Huntington Library and Gardens
This is a lovely place to stroll with a baby, little kids and friends.
The big attraction for 2- to 7-year-olds is the Children's Garden, with its spurting, bubbling, and misting fountains. Plus, tunnels, a "rainbow room," a little house, chimes--you drop pebbles into them!--and topiary. Be sure to bring a change of clothing for toddlers.
But be forewarned: The Children's Garden is ridiculously hot in the summer. Just when the weather is favorable, the Huntington cuts back it's hours. (For a garden with kid-friendly hours and activities, check out Descanso Gardens in La Canada.) Also, the $15-$20 adult admission is CRAZY. (Yes, there's one free day a month, but you have to reserve in advance.)
However, the children's garden isn't the only fun spot at the Huntington. The nearby Conservatory is intended for middle-school-aged kids, but it's also fun for younger ones.
They get a good introduction to a jungle.
Look for koi and ducks (mallards) in the pond at the gorgeous Japanese Garden, and at the Lily Ponds.
The lake in the new Chinese Garden also attracts waterfowl. In general, the Huntington is a good place for bird watching. One easy to spot species: those medium-sized black birds with white tummies and long bobbing tails are black phoebes. Look in tall trees for red-tailed hawks.
Young ladies may enjoy the tea room. (Reservations recommended.) Boys might prefer to chase lizards in the Desert Garden.
The Huntington has a wonderful gift shop with a good selection of nature books for kids.
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, CA 91108
Adults: $20 weekends, $15 weekdays
Under 5: free
Age 5-11: $6
Our family became members at the Huntington because we live nearby. But membership here is expensive and not especially generous. Descanso offers better family events, as well as nature classes for kids. The LA Zoo admits more family members--including extended family and childcare providers--on its basic membership. If this sounds critical, don't get me started on Pinkie and Blue Boy!