25 Best Things To Do In Pasadena

25 Best Things To Do In Pasadena

Are you planning a trip to Pasadena and looking for the best spots to visit?

With its unique blend of cultural attractions, beautiful architecture, and stunning gardens, there’s no denying that this city is brimming with exciting adventures.

I won’t waste your time – read on for inspiration. 🙂

If you’re also looking for some suggestions on great places to eat in Pasadena, you can read our food guide.

Top 25 Things to Do in Pasadena

Walk through Old Pasadena

best things to do in pasadena - Old Pasadena
Old Pasadena, filled with beautiful architecture

Strolling through Old Pasadena is like stepping back in time. The charming district brims with architectural gems from the Victorian and Art Deco eras. Trendy boutiques, bustling cafes, and distinctive eateries line up along the red-brick sidewalks, adding a modern twist to this historical neighborhood.

Scattered parks offer serene spots for rest amidst the urban bustle while street performers add color to your walk.

At nightfall, vintage lampposts bathe the picturesque streets in a soft glow creating an enchanting atmosphere unlike any other place in Pasadena.

Take some time to admire performances at one of its numerous theater venues or explore unique local shops that are scattered throughout Old Pasadena.

Tour the Gamble House

best things to do in pasadena - Gamble House
Gamble House – 4 Westmoreland Pl, Pasadena, CA 91103, USA

Stepping into the Gamble House is like stepping back in time. This architectural masterpiece, located in Pasadena’s National Register historic district, showcases the Greene & Greene arts and crafts design movement of 1908.

The grand estate once served as a winter residence for David and Mary Gamble of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Tourists can embark on guided tours that provide an up-close look at its stunning features. Each intricate detail tells a story about early 20th-century living and provides invaluable insights into the architects’ innovative vision.

As you explore this National Historic Landmark, you’ll find yourself captivated by rich history echoing from each meticulously crafted corner of the house.

Rummage for antiques at the Rose Bowl

best things to do in pasadena - Rose Bowl
Rose Bowl – 1001 Rose Bowl Dr, Pasadena, CA 91103, USA

One of the must-see attractions in Pasadena is the Rose Bowl flea market, home to a profusion of vendors selling everything from vintage clothes to antique furniture.

Hailed as a hotspot for treasure hunters and design enthusiasts alike, this lively marketplace showcases over 2,500 stalls teeming with one-of-a-kind finds.

Not just limited to antiques, you can also discover an array of unique art pieces or add some rare books or vinyl records to your collection.

Take advantage of this vibrant space located in Old Town Pasadena on days when large sporting events are not scheduled at the stadium.

Between shopping rounds, ensure you savor the varied eateries scattered across Old Town that cater to every imaginable palette.

On non-market days explore another fascinating feature at the venue – The Rose Bowl Loop popular among walkers and joggers grandstands beautiful views with its 3.3 miles paved track circumventing the iconic stadium.

Explore the Huntington Library

best things to do in pasadena - Huntington Library
Huntington Library – 1151 Oxford Rd, San Marino, CA 91108, USA

Founded in 1919 by Henry E. Huntington, this educational and research institution boasts an impressive collection of books, manuscripts, and artwork.

But it’s not just about the library – the surrounding 120 acres of gardens are equally breathtaking. From the serene Japanese Garden to the vibrant Rose Garden, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Make sure to take part in afternoon tea, a popular activity at the estate. With its diverse range of artistic and natural attractions, a visit to the Huntington Library will be both educational and visually stunning.

See Pasadena City Hall

best things to do in pasadena - Pasadena City Hall
Pasadena City Hall – 100 Garfield Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101, USA

Visit Pasadena City Hall, one of the top things to do in Pasadena. This stunning architectural gem showcases the city’s rich history and serves as a functioning government building.

Take a leisurely stroll around the beautiful grounds and admire the Spanish Colonial Revival style architecture. Don’t forget to snap some photos of this iconic landmark before exploring more of what Pasadena has to offer.

Hike to Eaton Canyon Falls

best things to do in pasadena - Eaton Canyon Falls
Eaton Canyon Falls – 1750 N Altadena Dr, Pasadena, CA 91107, USA

The hike to Eaton Canyon Falls is a must-do activity for nature lovers visiting Pasadena. The trail, which spans under 4 miles, takes you through picturesque oak forests and riparian woodlands.

Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to cross the creek multiple times while enjoying the serene surroundings. Keep in mind that this popular trail can get crowded on weekends due to its popularity among locals and tourists alike.

If you’re interested in learning more about the area’s flora and fauna, docent guided tours are available from Eaton Canyon Nature Center. So grab your hiking boots and get ready for a refreshing adventure to see the stunning 40-foot waterfall at Eaton Canyon Falls!

Appreciate art at the Norton Simon Museum

best things to do in pasadena - Norton Simon Museum
Norton Simon Museum – 411 W Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91105, USA

The Norton Simon Museum is a must-visit attraction in Pasadena. With its impressive private art collection, it showcases culturally significant pieces from around the world. Ranked as one of the top 25 things to do in Pasadena, this museum has a rich history dating back to 1922 when it was known as the Pasadena Art Institute.

The Norton Simon Museum is particularly renowned for its collection of European art, making it the perfect place to immerse yourself in artistic masterpieces before your trip to Europe.

Tour the Jet Propulsion Laboratory

best things to do in pasadena - Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) – 4800 Oak Grove Dr, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), located in Pasadena, California, is a must-visit for space enthusiasts. Operated and managed by Caltech, JPL offers tours where visitors can learn about their latest missions and space exploration.

As one of the top 25 things to do in Pasadena, touring JPL allows you to get an up-close look at the facility that plays a crucial role in our understanding of the universe. Don’t miss the opportunity to see firsthand how scientists work on spacecraft assembly and engage with cutting-edge technology.

Enjoy a show at the Pasadena Playhouse or Civic Auditorium

best things to do in pasadena - Pasadena Playhouse
Pasadena Playhouse – 39 S El Molino Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101, USA

The Pasadena Playhouse and the Pasadena Civic Auditorium are must-visit venues for live shows and performances in Pasadena. Both locations offer a wide range of entertainment options that cater to different interests.

The Civic Auditorium has even hosted prestigious events like America’s Got Talent. Located close to each other, these iconic theaters provide visitors with an opportunity to explore multiple entertainment options in one trip.

It is no wonder that enjoying a show at the Pasadena Playhouse or Civic Auditorium is highly recommended by locals and various sources as one of the top things to do in Pasadena.

Shop at Vroman’s Bookstore

best things to do in pasadena - Vroman's Bookstore
Vroman’s Bookstore – 695 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91101, USA

Vroman’s Bookstore is a must-visit when you’re in Pasadena. As California’s largest and oldest independent bookstore, it offers a unique and quirky experience for book lovers. Located on Colorado Boulevard, Vroman’s Bookstore is part of the vibrant shopping area in Pasadena.

Inside, you’ll find a wide variety of books ranging from bestsellers to rare finds, as well as a great collection of gifts. Visitors highly recommend this bookstore for its extensive selection and overall bookstore experience.

Don’t miss the chance to browse through their shelves and discover your next favorite read while exploring Pasadena.

Vroman’s Bookstore is not just a store; it’s an institution in Pasadena. With its rich history and reputation, it has become a beloved spot for locals and tourists alike. Whether you’re looking for fiction or non-fiction, new releases or timeless classics, Vroman’s has something for everyone.

You can lose yourself among the stacks of books that line the shelves or take your time browsing through their curated sections.

Cross the Colorado Street Bridge

The Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena is a must-see attraction for visitors. This historic Beaux Arts bridge was built in 1913 to improve transportation in the area. Spanning across the Arroyo Seco, a seasonal river, the bridge stands tall at a height of 150 feet and stretches for almost 1,500 feet.

It is not only one of Pasadena’s most recognizable landmarks but also offers breathtaking views of the surrounding scenery. Whether you’re crossing by foot or car, on’t miss the opportunity to experience this architectural gem firsthand.

Hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains

The San Gabriel Mountains in California offer an array of fantastic hiking opportunities. One popular trail near Pasadena is Eaton Canyon Falls, which takes you on a scenic journey through the mountains to a beautiful waterfall.

Another trail worth exploring is The Ruins at Echo Mountain, where you can hike up to the remains of a historic resort and enjoy breathtaking views. If you’re up for a challenge, the hike to Strawberry Peak offers stunning vistas from its summit.

As part of the Angeles National Forest, the San Gabriel Mountains provide hikers with diverse outdoor activities like camping and exploration of their vast mountain range. So lace up those hiking boots and get ready for an adventure in nature’s playground!

Tour the USC Pacific Asia Museum

The USC Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, California is a must-visit attraction for tourists. It is the only university museum in the United States that focuses on the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands.

You can explore their permanent collection and special exhibition galleries through self-guided or docent-led tours. Located near Urth Caffe and Yard House, this unique cultural experience is considered one of the top 25 things to do in Pasadena.

Don’t miss out on immersing yourself in the rich heritage showcased at this integral part of the University of Southern California.

Enjoy Brookside Park

Brookside Park in Pasadena is the perfect place for a jog. Located just south of the Rose Bowl in the Arroyo Seco area, this park offers plenty of jogging trails to explore. In fact, it’s considered the largest park in Pasadena! You can enjoy a scenic run while surrounded by beautiful greenery and nature.

The park also provides amenities such as barbecue pits, picnic areas, and playgrounds, making it a great spot for families too. Whether you’re a serious runner or just looking for some exercise, Brookside Park is definitely worth checking out during your visit to Pasadena.

Dine at La Grande Orange

La Grande Orange Café is a must-visit dining spot in Pasadena. Located in a former Santa Fe Railway depot, this vibrant and bustling restaurant offers a charming atmosphere for tourists to enjoy.

With its American fare menu that includes salads, sandwiches, burgers, and meat and seafood entrees, there is something delicious for everyone to indulge in. The Luggage Room Pizzeria & La Grande Orange patio are known for their famous Café White Sangria, adding even more flavor to your dining experience.

With positive reviews on Tripadvisor and a rating of 4.5 out of 5, La Grande Orange promises a delightful meal that you won’t want to miss during your visit to Pasadena.

Explore the past at Castle Green

Castle Green, built in 1898, is a must-visit attraction in Pasadena. Originally a hotel, this historic building showcases a unique blend of Moorish, Spanish, and Victorian architectural styles.

Stepping inside Castle Green allows visitors to immerse themselves in its 125-year-old charm and experience the grandeur of the past. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore this iconic landmark during your visit to Pasadena!

Check out Devil’s Gate

Devil’s Gate in Pasadena is a unique and intriguing park space that you won’t want to miss. Located near an enormous concrete dam, this site offers a blend of stunning natural terrain and man-made structures.

One of the most fascinating features is an outcropping where you can see the jagged profile of Satan etched into the rock. But Devil’s Gate isn’t just known for its striking appearance; it also has a rich history.

The area was once used for rocket experiments conducted by the Suicide Squad, adding to its mystique. Additionally, since the 1800s, Devil’s Gate has been associated with mysterious disappearances and murders, making it even more captivating for those interested in the dark side of history.

Tour the Tournament House and Wrigley Gardens

The Tournament House and Wrigley Gardens are a must-visit attraction in Pasadena. Surrounded by the beautiful Wrigley Gardens, which boast over 1,500 varieties of roses, this historic mansion serves as the headquarters for the annual Tournament of Roses event.

The best part? Visitors can take free tours of the Tournament House every Thursday. These tours provide a unique opportunity to learn about the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association and discover hidden details and little-known facts about this iconic event.

Don’t miss out on exploring this stunning mansion and its enchanting gardens during your visit to Pasadena!

Take a walk through Caltech

Explore the incredible world of science by taking a walk through Caltech. As you stroll through the campus, be sure to visit the Beckman Room in Caltech’s Science Museum. This room is dedicated to the remarkable contributions of Dr.

Beckman, showcasing his groundbreaking work and inventions. Discover fascinating exhibits and learn about the innovative research happening at one of the most prestigious scientific institutions in the world.

Immerse yourself in the spirit of discovery as you explore Caltech’s rich history and its ongoing commitment to pushing boundaries in science and technology.

Explore Pasadena’s backyard

Explore Pasadena’s backyard and discover a wealth of outdoor activities waiting to be enjoyed. From the picturesque San Gabriel Mountains, offering scenic hikes and breathtaking views, to the tranquil Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden, perfect for relaxation and reflection, there is something for everyone.

Don’t miss out on exploring Eaton Canyon Falls, known for its natural beauty and stunning waterfall. With so much to see and do in Pasadena’s backyard, adventure awaits at every turn.

Relax at the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden

The Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden in Pasadena, California is a tranquil and historic garden that offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this stunning garden was designed by Kinzuchi Fujii between 1935 and 1940.

With its lush greenery, serene ponds, and beautiful traditional Japanese architecture, it’s no wonder that the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden is a popular location for special occasions such as weddings and other events.

Whether you’re seeking a moment of relaxation or want to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, this enchanting garden provides a serene oasis for visitors to enjoy.

Catch a comedy show at the Ice House

The Ice House Pasadena is a must-visit for comedy fans. As the oldest comedy club in America, it has been entertaining audiences for an impressive 61 years. Located in Pasadena, this 200-seat venue has seen renowned comedians take the stage and deliver endless laughter.

Under new ownership led by Johnny Buss and club general manager Penny Toler, the Ice House Comedy Club continues to uphold its reputation as a beloved institution in the world of stand-up comedy.

So if you’re looking for a night filled with hilarious jokes and side-splitting laughter, be sure to catch a comedy show at the Ice House.

Visit Bungalow Heaven

Explore the charm of Bungalow Heaven, a renowned neighborhood in Pasadena. Known for its historic bungalow homes built during the Arts & Crafts period, this area is a must-visit for architecture and real estate enthusiasts.

Wander through the streets lined with beautifully preserved houses from the early 20th century and marvel at their timeless beauty. Bungalow Heaven has even been listed in the National Register of Historic Places, making it one of America’s most captivating destinations.

See the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

Explore the magnificent Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in Pasadena, California. This popular tourist attraction and educational institution is surrounded by 120 acres of stunning gardens.

It is one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive libraries, art museums, and botanical gardens. Visitors can wander through themed gardens, immerse themselves in the impressive art collection at the museum, or delve into a vast array of literature at the library.

Enjoy a day immersed in culture and nature at this remarkable destination.

Stroll through Old Pasadena

Experience the charm of Old Pasadena as you take a leisurely stroll through this historic area. Spanning 9.2 acres in Central Park, Old Pasadena is home to a range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy.

Delve into the rich history of the area at the 1898 Nationally Registered Historic Monument, or explore one of the many museums located here. Admire the picturesque architecture, browse through unique shops, and savor delicious cuisine at local eateries.

With its blend of old-world charm and modern amenities, strolling through Old Pasadena is a must-do activity that allows you to soak up the beauty and ambiance of this delightful town.

Stay at the Langham Huntington Pasadena

The Langham Huntington, Pasadena is a luxurious 5-star hotel with over 100 years of history. Located in the Oak Knoll neighborhood near Caltech, this hotel offers top-notch services and amenities to make your stay unforgettable.

From the Chuan Spa to the outdoor heated pool, there are plenty of opportunities for relaxation and rejuvenation. Indulge in fine dining at The Royce restaurant or take a stroll through the beautiful grounds surrounding the hotel.

Whether you’re here for business or pleasure, staying at the Langham Huntington, Pasadena will ensure a memorable experience during your visit to Los Angeles.

Admire the architecture of the Gamble House

The Gamble House in Pasadena is a must-see for architecture enthusiasts. Designed by the renowned architects Greene & Greene, this house is famous for its impressive design and unique elements.

One notable feature is the incorporation of the family crest into the overall structure. Considered a masterpiece of American Craftsman architecture, this house has gained international recognition.

It has even been featured in films like “Back to the Future.” When visiting Pasadena, make sure to admire the stunning architecture of the Gamble House.

Hike the Eaton Canyon Trail

The Eaton Canyon Trail in Pasadena, California is a must-do for outdoor enthusiasts. This popular hiking trail stretches for less than 4 miles and offers a relatively easy experience, making it accessible to hikers of all skill levels.

The highlight of the trail is undoubtedly the stunning Eaton Canyon Falls, a magnificent 40-foot waterfall that will take your breath away. As you hike along the trail, you’ll be surrounded by picturesque oak forests and riparian woodlands, providing a truly beautiful natural backdrop.

Just keep in mind that the trail can get crowded on weekends due to its popularity. So lace up your boots and get ready to explore this LA classic!

Visit Descanso Gardens

Descanso Gardens is a must-visit when exploring Pasadena. Located just 20 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, this urban retreat offers a peaceful oasis of cultivated gardens and natural landscapes.

With nine botanical collections, including green forests, vibrant flower displays, and tranquil lakes, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Take your time to explore the unexpected garden treasures and be sure to check out the miniature railroad, house museum, modern art gallery, cafe, and gift shop that are also on-site.

Descanso Gardens truly offers a diverse array of landscapes that will leave you feeling refreshed and inspired.

See a show at the Rose Bowl Stadium.

The iconic Rose Bowl Stadium is a must-visit attraction in Pasadena, California. Not only is it known for hosting exciting football games, but it’s also a fantastic venue to catch a show or event.

Whether you’re into concerts, live performances, or even special events like the famous Rose Bowl Flea Market, there’s always something happening at the stadium. The historic and grand atmosphere of the venue adds an extra level of excitement to any experience.

So make sure to check out what’s on during your visit to Pasadena and don’t miss the opportunity to see a memorable show at the Rose Bowl Stadium.

Conclusion

From exploring historic sites like the Gamble House and Pasadena City Hall to immersing yourself in art at the Norton Simon Museum, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city.

Whether you’re a sports fan looking to catch a game at the Rose Bowl Stadium or a science enthusiast wanting to tour the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena has it all.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some of the best things to do in Pasadena?

Some of the best things to do in Pasadena include visiting museums like Pasadena Museum or Kidspace Children’s Museum, going for a drink in different spots around town, and exploring historic architecture like designs by Charles and Henry Greene.

What events occur at the Rose Bowl Stadium?

The Rose Bowl Stadium hosts a variety of special events including the famous Rose Bowl Game featuring UCLA Bruins; it also hosted World Cup final and Tournament of Roses Parade.

Are there places for kids to enjoy in Pasadena?

Absolutely! Kids will have plenty of fun at Kidspace Children’s Museum with its contemporary and traditional exhibits, as well as taking part in outdoor activities held every second Sunday of each month.

Can tourists find art installations around Pasadena?

Yes, tourist attractions such as the Asian Art section in the Pasadena Museum showcase a mix of paintings and sculptures attracting visitors globally.

Where can I encounter historic architecture In Pasadena?

You’ll discover significant architectural gems from Arts And Crafts Movement including works by Charles And Henry Greene throughout your journey across this leafy location.

Does any significant sports history surround Pasadena?

Most certainly! The home stadium here namely “Rose Bowl” has seen historical athletic battles notably those involving UCLA Bruins football team.

What are some of the best attractions in Pasadena?

Pasadena is known for a wide variety of attractions, including the Rose Bowl, the Pasadena Museum, and Old Town Pasadena. Around the stadium, you’ll find plenty of old-town charm and wide variety of outdoor activities. These are surely 3 of the 15 best things to visit in the city.

What is the attraction of Tournament of Roses?

The Tournament of Roses, also known as the Rose Bowl, is home to the UCLA Bruins and the famous College Football championship game held every year on the first Sunday of the month in January. This makes Pasadena a must-visit spot to enjoy college football. Also, the Rose Parade that precedes the game offers some reasons to visit in 2023.

What are some attractions in the Old Town Pasadena?

Old Town Pasadena is a bustling area full of shops, cafes, and historic buildings. Popular spots include the Del Mar Train Station and the many store furnishing some unique items including fashion, books, arts, spices, and much more. It’s definitely worth a visit.

What can I drink in Pasadena’s Old Town?

The Old Town is also known for having some of the best places to enjoy a drink in Pasadena. You’ll find plenty of bars and restaurants that offer a variety of beverages, making it the perfect spot to enjoy a drink in Pasadena.

What unique attractions in Pasadena I shouldn’t miss?

Pasadena is home to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where you can visit the Space Flight Operations Facility and the Spacecraft Assembly Facility, both only about 10 miles from downtown. It’s a unique experience you’ll want to make sure to include in your visits.

Are there any gardens to explore in Pasadena?

Yes, Pasadena hosts the Huntington Library and Gardens, which boasts 16 themed gardens spread out over 120 acres. It’s a peaceful spot to enjoy an afternoon.

Where can I enjoy art in Pasadena?

The Pasadena Museum of History contains a wealth of local art and history. Or you can visit the Norton Simon Museum for works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and the only Gutenberg Bible on the West Coast. Both museums are definitely worth a visit when exploring the best places of Pasadena.

Is Old Town Pasadena safe for tourists?

Yes, the Old Town Pasadena district is considered a safe area for tourists, with the commercial and pedestrian friendly Del Mar district providing a secure and pleasant atmosphere.

What are some other attractions in Pasadena apart from Old Town?

The Gamble House, the Pacific Asia Museum, and the Kidspace Children’s Museum are other excellent spots. From architectural beauty to Asian art and kid-friendly exhibitions, these attractions add to the variety of awesome things to do in this great city.