Huntington Library & Gardens

Another great place to take out-of-town guests is the Huntington Library and Gardens. It’s a tad pricy (and more expensive than its sister, Descanso Gardens) it’s worth the fee. Huntington has an excellent gift shop, art museum, science center, literary museum, and countless gardens with many food options. It’s also a Disneyland for parents.

Doesn’t it make you feel like a Rockerfeller living in the Breakers mansion.. walking the grounds like a king.

The Desert Gardens.

Many koi ponds..

So pretty and tranquil. We went on a very hot day. Luckily the trees provide lots of shade.

The Rose Garden smelled the best. The above photo was taken at a booth that (90 year old, adorable) volunteers were manning. These flowers had such different scents and the volunteers were happy to explain their differences.

the Zen Garden.

They had representations of rainforest life in the conservatories. This is a great interactive zone for kids.

In addition to the lovely gardens are many buildings with art work, literary works, science and natural history exhibits. It’s a nice break to step inside the ac after walking the grounds.

They even have Frank Lloyd Wright furniture!

I highly recommend taking out of town guests to the Huntington Gardens… especially bird-watching parents. It was a really relaxing non-touristy place to take guests and something many Los Angelenos haven’t even experienced.

Chicago 4: Frank Lloyd Wright

To catch you up to speed with my Chicago adventures…
Chicago 1: Bloomingdale Trail + Street Art + Antique Taco
Chicago 2: I Love the ZOO!
Chicago 3: Millennium Park + The Art Institute of Chicago

Since my trip here is so short (2.5 days), we are approaching the last .5 day. How could I leave Chicago without visiting Oak Park, home to Frank Llyod Wrights home, office, and many of his designs. We arrived at FLW’s home and got tickets to go on the 12:15p tour. While waiting for the tour to start we walked around the block which is filled with other examples of FLW architecture.

The house above is called the Arthur B. Heurtley House designed in 1902. The house below is the Nathan G. Moore House.

I think the FLW house offers walking tours aroudn the neighborhood, but if you wanted to go at your own pace just print the map HERE and read up on the sights ahead of time. This is a beautiful walk and you can even stop an grab some delicious pizza (like we did) at Giordano’s on Chicago Ave, just down the block. Once it hit 12:15p we were back that FLW’s house for the tour. I opted not to get the photography pass (aka more $), but I got these photos of the outside of the property. ¬†Below is the front of his home, and behind the greenery to the left of the photo, is where his architectural studio/office was.

The photo below was his carriage house, which has been converted into a gift shop and main office for the museum.

The photo below is looking toward the entrance to his offices. I really enjoyed this tour and highly recommend it to be able to see the inside and learn more about his design decisions. I’m so glad I could to stop here before I headed to the airport.

Check out the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust website to see better images and learn more about his architecture, events, and different types of tours offered.

Secret Stair Walk #32: Fern Dell + Immaculate Heart

Last weekend I also did stair walk #32 from my book, Secret Stairs by Charles Fleming. This walk begins across from Trails Cafe in Griffith Park. This time I didn’t stop in because of the long line, but I’ve been here before and it is unbelievable. I’ve had their avacado sandwich before which was so tasty I still think about it and salivate. I found this photo on their Yelp page:

This photo I took on my walk:

After I forced myself not to stop in at Trails, I continued on along a Disney looking walkway that lead me out of Griffith Park. Even the handrails were made to look like logs. So clever and cute.

It was like something out of the Jungle Kingdom at Disney World.

Eventually I made my way completely out of the park and down to the busy road of Franklin. It went from peaceful to car horn stressful in a matter of minutes.

But before I knew it I was back up into the hills on some hidden stairs. It was quiet once again and the views were great.

A long set of secret stairs put me out on a street with this castle/fortress looking down on me. The book says Nicholas Cage used to live here and that doesn’t surprise me.

At this point I was high up in “The Oaks” neighborhood (Brangelina lives somewhere here). Can you find the secret mailbox along the secret stair walk?

Such a gorgeous day! Perfect for observing the Observatory.

Rich people and their imported beautiful flowers:

It was when I was across from this house, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son, that I ran into a couple also scouring for secret stairs too. I love when I meet fellow stair walkers.

Secret Stair Walk #29: Griffith Park Loop

This weeks posts are going to be a tad out of order, but on Sunday the weather was unbelievable. If you weren’t out enjoying it then shame on you. It was perfect stair walking weather, so I got up early and decided to explore Los Feliz/ Griffith Park via secret stairs. I did walk #29 in Charles Fleming’s Secret Stair Book. Buy the book! It’s good cheap fun. And so many people along this walk stopped me to say “I live in the neighborhood and I love that book!”. One lady even stopped driving to tell me about some other local secret stairs.

This walk began in Griffith Park along Vermont. It began by exiting Griffith and taking you through the local neighborhoods.

These were also fancy staircases with flowers and built in seating. If you blocked out the trash littered around it was quite ritzy. I must say that people in the neighborhood were really nice and friendly, offering directions and being fully supportive of the stair walks.

Prefect walking weather.


Since Saturday was overcast and rainy, it meant the sky was crystal clear of pollution on Sunday. The views were stunning. I don’t know how people live along these hills and don’t just want to sit there looking out all day.

This house wins for coolest mailbox along the walk, hands down!

See that Mayan temple looking home across the way? That’s a Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House. They used this home in Blade Runner. It’s hard to miss along the hillside. This walk leads you over to this temple.

I took this photo of the Ennis House garage gates. This home is extremely expensive and has changed hands several times. It was being preserved by a historical society, but with budget cuts and the staggering cost to repair this temple, it was sold to a private owner who is undergoing millions of dollars of repairs. If you live in LA you need to check it out. It’s a free lesson in art history.

I continued through this fancy neighborhood with the glimmer of the Griffith Observatory in the distance.

The walk continues to take you out of the neighborhoods and on to a dirt trail and eventually you’re up at the observatory. This was a long stair walk and probably my favorite thus far. From the Observatory (it’s free and you have to visit it at least once if you live in LA) I headed down the road, past the Roger Rabbit tunnel, onto the flat green where groups were picnicking. I ended this walk at my car parked in front of the Greek Theater. Success!

Tonight I’ll be seeing Comedy Bang Bang at UCB (yup, I got the hardest to get tickets in town) and have a full report for you.