Welcome to San Marino
Affluent city with a unique architectural character.
San Marino is an affluent city nestled in the San Rafael Hills in the northwestern San Gabriel Valley to Pasadena’s southeast. The community was founded in the early 1900s by railroad magnate Henry E. Huntington. Huntington’s beautiful estate was donated to the public and now houses the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. Strict local ordinances have preserved San Marino’s unique character, and most homes were built between 1920 and 1950. The rare exceptions to this rule include some beautiful examples of modern architectural masterpieces. Spanish-inspired housing styles are common, and San Marino’s elegant homes range from cozy bungalows to grand estates.
What to Love
- Refined residential community
- Unique atmosphere in Los Angeles County
- Well-preserved historic homes
- The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Gardens
People & Lifestyle
San Marino looks and feels like nowhere else in Los Angeles County. The construction of the landmark Huntington Estate in the 1900s attracted other prominent business figures, and San Marino has long been associated with old money wealth and elegance. The Huntington Estate remains the centerpiece of this refined community. San Marino has grown more diverse in the 21st century, and it now has one of Los Angeles County’s largest proportions of residents of Chinese or Taiwanese descent.
Dining, Entertainment & Shopping
San Marino is a peaceful and predominantly residential community with strong local restrictions on commercial development. A handful of businesses can be found along the main thoroughfare of Huntington Drive. These include Pan-Asian eatery Noodle World
, kitsch throwback diner Colonial Kitchen
, and artisanal sweet treat shop Go Cakes
. There’s also a Trader Joe’s
for grocery shopping just beyond San Marino’s eastern boundary.
Amid the beautiful gardens of the sprawling Huntington Estate
, five unique eateries offer diverse dining experiences. The Rose Garden offers a traditional English high tea service with a Californian twist. Red Car Coffee Shop serves teas and espresso beverages alongside a delicious selection of pastries, sandwiches, snacks, and ice creams. Overlooking the gorgeous Chinese Garden, Freshwater Dumpling and Noodle House serves exotic specialties including Hunan cumin beef noodles, Tibetan momo dumplings, pork and shrimp wontons, and chicken congee. The Patio Grill has a menu of flavorful Latin American cuisine enjoyed on a relaxed outdoor patio. The menu at the Patio Grill includes Cuban cheeseburgers, honey-lime grilled yam, and seasonal agua frescas.
Things to Do
The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens
is a major San Marino cultural attraction on Henry Huntington’s 207-acre estate featuring 120 acres of beautifully landscaped public gardens and 60,000 square feet of educational and visitor facilities. The Huntington Library has a world-class collection spanning nine million historic British and American publications. Significant artifacts include an original Gutenberg Bible and Ellesmere’s manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
, both of which date back to the 15th century.
The Huntington’s Art Museum features galleries of notable European and American paintings. Standouts of the collection include Thomas Gainsborough’s 1770 painting “The Blue Boy” and Thomas Lawrence’s 1794 “Pinkie” alongside works from 19th- and 20th-century American greats Mary Cassatt, Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, and Robert Rauschenberg.
The Huntington’s Botanical Gardens are divided into 16 distinctive themed areas. Some of the most popular include a Chinese garden with ponds and bridges, a Japanese garden with bonsai courtyards, a Desert Garden with diverse cacti and succulents, and a Shakespeare Garden with traditional English design. The Old Mill, or El Molino Viejo
, is another historic San Marino landmark. Constructed in 1816, El Molino Viejo was one of the first 10 sites in Los Angeles County to be added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Old Mill is surrounded by a pretty garden, while its interior features the California Art Club Gallery, which exhibits and sells fine paintings from contemporary Californian artists.
The 30-acre Lacy Park
is another attractive greenspace located in the heart of San Marino. This dog-friendly park features a beautiful blooming Rose Arbor and the six championship tennis courts and pro shop of the San Marino Tennis Center
. A picnic area at Lacy Park hosts events such as pancake breakfasts and free outdoor concerts.