Lotusland – Santa Barbara (Montecito)

Magical & Mystical Gardens Lotusland – Santa Barbara (Montecito) Visited: July 2020 For the past couple of years, Tracy and I have talked about traveling to Lotusland, a 37-acre estate and botanic garden located in the Montecito foothills near the city of Santa Barbara. Lotusland actually features more than 20 unique gardens, ranging from roses to bromeliads, cycads, cacti and, of course, lotuses.           We secured 9:15 a.m. reservations by phone (the only way to get reservations), and on our 26th wedding anniversary we took the 90-minute drive to what has become one of our favorite garden experiences (and we’ve had a lot). It was so good, in fact, we will become members in 2021. Lotusland, recognized … Read more…

Descanso Gardens – La Cañada Flintridge

Completing The San Gabriel Valley Garden Trifecta Descanso Gardens – La Cañada Flintridge Last Visited: July 2020 Due to the Covid-19 shutdown of museums, restaurants and virtually everything else, I, like most people in the world, became stir crazy. So when gardens started opening back up, we jumped at the opportunity and immediately became members the Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanical Garden, along with today’s featured point of interest, Descanso Gardens, in La Cañada Flintridge, a community located just northwest of Pasadena.                           Throughout the years Tracy and I have made numerous visits, but with membership comes the opportunity to enter before the regular opening time. Descanso Gardens … Read more…

Getty Center (The Getty) – Los Angeles

Artful Los Angeles Icon  Getty Center (The Getty) – Los Angeles Last Visited: January 2020 In January 2020 BC (Before Covid), Tracy and I popped over to one of the area’s most prestigious museums, the Getty Center, early on a Sunday morning.  It’s located on a 900-foot hilltop that sits above West Los Angeles.  Little did we realize at the time, it would be our last visit to an indoor or outdoor museum for the next four months. J. Paul Getty was an oil billionaire (Getty Oil Company) and avid art collector.  Besides his numerous oil companies, he became fascinated with artwork in the 1930s.  He accumulated so much that in the mid-1930s he opened the J. Paul Getty Museum … Read more…

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden – Arcadia

Gorgeous Global Garden … And Peacocks, Too! Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden – Arcadia Visited: May 2020 Thankfully, now that outdoor museums and gardens have opened, Tracy and I can escape our home to visit gorgeous environs, some located very near to where we live.  One such slice of local heaven is the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden.  It’s a spot that not only contains exquisite plants and flowers but, during the summer (except for this year), becomes an incredible music venue (along with accompanying peafowl) in a magical setting (more on that later). The Arboretum is a 127-acre museum located across the street from the Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, a city just east of … Read more…

Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens (European Art Edition) – San Marino

Home Sweet Art Gallery Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens (European Art Edition) – San Marino Last Visit: August 2019 Since we have already taken an extensive tour of the Botanical Gardens (in a previous post), on this excursion to the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens we’ll take a look at The Huntington Art Gallery: European Art, which is also the villa belonging to Henry and Arabella Huntington. Noted architects Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey designed the mansion, and when it was completed many considered it “one of the finest in Southern California.”  Originally it was not going to be so large, but Arabella (who Henry Huntington would marry in 1913) envisioned something on a larger level. … Read more…

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition – Garden Grove

Renaissance Man Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition – Garden Grove (EXHIBITION CLOSED) Visited: May 2019 On an evening in Southern California (not Roma, or specifically Vatican City), Tracy asked (quite out of the blue), “Why don’t we visit the Sistine Chapel this weekend?” While I looked on perplexed (quite normal for me), pondering how we were going to catch a flight to Rome and how much it would cost, she continued by saying there was an exhibition called Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition at Christ Cathedral (formerly the Crystal Cathedral) in Garden Grove.  It runs through January 2020. We have been to the real Sistine Chapel a couple of times.  You’re herded into the chapel with a few million of your closest … Read more…

Golden Gate Park – San Francisco

Three Countries In Three Hours Golden Gate Park – San Francisco While visiting San Francisco, my buddy Kim said, “How’d you like to visit three countries in the next few hours?” Not having brought my passport, I didn’t think it would be possible, but Kim told me not to worry.  “We can do this without even leaving Golden Gate Park,” he quipped. Scoring a fantastic parking space on JFK Drive near the DeYoung Museum, Kim and I (along with Mary and Tracy) started our journey toward our first country.  Along the way, we viewed what looked like a large spider. As the fog and clouds scuffled with blue skies, we caught a glimpse of Sutro Tower (well, part of it … Read more…

Grace Cathedral – San Francisco

Bay Area Treasure Grace Cathedral – San Francisco Visited: May 2019 During the April 2019 fire at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, I learned that San Francisco and Paris are Sister Cities, and that Grace Cathedral was constructed in Notre-Dame’s same French-Gothic style.  What I didn’t know was that a section of its interior is patterned after another famed and beloved Paris religious site, and there were also doors that would transport us back to Florence, Italy. The history of the Episcopalian Grace Cathedral dates back to the Gold Rush Days, when in 1849 Grace Chapel was built on Powell near Jackson.  In 1860, Grace Church was started at California and Stockton. It was consecrated in 1868 and destroyed by fire … Read more…

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens (Garden Edition) – San Marino

The Indoor/Outdoor Museum Experience Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens (Garden Edition) – San Marino Last Visit: March/April 2019 With the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino (just south of Pasadena) celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2019, I thought it would be a good time for Travels With Mai Tai Tom to revisit what I consider one of the greatest museums not only in California but the world.   It helps that we’re Huntington members because that way we have photos of nearly the entire complex from our numerous visits.            There are a lot of things I appreciate more as an adult than I did as a kid.  They include Mozart, a good bottle … Read more…

Valley Relics Museum – Van Nuys

A Trip Back Through Time Valley Relics Museum – Van Nuys The Valley Relics Museum has long been on our radar to visit, and luckily our procrastination (I’m a pro when it comes to that) turned out to our advantage because this unusual museum recently relocated to a space more than twice the size of the original.  If you’re into nostalgia or especially neon, you’ve got to check this place out.  The museum is the brainchild of Tommy Gelinas, who opened its Chatsworth location in 2013.  However, with 15,000+ relics, he needed a bigger place, so late in 2018, the Valley Relics Museum moved to two hangars at the Van Nuys Airport.  Gelinas is now able to display 45% of … Read more…