By Jean Stauber, Travel Editor
If you feel you must travel on “Carmageddon” weekend, I recommend these two destinations:
The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Gardens located in Arcadia are a must-see. Here, you’ll find multiple gardens grouped by geography spread over more than 125 acres.
You’ll stroll through South American, Mediterranean, South African, Australian and Asiatic-North American gardens. The Arboretum also displays the Aquatic Garden, Meadowbrook, Demonstration Home Gardens, Garden for All Seasons, Prehistoric and Jungle Garden, Native Oaks, Herb Garden, and the Palm and Bamboo.
You’ll also see historical landmarks that are representatives of the Native American, Rancho Period and the 19th century eras. You are more than likely going to encounter peafowl, both the peahen and peacock, strolling throughout the gardens. There is a flock of some 200 peafowl which are the descendants of the original birds that “Lucky” Baldwin imported from India in about 1880. The city of Arcadia will not to be rid of these birds as they are the symbol of the city. Among the buildings, you’ll find on the grounds are the Santa Anita Depot, the Queen Anne’s Cottage and a beautiful gazebo.
The depot was moved to the Arboretum during the construction of the 210 Foothill Freeway. It was built in 1870 to serve Lucky Baldwin and the people of Rancho Santa Anita. The depot is now a museum with railroad memorabilia and is open to visitors, provided they are not filming at the station. The station has been used in the remake of the film “Christmas in Connecticut” starring Dyan Cannon and Kris Kristofferson. The opening of “Fantasy Island” also featured the Queen’s Anne Cottage in the opening scenes.
Is the arboretum haunted? Some people say so. Some people have claimed that they have seen or heard the ghost of Lucky Baldwin, one of his wives, Chief Buffalo Choild Long Lance (a Hollywood actor who committed suicide in the house), hearing moans, smelling odd cooking smells and see weird anomalies in the garden in the evening. Twice a month the California Philharmonic performs their “Festival on the Grass” on Saturdays from 7:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m. The next performance will be July 23rd beginning at 7:30 p.m. For ticket information call (626) 300-8200 or call (626) 300-8200 for program and ticket information.
The tram is scheduled Tuesday-Sundays at noon, 1, 2 and 3 p.m. Tickets are $4 per person. No tram service on the third Tuesday of the month. The Arboretum is located at 301 North Baldwin Avenue (Arcadia 91007) and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For ticket information call (626) 821-3222.
Los Encinos State Historic Park
Very near the corner of Balboa and Ventura Boulevard lies Los Encinos State Historic Park, the remains of a 4,460 acre ranch. The five acre park is blessed with a natural spring. It is said that the water in the spring is so sweet that animals would come from miles around to drink it. Because of the water the “Gabrielino”, “Fernandeno” or Tongva” Indians lived at the site of
the park. Today you’ll find that ducks and geese have made the spring their home. Like some of you who have lived in the Valley and visited the park, I have brought slices of bread to feed these delightful creatures.
My two young daughters loved to watch their antics as they scrambled for the chunks of bread. We even found stations from which you can purchase duck food. There are two buildings on the grounds. In the Garnier building, named after two Frenchmen Eugene and Phillipe Garnier who had owned the rancho at one time, you’ll find the Visitor Center. You are welcome to take a self-guided tour of this two-story building. The other building is the De la Osa Adobe, built in 1849. You can take a free guided tour of the De la Osa Adobe, which is furnished with period furniture and artifacts of that period, at 2 pm on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The docents provide you with fascinating history of the Rancho and the history of its owners. I was amazed to learn that the actress Sharon Gless (Cagney and Lacey) is descended from Simon Gless who owned the rancho from 1886-1889 when he sold it to his father-in-law Domingo Amestoy.
Why not plan a picnic lunch? There are plenty of picnic tables under lovely large trees that will provide shade in this summer heat. So, pick up some sandwiches at your favorite fast food restaurant, deli, or prepare a picnic basket at home. Or, adjacent to the park on the corner of Balboa & Ventura is a new Japanese restaurant Cho Cho San or a great place, Salads Galore, if you don’t wish to picnic.
The hours of the Los Encinos State Historic Park are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. You can enter from Moorpark Street (address is 16756) or from Ventura Boulevard.