Spreading across a historic estate near Pasadena, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, & Botanical Gardens wrap you in a global palette of sweet-smelling flowers, lush bowers, and elegant art. Today, it’s hard to imagine The Huntington’s early 1900s life as a working ranch, with citrus groves, alfalfa fields, orchards, and a collection of cows and chickens.
Railroad magnate Henry Huntington first bought the ranchland in 1903 and retired here to pursue his love of art and rare books—which he housed, in part, in a 1911 Beaux Arts mansion that is now the Huntington Art Gallery. Outside, the 120-acre estate is home to more than 15,000 plant varieties, found in more than a dozen unique gardens. Stroll the Rose Garden, for instance, and see 1,400 different varieties, or the Chinese Garden, with its lake, stone bridges, and waterfalls. Don’t miss the 6.5-acre Frances and Sidney Brody California Garden, home to 50,000 Golden State natives and dry-climate plants.
Head inside The Huntington to see the range of masterpieces, such as Gainsborough’s famous portrait The Blue Boy, Mary Cassatt's Breakfast in Bed, and Edward Hopper's The Long Leg. The library section, meanwhile, features an extremely rare Gutenberg Bible, an illuminated 15th-century manuscript of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, and Shakespeare's First Folio, as well as manuscripts by Charles Dickens, Henry David Thoreau, and California-cultivated authors Jack London, Octavia Butler, and Christopher Isherwood.
It’s easy to spend a full day here—after all, there are five places to eat. At 1919, named for the year the Huntington was founded, get a brick-oven pizza and a glass of wine, or order tacos from its branch of Border Grill, created by L.A. modern-Mexican chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. The Freshwater Dumpling & Noodle House overlooks the Chinese Garden, while the Rose Garden Tea Room offers a traditional afternoon tea (including a great kid-friendly option). Or, grab a latte and a scoop of local Fosselman’s ice cream at the Red Car coffee shop.