In a previous post, I described my intention to actively accumulate positive experiences by seeking out enjoyable no-cost activities and writing about them on a regular basis. I have been a connoisseur of pleasurable endeavors my entire life, but it wasn’t until I read my colleague Dr. Klein‘s thoroughly researched book on psychological and physical well-being for overcoming disordered eating (rooted in her DBT approach to mindfulness) that I began to understand the inherent emotional strength-building that results from investing in one’s own happiness.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens are wonderful places to explore, but there is cost for admission unless you reserve advance tickets for the once-monthly Free Day; however, parking and the new Frances and Sidney Brody California Garden at the heart of the Education & Visitor Center are currently free every day that the grounds are open to the public (the Huntington is closed on Tuesdays).
The six and a half acre California Garden offers pockets of tranquil seating in a courtyard landscaped with close to 50,000 native and drought tolerant plants. The area is home to an educational orientation gallery with art, artifacts, and an informational movie running on a continuous loop. There are reasonably priced food and drink options, but there’s also an old-fashioned drinking fountain near the orientation gallery for thirsty adventurers wishing to enjoy a true zero-expense outing.
During a recent visit, I thoroughly enjoyed a serene hour to myself (and I could have easily stayed longer if my schedule had permitted) without ever stepping into the areas that require an admission fee.
If you’re not local to the Huntington, you may want to look into community-serving institutions in your area that have free visitor centers or public areas. The welcoming entryways to various educational and charitable organizations that focus on the humanities can be great places to visit for inspiration, personal enrichment and emotional nourishment.