Fine – the gardens at The Huntington Library may not be secret, but we’re often shocked to find out just how many Angelenos have never been inside this horticultural wonderland.

Recently, we dragged a small group of friends across the city to Pasadena for a day of library tours, art gallery wanders, garden walks and high tea inside the Huntington’s sprawling rose gardens. We can’t recommend our afternoon itinerary any more highly. Here’s what the Library is all about and why you should plan a visit soon…

+ The Huntington’s collection of rare books include the Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a Gutenberg Bible on vellum, and a world-class collection of the early editions of Shakespeare’s works.

+ The Library collection is gigantic and includes more than seven million manuscripts; 420,000 rare books; and 1.3 million photographs, prints and ephemera. Included in the Library’s collection of photographs are all seven Ansel Adams portfolios.

+ The Library is one of the largest and most complete research libraries in the United States in the fields of British and American history and literature.

+ There are two art galleries on property, the Huntington Art Gallery and the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art. The first houses one of the most distinguished collections of 18th- and 19th-century British paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts outside London, including Thomas Gainsborough’s Blue Boy.

+ Inside another D.C.-like building, The Dibner Hall of History and Science shows the development of astronomy, natural history, medicine and light.

+ In 1919, Henry and Arabella Huntington created The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, including Huntington’s outstanding collection of rare books and manuscripts. Henry and Arabella are both buried on the property in a mausoleum designed by John Russell Pope, the architect who also built the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.

+ The botanical gardens encompass 120 acres and are broken down into an almost Disney Park-like experience, leading garden goers from one extremely different environment to the next including a subtropical garden, desert garden, Japanese garden, rose garden, and a forest of bamboo. The gorgeous structure inside the Japanese garden is considered one of the best examples of early twentieth-century Japanese architecture in the United States.

+ A giant 16,000 square-foot greenhouse on property is filled with lowland tropical rain forest, a cloud forest, and a carnivorous plant bog and plant petting zoo.

+ Inside the property’s beautiful rose garden, a small cottage houses the Rose Garden Tea Room where tea, champagne and all forms of modern tea sandwiches and cakes are served, including vegan and gluten-free options.

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