For an enjoyable, mostly walkable Southern California getaway with architecture, art, shopping, restaurants and gardens in a more relaxed urban setting, then you should explore all that the Pasadena offers. Set aside about 5 to 7 hours and be prepared to be very warm if you are exploring between May to September because it gets very hot then.
Most of Pasadena is accessible via the LA Metro Gold Line. In Pasadena, patrons using the Gold Line can access the various shopping districts, parks, museums and business centers. There are 6 station stops in Pasadena, 4 of which are within walking distance to some of Pasadena’s offerings. Traveling north, the Fillmore Station lies in the center of the City’s surging biotech corridor. The line continues to the Del Mar Station, the Memorial Park Station and the Lake Station, each of which are a few blocks from Old Town Pasadena. If you are driving to Pasadena, you can either take the 110 Freeway until ends, the 710 Freeway until it ends or the 210 Freeway.
Things to Do:
There are many things to do in and near Pasadena, and here are a few:
Old Town Pasadena: Old Town Pasadena, which is accessible via the Gold Line’s Del Mar and Memorial Park Stations, is the original commercial center of the City. Redevelopment revitalized the area after decades of decay and currently is a 22-block shopping and entertainment area. It is bounded by Arroyo Parkway and Pasadena Avenue, Walnut Street, and Del Mar Boulevard. There are many old buildings that you can enjoy while walking around and shopping, so look up often. Many of the popular clothing retail stores typical to Southern California malls can be found in the outdoor shopping areas. There also are a variety of restaurants and bars within a few blocks of each other.
There are two unique, modern movie theaters in Old Town Pasadena that also serve alcohol while you are watching the films. The first is Arclight Cinemas in the Paseo Colorado shopping center at 300 E Colorado Blvd. The other is the luxurious iPic Theater at 42 Miller Alley, where you can enjoy your film while lounging in a comfortable lounge chair while sipping on a well-crafted cocktail.
The Rose Bowl is a National Historic Landmark and also the home playing field of the UCLA Bruins and a monthly gigantic Flea Market. You can get to the Rose Bowl either by walking 1.5 miles from the Memorial Park Gold Line Station (by walking up Raymond to Walnut to Orange Grove Boulevard to Rosemont Avenue) or via a shuttle by following the signs at Memorial Park Station. The sites and neighborhood around the Rose Bowl are impressive as well, with many mid-century modern homes and expansive views of the San Gabriel Mountains.
The Norton Simon Museum: The Norton Simon Museum at 411 W. Colorado Boulevard is one of the most remarkable private art collections amassed by 20th-century industrialist Norton Simon. The Museum contains an astonishing collection of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century and a stunning collection of South and Southeast Asian art spanning 2,000 years. Modern and Contemporary Art from Europe and the United States are also displayed. You can finish the Museum in about an hour. It is just under a mile walking distance from either the Gold Line Del Mar Station or the Memorial Park Station.
Pacific Asia Museum: The Pacific Asia Museum at 46 N. Los Robles Avenue preserves, presents and interprets the arts and culture of the Pacific Islands and Asia to promote appreciation of these cultures. It is open Wednesday through Sunday, and, similar to the Norton Simon Museum, it can be completed in about an hour. The Pacific Asia Museum is about a half mile walking distance from the Gold Line Memorial Park Station.
California Institute of Technology: Cal Tech at 1200 East California Boulevard is a beautiful, walkable campus. You can take a free historical tour and visit many exhibits and where many famous scientists lectured, and lecture now. Cal Tech is also the filming location for several movies and TV series, including the Big Bang Theory. Cal Tech is just under a 1.5 mile walking distance from either the Gold Line Fillmore Station or the Lake Station.
The Huntington: The Huntington at 1151 Oxford Road in next-door San Marino contains the Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens founded in 1919 by Henry E. Huntington. The Library has on display some of the finest rare books and manuscripts including Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a Gutenberg Bible and a collection of the early editions of Shakespeare’s works. The Botanical Gardens (includes the Desert Garden in these pictures) cover 120 acres.
These Gardens are arranged within a park-like landscape. In addition to the Desert Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, and the Chinese Garden. The Japanese Gardens include a rendition of a traditional Japanese Home, and in the Rose Garden is a tea room. Admission for adults is $23 during the week (closed Tuesday) and $25 on the weekends.
Eaton Canyon Natural Area: If you are interested in the outdoors and hiking on this day trip, visit the expansive zoological, botanical, and geological nature preserve at 1750 North Altadena Drive. It’s at the base of the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains is for you. Visitors can enjoy its hiking trails, equestrian trails with a staging area, picnic areas, seasonal stream, rocks and minerals, various natural habitats, native plants, and wildlife. It is open daily from sunrise to sunset. You will need a car to get here.
A Few Food Suggestions:
In Old Town Pasadena, a variety of restaurants are within a few blocks of each other. There are also several bars, including Stone Brewing Company’s Stone Company Store at 220 S. Raymond, Suite 103, in the same complex as the Gold Line Del Mar Station and across the street from Central Park. For farm fresh American fare just on the other side of Central Park, try Green Street Tavern at 69 W. Green Street. Also off of Green Street is the Dog Haus Biergarten at 93 E. Green Street.
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