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Cool Things To Do In Pasadena

The Huntington Library Art Collections And Botanical Gardens

You NEED to Visit Pasadena (best things to do)

This sprawling estate once belonged to the railroad tycoon, Henry Huntington. Today, this world-class collection of gardens, cultural institutions, and artwork is now a public space for the community to enjoy.

The estate encompasses 207 acres of beautifully manicured lawns. And every inch caters to art, garden, architecture lovers, and the casual observer. The trail map provided by the admission kiosks is a handy item to study and take along with any visit.

A good direction to head when visiting is toward the three-acre Rose Garden, which presents a particularly colorful plot come spring when everything is in full bloom. Along the way, visitors pass through a dazzling California Garden with over 50,000 native species representing a Mediterranean climate.

Other gardens stem from this area of the park, with 16 uniquely themed gardens in total. A true gem of the collection is the immersive Garden of Flowing Fragrance, featuring a 1.5-acre lake and numerous traditional Chinese structures. This part of the park also houses an impressive bonsai collection.

Cultural institutions punctuate the dynamic garden space. The Huntington Art Gallery, for example, has over 1,200 pieces of European art housed within Henry Huntington’s past residence, a 55,000-square foot custom-built mansion, and photogenic demonstration of Beaux-Arts architecture.

Address: 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, California

The Pasadena Museum Of History

The history of Pasadena dates all the way back to the mid-1870s, when the area was first settled by out-of-state pioneers looking to start anew on the West Coast.

But it wasnt until nearly 50 years later that a group of civic-minded locals established a historical society to preserve the citys heritage.

Now, the Pasadena Museum of History is the areas premier historical preservation institution. Its a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.

Its located in town on the idyllic grounds of an estate that was originally built more than a century ago. There are a variety of activities available, including guided tours, lectures, and workshops, in addition to its permanent exhibits.

Old Pasadena Walking Tours

Pasadena is filled with beautiful architecture that has a long history worth knowing about. While you can walk the streets yourself, it is totally worth getting on a walking tour to really understand where its beauty comes from. While it is the business district today, it is also registered as a National Register Historic District, offering 22 blocks of sightseeing and open-air shopping.

Old Pasadena offers locals and tourists some of the best shopping, dining, and amazing events along Colorado Boulevard, which is considered to be the main drag. As far as choosing what tours to work with, Visit Pasadena offers both guided and self-tours that give you the lay of the land.

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Attend A Game At The Rose Bowl Stadium

You dont have to be a college football fanatic to find a reason to visit the Rose Bowl Stadium. Besides thrilling matches and games, the iconic Pasadena attraction also hosts concerts, religious services, and even the world’s largest flea marketdid we mention that the AmericaFest Fourth of July Celebration is also held here? Even if youre not attending anything, you can sign up for a guided tour of the stadium and cross it off your list of things to see in Pasadena.

The Pasadena Playhouse District

26 Best and Cool Things to Do in Pasadena, California

Angel DiBilio / Shutterstock

One of the best things to do in California is to visit the Pasadena Playhouse District!

The Pasadena Playhouse District is the citys cultural center, packed with theatres, art galleries, fine dining, and all the fun things to do in Pasadena especially if youre heading there at night!

The USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena Museum of California and Art, Furious Theatre, Boston Court Performing Arts Complex, and of course, the Pasadena Playhouse, all call this district their home.

Youll be spoiled for choice for ways to keep yourself occupied with all the different venues, but the Playhouse is undoubtedly the star of the show.

With 686 seats, it was the first theater in the country to produce and showcase the plays of Shakespeare.

Since then, it has continued its excellence, with a minimum of 300 performances carried out on a yearly basis.

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Shop Along South Lake Avenue

Those who dont take shopping lightly will feel right at home at the hip South Lake Avenue district. While there are lots of fun things to do in this Pasadena neighborhood, the boutiques, restaurants, and purveyors of beauty, health, and wellness steal the spotlight. Youll find major chain stores, mom-and-pop shops, cutting-edge salons, fitness studios, and spas hereeverything satisfies your self-care needs. Girls day in Pasadena, anyone?

What To Do In Pasadena California

In Pasadena -or closely nearby- youll find great shopping from brand names, antique stores, Rose Bowl Flea Market, and thrift shops.

Find great eats, bars, and pubs, and dine out at some of the most delicious spots.

Go hiking. Or spend time admiring some of Pasadenas historic and preserved architecture.

As Pasadena locals, we are here to tell you that there are plenty of things to do in Pasadena. Its part of the reason we moved here several years ago. Actually, far prior to us residing here, wed take weekend day trips or weeknight trips from Los Angeles proper to enjoy what Pasadena has to offer.

Then we decided to move here.

We have a friend, whose family is originally from Pasadena, who told us for years that Pasadena would be our home . She said it suited our lifestyle and personality. Boy, was she right!

So, it recently came to our attention that wed mention Pasadena spots here and there. Whether on this website or social media, but never truly written about the city we truly appreciate and made a home in. Its about time.

The other day we were sitting at dinner, at one of the many amazing restaurants in Pasadena, and hubby says, We really dont need to leave Pasadena if we dont want to.

And, its true! We were sitting at the back patio of the dining establishment, having a beautiful time with excellent food and we felt like we were on vacation. The only thing we are missing here is a beach. But we do have a waterfall we can hike to at Eaton Canyon.

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Los Angeles County Arboretum

The 127-acre Los Angeles County Arboretum is less than 10 miles east of Pasadena. This inviting outdoor space has several gardens and landscapes to explore. And thanks to the Mediterranean climate, something is always in bloom.

A few popular gardens at the arboretum include a rose garden, a tropical greenhouse, and a Crescent Farm â a demonstration farm built to showcase drought-resistant landscaping. Visitors also come to see plants from around the world, from such far-flung places as Madagascar and the Canary Islands.

The Arboretum operates throughout the year, excluding major holidays. There is a small price of admission for entry, and as of 2022, advance online tickets are required. The Arboretum offers free admission on the third Tuesday of every month.

The Raymond 1886 Pasadena California

Things To Do in Pasadena! – Top 20 | Living in Pasadena California

The Raymond 1886 is one of Pasadena’s most important restaurants, housed within the caretaker’s cottage building of the city’s former 19th-century Raymond Hotel, which featured 300 rooms and entertained celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton during the 1920s. Though the hotel was closed and razed in 1931 due to the Great Depression, its legacy continues today in the restaurant helmed by executive chef Jon Hung, which has been acclaimed by international publications such as Food and Wine, The Huffington Post, and Thrillist. Excellent land and sea entrees are served up throughout the week, including pork belly with sweet and spicy chili, steamed blue mussels in green curry sauce, porchetta vignole with roasted cherry tomatoes, and dry-aged ribeye service for two.

1250 S Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105, Phone: 626-441-3136

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Take A Self Guided Tour Of The Pasadena Civic Center District

The Pasadena Civic Center District is a vibrant place adorned with Beaux-Arts and Mediterranean Revival buildings. The area is home to an abundance of Pasadena attractions and has set the stage for many films and television shows. So, if it all feels like a big movie set to you, youre not too far off from the truth.

The City Hall and the Civic Auditorium are must-see places to visit in Pasadena, serving as centerpieces of the district. There are also many delicious eateries to check out in this district, as well as a variety of cool shops, from name-brand boutiques to family-owned antique shops.

Kidspace Children’s Museum Pasadena California

Launched in 1979 at Caltech, the Kidspace Childrens Museum is a place for children to be inspired and release their creativity through an informal, hands-on educational approach. With over 200,000 guests annually, the museum is filled with exhibits and hosts events and programs, allowing visitors to unleash their imagination.

Some of the exhibits include the Arroyo Adventure garden, the Stone Hollow Amphitheater, and the Galvin Physics Forest. Art, nature, science everything is a go at the Kidspace Childrens Museum. Some of their more popular features include the Kidspace Critters area, which houses a live collection of reptiles and bugs, and the Imagination Workshop, where kids can discover the inner workings of everyday objects.

4 80 N. Arroyo Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91103, 626-449-9144

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Check Out The Huntington Library Art Museum And Botanical Gardens

While the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens technically lie on the border of San Marino, theyre always present on every list of fun things to do in Pasadena. Explore the meandering paths lined with lush greenery and flowers that connect the gardens, research library, and art exhibits.

Care for a more organized Pasadena activity? The organization hosts painting classes, lectures, and other special events regularly. Visit on the first Thursday of every month and youll roam the 120 acres for free.

Stop By Amaras Cafe For Spanish Style Churros

30 Best &  Fun Things To Do In Pasadena (CA)

Have you ever had legit Spanish-style churros? At Amaras cafe, you can order the most incredible churros youll have outside of Spain and their delicious hot chocolate to take on your stroll through Old Pasadena.

Their South American breakfast is also as delicious as it sounds. Their breakfast arepas had me at first bite.

Amara s Cafe | 55 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena

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Greene & Greene Neighborhood Walking Tour

We mentioned that The Gable House was architecturally designed by Henry and Charles Greene. Well, it wasnt the only exquisite home that they were behind. You can take a Greene and Greene Neighborhood Walking Tour to see all of their masterpieces.

This tour is actually presented by The Gamble House, and brings its visitors through the historic Arroyo Terrace neighborhood. This entire neighborhood is a National Registered Historic District, and features nine separate homes done by Greene and Greene.

On this tour, you will also get to see incredible properties done by other well-known architects, like Emer Grey, Myron Hunt, and more. Whats even more interesting, is that two of these residences belong to none other than Myron Hunt and Charles Greene, giving you insight into not only what they did for others homes, but their own.

Is Pasadena By The Beach

As previously stated, there are no beaches close to Pasadena, and both possibilities are comparable. Therefore, it is up to the OP to determine whether travelling a few more kilometres is worthwhile in order to try something new. Will Rogers State Beach is 28.4 miles and 34 minutes from Pasadena. Huntington Beach and Pasadena are separated by 48.5 miles and 56 minutes.

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Playhouse District Pasadena Ca

The Pasadena Playhouse district is the cultural center of Pasadena featuring art galleries, fine dining, and theatres. You will also find the USC Pacific Asia Museum. Vromans is the largest independent bookstore in the area and has been in business since 1894.

Some of the theatres in the district include the Boston Court Performing Arts Complex, the Furious Theatre, and the Pasadena Playhouse, which is one of the premiere theatres of Southern California. Many of the districts attractions also serve as venues, making the area a popular destination for weddings and conferences.

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Take The Kiddos To The Kidspace Childrens Museum

Things to Do in Pasadena

The Kidspace Children Museum is one of my nieces favorites. Not only because its a wonderful interactive museum for children, but it also has two great parks right across from it: Brookside Park and Rose Bowl Childrens Playground. You can imagine my in-laws would start at the park and end at the museum or vice versa.

This museum usually has many hands-on and active activities for children. Your child will have fun, make discoveries and experience a few adventures like riding a tricycle through Tike Tracks, walking a rope bridge, and more. Everyone will leave happy, and the children will fall asleep on the car ride home.

Tip: Bring a change of clothes and a towel for the kiddos.

  • Advanced reservations are required.

Kidspace Childrens Museum| 480 N Arroyo Blvd, Pasadena | Purchase Tickets Here

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Le Petit Vendome Wine Tasting

This wine and spirits shop recently moved to a new location between Smittys Restaurant and Wells Fargo Mortgage. Always go online to confirm the wine tasting schedule, but wine tasting at the Pasadena location usually occurs every Friday and Saturday between 6:30 and 8p.m. Each weekly wine tasting will focus on either a particular region or category of wine. Whats really neat are all sampled wines are offered to samplers at or below retail prices.

Play Classic Arcade Games At The Neon Retro Arcade

Located in Old Town Pasadena, the Neon Retro Arcade is a vintage arcade with more than 40 arcades and pinball machines. For anyone closer to my age, this fun Pasadena spot will take you back to your childhood. Play Tetris, Donkey Kong, PacMan, and many more.

This is a great spot to bring your family for some innocent fun. Plan a family day or night. Enjoy an hour or two at Neon Retro Arcade and then go for some ice cream.

  • Cost is $15 for one hour or $25 for all-day gaming
  • Reservations are available.

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Stroll Through The Fairytale Arlington Garden

Arlington Garden is a three-acre spot in Pasadena that looks like its plucked straight out of a fairytale. Serving as a refuge for Pasadenas native flora and fauna, the beautiful garden hosts an abundance of birds, bees, and butterflies throughout the year. Discover the sculptures, go for a stroll with your date, plan a picnic, and enjoy a number of other fun Pasadena activities at the parkyou wont want to leave.

St Andrew Catholic Church

26 Best and Cool Things to Do in Pasadena, California

Angel DiBilio / Shutterstock

You neednt go to Europe to find some amazing Renaissance masters art.

As it turns out, you can find them in California at the St. Andrew Catholic Church!

For years, this church has been among the best ways to view such stunning work, and its made its mark as one of the great choices when it comes to what to do in Pasadena.

The 125-year-old church itself has a majestic old-world design, complete with a Romanesque spire.

Though not always available for tourists since its a public, working church, the times when it does open its doors are worth penciling in on your schedule.

The most famous attraction of the St. Andrew Catholic Church is its mural of Madonna that rivals Romes own.

All murals within church walls are the work of Carlo Wostry, an Italian artist, and are vibrant in both hue and detail.

In fact, they are so beautiful that Italians were, at some point, angry about their existence!

Parishioners loved Wostrys work and collected their funds in order to commission him again and again.

After more than five years of work, in 1930, Wostry had finished covering the St. Andrew Catholic Church with beautiful artwork.

Address: 311 N Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103, United States

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Things To Do In Pasadena

1- Explore Old Pasadena

Old Town Pasadena is surprisingly full of history and lots to explore, given this is the heart of the neighbourhood.

Head along Colorado Boulevard to check out various shops, restaurants and cafes there are over 200 interesting stores here to discover.

There are also museums, markets, theatres and more here.

Many of Pasadenas top things to do are located in this area, so taking a stroll can be a great way to familiarise yourself with the area.

Make sure not to miss Castle Green Monument, Central Park and The Speakeasy for a first taste of the real Pasadena.

If youre on a budget, this self-guided tour of Pasadena will take you to the historical and most instagrammable spots without breaking the bank.

2- Visit The Gamble House

One of the most beautiful houses in Pasadena, the Gamble house was built for one of the recipients of the Procter & Gamble fortune, the now world-renowned big pharma company.

The National Historical Landmark is a popular attraction due to its stunning architecture, which is based on the Art and Crafts movement in the area.

Tours run four days per week where you can learn more about the history of the house and gardens, or if youre interested specifically in the design and interiors, there are also frequent in-depth tours on the subject.

The Gamble House is at 4 Westmoreland Pl, Pasadena, CA 91103.

For more California ideas, see:

  • 20 Things To Do In Half Moon Bay

3- Watch A Game At The Rose Bowl

12- Brookside Park

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