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Explore Pasadena: Fun Things to Do in the City

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If you're planning a trip to Southern California, don't miss out on the charming city of Pasadena. Nestled in the San Gabriel Valley, Pasadena boasts a rich history, diverse culture, and stunning natural beauty. Whether you're a foodie, history buff, or outdoor enthusiast, there are plenty of things to do in Pasadena that will keep you entertained and engaged.

Explore Pasadena: Fun Things to Do in the City

One of the must-see attractions in Pasadena is the Rose Bowl Stadium. This iconic venue has hosted numerous sporting events, concerts, and even the Olympics. Take a tour of the stadium to learn about its history and architecture, or attend a game or concert to experience the energy and excitement firsthand. If you're visiting in January, don't miss the Tournament of Roses Parade, a beloved tradition that features elaborate floats made entirely of flowers.

For those interested in art and culture, Pasadena has no shortage of museums and galleries. The Norton Simon Museum houses an impressive collection of European and Asian art, while the Pasadena Museum of California Art showcases the state's rich artistic heritage. If you prefer performing arts, check out the Pasadena Playhouse, which has been producing world-class theater since 1917. And if you're a fan of architecture, be sure to visit the Gamble House, a stunning example of American Arts and Crafts style.

Explore Pasadena: Fun Things to Do in the City

Historical Landmarks

Pasadena is home to a number of historical landmarks that are worth visiting. Here are a few of the most popular ones:

Pasadena City Hall

Pasadena City Hall is a beautiful building that was built in 1927. It is an excellent example of Mediterranean Revival architecture and has been featured in many movies and TV shows. The building is open to the public and you can take a self-guided tour of the interior. You'll get to see the beautiful rotunda, the council chambers, and the mayor's office. The building is surrounded by a lovely garden that is perfect for a leisurely stroll.

Colorado Street Bridge

The Colorado Street Bridge is a stunning piece of architecture that was built in 1913. It spans the Arroyo Seco and is one of the most photographed bridges in California. The bridge is open to pedestrians and offers fantastic views of the surrounding area. It's a great place to take a walk and enjoy the scenery.

Gamble House

The Gamble House is a beautiful example of American Arts and Crafts architecture. It was built in 1908 for David and Mary Gamble of the Procter & Gamble company. The house is now a museum and is open to the public for tours. You'll get to see the beautiful woodwork, stained glass windows, and other details that make this house so special.

If you're interested in historic buildings, then Pasadena is the perfect place to visit. These three landmarks are just a few of the many that you can explore. Take your time and enjoy the beauty and history of these amazing buildings.

Explore Pasadena: Fun Things to Do in the City

Cultural Attractions

Pasadena is known for its rich cultural attractions that reflect the city's history and diversity. Here are some of the top cultural attractions you should check out during your visit to Pasadena.

Norton Simon Museum

The Norton Simon Museum is a world-renowned art museum located in Pasadena. It features an impressive collection of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century, as well as a significant collection of Asian art. The museum's permanent collection includes works by famous artists such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Picasso. You can also enjoy the museum's beautiful sculpture garden, which features works by artists such as Auguste Rodin and Henry Moore.

Pasadena Playhouse

If you're a fan of theater, be sure to check out the Pasadena Playhouse. This historic theater has been entertaining audiences since 1917 and has hosted many famous actors and productions over the years. The theater features a variety of shows, from classic plays to new productions, so there's always something new and exciting to see.

USC Pacific Asia Museum

The USC Pacific Asia Museum is a museum dedicated to the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands. The museum's collection includes over 17,000 objects, including paintings, sculptures, and textiles. You can explore the museum's permanent collection, which includes works from China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia, as well as special exhibitions that showcase the museum's diverse collection.

Whether you're interested in art, theater, or culture, Pasadena has something to offer. Be sure to check out these top cultural attractions during your visit to the city.

Nature and Gardens

Pasadena is known for its beautiful gardens and natural attractions. There are several gardens and parks in the area that are perfect for a peaceful stroll or a picnic with family and friends. Here are some of the must-visit gardens and parks in Pasadena.

Eaton Canyon

Eaton Canyon is a beautiful natural area located at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. The park is home to a variety of wildlife and plant species, making it a great place for nature lovers. The park features several hiking trails, including a popular trail that leads to a waterfall. The Eaton Canyon Nature Center is also located in the park, where you can learn more about the local flora and fauna.

Arlington Garden

Arlington Garden is a hidden gem located in the heart of Pasadena. This garden is a perfect spot for a quiet walk or a picnic with your loved ones. The garden features a variety of plants, including an olive allee, pine forest, and citrus grove. The garden also has a labyrinth and wishing trees, which are popular with visitors. Entry to the garden is free, and it is open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Huntington Library Gardens

The Huntington Library Gardens are a must-visit attraction for anyone visiting Pasadena. The gardens cover over 120 acres and feature a variety of plants from around the world. The gardens are divided into several sections, including a Japanese garden, a desert garden, and a Chinese garden. The library itself is also worth a visit, as it houses a vast collection of rare books and manuscripts.

Whether you're a nature lover or just looking for a peaceful place to relax, Pasadena's gardens and natural attractions have something for everyone. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the beauty of nature in Pasadena.

Explore Pasadena: Fun Things to Do in the City

Shopping and Boutiques

If you're a shopaholic, Pasadena is the perfect destination for you. The city is home to some of the best shopping and boutique experiences in California. From vintage clothing stores to high-end boutiques, Pasadena has it all. Below are some of the best shopping destinations in Pasadena.

Old Pasadena

Old Pasadena is a historic district that features over 200 retail stores, art galleries, trendy boutiques, vintage clothing stores, theaters, and restaurants. You can find a variety of shops, from high-end retailers like Tiffany & Co. and Apple Store to unique boutiques like Distant Lands, which specializes in travel books and accessories. Old Pasadena is a great place to spend a day shopping, dining, and exploring.

Rose Bowl Flea Market

The Rose Bowl Flea Market is a must-visit destination for vintage clothing lovers. Held on the second Sunday of every month, the market features over 2,500 vendors selling vintage and antique clothing, furniture, and collectibles. You can find some amazing deals on vintage clothing and accessories at the Rose Bowl Flea Market.

Vroman’s Bookstore

Vroman’s Bookstore is an independent bookstore that has been serving Pasadena since 1894. It is one of the oldest and largest independent bookstores in Southern California. Vroman’s is a great place to browse for books, attend author events, and participate in book clubs. The store also has a great selection of gifts, cards, and stationery.

Whether you're looking for high-end boutiques or vintage clothing stores, Pasadena has something for everyone. Be sure to check out Old Pasadena, the Rose Bowl Flea Market, and Vroman’s Bookstore for some of the best shopping experiences in the city.

Explore Pasadena: Fun Things to Do in the City

Dining and Cuisine

When it comes to dining and cuisine, Pasadena has a lot to offer. From local eateries to wine and dine spots, there is something for everyone. Here are some of the best places to check out:

Local Eateries

If you're looking for a taste of local cuisine, Pasadena has plenty of options. One of the most popular spots is La Grande Orange, a casual eatery that serves up fresh, seasonal fare. They offer everything from breakfast sandwiches to wood-fired pizzas, and their outdoor seating area is the perfect place to enjoy a meal on a sunny day.

Another great option is The 1894, a wine bar and restaurant that specializes in small plates and craft cocktails. The menu changes regularly, but you can always expect to find something delicious and unique.

Wine and Dine

If you're looking for a more upscale dining experience, Pasadena has plenty of options for that too. One of the best is The Royce, a steakhouse located inside the Langham Huntington hotel. They offer a wide selection of prime cuts of meat, as well as an extensive wine list.

Another great option is Alexander's Steakhouse, a high-end steakhouse that specializes in Japanese-style beef. They offer a variety of cuts, as well as other dishes like lobster and foie gras.

Picnic Spots

If you're looking for a more casual dining experience, why not pack a picnic and head to one of Pasadena's beautiful parks? One of the best spots is Brookside Park, which has plenty of shaded areas and picnic tables.

Another great option is Eaton Canyon Park, which has a variety of hiking trails and picnic areas. Just be sure to pack plenty of water and sunscreen if you're planning to spend the day outdoors.

No matter what your dining preferences are, Pasadena has something to offer. Whether you're looking for a romantic night out or a casual picnic with friends, you're sure to find something that suits your tastes.

Explore Pasadena: Fun Things to Do in the City

Events and Entertainment

Pasadena is a vibrant city that offers a wide range of events and entertainment options for visitors and locals alike. Whether you're a sports fan, music lover, or theater buff, there is always something exciting happening in Pasadena.

Tournament of Roses

One of the most iconic events in Pasadena is the Tournament of Roses, which takes place every New Year's Day. The tournament is famous for its Rose Parade, which features elaborate floral floats, marching bands, and equestrian units. The parade is followed by the Rose Bowl Game, which is one of the most prestigious college football games in the country.

Rose Bowl Stadium

The Rose Bowl Stadium is a historic venue that has hosted countless sporting events and concerts over the years. The stadium is best known as the home of the Rose Bowl Game, but it has also hosted five Super Bowls and numerous World Cup matches. Visitors can take a tour of the stadium and learn about its rich history.

Live Performances

Pasadena is also home to several world-class theaters and concert venues, including the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. The auditorium has hosted numerous live shows, including the Emmy Awards and the American Idol finale. Other popular venues in Pasadena include the Pasadena Playhouse and the Levitt Pavilion, which hosts free outdoor concerts during the summer months.

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Family Activities

Pasadena is a great destination for families with children. There are plenty of fun activities to keep everyone entertained. Here are some of the top family-friendly activities to check out in Pasadena.

Kidspace Children’s Museum

If you're looking for a fun and educational activity for your kids, the Kidspace Children’s Museum is a must-visit. This interactive museum is designed for children up to 10 years old and features a variety of exhibits that encourage learning through play. Your kids can explore the outdoor gardens, climb on the giant ant hill, or learn about the stars in the planetarium.

Brookside Park

Brookside Park is a great place to spend a day with your family. This 62-acre park features a variety of recreational activities, including playgrounds, picnic areas, and sports fields. The park is also home to the Brookside Golf Course, which is a great place to practice your swing while enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Nature Walks

Pasadena is home to some beautiful hiking trails that are perfect for family-friendly nature walks. Eaton Canyon Natural Area is a popular destination for families and features a 3.5-mile round-trip hike to a 40-foot waterfall. Another great option is the Arroyo Seco Trail, which offers stunning views of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Overall, Pasadena is a great destination for families with children. Whether you're looking for educational activities or outdoor adventures, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

Explore Pasadena: Fun Things to Do in the City

Science and Education

If you are a science enthusiast, Pasadena offers some exciting opportunities to learn and explore. Here are some places you should definitely check out:

Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Located in La Cañada Flintridge, just a few miles from Pasadena, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a NASA research center that manages many of the agency's robotic missions to space. JPL has played a crucial role in the exploration of our solar system, including the Mars Rovers missions. You can take a free public tour of JPL and see the spacecraft assembly facilities, mission control, and the Mars Yard, a simulated Martian landscape where engineers test the rovers. Keep in mind that tours fill up quickly, so make sure to book in advance.

Pasadena City College

Pasadena City College (PCC) is a community college located in the heart of Pasadena. PCC offers a wide range of academic programs, including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The college has state-of-the-art facilities, such as the Center for the Arts, the Shatford Library, and the Science Village, where students can conduct research and experiments. PCC also hosts many public events, such as lectures, workshops, and exhibitions, that are open to everyone.

Public Tours

In addition to JPL, Pasadena has many other science and education institutions that offer public tours. For example, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has a campus in Pasadena and offers guided tours of its facilities, including the Seismological Laboratory and the Palomar Observatory. The Kidspace Children's Museum is another great place to visit with your family, where children can learn about science and nature through interactive exhibits and outdoor activities.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some popular outdoor activities in Pasadena?

Pasadena is known for its beautiful weather, making it a perfect destination for outdoor activities. You can take a stroll around the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, where you can enjoy the beauty of nature while also learning about art and history. Another popular outdoor activity is hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains, which offer stunning views of the city and its surroundings. You can also visit the Rose Bowl Stadium, which hosts various events throughout the year, including concerts, flea markets, and of course, football games.

Where can I find unique shopping experiences in Pasadena?

If you're looking for unique shopping experiences, Pasadena has plenty to offer. Old Pasadena is a great place to start, with its charming streets lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and antique stores. You can also visit the Paseo Colorado, an outdoor shopping mall that features a mix of high-end and affordable stores, as well as restaurants and a movie theater. For a more upscale shopping experience, head to the South Lake Avenue district, which is home to designer boutiques and luxury retailers.

How can I enjoy a Friday night out in Pasadena?

If you're looking for a fun Friday night out in Pasadena, there are plenty of options to choose from. You can start the evening with dinner at one of the many restaurants in Old Pasadena, followed by a show at the Pasadena Playhouse, which features a variety of plays and musicals throughout the year. You can also catch a movie at the historic Laemmle Playhouse 7, or enjoy a drink at one of the many bars and lounges in the area.

What are the must-visit spots in Old Town Pasadena?

Old Town Pasadena is one of the most charming and historic neighborhoods in the city, and there are plenty of must-visit spots to explore. Start with a visit to the Pasadena City Hall, which is a beautiful example of Mediterranean Revival architecture and is featured in many movies and TV shows. You can also explore the Norton Simon Museum, which features an impressive collection of art from around the world, or visit the Gamble House, a stunning example of American Arts and Crafts architecture.

What are the best free activities to do in Pasadena?

If you're on a budget, there are plenty of free activities to enjoy in Pasadena. You can take a stroll around the beautiful grounds of the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, or visit the Pasadena City College Flea Market, which is held on the first Sunday of every month and features a variety of vendors selling everything from vintage clothing to handmade crafts. You can also explore the public art installations throughout the city, or take a self-guided walking tour of Old Pasadena.

What indoor activities are recommended for a rainy day in Pasadena?

Even if it's raining outside, there are still plenty of indoor activities to enjoy in Pasadena. You can visit the Kidspace Children's Museum, which features interactive exhibits and activities for children of all ages. You can also explore the Pacific Asia Museum, which features a collection of art and artifacts from Asia and the Pacific Islands. For a more laid-back experience, head to one of the many coffee shops in Old Pasadena, where you can enjoy a warm drink and a good book.