Untitled Document It’s 2005, and our lives are as hectic as ever. We’re working more than ever before, spending more time in the gridlock of city traffic. (By the way, when is this elusive rush hour, and why does it always take five?). Meanwhile, we’re spending less and less time with our families and friends, rarely taking a moment just to chill. So in this concrete jungle of Los Angeles, how can we escape the hubbub and breathe? The answer is, in fact, local: The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.

The Huntington is best known for its series of amazing botanical gardens. With over a dozen different themes, you’ll find the Desert Garden with blooming cacti mere steps away from the vibrant camellias in … well, the Camellia Garden. The other gardens, which overtake almost 150 acres of property, are a bit less obviously named. The Shakespeare Garden contains a number of different leafy varieties the famous bard wrote about in his plays. The Children’s Garden has a number of different interactive stations where the young’uns can learn about nature. Other gardens represent the plants found naturally in various environments, such as the Subtropical, Jungle, Australian and Japanese gardens.

Continue your cultural day with a stop by the on-site café and the Rose Tea Room. The café serves an array of lunch items to whet any appetite after a prolonged stroll in the gardens, but the tea room is the biggest draw. Visitors are recommended to make reservations up to a month before visiting due to the quaint spot’s popularity. For a paltry $15, you’ll get an unlimited amount of tea and scones, plus visits to the "all you can eat" buffet – despite its Sizzler connotations, it offers a surprisingly delicious spread of sandwiches and highbrow finger foods in true "high tea" fashion.

Obviously in an effort to make you spend your entire day at the Huntington, three well-stocked art galleries are open to all visitors. Its claims to fame are Gainsborough’s Blue Boy and Lawrence’s Pinkie, and it has a vast collection of American art in the Virginia Steele Scott Gallery. Its other specialties are French and British art from the 18th and 19th centuries and the work of architects Charles and Henry Greene.

Last but not least, the more cerebral Huntington visitors can peruse the library. While the research section is off-limits to all but a select group of intellectuals, several artifacts are on display for everyone to see. There’s a copy of the Gutenberg Bible, many works from Shakespeare’s first folio and an Ellesmere transcript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

So slow down, chill out, and head over to the Huntington for the ultimate in low-key, freeway traffic-less relaxation.

Hours: The Huntington is open noon-4:30 p.m. Tue-Fri and 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Sat-Sun. Price: $15 for adults, $10 for students. For more information, visit www.huntington.org.