Tuesday, August 14, 2012

LA Arboretum in Arcadia

Tuesday, August 14, 2012
My Cost: $8

301 North Baldwin Avenue
Arcadia, California 91007

UPDATE: After this visit, I learned that the Arboretum is free on the 3rd Tuesday of every month. If I had only waited a week, I would have gotten in free! (Although I don't know how crowded it gets.)

I keep hoping that the weather will cool off. I am not a sun-worshipper, and I actually prefer the rainy marine climate of western Washington State, where I grew up. Perhaps that is why I thought a good choice for today would be the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden. Walking through the trees would transport me to those cool evergreen forests... or so I hoped. After going, however, I keep hearing Dr. John's voice singing in my head that "I been in the right place, but it must have been the wrong time." 

The Arboretum is a lush, gorgeous, stunning oasis of natural beauty, with impeccably manicured lawns, organic stretches of vegetation, an array of waterways filled with fish, turtles, ducks and other wildlife, refreshing fountains, and beautiful architecture. But it was no cool evergreen forest, at least not today. And yes, there is a lot of shade to be found throughout the grounds, but that shade was just no match for the searing heat and soaring temperatures we have been experiencing. Anyone who is sensitive to temperature should reserve this for a fall or winter activity, or at least a day that is no hotter than 80 degrees.

The Arboretum is just off the 210 freeway in Arcadia. You take the Baldwin Ave exit, which is easy to remember because the lake in the middle of the Arboretum is Baldwin Lake. It is directly across the street from the Santa Anita Race Track, and just up the street from the Westfield Santa Anita Mall. I found myself imagining a nice long date with Omar where we would stroll around the Arboretum on a nice cool day, then go have dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, (we eat there more than other restaurants because he is Production Manager at the Cheesecake Factory Bakery,) and spend the rest of the evening at the track. (I've never been to the Santa Anita Race Track, so I don't even know if it's open at night, but this is an imaginary date, after all!)

Today was my first time inside the Arboretum. The day I discovered it existed I was in the area, and early for a meeting, but it was after closing so I'd only looked through the fence. I did get a chance, though, to experience the proliferation of peacocks the Arboretum is famous for. I remember they flew up into the trees to roost for the night.

And so it was no surprise to me that there was a beautiful, shimmering peacock sitting right next to the sidewalk on our way inside. And once we paid our admission, (adults are $8, cash or check only, but children under 5 are free. UPDATE: I didn't know it at the time, but the 3rd Tuesday of every month admission is free!) there was a peahen just through the doors. I didn't get any good pictures, unfortunately. But if you go there yourself I'm sure you will see plenty of peacocks!

The first (and only) area we went to was the Queen Anne Cottage. There are many other options, including areas depicting Africa, Australia, Asia, and the Americas. (Was it intentional that they all start with "A"? You can take a look at the map here.) But the Cottage, situated next to the lake, seemed like a good central place to start. Plus I do enjoy Victorian architecture, and wanted to see this 1885 building.

We passed through the Prehistoric Forest on our way around the lake, and Vivi was enthralled by the swimming turtles and fish and ducks. We kept moving, however, and didn't get any pictures until we got to the cottage.

The cutest moment of the day happened when Vivi spied two small garden sculptures at the corner of the cottage:

 We also enjoyed a bit of the lakeside view behind the cottage, where we got to see some squirrel scampering, and we interrupt the nap of about a dozen ducks.

But sadly, by the time we finished taking these photos, the kids and I were dripping in sweat and I could hear them crying for relief. So I packed them back into the stroller and pushed it as fast as I could back to the exit. (Power walking behind a heavy double stroller isn't exactly what I wanted to do under the circumstances, but someone had to get us out of the hot!)

I would like to bring the kids back another day when the weather is cool, and maybe cloudy. I saw that they have one more lawn concert on Thursday, September 13th. It will be the band Lounge-O-Rama! Maybe we'll go...