If you ever find yourself in Pasadena, California – take a day to visit The Huntington Library, Art Gallery and Botanical Gardens. It can keep you captivated for hours and its a great place to meet up with a friend for their Afternoon Tea.
The Huntington was founded by railroad and real estate magnate Henry Edwards Huntington in 1919. The museum and gardens opened to the public in 1928. The room where afternoon tea is served used to be a parlour complete with a bowling alley (which is now the kitchen). I made a visit last month to enjoy their tea service.
Freshly baked scones greeted us at the table accompanied by The Huntington’s famous homemade marmalade (more tart than sweet), clotted cream, berry preserves and butter. We polished off maybe 2-3 scones out of the whole basket and took the rest home to enjoy for a snack later. I loved the chunky texture of the marmalade, but wish it were a bit sweeter. If you do love it, I did see jars available in the garden gift shop.
A selection of crackers with cheddar, mozzarella, havarti, gouda and blue cheeses
The tea itself was much more casual than I had ever experienced before and perhaps it’s the whole west coast vibe of it all. Instead of a formal grand tea stand being brought to our table, we were able to help ourselves from the buffet of tea sandwiches, desserts, fruit and salads that were laid out for us. It felt a bit more like a baby shower this way, but we were welcome to go up as many times as we liked. Luckily, my guest and I were one of the first to arrive so the food was incredibly fresh and beautifully displayed.
A selection of loose-leaf tea was offered to us and I loved my rose tea straight up without and milk or sugar. Our server kept our pots filled without us even asking. Keeping with the more casual vibe, there is no dress-code and everyone is welcomed in t-shirts and shorts. This is California after all, and it would be just plain uncomfortable to stroll the gardens after in long dress pants and fancy shoes.
My savoury tea sandwiches with the crusts cut off – of course.
A view of the Japanese garden at The Huntington Botanical Gardens, Pasadena
Walk off all those delicious desserts and sandwiches through The Huntington Botanical Garden grounds. If the sun is blaring down, cool off and see some fantastic art inside the gallery and peruse through the rare book collection inside The Huntington Library. It’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon in Pasadena.
Tea Room Prices
Adults – $29.50 per person, plus tax
Children – (ages 4-8): $14.99 per person, (ages 2-3): $7.50 per person, plus tax
General admission is a separate required cost ($20 for adults), paid upon entering the grounds. You may want to visit on Free Days (the first Thursday of each month) when the Tea Room is open from 10:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Reservations are highly recommended at (626) 683-8131, however walk-ins are accepted.
Tea Room Hours
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 12 noon to 4:30 p.m. (last seating at 3:30 p.m.)
Sat. – Sun.: 10:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (last seating at 3:30 p.m.)
See the The Huntington website for summer hours (May 29 thru Sept. 2)