The coastal city of Newport Beach is known for its beautiful sandy beaches, swimming, surfing, beach walks, a nice harbor, and trendy homes (and the beautiful people who populate them).
We were surprised to find a small garden and library complex in the city adjoining the Pacific Coast Highway that was most pleasant to visit and explore. We visited in the winter, before the CoVid pandemic, and while some plants weren’t in bloom many were and we really enjoyed our visit!
The botanical garden is thoughtfully designed and is a lot of fun to explore. Arnold Haskell was the founder of Sherman Library & Gardens. He was a businessman who enjoyed gardens and education. After accumulating the land over a period of years, construction on the garden began in 1966 and took 8 years to finish. Mr. Haskell named it in honor of his mentor, Moses Sherman.
The Gardens’ collections include a variety of themed areas, such a very nice tropical conservatory (with an interesting collection of orchids and carnivorous plants), a rose garden, and a cactus/succulent garden. There are pleasant walkways that wind through the flower beds and fountains, with places to sit and relax. There’s also a nice cafe and gift shop.
The Sherman Library is charming — like stepping into a library from the 1950s. Shelves are filled with old books (some 15,000 volumes), an index system consisting of drawers of oranized paper index cards, hardly anything modern around — I loved it!
The Library specializes in the 19th and 20th century history of the Pacific Southwest (southern California, Arizona, northern Mexico). The Library’s collections detail development of this region in multiple formats — like books, photographs (30,000 images), maps, and periodicals. There’s also an interesting collection of old city directories and phone books, the likes of which I haven’t seen in a long time. The material can be used on site but cannot be checked out.
The Library is also home to a collection of California Impressionist art — many interesting paintings decorating its walls. If you like libraries, this one is worth taking a little time to explore.
The library is open from 10:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. every weekday. During the summer months, the garden stays open until 7 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. Admission is $5.00 ( Children 3 & under are free)
I’d definitely recommend a visit to the Sherman Library and Gardens when you’re visiting the Newport Beach region.
Additional photos from the Gardens and Library follow: