Pasadena may be best known for its Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl, but the city has a lot more to offer. Now with the new Los Angeles Metro Gold Line, it’s easy to jump on board and visit Pasadena for the day or for a weekend. Old Town Pasadena is a charming and elegant city filled with curious shops and places to eat, all within a short distance of L.A.
After arriving, start your day with breakfast at Lincoln, where you can go healthy with granola and yogurt, or indulge with huevos rancheros. There’s also a cute store attached. After breakfast, enjoy a hike in the Angeles National Forest. If you prefer not to get lost while searching for a trail, hire a guide like Bikes & Hikes LA, as they have plenty of different options to help you go out and explore nature. After hiking, treat your body and mind right with some float therapy at Just Float, where they have custom float tank rooms, each with extra-large enclosed tubs with 1,300 pounds of Epsom salt dissolved in 250 gallons of water, heated to 93.5 degrees. After your relaxing soak, check out Everson Royce for some wine tasting. It’s a fun shop with excellent staff and affordable tastings in the back. When it’s time for dinner, try some squid ink garganelli or spaghetti alla chitarra at Union Pasadena, where the cuisine is described as Northern Italy meets Southern California. After dinner, stroll off that pasta and grab a craft cocktail nightcap at The Tap Room, inside the Langham Huntington.
Wake up and smell the roses during a walking tour of Old Pasadena. The tour lets you wander around Old Town with a trained guide who will show off some of the city’s historical sites as well as the areas that have undergone revitalization. After walking around Old Town, head to brunch at La Grande Orange Café, at the historic train depot. The southwestern American cuisine will fill you up, especially if you go for the ever-popular chilaquiles, and don’t forget the mimosas. After brunch, The Huntington, a research and cultural center surrounded by 120 acres of gardens, is great for a leisurely afternoon of exploring. If the timing is right and you still have energy, see a play at the famous Pasadena Playhouse, established in 1917 as the official State Theater of California. For dinner, go back to Old Pasadena and visit casual and fun Kings Row Gastropub. The kitchen turns out pub food as well as reinterpretations of British classics.
Start the last day of your Pasadena weekend with coffee and a pastry at Intelligentsia. Once you are caffeinated and ready to go, enjoy a morning on a self-guided public art walking tour. There are eight self-guided tours that feature works from the city’s public art collection, each tour taking between 30 minutes and an hour. For lunch, Parkway Grill, an innovative “new American” restaurant is great place to eat. The short-rib tacos with handmade corn tortillas, grilled corn on the cob, black-eyed pea salsa, and chipotle-avocado cream are not to be missed. After lunch, a trip to the Norton Simon Museum, one of the world’s most remarkable private art collections, will provide plenty to see and admire. The museum houses more than 12,000 objects, with about 1,000 on display within the galleries and gardens at a time. To continue with the art theme, The Gamble House, designed in 1908, is one of the finest examples of early 20th-century Craftsman architecture. Sunday tours are offered from noon until 3 pm and cost $15 for adults. Before heading back to pack, stop at Edwin Mills by Equator for drinks. Built in 1894, the space has evolved many times over. Now, the urban American menu is presented in gastropub style.
Where to Stay
Expect classic and elegant luxury at The Langham Huntington. The property is located at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, with 23 acres of gardens, historic ballrooms, and an abundance of guest rooms. In addition, there are several dining options on property, along with an award-winning spa and wellness area.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Pasedena Guide