Saturday morning, my parents and I headed to the Pasadena/San Marino area for the day to visit The Huntington Library. I first saw it on Lacey Chabert’s (“Mean Girls”) blog and continued seeing the well-known library on other sites and blogs featuring the “hot spots” in Los Angeles. Being the location guru that I am when it comes to movies and TV shows, and hearing that many productions were filmed there, I thought it would be a cool place to check out. After a couple of years of talking and dreaming, we were able to.
So, after stopping for breakfast, we made our way to Huntington Library and found a parking spot. We bought our tickets and walked inside, and I was instantly drawn into the beauty of the grounds with luscious gardens and greenery everywhere you looked for miles around.
I’ve since learned that it is apparently a non-profit organization, founded by Henry E. Huntington in 1919. The website informs that he was “an exceptional businessman who built a financial empire that included railroad companies, utilities, and real estate holdings in Southern California.” He also had one of the “finest research libraries” which also included an art collection and botanical gardens, which are now open to the public for everyone to enjoy.
They had a guided tour, which I thought would be interesting, but I also liked the idea of just wandering around at our own pace on a self-guided tour and wandering as we went. Our first stop was a museum, which held the documents of the Magna Carta and other historical items, such as classical books from Shakespeare and an entire room dedicated to science with electricity, how energy works and so on. As I read the signs describing the artifacts or posters in glass cases or hanging on the walls, I realized something, which I also posted on Facebook.
It’s easy, after you graduate from anything in life, to quickly think that you’ve learned all there is to know, whether about your craft or unrelated subjects from elementary school. But, now that I’ve graduated college, I feel that I’m even more excited about learning than I probably was while in school. I love going to museums and finding facts about things that I don’t deal with on a daily basis or even things that I do, like science, history, art, music and so on. Knowledge is such a valuable thing and it is something I don’t want to take for granted or waste.“
Afterwards, we decided to explore the grounds and there was plenty to see. The view from the museum steps directed us towards the European Art building, which was used as the hotel from “A Cinderella Story,” when they go to the masquerade ball, as Sam and Carter are leaving and Fiona and the stepsisters see them. I wish I was better at describing architecture, besides stunning or breathtaking. But, that’s just what it is. Plenty of opportunities to take pictures and admire the nature around.
My favorite garden, hands down, was the Rose Garden, which was also used in the most magical scene of “A Cinderella Story,” when they slow dance in the gazebo with twinkly lights and a band playing. It’s extremely enchanting and for my writer-like mind, and the perfect setting for a novel or even just a date, in real-life or fantasy. We wandered through the garden area, admiring all of the roses and the names, like “Blue For You” or “Over the Moon.” So romantic! It’s easily a spot I could spend hours in, just sitting and thinking, you know? It makes you slow down and really take your time, walking through the spots and literally stopping to smell the roses. See what I did there?
Aside from the Rose Garden, there are also smaller herb gardens, growing vegetables and fruits, which were adorable. I’ve always wanted to start my own garden at home, so this was definitely inspiring, though I’m sure mine won’t be quite that elaborate from the start. We then made our way into the Japanese/Zen Garden, which has also been used in “The Wedding Planner” and on “Parks and Recreation.” It’s so peaceful and quiet with replicas of Japanese bridges and ponds, as well as what their homes look like. This library/garden certainly gives everyone a different perspective on other cultures and all different areas of the world. What’s beautiful about it, is that each portion of the garden can be transformed into any part of the world. I think that’s what I love so much about the idea of being a director or scouting locations. You can mix and match all of these random spots across town and ties the movie magic together. Gosh, I love that whole process.
After the Japanese Garden, I was starting to poop out. It was pretty warm and I was hungry and thirsty, but we still had a couple more spots to hit. We hit the Australian outback section, where we saw a small lizard and we started walking through the desert lands, but my mom and I were a little too freaked out that we didn’t finish walking through it. After searching high and low, we eventually found one of the gardens that was used in “The Wedding Planner” with Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Lopez and the mausoleum. Let’s just say, we got plenty of exercise and I felt every bit of it the next day!
When we finished at the Huntington Library, we decided to have lunch at The Cheesecake Factory in Pasadena. That’s just always the easiest place and we always know where one is. Usually we’re starving by the time a meal rolls around. It was tasty and downtown Pasadena is one of my favorite places. It makes my heart so happy to see people strolling the streets and the old buildings, because everything is just so detailed and beautiful.
From there, we decided to drive around to find a couple movie location addresses I had in the area for “A Cinderella Story” and “Father of the Bride.” I could go on for days about how adorable these neighborhoods are – most of the houses have such personality and charm about them. I was so excited to see the “ACS” house in person and it was just as cute; looking just like it was out of a fairytale, and that was the vision behind it. But, I have to say, I’m always incredibly awkward standing in front of someone’s actual house! HA! I get really paranoid and try to do it as
Next up was the “Father of the Bride” house, which we had seen before, but it’s just absolutely stunning in person. It’s one of those houses that is everyone’s dream home. It was practically a character in its own right in the movie and I think that’s what drew so many people to it. As you can see, it looks exactly the same, and that’s part of the timeless feel. Pasadena is just one of those places that always feels sunny, you know the way it is in movies?
It was still pretty early when we finished everything we had planned on, so my dad started asking what we wanted to do. We wound up getting California Donuts, which is a donut place I’ve been trying to go to all year, but…The timing just wasn’t right, I guess. They have donuts with cereal on them…TELL ME WHAT IS BETTER THAN THAT??? The setup to order donuts is a bit strange as you just point to the donuts you want through the window and they just call you down to an open window when your order is complete. It seems to be that there is always a wait, but I’d say they’re worth it.
As a bonus, we went drove into the heart of LA. Griffith Observatory is one of the spots we always end up at, and this trip was no different. It took forever to get up the hill, because of traffic, since there was a concert at the Greek Theatre, but we kept ourselves occupied by eating our donuts and laughing for the duration of that wait. We made it to the top of the hill at just the perfect time, as the sun was setting. Being at this spot always just makes me think about life; perspective and to see how quickly life changes. There’s one road that you can see from there, that goes on for miles and miles, and you can’t really see where it ends. Life’s a lot like that sometimes, isn’t it? You see the lights and the circumstances, and it all seems great, until you’re in the middle of it and suddenly, you wonder how much longer you have. It just feels like this never-ending journey. But, along that journey, you will find some of the most incredible things – people, places and unexpected obstacles. And it’s all okay.
By the time we finished walking around and checking out the glorious view, we drove into Toluca Lake and made a quick stop near Warner Brothers Studios. Because of my passion for film and the whole TV/movie behind-the-scenes process, I have always had a desire to work at the studio. It is by far my favorite of all the studios I’ve toured and been to. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that they’ve produced and filmed most of my favorite shows on the lot over the years from “Full House” and “Growing Pains” to “Gilmore Girls,” “Ellen” and “Friends.” It’s a very magical place. Again, inspiration struck as I stood there, trying to get a clear picture of the WB water tower. It was a cool evening and I don’t know, standing there, wishing with everything in me that I was cool enough to have a pass to get on the lot, I had butterflies in my stomach at the idea that right now, opportunity is out there and there’s still time for those dreams in the future.
This was the caption I posted underneath this photo on Instagram:
Some people get this pitter patter in their heart when they see their crush or when they see their someone special. I get that feeling when I see places like Warner Bros. Studios or the Grand Ole Opry. My dreams have always been like my significant other and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”
We came home after that and stopped at In-N-Out. I wasn’t all that hungry, so I just had fries and a root beer. I was wiped out after our crazy day! I can’t believe how much we were able to do in just a day. I believe that everyone needs more days like that. It helped me clear my mind and to keep occupied, instead of just staying at home, being inside. Get out there and have adventures.
That’s all for now,