The Huntington is the perfect place for you and your family to get a little something extra out of the traditional “walk in the park”. Pack up your sunscreen and put on some comfy shoes, because you’ll be doing plenty of walking–and sunbathing! Get ready to enjoy a beautiful day of art and plenty of themed gardens.
1. Audio Tours
There’s a lot of territory to cover at the Huntington, so we suggest mapping your visit in advance and downloading the museum’s free audio tours on iTunes. Rather than rent out a device once you arrive, you can download tours of the gardens and galleries before you arrive, so they’re on your iPod and ready to go.
2. Dibner Hall of the History of Science
On your way out to the gardens, make a stop in the Library Exhibition Hall, home to the “Beautiful Science” exhibit. Although the exterior is currently under construction, the interior is completely intact and ready to bestow all it’s knowledge upon your children. All you have to do is enter by going up the wheelchair ramp located on the left of the building. Here, there’s all sorts of information on topics ranging from the history of the heliocentric theory to the development of modern medicine. You can even listen to an excerpt from Galileo’s description of the moon through a telescope.
Keep moving through the grounds until you reach the Conservatory. We should warn you that you won’t escape the Pasadena heat just because you’re indoors, (the Conservatory is kept rather humid, just the way the plants like it) but it’s worth a little sweat. Have your kids explore the different kinds of plants housed here by finding interactive stations located around the entire building. These contain loads of information about what different plants are used for, and kids will especially love the stations with “squeeze and sniff” bottles.
4. Children’s Garden
Just outside the Conservatory lies the children’s garden, complete with miniature mazes and plenty of water fixtures for kids to play in. Your extra-little ones can enter through the small wooden blue door rather than just walk around it, but parents beware: that option is for people under four feet tall. Make sure you’ve slathered them with sunscreen, and then watch as they enjoy all the different aspects of this garden made just for kids.
5. The Huntington Arts Gallery
Like almost everything else at the Huntington, the main art gallery is a big place. So, especially if you’re with kids who have relatively short attention spans, we suggest you head straight for the Thornton Portrait Gallery. Here you’ll find Thomas Gainsborough’s iconic Blue Boy, which is definitely a must-see in this gallery in particular. If you need some assistance getting your kids interested in the painting, have them pick an information card out of a slit in the benches around the gallery, which will direct your kids to pay attention to Gainsborough’s brush stroke style.
6. Chinese Garden
This portion of the tour will include plenty of walking, so make sure you wear some comfy shoes! Start your garden tour in the Chinese Garden, where you and your family can take in the picturesque landscape. A favorite of Chinese food lovers will certainly be the restaurant housed inside the garden. If all the museum-going has worked up your appetite, put your order in for some chow mein!
7. Rose Garden and Rose Garden Café
The Rose Garden is certainly among the most beautiful and aromatically pleasing attractions at the Huntington. You and your family will enjoy roaming through the rows and columns of roses and learning the names different species, just beware of any stray thorns. If you need a break from all the walking, grab a snack and a nice spot in the shaded Rose Garden Café, which offers a tasty selection of warm and cold sandwiches, salads, small plates, and desserts.
8. Japanese Garden
Complete with koi ponds, a moon bridge, and traditional Japanese teahouse, the quaint Japanese Garden is the perfect destination for families to enjoy at the Huntington, and is located just down the hill from the Rose Garden. Pay special attention to the Japanese House in the middle of the garden, where both children and adults can appreciate the striking restoration work that was completed this past April.
9. Greene and Greene
Once you’ve finished your walk around the gardens, don’t forget to stop in the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art, home to a collection of furniture crafted by Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene in the twentieth century. The brothers pioneered the Arts and Crafts movement, and their work is characterized by attention to proportions and detailed woodwork.
10. Bookstore and More
Before you depart, be sure hit the bookstore on your way out. It will be located on the left hand side as you exit. Here, you’ll find all sorts of fun jewelry, calendars, and plenty of books on a wide variety of subjects (like how to make your own Japanese garden!). Poke around the kid’s section for your little ones, but you might want to be wary of “The Book of Totally Irresponsible Science”…or not?
Past articles about The Huntington