As a fourth grader growing up in South Pasadena, a field trip to the Huntington Library and Gardens ( was not something I fully appreciated.  Now, as an adult tour guide, The Huntington is a dream destination.  Located in a gorgeous neighborhood in San Marino (aren't they all gorgeous?), this 200-acre institution is one of the most beautiful, artistic and interesting sites in California.  Surprisingly, I had never done a Hoffy Tour there.  After my April 19 tour with 43 guests, I will definitely correct the error of my ways!  The tour also included an architectural bus tour of three of Pasadena's historic districts, known for their beautiful 1920s period revival architecture.
The "Library" portion of The Huntington is one of the world's great independent research libraries focusing
on history, art, science and literature from the 11th century to the present.

What many people love about The Huntington is its diversity.  With stellar botanical gardens over 120 acres, diverse European and American art collections, stately Beaux Art architecture, the famous research Library, and wonderful cafes (including the new, cafeteria-style Cafe 1919), there is something for everybody.  Any time of year is great for a visit, but springtime promises major blooms in the Shakespeare and Rose Gardens, and we were not disappointed.  Here is a summary of The Huntington's major attractions:
1) Botanical Gardens: Desert, Jungle, Rose, Shakespeare, Japanese, Chinese and Children's Gardens;
2) Art Galleries: European Art (from 15th to early 20th centuries) in main house; American Art (from 
       17th to mid-20th century) in Scott Galleries; several special exhibitions in other buildings
3) Library: Main Exhibition Hall with rare manuscripts; History of Science Hall 

Many visitors, like myself, are attracted to the extensive and diverse botanical gardens - some of the best in the world.

The Botanical Gardens:  For plant and flower lovers, The Huntington is a treasure-trove.  I recommend entering the Gardens and walking in a clockwise direction taking you to all the major gardens.  Many people make a bee-line for the Cactus Gardens with its tremendous specimens.  The Japanese Garden with its gorgeous bridge, traditional house and bonsai collection is a favorite.  The Chinese Garden with its beautiful lake, Noodle House, and traditional shrines is also stunning.  Enjoy the photos.

Beautiful specimens of cacti -barrel , agaves, saquaro, and carbon - are interspersed with
succulents and cycads of many varieties.

I think Dr. Seuss would have loved this furry cycad!

The Chinese Garden at The Huntington

 European and American Art:  The Huntington has a wonderfully diverse collection of paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts.  I recommend first visiting the European art collection which is in the beautiful Beaux Art home (designed in 1911 by Myron Hunt) of Henry and Arabella Huntington.  Henry was a railroad and real estate entrepreneur whose gave Southern California its famous Pacific Electric Trolley and the towns of Huntington Beach and Huntington Park.  Henry's wife, Arabella,  was an enthusiastic collector of European paintings and decorative arts.  The highlights in this gallery are the famous portraits of Blue Boy and Pinkie (by Gainsborough 1770 and Lawrence 1794 respectively), Dianna the Huntress a life-size bronze by Houdon (1782), and Art Nouveau furniture on the upper floor.

The Huntington has one of the finest collections of late 18th and early 19th century
formal portraits.  Here stands the Blue Boy.

The Beaux Art magnificence of the Huntington's estate.  Architect Myron Hunt, 1911.

Art Nouveau furniture with its organic patterns is featured in the decorative arts section of the
European Gallery.
 American Art: The Huntington also has a strong collection of American art to the mid-20th century including furniture by Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles and Henry Greene, of Craftsman Bungalow fame.  Here are my favorite paintings.

This painting - The Long Leg (1935) - by Edward Hopper became a U.S. postage stamp.

Reginald Marsh's The Locomotive (1935) is a fitting painting for the former estate of a railroad tycoon and
collector.  In the 1930s, much American art idolized transportation and progress.

The American Art collection even has this pop-art masterpiece by Andy Warhol.

I'm not so sure how comfortable this Frank Lloyd Wright dinette set would be!

I hope you've enjoyed this photographic stroll through The Huntington.  If you want a day of beauty, nature, art and history, there is no better place in Southern California.