A Local's Guide on Things to Do in Pasadena

A Local's Guide on Things to Do in Pasadena

Sporting stunning architecture and Old Hollywood vibes, Pasadena is a cultural hotspot just ten miles outside of Los Angeles. Living in Pasadena is a lesson in beauty, from the lush landscaping and towering palm trees to the candy-colored sunsets and elegant art museums. This historic town was founded in 1874; much of the original 19th-century style remains. With all the things to do in Pasadena, the city makes for an ideal staycation. Read on to discover the best this vibrant city has to offer.


Architecture takes center stage in Pasadena, and you can find historic buildings on every block. Whether you are in the mood for an evening stroll down the leafy neighborhood streets or fancy a tour of historical landmarks, these top architectural sights are must-see Pasadena locations. 

Old Pasadena

1 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA

Old Pasadena, known locally as Old Town or simply Old Pas, is a charming district of winding streets, stylish bistros, and adorable boutiques. Trees adorned with string lights canopy Green Street, home to upscale shops and a superb collection of restaurants. 

One Colorado

41 Bonham Aly, Pasadena, CA

Among the lovely 19th-century buildings in Old Pasadena, you will find One Colorado, a sophisticated shopping spot full of charming vintage buildings and modern style. Nestled in the heart of the city, One Colorado boasts an incredible array of bistros, boutiques, and community events.

Pasadena City Hall

100 Garfield Ave, Pasadena, CA

Even government offices are stylish in Pasadena. Pasadena City Hall, home to offices for city government officials, is an iconic town landmark and perhaps the crown jewel of Pasadena’s architecture scene. Completed in 1927, the storied dome was designed in Pasadena’s Golden Age, where ornate styles and grandeur were the order of the day. This beautiful spot is often the backdrop for private events and filming. It can be busy on the weekends, but you can peacefully wander the spectacular courtyard and wide domed hallways during the week. The Beaux Arts style and attention to detail are remarkable, and this is a must-see for anyone with a passion for architecture and design. 

Plaza Las Fuentes

135 N Los Robles Ave, Pasadena, CA

Across from City Hall is the whimsical Plaza Las Fuentes. Translating to Plaza of Fountains, this delightful outdoor space is aptly named. Spanning six acres, the plaza features an eclectic array of fountains, intricate tile work, and beautifully landscaped lawns and gardens. This is the perfect place for an afternoon picnic, and residents can often be found relaxing by the little pools or wandering through the garden. 

The Gamble House

4 Westmoreland Pl, Pasadena, CA 

Featuring an American Craftsman architectural style, the Gamble House was designed by Charles and Henry Greene, brothers and architects of the Craftsman school. Guests are welcome to visit and will receive a one-hour tour of the residence. This house may be familiar to film buffs — it appears in Back to the Future as Doc Brown’s house.  

Museums and entertainment

Considering Tinsel Town is just minutes away, there is no wonder Pasadena has a dash of drama and a bevy of artistic and cultural venues. Performing arts, history, and art take center stage in this creative town and rank as favorite Pasadena activities. 

Pasadena Playhouse

39 S El Molino Ave, Pasadena, CA

The historic Pasadena Playhouse has been entertaining Pasadena residents since 1917 and continues to draw loyal audiences and world-class talent. Seating almost 700, this charming spot shines with luxe, old-world glamour, and Spanish Revival beauty. Guests are invited to take tours of the playhouse by day and watch performances of drama, musicals, and experimental and comedic shows by night.

Pasadena Museum of History

470 W Walnut St, Pasadena, CA

The Pasadena Museum of History is dedicated to honoring, preserving, and sharing the town’s history, culture, and art. This research library and museum feature tours, lectures, programs, and fascinating exhibitions showcasing Pasadena’s past.

The outdoors

Pasadena’s beautiful landscape and perfect weather make this an idyllic spot for enjoying the great outdoors. From gardens to hiking, Pasadena has plenty of opportunities to get out in the fresh air and warm California sunshine. 

The Huntington Library Botanical Gardens

1151 Oxford Rd, San Marino, CA 

The Huntington Library is legendary. This research library and art museum boast an impressive garden with 16 separate displays of flora. The immaculately maintained landscape is breathtaking and spans 130 acres containing over 83,000 plants. Guests will find themed gardens, like the Chinese Garden, complete with a lake, pavilions, and a tea shop. The Desert Garden contains over 5,000 desert plants, and the Jungle Garden is a lush oasis of tropical beauty. The Japanese garden is one of the Library’s most beloved landscapes and features a Zen garden, tea garden, moon bridge, and Japanese house. 

Eaton Canyon Trail

1750 N Altadena Dr, Pasadena, CA

Hiking in Pasadena is a joy, as the weather is balmy and sunny. One top-rated destination for Pasadena hikers is the Eaton Canyon Natural Area. This easy trail covers three and a half miles of scenic vistas and protected natural habitats. Dogs are allowed on the trail, and the magical waterfall at the trail's end is a delightful reward for your efforts. 

The Rose Bowl Flea Market

The Rose Bowl Flea Market is a Pasadena tradition. This massive outdoor market attracts everyone from longtime Pasadena residents to design stars and celebrities. The second Sunday of each month belongs to this iconic market, where attendees hunt for antique furniture, vintage clothing, specialty items, and unique decor. You may see a few HGTV faces or Instagram influencers here, as this is one of the hottest spots in the city for interior design treasures and vintage finds. 

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