Some of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world grow in Pasadena . The Huntington Gardens (1151 Oxford Ave., San Marino, 626/405-2100, www.huntington.org , Wed.–Mon. noon–4:30 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 10:30 a.m.–close, adults $20, students $10, children $6) also includes an amazing library filled with rare and ancient books and manuscripts.
Literary travelers and locals come to the Huntington to view (and worship) the Gutenberg Bible and a manuscript of the Canterbury Tales. Art lovers come to view works by van der Weyden, Gainsborough, Hopper, and more. And everyone comes to explore the 120 acres of gardens, the most popular part of the complex.
More than a dozen different gardens beckon, including the Desert Garden, the Japanese Garden, and the Rose Garden. It takes more than one tour to get a real sense of all that grows here; pick your favorite area and enjoy a peaceful respite from the endless chaos of the L.A. Basin. Admission to the center includes a docent-led garden tour. Check the website for a look at what will be in bloom when you’re in town.
Some of the best museum café food in the state can be had at the Rose Garden Tea Room. You can get a scrumptious buffet-style high tea for as long as the museum is open. For a more traditional snack or light lunch, the walk-up café offers salads, sandwiches, and hot soups.