10 Things to do in Pasadena California – 2024 Ultimate Guide

Table of Contents

Welcome

Welcome to Pasadena, California, a vibrant city nestled at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. Known for its rich history, cultural attractions, and stunning architecture, Pasadena is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a blend of sophistication and charm. From world-class museums and botanical gardens to trendy shopping districts and delectable dining options, there are endless things to do in Pasadena California that cater to every interest and taste. Whether you’re exploring the iconic Old Town Pasadena or immersing yourself in the beauty of the historic Gamble House, this city offers a diverse array of experiences that are sure to captivate and inspire you. Join us on a journey through Pasadena’s hidden gems and popular hotspots, and discover why this Southern California gem should be at the top of your travel bucket list.

Popular Experiences and Attractions

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens:

Essential Information

– Address: 1151 Oxford Rd, San Marino, CA 91108
– Opening Hours: Wednesday-Monday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Closed Tuesdays
– Fee: Adults $25, Seniors $21, Students $21, Youth (4-11) $13, Children (under 4) Free
– Visit Duration: 3-4 hours
– Ideal for: Art and nature enthusiasts, families, history buffs

Overview

Nestled in the heart of Pasadena, California, The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens is a cultural gem that seamlessly blends art, history, and nature. This iconic institution offers visitors a captivating journey through time and creativity, making it a must-see destination for anyone exploring the vibrant city of Pasadena. With its extensive collection of rare books, manuscripts, and art pieces, The Huntington provides a unique opportunity to delve into the rich history and artistic heritage of the region.

The botanical gardens, spanning over 120 acres, are a true oasis for nature lovers, boasting a diverse array of plants and landscapes that showcase the beauty of Southern California’s flora. From tranquil Japanese gardens to vibrant desert landscapes, each section of the gardens offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. Whether you’re strolling through the lush greenery or admiring the intricate sculptures and architecture, The Huntington’s botanical gardens are a feast for the senses.

In addition to its impressive art and botanical collections, The Huntington also hosts a range of educational programs and events that cater to visitors of all ages. From guided tours and workshops to lectures and exhibitions, there’s always something new to discover at this renowned cultural institution. Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply looking to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, a visit to The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens promises an enriching and unforgettable experience.

Norton Simon Museum:

Essential Information

– Address: 411 W Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91105
– Opening Hours: Wednesday-Monday 12pm-5pm, closed on Tuesdays
– Fee: $15 for adults, discounts available for seniors and students
– Visit Duration: 2-3 hours
– Ideal for: Art enthusiasts, history buffs, and families

Overview

The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, is a cultural gem that showcases an impressive collection of European and Asian art spanning centuries. With over 12,000 works of art on display, this museum offers a comprehensive journey through the history of art, from Renaissance masterpieces to contemporary pieces. The museum’s highlights include renowned works by artists such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Picasso, providing visitors with a unique opportunity to appreciate world-class art in an intimate setting.

One of the reasons why the Norton Simon Museum is a must-see place is its carefully curated collection, which offers a diverse range of artistic styles and periods. Whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or simply looking to explore something new, the museum’s collection is sure to captivate and inspire. Additionally, the museum’s tranquil gardens provide a peaceful retreat where visitors can relax and reflect after immersing themselves in the world of art. Overall, the Norton Simon Museum is a cultural oasis that offers a rich and rewarding experience for visitors of all ages.

Old Pasadena:

Essential Information

– Address: 1 W Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91105
– Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 10am-9pm
– Fee: Free to explore
– Visit Duration: 2-3 hours
– Ideal for: History buffs, shopping enthusiasts, foodies

Overview

Old Pasadena is a vibrant historic district in the heart of Pasadena, California, that offers a delightful mix of old-world charm and modern amenities. This must-see destination is a haven for history buffs, with its beautifully preserved architecture dating back to the late 19th century. Strolling along the tree-lined streets, visitors can explore a plethora of boutique shops, art galleries, and trendy restaurants. The district’s rich cultural heritage is evident in its diverse culinary scene, offering everything from gourmet cuisine to casual eateries. Whether you’re looking to shop, dine, or simply soak in the atmosphere, Old Pasadena is a captivating destination that promises a memorable experience for all who visit.

Gamble House:

Essential Information

– Address: 4 Westmoreland Pl, Pasadena, CA 91103
– Opening Hours: Thursday-Sunday, 11am-3pm
– Fee: $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: History buffs and architecture enthusiasts

Overview

Crafted by renowned architects Charles and Henry Greene in the early 20th century, the Gamble House stands as a testament to the Arts and Crafts movement in America. This National Historic Landmark in Pasadena, California, offers visitors a glimpse into the exquisite craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail that defined the era. The Gamble House’s iconic design, characterized by its use of natural materials and intricate woodwork, showcases the beauty of simplicity and functionality in architecture.

Stepping inside the Gamble House is like stepping back in time, where every corner tells a story of a bygone era. From the carefully designed furniture to the intricate stained glass windows, every element of the house reflects the Greene brothers’ dedication to creating a harmonious living space that seamlessly blends with its natural surroundings. Whether you’re an architecture enthusiast or simply appreciate historical craftsmanship, a visit to the Gamble House is a must for anyone looking to delve into the rich architectural heritage of Southern California.

Pasadena City Hall:

Essential Information

– Address: 100 N Garfield Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101
– Opening Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
– Fee: Free
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: History buffs, architecture enthusiasts

Overview

Pasadena City Hall stands as a historic gem in the heart of Pasadena, California. This iconic building, with its stunning Mediterranean Revival architecture, is a must-see for visitors exploring the city. The grandeur of the building is evident from the moment you set eyes on its ornate facade and towering bell tower. Stepping inside, visitors are greeted by a spacious courtyard adorned with lush greenery and elegant fountains, creating a serene atmosphere that transports you back in time.

The City Hall’s interior is equally impressive, featuring intricate details such as colorful tiled floors, hand-painted ceilings, and vintage chandeliers. History buffs will appreciate the building’s rich past, which dates back to its completion in 1927. A visit to Pasadena City Hall offers a glimpse into the city’s heritage and architectural prowess, making it a memorable stop for anyone interested in exploring the cultural treasures of Southern California.

Rose Bowl Stadium:

Essential Information

– Address: 1001 Rose Bowl Dr, Pasadena, CA 91103
– Opening Hours: Varies depending on events
– Fee: Admission prices vary
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: Sports fans, history buffs, families

Overview

The Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California, stands as an iconic sports venue that has hosted legendary events throughout its storied history. From thrilling college football games to epic concerts, this historic stadium is a must-see for sports enthusiasts and entertainment seekers alike. The stadium’s grandeur and rich heritage make it a top attraction in the Los Angeles area.

Visitors can feel the energy of the stadium as they walk through its gates, imagining the roar of the crowd during a game or concert. The Rose Bowl Stadium offers guided tours that provide a behind-the-scenes look at this architectural marvel, allowing guests to explore the locker rooms, press box, and even step onto the hallowed turf where countless sporting legends have made their mark.

Whether you’re a die-hard sports fan or simply appreciate the history and grandeur of iconic venues, a visit to the Rose Bowl Stadium is a memorable experience that captures the essence of American sports culture. Don’t miss the chance to witness the magic of this historic stadium and create lasting memories in the heart of Pasadena.

Kidspace Children’s Museum:

Essential Information

– Address: 480 N Arroyo Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91103
– Opening Hours: 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM (Closed on Mondays)
– Fee: $14 per person (Children under 1 year old enter for free)
– Visit Duration: 2-3 hours
– Ideal for: Families with young children

Overview

Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena, California, is a vibrant hub of interactive learning and play for families with young children. This dynamic museum offers a hands-on experience that engages young minds in a fun and educational way. With a variety of exhibits and activities, Kidspace Children’s Museum provides a stimulating environment where children can explore, discover, and create.

From the outdoor Arroyo Adventure area to the indoor interactive exhibits, Kidspace offers a range of experiences that cater to different interests and learning styles. Children can engage in imaginative play, experiment with science and technology, and unleash their creativity through art and design. The museum’s emphasis on interactive learning makes it a perfect destination for families looking to combine fun and education in one exciting visit.

Whether it’s exploring the nature-inspired exhibits, participating in hands-on workshops, or simply enjoying quality time together as a family, Kidspace Children’s Museum is a must-see attraction for those seeking a memorable and enriching experience for their little ones. Plan a visit to Kidspace and watch as your children’s curiosity and imagination come to life in this engaging and stimulating environment.

Eaton Canyon Natural Area:

Essential Information

– Address: 1750 N Altadena Dr, Pasadena, CA 91107
– Opening Hours: Daily from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm
– Fee: Free admission, parking fee applies
– Visit Duration: 2-3 hours
– Ideal for: Nature lovers, hikers, families

Overview

Eaton Canyon Natural Area in Pasadena, California, offers a refreshing escape into nature just a short drive from the bustling city. With its picturesque trails and stunning waterfall, this natural gem is a must-see for outdoor enthusiasts and families alike. The canyon’s diverse ecosystem provides a habitat for various plant and animal species, making it a perfect spot for birdwatching and wildlife photography. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike, Eaton Canyon has something for everyone. Don’t miss the iconic 40-foot waterfall, a rewarding sight at the end of a scenic trek through the canyon. Plan your visit to Eaton Canyon Natural Area for a day of exploration and rejuvenation in the heart of Southern California’s natural beauty.

Arlington Garden:

Essential Information

– Address: 275 Arlington Dr, Pasadena, CA 91105
– Opening Hours: Daily from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
– Fee: Free admission
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: Nature lovers, families, photographers

Overview

Arlington Garden in Pasadena, California, is a hidden gem that offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. This urban oasis spans across three acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, showcasing a diverse collection of native plants and flowers. Visitors can meander along winding pathways, taking in the serene atmosphere and enjoying the vibrant colors of the flora.

One of the highlights of Arlington Garden is its sustainability efforts, with a focus on water conservation and eco-friendly practices. The garden serves as a model for environmentally conscious landscaping, making it a must-see destination for those interested in sustainable living and gardening. Whether you’re looking to relax in a tranquil setting, capture stunning photos of nature, or simply unwind amidst the beauty of the outdoors, Arlington Garden offers a rejuvenating experience for all who visit.

Pasadena Museum of History:

Essential Information

– Address: 470 W Walnut St, Pasadena, CA 91103
– Opening Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 12pm-5pm
– Fee: $9 for adults, $8 for seniors, $5 for students, free for children under 12
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: History enthusiasts, families, and art lovers

Overview

The Pasadena Museum of History stands as a cultural gem in the heart of Pasadena, California. This museum offers a captivating journey through the rich history of the region, showcasing exhibits that highlight the diverse heritage and evolution of Pasadena. From its early Native American roots to the Victorian era and beyond, visitors can explore a wide range of artifacts, photographs, and stories that paint a vivid picture of the city’s past.

A visit to the Pasadena Museum of History is a must for those seeking to delve into the historical tapestry of Southern California. Whether you’re a history buff, a family looking for an educational outing, or an art enthusiast interested in the visual representation of the past, this museum provides a comprehensive and engaging experience. With its carefully curated displays and informative exhibits, the Pasadena Museum of History offers a unique opportunity to connect with the roots of this vibrant city.

Food and Cuisine

Pasadena Salad

Why is it so special:

The Pasadena Salad is a refreshing and vibrant dish that perfectly captures the essence of California cuisine. This salad typically features a mix of fresh greens, avocado, citrus fruits, and nuts, topped with a light vinaigrette dressing. The combination of flavors and textures creates a delightful harmony that is both healthy and delicious. The dish is a celebration of the region’s abundant produce and commitment to fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Where to Try It:

For a taste of the iconic Pasadena Salad, head to Green Street Restaurant, a local favorite known for its fresh and inventive salads. Another great spot to try this dish is Urth Caffé, a popular cafe that offers a variety of healthy and organic options.

Pasadena Cheeseburger

Why is it so special:

The Pasadena Cheeseburger is a classic American favorite with a local twist. This juicy burger is typically made with high-quality beef, topped with melted cheese, fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles, all sandwiched between a soft, toasted bun. The secret to its deliciousness lies in the perfectly seasoned patty and the attention to detail in assembling the burger.

Where to Try It:

Sink your teeth into a mouthwatering Pasadena Cheeseburger at Pie ‘n Burger, a beloved diner that has been serving up this iconic dish for decades. Another great option is The Counter, a gourmet burger joint where you can customize your burger to your heart’s content.

Old Town Pasadena Gelato

Why is it so special:

Old Town Pasadena is famous for its delectable gelato, a creamy Italian frozen dessert that is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Made with fresh milk, sugar, and various natural flavors, gelato boasts a rich and velvety texture that sets it apart from traditional ice cream. Whether you prefer classic flavors like pistachio and chocolate or more adventurous options like lavender and honey, Old Town Pasadena has a gelato flavor for everyone.

Where to Try It:

Indulge in a scoop or two of heavenly gelato at Bulgarini Gelato Artigianale, a charming gelateria known for its authentic Italian gelato made from scratch. Another top spot to satisfy your gelato cravings

Events and Festivals

Rose Parade

The Rose Parade is a famous New Year’s Day event in Pasadena, California, featuring elaborate floats made entirely of flowers and other natural materials. The parade has been a tradition since 1890 and attracts thousands of spectators every year. Visitors can secure a spot along the parade route to watch the colorful floats pass by or purchase tickets for grandstand seating for a better view.

Old Pasadena Film Festival

The Old Pasadena Film Festival is a summer event that showcases a variety of classic and contemporary films in outdoor venues throughout the historic district of Old Pasadena. Movie buffs can enjoy screenings of cult classics, family-friendly films, and indie favorites under the stars. The festival is free to attend and offers a unique cinematic experience in a charming setting.

Taste of South Lake

Taste of South Lake is an annual culinary event held in Pasadena’s South Lake Avenue district, featuring food tastings from local restaurants, live music, and family-friendly activities. Visitors can sample a wide range of cuisines, from gourmet bites to sweet treats, while exploring the vibrant shopping and dining district. The event is a great opportunity to discover new eateries and enjoy a day of food and fun in Pasadena.

Interesting Facts

– Pasadena is home to the annual Tournament of Roses Parade, a world-famous New Year’s Day event that features elaborate floats made entirely of flowers.
– The city is known for its impressive cultural institutions, including the Norton Simon Museum, which houses an extensive collection of European art spanning the Renaissance to the 20th century.
– Pasadena is also a hub for cutting-edge technology and innovation, with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) located in the city, known for its groundbreaking research in science and engineering.

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