L.A. Day Trip: Pasadena
Collected by Susan Mason , AFAR Local Expert
Nationally known for the annual Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl Game, Pasadena is more locally known for another Rose, the monthly Rose Bowl Flea Market. A short drive or Gold Line train ride from LA, Pasadena is a town worth exploring. Start the day in nature with either a hike or a visit to the Botanical Gardens. Then, wander the quaint Old Town Historic District spotted with coffee shops, specialty stores, art museums, comfort food cafes, and fine dining restaurants.
Echo Mountain, California 91001, USA
Echo Mountain has a great deal to offer, from the switchback trail, which will give you a great workout on your way up the mountain (start early to avoid the blistering afternoon sun), to the views—on a clear day you can look out over Pasadena, ...
1750 N Altadena Dr, Pasadena, CA 91107, USA
Eaton Canyon has a great nature center if you want to learn about the local plants, animals, geology, and ecology. The exhibits and nature walks are kid-friendly. Hiking trails are also easily accessible from the nature center. The Eaton Canyon...
1151 Oxford Rd, San Marino, CA 91108, USA
Upon arrival try to snag the free daily garden tour! The gardens are divided into different ecosystems/themes such as the Australian Garden, Camellia Garden, Children's Garden, Chinese Garden, Desert Garden, Herb Garden, Japanese Garden, Jungle...
1151 Oxford Rd, San Marino, CA 91108, USA
The Huntington is a beautiful, cultural destination. The library exhibits are wonderful, and include famous titles like Audubon's Birds of America. The art collection features well-known paintings, architectural pieces, and a sculpture garden. The...
1001 Rose Bowl Dr, Pasadena, CA 91103, USA
On the second Sunday of every month, bargain hunters, collectors, designers, tourists, and other curious shoppers head to the historic Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, where 2,500 vendors of furniture, accessories, clothes, crafts, vinyl, and more...
4 Westmoreland Pl, Pasadena, CA 91103, USA
Gamble House is an architectural gem. The glass-work of the front door, chandeliers, and dining room windows is mesmerizing, and the carved frieze in the Burmese teak living room is a decorative treasure. Each room showcases a different kind of...
345 E Colorado Blvd #101, Pasadena, CA 91101, USA
Start your morning at this local bakery (and then come back for lunch). They have a great wake-me-up environment, with lots of natural light from the floor-to-ceiling windows, and the aroma of coffee and fresh breads is heavenly. For lunch, try...
151 E Walnut St, Pasadena, CA 91103, USA
This cozy little restaurant is the perfect place to start your day. Enjoy your morning coffee on the front porch, and try the French toast—heavenly. Marston's has all sorts of options for breakfast and lunch, and—if you call them in advance—...
100 Garfield Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101, USA
You may recognize the façade of Pasadena's City Hall from a number of TV shows and movies. It's a beautiful building with an open courtyard; find a bench and relax by the fountain, and take time to smell the roses as you pass through. The view...
70 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105, USA
Copa Vida is the newest of Pasadena’s gourmet coffee shops, and the unique tastes and aromas of their coffees are surprising (and impressive). They have three primary menus: “steep” is a menu of specialty teas; “pressure” includes coffee-house...
34 Union St, Pasadena, CA 91103, USA
Gold bug is a decidedly unique Pasadena boutique experience. Despite feeling a little creeped out by some of the bizarre displays, I must say I find the store remarkably intriguing. Gold Bug carries everything from high-end, designer bug jewelry...
156 W Verdugo Ave, Burbank, CA 91502, USA
Smoothies go great with warm weather. This cozy little place is tucked in the back of the building—look for the cow by the front door on the little lane called Mills Place just before McCormick Alley. Juice Farm's organic, cold-pressed beverages...
10 S De Lacey Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105, USA
Bird Pick is my favorite place for tea. They have a lovely tea bar with specialty teas and creative drink options, and they have beautiful hardwood tables in their cafe. The shelves are lined with loose-leaf teas, and the windows display colorful...
55 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105, USA
Amara's is a cozy cafe, perfect for a chocolate-lover's outing, or a romantic date night. Amara offers a bakery-style breakfast, fondue, a lovely assortment of chocolate truffles, and, my personal favorite, churros with dark dipping chocolate. The...
39 S El Molino Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101, USA
The Pasadena Playhouse has exciting productions and a rich history. If you're keen to see a show, and tickets are sold out, don't worry—you can still enjoy a fun theatre experience by setting up a private tour. They offer complimentary tours,...
490 Union St, Pasadena, CA 91101, USA
46 N Los Robles Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101, USA
The Pacific Asia Museum's collection includes art and artifacts from the Pacific Islands and Asia, and the museum offers free cell phone audio tours in multiple languages. The audio tour includes a curatorial tour, a family-friendly tour focusing...
695 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91101, USA
The historic Vroman’s Bookstore opened in 1894 and is still a favorite with the locals. Beyond their large selection of books, they still have an old-school newsstand, an excellent café, and a gift shoppe with home décor, locally made cards, and...
102 S Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101, USA
I love this cheese store. They have great customer service and a large counter space where you can sample their selection of cheeses, as well as a small cafe area if you want to have a sandwich or something from their coffee bar. For shoppers,...
336 S Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101, USA
Trattoria Neapolis is one of the most beautiful restaurants in Pasadena, with high ceilings over the bar, deep booths with mirrors and tile-work adorning the walls, a decorative wrought-iron railing along the balcony overlooking the bar, and a...
42 S De Lacey Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105, USA
Haven features unique craft cocktails, and full beer and wine menus. Try a few of Haven's own brews, such as "Disco Pants" (a light and flavorful black ale), "Performance Enhancing Drink" (a coffee brown ale), or "Glass Elevator" (a nitro...
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