The Colorado Street Bridge, with Beaux Arts-style arches, built in 1913
City Hall lit up at night in the heart of downtown
A fog-covered trail at Deukmejian Wilderness Park
Historic Gamble House and its American Arts and Crafts-style architecture
Colorful float at the annual Tournament of Roses Parade
Tranquil, Chinese-style Garden of Flowing Fragrance at the Huntington Library
Outdoor dining at the Paseo Colorado shopping mall
Diana of the Chase sculpture at the Huntington Library
The historic city that’s home to the annual Rose Parade
Founded in 1886, Pasadena is the second-oldest city in the Los Angeles area. The city became a popular winter resort town for wealthy Easterners to vacation to by train. The area was shaped by influential people like railroad tycoon Henry Huntington, who established the Huntington Hotel, now known as the Langham Huntington Pasadena, in addition to the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens. Architect brothers Charles and Henry Greene – renowned for their contributions to the American Arts and Crafts movement – built most of the homes in Pasadena’s “Little Switzerland.” Charles See and his mother, Mary, started See’s Candies from their home in Pasadena, and Julia Child, the famous chef who brought French cuisine to the USA, was born there.
Festivals and Cultural Activities
Pasadena is a city with longstanding traditions. Consider traveling during one of the town’s distinctive festivals – several of which are free – for an authentic Southern California experience. Winter festivals include the Tournament of Roses and Live on Green. Spring is for the architecture enthusiasts with three major events, the Spring Home Tour, Pasadena Showcase Home of Design and Bungalow Heaven Home Tours. Summer brings the Pasadena Chalk Festival and the bi-annual Colorado Street Bridge Party. In the fall, don’t miss Craftsman Weekend and Art Night Pasadena. Every second Sunday of the month, vintage treasure hunters flock to the legendary Rose Bowl Flea Market.
Impressive Museum Collections
Pasadena is home to an abundance of renowned cultural institutions, many within walking distance of one another. The Norton Simon Museum is known for its collection of famous classical works, but also has impressive contemporary works in its archives. The Huntington shows the private collection of the Huntington family and doubles as a research institution. The University of Southern California Pacific Asia Museum, housed in a mansion inspired by the Chinese Qing Dynasty, is dedicated to the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands. The Pasadena Museum of History is dedicated to the history, art and culture of Pasadena and the west San Gabriel Valley.
An Eye for Architecture
Pasadena is chock-full of architectural gems. Frank Lloyd Wright’s La Miniatura is an eight-minute walk from The Gamble House in Pasadena’s Little Switzerland, where most of the homes were designed by Greene & Greene. Bungalow Heaven is a landmark district containing 800 small Craftsman homes built from 1900 to 1930. At the heart of downtown Pasadena sit City Hall, the Civic Auditorium and the Public Library – all inspired by the City Beautiful Movement. A number of Mediterranean Revival buildings anchor Pasadena’s historic Civic Center District.
Shopping, Dining and Entertainment Districts
Downtown Pasadena is made up of four unique districts offering shopping, dining and entertainment. Pasadena’s 19th century roots are still reflected in Old Pasadena, the city’s original marketplace and oldest commercial area. The Playhouse District is an artsy neighborhood surrounding California's State Theater, the Pasadena Playhouse. This district is the performing arts hub featuring Boston Court Performing Arts Center and Ice House Comedy Club, as well as coffee shops and wine bars. The South Lake Avenue District is a European-style, tree-lined boulevard where people can pamper themselves at a diverse collection of boutiques and delicious restaurants. The Civic Center District (between Old Pasadena and the Playhouse District) is home to beautifully designed buildings reflecting Beaux-Arts and Mediterranean Revival architectural eras. For a more local experience, get off the beaten path and explore East Washington Boulevard for artisanal coffee and ice cream, South Fair Oaks Avenue for antiques, and Lincoln Avenue for brunch and craft beer.
Be on the lookout for the many parrots that make their home in Pasadena.
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