The children’s garden at the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena is one of the most inventive, ingenious, delightful outside parks I have ever encountered for children. It is at least an hour’s drive from my house and admission to the Huntington Library grounds is $15, but I am definitely considering a membership ($100), because I had such a pleasurable day there.

You enter the Children’s Garden through an enchanting little blue gate. All in front of the door there are children’s footprints leading up to it. Animal footprints too, like all the natural world were rushing to a special place.

Inside there were so many spaces to enjoy and discover. One arbor was filled with small round fountains. All at child’s eye level and with small spurts of water for playing. The large fountain in the middle had no spurting, but only a smooth shimmering basin in the middle that was vibrating. The vibration was making the water dance.

Another arbor was a mostly enclosed circular space – with tall walls and trellises of ivy. Every five minutes or so, a fine mist would shoot out from the ankle-level misters and FILL THE ENTIRE SPACE SO YOU COULDN’T SEE ANYTHING. That was cool. We stayed through a half dozen cycles and when we left we were faintly damp.

There was a rainbow tunnel. In the middle it opened up and there were prisms on the wall.

And funnily enough we found our favorite thing right where Christian and I had been hanging out. There was a low stone wall that looped around and enclosed a small sandy space. It was the perfect height for Christian to hang on to. At one spot the stone wall curved up and arched and split. Then started again after a six-inch gap. There was metal grating in the gap. I thought it was just decorative.

But later that afternoon when we passed by again we heard a melodious jingling, like a music box and it was coming from that arch. A little girl was pouring pebbles down into the space and as each pebble made its way through the nails and thin metal bars to the ground, it sang out in a pleasing tinkling. It was a version of a rain stick!

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