Is Pasadena a good place to live? Must one brace themselves for an encounter with a little old lady in her super stock Dodge drag racing all over town? Hardly. The 1964 pop classic, “Little Old Lady From Pasadena” is just a hit song after all.
When it comes to living in Pasadena
, prepare yourself instead for the delights of impressive museums, exceptional dining experiences, resplendent gardens, and hiking trails with breathtaking views. We compiled a list of everything you need to know about life in Pasadena.
Botanical gardens and museums galore
Pasadena residents have access to an array of impressive botanical gardens and art and history museums. A stroll through Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden
will transport you to the serene and intricate landscapes of a well-tended and thoughtfully designed Japanese garden.
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Arlington Garden in Pasadena
features a citrus grove, pine forest, olive allee, labyrinth, and the Yoko Ono Wishing Trees installation, designed by Yoko Ono. With a focus on sustainability and natural gardening practices, they offer group tours and sustainability education.
The Armory Center for the Arts
is an art museum and well-established nonprofit arts education center with art workshops and classes available to all ages. Attend one of their workshops or take in the works of a local artist at one of their current exhibits.
Other notable Pasadena art museums include the Norton Simon Museum
and the USC Pacific Asia Museum
. The Gamble House
, designed by the internationally acclaimed architects Greene & Greene, is an architectural work of fine art. They offer regular tours of the house and its stunning botanical gardens and also host art workshops
The Pasadena Museum of History
is a goldmine of the glamorous histories of Pasadena and the west San Gabriel Valley. And just a 10-minute drive outside of town to San Marino are the Botanical Gardens, Huntington Library
, and Art Museum. These places make their mark with a library containing over 11 million books, DVDs, audio files, and more. Publications dating as far back as the 11th century can be found at this library. The art museum contains American, British, Asian, and European art with an impressive collection of over 45,000 paintings, photography, prints, drawing, decorative arts, and sculptures.
A fabulous city to enjoy the great outdoors
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Eaton Canyon Natural Area and Nature Center
, only a 15-minute drive from downtown Pasadena, is home to an array of wild oak-strewn hiking trails. The four-mile Eaton Canyon Trail delivers views of the San Gabriel Mountains and a waterfall with pools. Eaton Canyon Falls from Pinecrest Drive is an easy two-mile hike along shallow, trickling waterfalls and pools.
The Rose Bowl Loop Trail is wonderful for sun and light walking with three miles of paved, flat walking trails. For those appreciating a hike and camp combo, Mount Wilson Road and Idlehour Trail to Idlehour Campground is a solid 12-mile trek through Angeles National Forest with a pop of yellow, orange, and blue mountain wildflowers in the spring.
Nationally recognized festivals
The most noteworthy annual festival
demands the first mention. The Rose Parade, otherwise known as the Tournament of Roses, rings in the new year in Pasadena, attracting more than 800 worldwide parade-goers. The Rose Parade celebrates a new theme every year featuring marching bands, flower-bedazzled floats, and equestrian celebrations.
Photo courtesy of Rose Bowl StadiumAmerica
Fest, hosted at Pasadena’s renowned Rose Bowl Stadium
, is a firework flight of fancy with bursting colors every Fourth of July. Pasadena Chalk Festival and Car Show summons over 600 chalk artists from around the world to showcase their exceptional chalk art on the concrete grounds of Paseo’s plaza.
Pasadena International Film Festival happens every year at Laemmle Playhouse 7 in downtown Pasadena; it shows over 100 international films and independent shorts. Old Pasadena Day of the Dead storefront and street stand altars go all out — a day of window shopping and street wandering should not be missed.
Pasadena Craftsman Weekend celebrates the city’s rich architectural history with ten days of architectural tours, discussion panels, lectures, and more. And though there are many other noteworthy festivals worthy of mention, the Pasadena Lunar New Year Celebration, hosted by USC Pacific Asia Museum, flaunts elegant strings of lanterns and sometimes includes a multiple-course meal of Asian dishes.
Old Pasadena dazzles the senses
Though not exactly in Old Pasadena, this incredible flea market still deserves a place on this list. Every second Sunday of the month, the vibrant Rose Bowl Flea Market hosts over 2,500 vendors attracting more than 20,000 buyers. This is a Pasadena experience that you must explore.
Photo courtesy of Finn + Willow
Finn + Willow
, a quaint boutique, sells a variety of high-end men's and women’s high clothing. Cosiani
is a wonderful shop to meet your men's and women’s dress suit or formal wear needs. Camille DePedrini
carries contemporary and retro articles fit for a red carpet or casual look, made from the finest fabrics and highest fashions.
, a unique gem whose store name is inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, The Gold Bug
, is a treasure chest of thoughtfully created knick-knacks. Carrying works of art and hand-crafted jewelry from independent artists, time flies when perusing this shop’s goodies.
Entre Nous French Bistro
is a delectable French bistro serving sumptuous dishes like their Poulet Rôti Bio au Thym, made with organic chicken, potatoes dressed in a thyme sauce, and tarragon butter. With a carefully selected wine menu, you’ll have no trouble pairing your meals with wine or ending your night with a delicious aperitif.
The Raymond Restaurant
serves classic American fare with an upscale touch on every dish. This award-winning restaurant offers a brunch and dinner menu with entree choices like ocean trout served with brussels sprouts, a wheat berry salad, and smoked goat cheese. If you dine in the summer, be sure to order a refreshing glass of their house-made sangria.
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, an award-winning wellness facility with spa services influenced by traditional Chinese medicine practices, is Pasadena’s self-care crown jewel. With saunas and herbal steam rooms and whirlpools, this spa is a wonderful place to enjoy its amenities between services.