A Secret Garden of Play Date Fun Awaits at The Huntington

What secret garden beckons from behind closed doors at The Huntington? c. 2011 http://www.freerangephotog.com

Last week our play group met up at The Huntington (http://www.huntington.org/). Founded in 1919 in San Marino, CA, The Huntington is a mix of museum, library, gardens, and art collection (mixed media) spread out over 100+ acres inside and out. I hadn’t been out there in ages, mostly because it’s a pretty big haul in the car from our house (easily 45 minutes with no traffic – so about an hour realistically just one-way), but I am so glad we made time and trekked out there to meet up with our friends.

Koi and turtles captivate the kids' full attention at The Huntington. c. 2011 http://www.freerangephotog.com

Watching T and his friends run up and down the paths and hills and across the open lawns was a sight to behold: Shiny, happy children running free on acres and acres of pathways and grassy fields without and end in sight. Our group of about 15 people lasted just about four hours including a break for lunch, yet we hardly scratched the surface of the entire property and all its collections. The Huntington is vast, gorgeous, and constantly inviting at every turn – and it turns out to be a pretty nice spot to hold a play date.

Off and running at The Huntington

While most of the inside art and library portion is off the table for the preschool set, the variety of botanical gardens – organized by plant type and climate – are filled with endless things to see and do. There are fountains, ponds filled with koi and turtles, trees to sit in, benches to walk on.  Cacti and other desert landscape populate one corner of the property, yet down another path is a Chinese garden. There are rose gardens, herb gardens, Japanese gardens, and pretty much any other type of garden you can imagine by design or varietals. There is even a “please touch” Children’s Garden that just opened in the last year or so with a mix of mist fountains, touch fountains, topiary tunnels and tepees, and rocks to jump and walk across. We saved this last one for last after we had lunch because we knew the kids would dig this most and it’d be hard to get them to move on to anything or anywhere else; turns out, we were right (for once!).

Topiary house in the Children's Garden at The Huntington. c.2011 http://www.freerangephotog.com

Japanese Zen garden, one of many themed-gardens at The Huntington

Entry to The Huntington is free for the under-five set, but it set us adults back $15 a piece (and $20 per on a Saturday, Sunday, or Monday holiday). Next time however we now know about their special group rate of $11 per person if we can get 15 or more committed for the outing. Or better yet, if we can organize for the first Thursday of the month, everyone gets in FREE. Based on the positive response of all involved last week, I’m thinking we’re shooting for a First Thursday play date sometime come fall; maybe this is where Southern California hides its autumn… leaves, that is.

Explore what's down every path at The Huntington. c.2011 http://www.freerangephotog.com