My New Favorite Attraction in LA and it NEVER Gets Any Publicity

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I were in Pasadena and we visited the Huntington.  I almost never see it on list of things to do in LA.  This list has 22 things including some odd choices but no mention of the Huntington.

The Huntington is the mansion and grounds of one of the heirs to railroad magnate Collis P Huntington.  Perhaps one of the reasons it is not well-known is that it is hard to exactly categorize what this place is.  First, it is an amazing garden (pictures below) that has a desert garden, a tropical garden, a temperate garden, a Japanese garden, the bonsai garden, a Chinese garden, a water garden, a rose garden and an herb garden.  I have been to a lot of gardens and arboretums around the world and this compares to the best.  More enjoyable, for example, than either major arboretum in Singapore which top tourist lists.  Then, there are the art museums, actually two.  We only made it to the European art museum, which was in the original mansion -- it contained a lot of large portraiture by Sargent and Gainsborough, among other works.  And then there is what is actually the centerpiece of the facility, the library.  Only a small part of the collection is on display, but what is there is amazing -- from fabulous illuminated manuscripts to a Gutenberg Bible to a number of signature historical documents.   As icing on the cake, there is the chance to walk through a couple of great mansions with a good part of the original furnishings intact.

The closest analog I can come up with is the Getty.  The Getty gets top billing in many LA must-do lists, and I can tell you that the Huntington blows the Getty away.  Sure, you should see the Getty, but I have never had a desire to go back.  I will be back to the Huntington as soon as I can.

I could fill this post with pictures, but I will simply provide a few teasers:

  • I have a brother in LA, and I'm pretty sure we went there last time I visited him. I'll have to look for my own pictures!

  • Paul McKaskle

    I agree. The Huntington is a treasure. The only drawback is that one needs a car to get there and for out of towners it is a bit difficult to find.

  • SamWah

    Her book covers remind me of Little Golden Books.

  • DaveK

    Yes, it's a fascinating place! Were Pinkie and Blue Boy there when you visited?

    Also, some of the scenes from The African Queen were rumored to have been filmed there (not well documented), along with scenes from many other movies.

  • STW

    It is amazing that until fairly recently the Huntington was free. I'm sure I've been at least have a dozen times, the Getty, once.

  • CapitalistRoader

    The desert garden is beautiful. It takes decades for many of those plants to reach those sizes.

  • pacman

    The Huntington is in Pasadena, NOT LA and Pasadena is NOT Los Angeles.

  • Bill Schjelderup

    If I remember correctly, the name is the Huntington Library, and it's in San Marino, CA. I grew up in San Marino only a few blocks from the Huntington Library and remember the site fondly.

  • Daniel McGillicuddy Griswold

    I grew up in LA and have gone many times. Brought many friends on their first visit. One visit contributed to the end of a romance. She just wasn't impressed by all that "old crap". Suddenly I could not see a future for us.

  • Daniel McGillicuddy Griswold

    San Marino, but who cares. It is in SoCal but it certainly isn't in Cali.

  • Been there many years ago with my late wife and took many pictures. Unfortunately all lost since in a house fire.

    As I remember it was beautiful. As I live on the other 'left' coast, I doubt I'll see it again.

  • Sam

    The Huntington is great. If somehow you get bored of it, try the Arboretum in nearby Arcadia. It's right next to the Santa Anita Race track, the most beautiful racetrack in the world.

  • Andrew Ashford

    The Huntington is well worth a visit if you are spending any significant time in SoCal. The Getty should definitely be on one's list, but the Getty Villa is more impressive (at least if you are into Greco-Roman art). The LA Arboretum is also worth a visit if you are traveling along the 210.

  • Andrew Ashford

    You can rent a car or take Uber or Lyft. I believe there are also bus stops near by.