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The Ultimate LA Family Guide ™

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The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

Here is a review of our adventure at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Garden in Pasadena. Our main reason for visiting the Huntington was to see a new exhibit and a new garden. But there is so much to see and do at the Huntington and every bit of it is wonderful.

The address is 1511 Oxford Rd. in San Marino which is adjacent to Pasadena.

The hours are Monday  from 12 noon - 4:30 p.m.  (Monday holidays are from, 10:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.)

The museum is closed on Tuesday. Wednesday through Fridays. It's open from 12 noon - 4:30 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, it's open from 10:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

As for cost, admission is different for the weekdays than for the weekends and holidays that occur on a Monday. During the week adults are $15, seniors are $12, students 12-18 are $10 and children 5-11 are $6. On the weekends and on those Monday holidays, adults are $20, seniors are $15, students are $10 and children are $6. Children 5 and under are always free.

The museum offers free admission to the public on the first Thursday of each month but tickets must be obtained ahead of time through their website at Parking in their lot is free and the museum offers a tea room w/a light buffet and a small grill with indoor and outdoor seating.

Now on to the exhibits and gardens. The Huntington is very kid friendly and has so much to offer families. We headed straight over to their newest garden which is called The Garden of Flowering Fragrance and is the first public Chinese Garden in California. It is a beautiful and meticulously maintained space with pagodas, a gorgeous lake with koi fish and ducks, beautiful plants and flowers.   There is a series of breathtaking bridges and balconies to pause and take in the view from.   Madison and Logan loved all of it and the quiet peace and pretty spaces were delightful. Unlike the nearby Japanese garden, which is also gorgeous, the Chinese garden is on one level, save the bridges, so it is a little easier to traverse with a stroller if you have one. This first phase is 3.5 acres but they are planning for it to encompass 12 acres once completed. There are many plants found here that er native to China including camellias, lotus, bamboo, black pine, plum and peach trees and willows. A magical setting and perfectly complimentary to the Huntington's many other gardens.

Next we went over to the Conservatory for Botanical Science. This Conservatory is a wonderful exhibit for children and adults alike. It's 16,000 square feet greenhouse where there are dozens of hands-on ways to explore nature and you encouraged to touch and experience it with all 5 senses. The middle of the conservatory is like a big rain forest with a huge variety of plants and you wind down a path to the bottom and then wind back up again. On each side is a big room to explore more exhibits and get even more hands-on. There were microscopes to see plants and spores up close, Madison loved the plant petting zoo, and we all loved when there would be a microscopic video camera that you could point to various plants or flowers and the image of what you were looking at would be blown up on a monitor. A lot of the exhibits were geared toward children ages 9 and up but there was plenty there for my kids to do and learn from.

After a quick meal of hot dogs, grilled cheese, watermelon and fries at the cafe, we headed to the Children's garden. I love this garden because there are so many things for the kids to do and there are misters at different points to cool off when it's really hot. My kids loved the rainbow arch tunnel, the fog grotto, and a pebble chime where they would put a handful of pebbles through a slot which would then make musical sounds.  The area for the children's garden is one acre and I love all of the variety here: there are so many little outdoor rooms and places to explore.

Next, we went on to the new Dibner Hall of the History of Science. The exhibit is intended to showcase ideas that changed the world and the changing role of science over time. I just loved this exhibit because I felt like it was intended for the whole family to enjoy. There were hands on parts to it and parts that required reading but all of it was visual and really interested my kids who are only 3 years old. The exhibit is broken into 4 sections: medicine, light, astronomy and natural history. Mads' favorite was medicine with the early illustrations of how surgery was performed in the 16th century. Logan really liked the astronomy room.  And both children loved looking through a reproduction of an historic telescope aimed at a celestial body adhered to the corner of the next room.

It was amazing to see these old texts that detailed how people would study the solar system before they had a telescope! In the room devoted to the study of light, there is a collection of some of the earliest light bulbs and my children notice the array of shapes and colors of these bulbs.

There was so much more we wanted o do but the kids were fading fast. We ran over to the main gallery housed in the former Huntington home to show them Pinkie and Blue Boy, two famous works of art that have been at the Huntington for as long as I have been around.  I remember seeing these two painting with my parents, and I loved sharing the experience with them.

The Huntington is an amazing place for families and we can't wait to return and explore more of its many offerings including the Scott Gallery, the jungle garden and the desert garden.