Pasadena is one of the oldest cities adjoining Los Angeles and is the main population center of the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California.

68 things to do

All Places United States California

Rose Parade

The Rose Parade is held on New Year's Day. If January 1 falls on a Sunday, then the parade is moved to Monday, January 2. The parade starts at Orange Grove Blvd. and then heads east along Colorado Blvd. for five and one-half miles to Sierra Madre Blvd. The easiest and best view of the parade are from the 70,000 grandstand seats that line the route. These tickets can be purchased starting each February. For those who want to view for free along the streets, people can start camping out at noon the day before the parade. Blankets, sleeping bags, lawn chairs and self-contained barbecues are permitted on the route; tents, ladders and upholstered furniture are not. There is a party atmosphere along Colorado Blvd. the night before, as everyone camps out to reserve their seats. If you are camping out, the most crowded area is on Colorado Blvd. between Orange Grove Blvd. and Lake Ave. To avoid the congestion, try to find a space on Colorado east of Allen Avenue. On average, more than 150,000 people attend the parade, so parking is at a premium. It is suggested that you purchase parking in advance. Colorado Blvd. shuts down to all traffic the night before the parade. The north/south streets shut down at various times the morning of the parade.Keep in mind that the parade starts at 8AM on the west end of town and lasts for two hours. If you're sitting farther east, the parade will begin and end later. If you go to the beginning of the parade at about 2AM on the morning of the parade, you can see the floats up-close as they stage themselves on South Orange Grove Blvd. It will likely be quite cold, so dress warmly.

DO   —  Map

Old Pasadena

A 22-block historical area filled with 200 one-of-a-kind boutiques, national retailers, galleries, restaurants, and clubs. Old Pasadena is one of Southern California's hottest shopping/entertainment areas and gets very crowded on weekends. The area is very hip and young people love the great vibe! Old Pasadena is located between Arroyo Parkway on the east and Pasadena Avenue on the west, with Colorado Boulevard being the main thoroughfare. Get off the Gold Line at Memorial Park and walk south to Colorado. If you expect every building in the area to be old, you'll be disappointed, but fans of architecture from the Art Deco period back to the 19th century have quite a few beautiful buildings to appreciate. You can see many of them from a moving car, but to truly notice and enjoy the decorative details, you will need to park and walk. The Playhouse District and the Civic Center, a few blocks to the east of the district specifically named "Old Pasadena", also have beautiful historic buildings, including the lovely Municipal Building (city hall), built in 1927 and the Pasadena Civic Auditorium (carved on the exterior with the words "THE AUDITORIUM OF THE CITY OF PASADENA" in all caps), built in 1932.

SEE   —  Map

Float Construction Viewing & Decorating

The last few days before the Rose Parade, you can help decorate or preview Rose Parade floats as they are readied for the New Year's festivities. Although the work is detailed and can be repetitive, it is incredibly fun and exciting to know that you glued the thousands of poppy seeds that became a shadow on a giant leaf. There is a sense of camaraderie amongst the volunteers, and you get to climb on and decorate actual floats. Children under 16 are not allowed, but if you have older kids, this is an excellent family activity. You work in four hour shifts, and volunteers are fed out of a chow wagon for free. For a list of float companies and independent float volunteer opportunities, visit: []

DO   —  Map

Camerons Seafood

Voted Pasadenas Best Seafood Restaurant, for 24 straight years. Mesquite grilled fresh seafood daily, steaks and chicken, wonderful cheers style bar, lots of free onsite parking, handicap accessible, Sunday brunch, 7 days lunch and dinner happy hour, great food est 1984. Camerons is on the famous rose parade route. Established in 1984 Camerons brings the ocean to you with over 30 different fresh seafood daily, grilled, or try the fmaous macadamia nut halibut, or some parmesan crusted sole. Awesome New England Clam chowder, made fresh daily as well as our Manhattan clam chowder. Fresh Blue point oysters from the Chesapeake bay, or some Hawaiian Ahi. Camerons has it all plus private dining and meeting rooms for that special event.

Norton Simon Museum

Features seven centuries of European art ranging from the Gothic period to the 21st century, including masterpieces by Van Gogh, Picasso, Rembrandt, Fragonard, Goya, Poussin, Claude Lorrain, Cranach the Elder, Botticelli and many more. The museum also features an extensive collection of South and some Southeast Asian sculpture and a sculpture garden including works of Rodin. You are likely to be amazed by the greatness of the collection of both European and ancient South Asian work, and also by the number of extremely famous and commonly reproduced paintings on view. If you are generally an art lover, you will probably want to allow at least 2 1/2 to 3 hours so as to see most of the collections without feeling rushed.

SEE   —  +1-626-449-6840 —  Map

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

Located in the neighboring city of San Marino on the 207-acre estate of the late railroad tycoon Henry Huntington, the Library offers 9 million works from British and American history including an original Gutenberg Bible and Ellesmere's manuscript of Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales." Three art galleries showcase 18th- and 19th-century British and French masterpieces including the famed "Pinkie" and "The Blue Boy" paintings. Sixteen lush gardens covering 150 acres round out the experience.

SEE   —  +1-626-405-2100 —  Map

Roma Italian Deli and Grocery

A small Italian grocery store with a wide selections of cheeses, prosciutto, salami, pastas, olive oils, and homemade bread. The store also makes a simple but delicious sandwich consists of bread, cold-cuts, and olive oils. The sandwich maker is a helpful 80-year-old man who would sometimes let you sample a slice of cheese or meat as he goes on in making the sandwich. Just go up to the sandwich counter and say "one sandwich, please" and nothing else.

La Caravana Restaurante Salvadoreno

If you have never eaten Salvadorian foods before, come try the pupusas. They are a traditional Salvadoran dish made of thick, hand-made corn tortilla that is filled with a blend of cheese, pork, refried beans, and/or loroco. For first timers, try the Plato Tipico, which comes with rice, beans, one choice of pupusa, grilled pork, tamales, cheese, fried plantains, and vegetables. There is also a mini pupusas sampler plate.

El Taquito Mexicano Truck

No trip to Southern California is complete without experiencing eating tacos out of a food truck. Try the carne asada (beef), al pastor (pork), or whatever strikes your fancy. (Cabeza, anyone?) Choose red or green sauce. (Red is spicier.) Wash them down with a cold can of coke or Mexican soda. The truck is parked on the lot of Nishikawa Automotive. Do not get confused with the yellow taco truck nearby.

EAT   —  510 S Fair Oaks Ave

Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Located in the neighboring city of La Canada-Flintridge, JPL is a world-renowned research, development and flight center for NASA. JPL has a weekend open house (see space craft being worked on in the clean rooms!) each May. In recent years, JPL has focused much of its attention on the exploration of Mars with its Mars rovers. Free tours are available by appointment and must be made well in advance.

SEE   —  +1-818-354-9314 —  Map

Robinson Memorial

The memorial, located directly across from City Hall, honors the historic accomplishments of baseball legend Jackie Robinson and his brother, Olympian Mack Robinson with two 9-foot bronze portraiture sculptures. The Robinson brothers grew up in Pasadena. Jackie was the first African American to play professional baseball and Mack was a sprinter who won a silver medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

SEE   —  100 N. Garfield Ave

Arroyo Seco Historic Parkway

The Arroyo Seco Historic Parkway (110 Freeway) is a National Scenic Byway that runs for 9.4 miles (15.1 km) between Pasadena and Downtown Los Angeles. The Parkway starts at Colorado Blvd., home of the famous Rose Parade, passes through the Arts and Crafts-style neighborhoods of South Pasadena into China Town, and ends at the 101 Freeway amongst the skyscrapers of Downtown Los Angeles.

DO   —  Map

Carmela Ice Cream

Easily the best ice cream spot in and around Pasadena. This small artisan ice cream and sorbet maker uses local farmers market produce and organic dairies to create unique flavors, such as Salted Caramel, Brown Sugar Vanilla Bean, Lavender Honey, Lemon Basil Sorbet, and Cucumber Sorbet. Ice cream and sorbet-making classes available too. Must try.

Cafe Verde

A gem worth hiding from the world but karma would kick in. This intimate shoebox sized restaurant packs a wallop taste in every bite. A fusion of California style cuisine with strong Latin influences is a delight to the senses. Too much to describe here, just click the link, read THE professional review, and I'm sure I'll see you there sometime.

EAT   —  961 E. Green St

Dog Haus

Gourmet hot dogs, sausages, and burgers served on King's Hawaiian Bread with massive toppings such as fried egg, haus garlic aioli, caramelized onions, grilled jalapeƱos, smoked bacon, curry ketchup, dill pickle chips, blue cheese crumbles, and all the usual suspects. Sides include fries, onion rings, and tater tots. Good soda selections.

California Institute of Technology

A world-renowned institution for the study of science and engineering, Caltech's alumni and faculty have been awarded 32 Nobel Prizes. Albert Einstein studied here as a visiting scholar in the early 1930s. The 124-acre campus offers interesting architectures, laid back atmosphere and colors displayed by ever-lasting blooming flora.

SEE   —  Map

The Langham Huntington

Built in 1907 when Pasadena was the prime destination for the affluent traveler, The Huntington is the last resort hotel left in town and is nestled in one of the more pristine residential parts of the town. Located on 23 acres with historic ballrooms and gardens, a spa, award-winning dining, and 380 guestrooms.

Post-Parade Float Viewing

For two days after the Rose Parade, you can see the floats up close when they are parked along Sierra Madre and Washington Blvds. Crowds of people flock to see the floats, so instead of driving to the location yourself, it is suggested that you take the shuttles that are offered throughout Pasadena. Fees apply.

DO   —  Map

Rose Bowl Flea Market

The Rose Bowl Flea Market, one of the most famous in the world, boasts 2,500 vendors and 20,000 buyers. Nicknamed "America's Marketplace of Unusual Items," the market offers vintage jewelry, handmade quilts, antiques, clothes, plants, and collectibles. Held the second Sunday of every month, rain or shine.

DO   —  +1 323 560-7469 —  Map

Euro Pane Bakery

This small artisan bakery makes some of the best sandwiches, homemade bread, and desserts in Pasadena. It is famous for its open-face egg salad sandwich (yolky-creamy) and decadent macaroons. (Flavors include Blackberry, Hazelnut, Mocha, Passion Fruit, Pistachio, Raspberry, and Salted Caramel.)

Paseo Colorado

A fun, outdoor shopping area about a block east of Old Pasadena on Colorado Blvd., near Pasadena's Civic Center. With an array of shops, restaurants, an upscale grocery store, and movie theater, Paseo is great on warm evenings and a great place to eat and catch a movie.

BUY   —  Map

One Colorado

A shopping and dining area set amidst 19th-century architecture. Also offers free outdoor film festivals, live music, and arts events. The 25 stores include national retailers like Gap and Juicy Couture, as well as unique offerings like Elisa B. and The Soap Kitchen.

BUY   —  +1 626 564-1066 —  Map

Kidspace Museum

Kidspace offers more than 25 indoor hands-on exhibits, in addition to outdoor spaces, programs and activities, which are designed to encourage a child's growth and development through exploration of the environment, investigation in science, and artistic expression.

All Saints Church

This is a lovely neo-Gothic Episcopal church, with timbered ceilings and beautiful stained glass windows. The rose windows are Tiffany and the windows on the sides are in a neo-Gothic Arts and Crafts style. There is also fine woodwork inside the church.

Craftsman Weekend

Held every year in October, this is the largest, most comprehensive salute to Arts and Crafts-style architecture in the United States. Enjoy bus and walking tours of historic neighborhoods and visits to distinctive Craftsman-era homes.

DO   —  Map

Jones Coffee Roasters

A great local coffee house that roasts its own beans on site! It is situated in an obscure but tastefully decorated warehouse. Friendly and knowledgeable staff and owners. On unspecified days they even have homemade tamales for sale.

DRINK   —  693 S Raymond Ave

Make Music Pasadena

Held the third Saturday in June, Make Music Pasadena is a free musical celebration throughout Downtown Pasadena. From 11AM to 11PM, Pasadena is transformed into a musical playground where every conceivable genre of music played.

DO   —  Map

Rose Bowl Aquatics Center

The center is a year-round facility with competitive teams in swimming, diving and water polo. Housing two 50-meter pools, it's open to the public and offers water aerobics, swimming, diving lessons, and therapy pools.

Rose Bowl Stadium

The historic Rose Bowl Stadium was built in 1922. It is home to the annual Rose Bowl Game and UCLA Bruins football. The stadium hosts numerous events, including concerts. The stadium is not open for public tours.

Pasadena Museum of History

Near the Gamble House is the Pasadena Museum of History with The Finnish Folk Art Museum, History Center Galleries, and the 18-room Fenyes Mansion. Built in 1905, the mansion contains its original furnishings.

SEE   —  +1-626-577-1660 —  Map

Rose Bowl Flea Market

This flea market, one of the most famous in the world, boasts 2,500 vendors and 20,000 buyers.Vintage jewelry, handmade quilts, clothes, plants, antique furniture, and collectibles are among the offerings.

Pasadena Ice Skating Center

Located adjacent to the Pasadena Convention Center, the Pasadena Ice Skating Center offers year-round indoor skating, figure skating classes, and an ice hockey league in a regulation-sized rink.

The Gamble House

Built in 1908 by Charles and Henry Greene for David Gamble of Procter and Gamble, this National Historical Landmark is an architectural masterpiece of the American Arts and Crafts Movement.

SEE   —  +1-626-793-3334 —  Map


Great breakfasts in a converted old home. Come early because the crowds start to build up on weekends in the late morning. Esepcially recommended is the corn flake encrusted french toast.

EAT   —  151 E. Walnut St

Brookside Golf Course

Located adjacent to the Rose Bowl Stadium, Brookside features two 18-hole championship courses, a clubhouse, restaurant, golf shop, putting greens, driving range, and ample parking.

Hilton Pasadena

Within walking distance of Old Pasadena. Features 296 rooms. Expensive Wi-Fi and breakfast ($19,95++). Complimentary shuttle within 2 miles of hotel. Complimentary swimming pool

Playhouse District

The Playhouse District offers an intimate scene where art, architecture and culture abound. The shops in the area are a reflection, and include culinary, music and bookstores.

BUY   —  +1 626 744-0340 —  Map

Mijares Mexican Restaurant

Pasadena's oldest restaurant is it's best kept secret! A local favorite, this restaurant and bar serves delicious Mexican cuisine in a delightful, family-style setting.

Old Pasadena

Historic Old Pasadena is home to an eclectic mix of more than 200 one-of-a-kind boutiques and well-known national retailers concentrated in an authentic downtown.

BUY   —  +1 626 356-9725 —  Map

Pasadena Chalk Festival

Held the third weekend in June, you can view hundreds of colorful chalk murals while enjoying live music, shopping and children's activities at Paseo Colorado.

DO   —  Paseo Colorado

La Nueva Posada

Mexican food. Try the margaritas and say hello to the always-smiling Peter! This is a family-owned business and they really care about their customers.

EAT   —  2835 E Foothill Blvd

Melting Pot Food Tours

Experience the charming history, architecture, and folklore of historic Old Pasadena while feasting upon culinary delights from neighborhood eateries.

DO   —  Map

Doo Dah Parade

Behold these wacky, unusual parade participants as they travel through East Pasadena down Colorado Blvd. between Sierra Madre and San Gabriel Blvds.

DO   —  Map

South Lake Avenue

South Lake Avenue covers 10 blocks and features Macy's, along with brand-name fashion and home decor shops, all within its pedestrian-friendly area.

BUY   —  +1 626 792-1259 —  Map

Pasadena Antique Center

The center boasts 130 dealers in 33,000 square feet.Find furniture, art, jewelry and rare books dating from the turn of the century to mid-century.

Pacific Asia Museum

Features artwork from Asia and the Pacific Islands spanning 5,000 years, with a range of innovative exhibitions and dynamic programming.

SEE   —  +1-626-499-2742 —  Map

Ramada Inn

Features 75 rooms, elevator, pool, iPod docks, refrigerators, and Wi-Fi. Complimentary continental breakfast. On Rose Parade route.

Sheraton Pasadena

Features 311 rooms. Across from the shops and restaurants of Paseo Colorado. Free shuttle within 3 miles of hotel.

SLEEP   —  +1 626 449-4000 —  303 Cordova St

Orean's: The Health Express

Vegetarian/vegan fast food, yummy. A bit on the pricy side for fast food -- about for a five dollars per person.

Pasadena Travelodge

On Rose Parade route. Free Wi-Fi and continental breakfast. In-room refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker.

Pasadena Museum of California Art

The only museum in Southern California devoted exclusively to California art, architecture and design.

SEE   —  +1-626-568-3665 —  Map

The Hat

Pastrami sandwiches, chili fries, Orange Bang, and other stuff that's bad for you but so good.

EAT   —  +1-626-449-1844 —  Map

Saga Motor Hotel

On Rose Parade route. Complimentary continental breakfast and parking, Wi-Fi and heated pool.

Lovebirds Cafe & Bakery

Fresh sandwiches made from bread baked on the premises and yummy smoothies,you can't go wrong

The Westin Pasadena

Features 350 rooms, outdoor pool, state-of-the-art workout facility, and Heavenly Beds.

Holiday Inn Express

Features 81 rooms, Wi-Fi, outdoor pool, and free hot Express Start Breakfast.

Old Pasadena Courtyard by Marriott

Located in the heart of Old Pasadena with 314 rooms and complimentary Wi-Fi.

SLEEP   —  +1 626 403-7600 —  180 N. Fair Oaks

Comfort Inn

Features 54 rooms, microwave, refrigerator and Wi-Fi in all rooms.


A large department store, selling food, clothes, electronics, etc.

Quality Inn Pasadena

Free Wi-Fi, business center, fitness room and pool. Pets allowed.

Super 8 Motel

Free parking, deluxe breakfast, pool, cable TV, and refrigerator.

Howard Johnson Pasadena

Features 60 rooms, free Wi-Fi, and continental breakfast.

Fu Shing Restaurant

Chinese food - try the sweet and pungent shrimp.


Popular Japanese food chain, moderately priced.

Rodeway Inn & Suites

Free continental breakfast, Wi-Fi and parking.

Pasadean Inn

Free breakfast, Wi-Fi and parking.

All India Cafe

Good Indian food.

EAT   —  39 S. Fair Oaks Ave

About Pasadena

Pasadena is located at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, just 11 miles northeast of Downtown Los Angeles. Known as the City of Roses, Pasadena is most famous for its New Year's Day Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game. Over a million people flock to Pasadena every year after Christmas, as visitors come from all over to decorate and view the floats, as well as to attend arguably the most famous college football bowl game of the year.

Pasadena has become the most exciting place for nightlife in the San Gabriel Valley. With bustling Old Pasadena's 200 boutiques, national retailers, restaurants and clubs in the western section, chic shopping and dining on South Lake and abundant services in the eastern area, Pasadena is really the place to be!

As the birthplace of Julia Child and home to 500 restaurants serving cuisine from around the world, Pasadena is a real find for foodies. Adding to its culinary credentials, one of only 15 Le Cordon Bleu-affiliated culinary schools in the United States resides here. In addition, the first Trader Joe's neighborhood market opened its doors in Pasadena in 1967. That same store on Arroyo Parkway is still serving customers today.

Pasadena is a cultural oasis with 14 museums and 11 performing arts organizations, including the Pasadena Playhouse and Norton Simon Museum. Pasadena also boasts the world-renowned California Institute of Technology, whose alumni and faculty have garnered 32 Nobel Prizes. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, site of the Mars exploration missions, is also just a 10-minute drive north.

Most visitors to Pasadena will also not want to miss the nearby Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens (located in neighboring San Marino) which features a large art collection but is more famous for its 150 acres of botanical gardens that have been used as a backdrop for many Hollywood films.

Source: wikivoyage