After more than three months of keeping people away due to coronavirus concerns, the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens is finally reopening tomorrow to a limited number of people with advance reservations.
Translation: If you want to visit this week, you'd better make your reservations quick. Interest was so high today that when tickets went on sale at noon, the Huntington's website crashed for nearly half an hour.
Only 1,500 people will be permitted inside the gardens each day, about a third of the average 4,500 visitors who normally visit the Huntington this time of year, said spokeswoman Lisa Blackburn. The Huntington opened to members only on June 17, to see if it needed to tweak any of its procedures, she said. Members will continue to require reservations.
Under the Huntington's new system, online ticket sales and reservations start every Tuesday at noon, and visitors can reserve times and tickets up to seven days in advance. The gardens will be open every day including Tuesdays, when it's normally been closed, except holidays, which means it will be closed on Saturday, July 4.
"We wanted to give everybody a fresh start each week to get tickets without having to plan two months in advance," Blackburn said, "and with the situation being so uncertain about what might even be happening next week, who's making long-term plans anyway?"
The garden is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, but reservations are made on the half-hour, to stagger arrival times. The last reservations are for 3 p.m.
The Huntington's conservatory, galleries and other indoor spaces all remain closed, along with the Children's Garden, because it has so many touchable areas that can't easily be cleaned, Blackburn said.
But with the beaches closed due to coronavirus, the region's botanic gardens could be fragrant and shady alternatives for people who want to be outdoors.
The Huntington is one of the region's last botanic gardens to reopen to the public, but they all have similar coronavirus restrictions, such as mask wearing, social distancing, outdoors only, advance reservations and limited hours and visitors. Other open gardens include California Botanic Gardens, Descanso Gardens, the Arboretum, San Diego Botanic Gardens, Sherman Library & Gardens and the South Coast Botanical Gardens. The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden also has reopened but to members only.