plants and flora that attracts hummingbirds.
Japanese gardens are one of the most recognized landscape styles around the world and, having been at The Huntington for more than 100 years, it’s no different at the San Marino property. The iconic Japanese Garden has beautiful views, a stunning moon bridge and koi-filled ponds, but it also has a five-room Japanese house that was originally crafted in Japan. Additionally, a ceremonial teahouse is on site to demonstrate what traditional tea ceremonies are like, and a bonsai collection is housed in the Zen Court to aid in relaxation.
Liu Fang Yuan 流芳園, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance
The Chinese garden, formally known as the Liu Fang Yuan 流芳園, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance, is another iconic garden at the property, recognized as one of the largest of its kind outside of China. ‘Liu fang’ refers to the scents of the trees and the flowers as the seasons turn, and it’s the perfect name for this garden, which features limestone rocks from China, authentic Chinese architecture and a bland of native trees like the California oaks. One of the best things about this tranquil space are the small signs featuring poetry that are labeled by contemporary calligraphers in keeping with Chinese artistic traditions.
Originally created for the owners’ enjoyment, the Rose Garden is now one of the most beautiful spots on the Huntington Library property. The site features more than 3,000 individual rose plants made up of 1,200 different varieties along winding pathways and atop a hillside vista. The plants are labeled with their names as well as the years they were introduced to the garden. The flowers typically start to bloom in March and are often alive into December, meaning that the colorful garden is the perfect place for a romantic stroll for most of the year.
Both research and education are an important part of the happenings at the Huntington Library & Botanical Gardens. As mentioned, nearly 2,000 scholars visit the library each year to study from the rare books and manuscripts contained within, and many of their studies result in books or journals featuring information gathered at the Huntington. In addition, the Huntington Library Press publishes its owns writings every year using the materials available on-site.
But adults aren’t the only ones doing research at the Huntington Library. Education is important to those running the nonprofit so there are often students from nearby schools visiting to learn about everything from science to arts and humanities. Around 20,000 children visit each year, with 11 different field trip programs for local teachers to choose from.
Throughout the year, the Huntington Library & Botanical Gardens is home to a variety of special events, including everything from live performances, creative classes and curated tours to lectures, conferences and events for children. The center also hosts a variety of member’s events that only those who have purchased a membership can attend; fellows events are also held for those that donate significant amounts to the nonprofit each year.
Some upcoming events include:
11/27 – 11/28: Members-only Champagne and Shopping artisan boutique
11/30: A holiday baking class with chef Jim Dodge
12/6, 12/13, 12/20, 12/27: Live traditional music in the Chinese Garden
12/9: Chocolate Unwrapped children’s workshop on the history of chocolate
12/10: Special annual Holiday Open House for The Huntington fellows
12/14: Curator tour of the loan exhibit featuring 32 Favrile vases produced by Tiffany Studios
12/20: Watercolor class featuring Chinese brush paintings by Nan Rae
12/21: A conversation about the popular podcast Harry Potter & the Sacred Text
1/12 – 1/13: A conference on censorship in British theatre in the 18th and 19th centuries
1/23: A talk with the curator of the Portland Japanese Garden on the center’s expansion
1/27: An artist talk with Soyoung Shin and Juliana Wisdom on the effects of French history on their artwork
A visit to the property is sure to take all day, with everything there is to see. While you wander, you’ll most likely work up an appetite. Luckily, there are five different dining options to choose from on-site.
1919: The Huntington Library’s café is named for the year the nonprofit was founded, and offers a spectacular array of foods. Dine on sandwiches, soups, salads or pizzas, or stop by the taqueria or seafood bar located inside for more options.
Freshwater Dumpling and Noodle House: Located in the Chinese Garden, this café in the Freshwater Pavilion offers authentic dumplings and noodle dishes from various regions of China as well as cuisine from Nepal and Mongolia.
Patio Grill: For Latin American food, Patio Grill is a must-visit. The global concept combines local flavors to create quesadillas, Cuban cheeseburgers, tortilla soup and more. They also offer agua frescas to cool down on a hot day. The grill, however, is only open on the weekends.
Red Car: Those looking for casual options should visit the Red Car coffee shop near the admissions desk. The modern coffee bar offers a selection of teas and, of course, coffees, but also sells baked goods, salads and sandwiches as well as ice cream.
Rose Garden Tea Room: The only place on the property that recommends reservations, the Rose Garden Tea Room is a popular option among visitors. Set in the garden itself, this elegant spot offers traditional English tea service with herbal teas or sparkling wine. Guests will also enjoy finger sandwiches, quiche, seasonal desserts and more.