Whether you are coming to Pasadena for an afternoon, a day, a weekend or longer, there is plenty to engage, entertain and amuse you. You can find every sort of accommodation at every price range, as well as restaurants of every caliber, a variety of museums, entertaining activities and more for the whole family.
An afternoon of fun
Enjoy a mid-day meal at a/k/a an American Bistro in the heart of Old Pasadena, then take a leisurely stroll toward the Pasadena Civic Center to see our amazing City Hall. Walk through the Plaza las Fuentes to USC/Pacific Asia Museum along Los Robles Avenue where you can spend a couple of hours enjoying the finest of the art and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands in the Historic Grace Nicholson mansion. End your day with a Yucatan flavored dinner at El Portal Restaurant, one of Pasadena’s dining gems. If the kids are along, spend the afternoon at Kidspace’s inventive play and learning areas in the Arroyo Seco, walk to the nearby Rose Bowl for a close up look at college football’s most storied venue before heading to California Pizza Kitchen for a fam ily friendly meal. Look for the London cab and English call box outside.
An overnight stay
Book yourself into The Sheraton in downtown Pasadena then head to Old Pasadena for some shopping. Enjoy a leisurely lunch at Bar Celona in between shopping at Fresh Produce, Therapy, Lula Mae or any of the unique shopping venues in Old Pasadena. Treat yourself to drinks, dinner and a movie at iPic Theaters in the heart of Old Pasadena before heading back to your hotel. Don’t feel like a movie? Enjoy dinner at Bistro 45 on Mentor Avenue then walk up the street for a night of laughs at the Ice House Comedy Club. The first comedy club in the U.S. has hosted Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Robin Williams and almost every comedy star of the last 50 years.
If you’ve got the kids along, take some time for play at Pasadena’s Central Park then head for a Mexican dinner at El Cholo in Paseo Colorado before taking in a show at Arclight Cinemas.
The next day, enjoy breakfast at Soleil in your hotel then head to Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens for a stroll through their lush gardens and views of the amazing art collections and other exhibits. Make sure you see Gainsborough’s “Blue Boy” and Laurence’s “Pinkie” in the Huntington Galleries and the amazing collection of American art in the Steele Galleries. The Library displays printed works including a Gutenburg Bible, a manuscript of Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales”, and original letters of some of history’s greatest people.
Enjoy lunch at Malbec Argentinean Cuisine, a wonderful culinary addition to East Green Street, before you head back to your hotel to check out. If you're driving, make sure you cross the Colorado Street Bridge at the western end of Pasadena.
A Weekend Get-away
On Friday afternoon, check into The Westin in downtown Pasadena and enjoy a nice stroll through Pasadena’s Civic Center, taking time to visit City Hall and the Pasadena Central Library, before having drinks and dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House along Colorado Boulevard. If the kids are along, try California Pizza Kitchen and a nice walk through Paseo Colorado to window shop and enjoy the playful fountain.
On Saturday morning, start with an al fresco breakfast at Mi Piace in Old Pasadena for sidewalk dining and people-watching. Then stroll around Old Pasadena for some window shopping or to make a few purchases. If the kids are along, take a leisurely walk through the lower Arroyo on Pasadena's west side to see a restored riparian wilderness. (If it's Saturday morning, the Pasadena Roving Archers may be giving free archery lesson for kids.) Make sure the kids get a chance to check out the fish and frog ponds and run under the olive trees. Take in a late lunch at Robin’s Wood Fire BBQ and Grill then burn off the calories with an afternoon of bowling at Bowlmor Pasadena, our upscale, high-energy lanes in East Pasadena. Don’t want to bowl? Head over to Santa Anita Park in nearby Arcadia for horse racing at its best (seasonal) or enjoy a massage for two at the Spa Sante in East Pasadena.
When you’ve knocked down enough pins or picked enough winners and are in mood to relax with some Jazz and a great meal, head to Colombo’s Italian Steakhouse in nearby Eagle Rock for drinks, good food and music seven nights a week. Jazz not your thing? Check out an evening of theater at A Noise Within. If you want to give the kids a fun treat, walk through the campus of Caltech and see the fish and turtle ponds among the buildings where scientific breakthroughs are a daily occurrance.
Sunday morning, you can worship in All Saints Episcopal Church’s historic chapel, First Lutheran Church on Los Robles or one of dozens of churches representing many denominations in the area. After that, take in brunch at The Raymond, a converted bungalow cottage, or on the terrace at Café Santorini before you hop into Pasadena Tour Company’s bus for a two-hour architectural and historic tour of Pasadena. Before heading out of town, enjoy a glass of wine and hors d’oeuvres at Vertical Wine Bistro or take the kids to CREPEstudio, for a taste delight you will not forget.
Check in at any one of our fine hotels. Looking for luxury, try the Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa. The Sheraton Pasadena, Westin, Courtyard by Marriott, Hilton, Marriott residence Inn or Vagabond Inn Executive each provide excellent accommodations within walking distance of downtown Pasadena. On a budget, consider the Holiday Inn Express, Days Inn, Best Western or even the Comfort Inn near Old Pasadena in adjacent Eagle Rock.
Monday: Arrive in time for check-in at your hotel then have lunch at The Counter on South Lake Avenue. After lunch, Pasadena Tour Company can give a nice historical overview of the city in a luxurious motor coach to get you oriented. You can get even more insight into the people who built Pasadena and its institutions at the Pasadena Historical Museum where you can tour the Fenyes Mansion and browse exhibits about Pasadena’s bygone days before crossing orange Grove Boulevard to tour theGreene and Greene architectural masterpice The Gamble House. Finish up with dinner on the patio at Il Fornaio and a nice walk back to your hotel along Pasadena’s beautiful downtown streets. While in Old Pasadena, see the historic Braley Building on Raymond Avenue and stop by eclectic gift emporium Lula Mae or maybe do a little wine tasting at vertical Wine Bistro just up Raymond Avenue.
Tuesday: Start your day off with breakfast at Brookside Golf Club, then play 18 holes at the historic course. Not into golf? Take a leisurely walk past the Rose Bowl Stadium, along the natural Arroyo Seco, under the Colorado Street Bridge and along the lower Arroyo. View the Vista del Arroyo Hotel and glimpse the inspiration for Pasadena’s plein air painters. Catch lunch at a Pasadena favorite, Pie ‘n Burger and stroll along South Lake Avenue. Later, enjoy a glass of wine at Malbec Argentinian Restaurant and stick around to order a most memorable dinner before a leisurely, romantic walk along beautiful tree-lined Green Street.
Wednesday: After breakfast at your hotel, head for the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens where you can enjoy artworks spanning the Old Masters to 20th Century American artisans and artists and the kids can burn off energy in the lush gardens. Spend a morning, an afternoon or an entire day at the Huntington Library but be sure to visit the Chinese Garden. Enjoy lunch in the Tea Room and imagine what it must have been like to live on the estate 100 years ago as you wander through sculpture gardens, the horticulture exhibits and renowned art and artifact collections in the former home of railroad tycoon Henry Huntington. Then have fine Italian cuisine, elegantly served, at Celestino Ristorante on Lake Avenue.
Thursday: Drive up to Art Center College of Design and check out what’s showing in the Williamson Gallery where art, technology, commerce and design often intersect in thought-provoking and entertaining ways. While at the Lida Street campus, enjoy the view of the Rose Bowl, Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco and Devil’s Gate Dam. Get lunch at Sushi Roku or a/k/a Bistro in Old Pasadena. Thursday evening, have drinks, dinner and a movie at iPic Theatres for a luxurious viewing experience.
Friday: Get breakfast at Green Street Restaurant just off Lake Avenue and enjoy Pasadena's beautiful weather at a patio table. Then, if it’s racing season, head out to Santa Anita Park for the thoroughbred racing at one of the finest venues in the world. Post time is usually about 12:30, but get there a little early to walk around the track and take in the mountain views. Be sure to see the Seabiscuit statue. Later on, head for Clearman’s Northwoods Inn for dinner at a local favorite.
If horse racing is not your thing (or if the horses aren’t running), browse the shelves at Vroman’s Bookstore, the best independent bookstore in the west (according to Publisher’s Weekly). Then walk along Colorado Boulevard to USC Pacific Asia Museum where the art and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands is displayed in one of Pasadena’s architectural gems.
Take lunch at El Cholo Cafe in Paseo Colorado and browse the shops there, then walk past the fountain and through the rotunda at Pasadena City Hall. Browse the shops, take in a movie at the Arclight Cinemas or just let the kids play in the whimsical fountain before you look for dinner in Old Pasadena. Looking for something a little exotic? Try All India Café on Fair Oaks Avenue, or enjoy Mexican food at Ix-Tapa or fine cuisine at Cafe Bizou, a local favorite. King’s Row Gastropub offers the latest in pub cuisine and ambience. Looking for the perfect gift for that foodie friend or relative? Stop in at Beyond the Olive to find a gift set to suit any gourmet’s taste.
Finish the evening off with wine or drinks at Vertical Wine Bistro on Raymond or take the kids to Cherry on Top for dessert.
Saturday: Have coffee and pastries at Intelligentsia Coffee then, if it’s fall and UCLA is playing at home, head for the Rose Bowl to experience football in the best college stadium in the world. For the price of the tickets, you can enjoy college football in the game’s most historic venue.
If it’s not football season, you can still visit the Rose Bowl Stadium for a tour. Take your picture in front of college football’s most iconic venue then, if you brought them along, take the little ones to burn some energy while they learn at Kidspace Museum’s experiential learning and play environment nearby in the historic Arroyo Seco. No kids? Consider a spa day at the luxurious Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa. Enjoy a day of pampering amid the charm, elegance and history of the last of Pasadena’s resort hotels.
Follow it up with an early gourmet dinner at The Royce Wood-Fired Steak House or The Terrace restaurant at the hotel before you head to the Thratre @ Boston Court for cutting edge new plays plays or A Noise Within for award-winning classical repertory theater. Not in the mood for theater? Stop by the Ice House, America’s first comedy club and experience live comedy at the stage that has hosted Jay Leno, Richard Pryor, Jerry Seinfeld and the legends of stand-up.
Sunday: Take in services at one of Pasadena’s many churches. You can mix architectural history with worship at All Saints Episcopal Church or St. Andrew Catholic Church in downtown or at Historic First Lutheran Church on North Los Robles Avenue. After services, enjoy brunch at Kathleen’s Restaurant on North Lake Avenue before immersing yourself in outdoor Pasadena with a hike up Eaton Canyon to the base of the falls. The leisurely walk will take a couple of hours and affords a close-up view of the beauty and power of the San Gabriel Mountains. After that, head to Old Pasadena for some window-shopping, people watching and an early dinner at Kabuki Japanese Restaurant or a gourment burger at Slater's 50/50 before you check out of your hotel and head for home.