Buried in East Los Angeles lies 120 acres of beautiful botanical gardens – filled with flowers and plants from different regions, scattered in between art collections and library buildings. While I was home last month in December my family & I drove out for a field trip on a quintessentially 80 degree Southern Californian day.
The botanical grounds are structured by different climates & themes, so you can stroll from Japanese bonsai gardens to a cactus-filled desert in 20 minutes, from waterfalls and rainforest to a lily pad-studded pond straight out of a Monet painting. It is pretty spectacular and mind blowing to see how carefully curated the entire gardens are. To think that you could find a patch of humid, lush rainforest (complete with a waterfall!) in the middle of dry Los Angeles is pretty incredible.
In addition to open area parks, there are also educational greenhouses, open art galleries and wide rolling fields -perfect for frisbee golf or a picnic. There is also a large lush grass field regally lined with statues (it’s where the statue/superglue scene from Wedding Planner takes place actually!)
Of course, the colors & vegetation varies throughout the year. I’d love to return and visit in the Spring time, when camellias are in full bloom and rows of sunflowers line the walkways. Desert vegetation thrives in Southern Californian winters though, so we got to marvel and intricate, color (and fuzzy!) cacti.
The Huntington Beach Library (and surrounding grounds) was created by Henry Edwards Huntington, a 19th century railroad baron. His wife and him were avid art & book collectors, and prior to passing, signed over their extensive collections as a nonprofit trust to the city. There is a fee to enter the grounds, but if you live close enough I would definitely recommend an annual pass! It costs about twice the amount of 1 day pass, and then you’d be able to come by and read, jog, picnic in these lovely parks whenever you’d want.