Located 10 miles North of Downtown LA in Southern California’s scenic San Gabriel Valley, Pasadena is a historic city full of charm. While it is miles from the ocean, Pasadena has the feel of a resort town, with plenty of boutiques, art galleries, gardens, and a blossoming food scene to explore in the city’s eclectic old town district. While Pasadena is famous for its Rose Bowl stadium, it has far more to offer to residents and visitors alike who crave a small-town feel alongside the comforts of a vibrant city.
Incorporated in 1886 as one of the first cities in Los Angeles County, Pasadena is rich in history—and it shows. Between its development boom in the 1880s and the early 1940s, Pasadena increased exponentially in popularity, mostly thanks to its addition as a stop on the Santa Fe Railway. Once accessible, it became a popular destination for wealthy Easterners looking to escape the winter cold, which led to new residential and business development, including grand estates and great hotels.
Many of the classic American Craftsman homes built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries still stand today, including Bungalow Heaven, a neighborhood of 800 small Craftsman homes built in the early 1900s. Pasadena’s estate areas are known for their large lots, curb appeal, stunning architecture, and range in style from Craftsman to Spanish villa to colonial.
What to Love
Modern city amenities
Refined real estate expressive of Pasadena’s past
Growing cultural scene
People & Lifestyle
With many historic homes, large properties, and upmarket real estate, Pasadena attracts affluent residents who crave a small-town feel while also staying close to city amenities. It appeals to young families who need more space than other areas of LA can offer, as well as to more established residents that enjoy a more relaxed and suburban lifestyle.
A number of Hollywood A-listers have begun to flock to Pasadena thanks to its ritzier real estate, the increased privacy it offers, and easy access to Burbank’s studios. Pasadena is also home to a number of high-profile intellectuals, notably employees and executives at NASA’s nearby Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Its location at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains make Pasadena a haven for those looking to enjoy the great outdoors and Southern California’s seemingly endless summer. A big part of Pasadena’s lifestyle is spending time outside, taking advantage of the many hiking trails nearby, strolling the streets of Old Town, spending time at the numerous parks and green spaces, and searching for unique finds at the Rose Bowl Flea Market.
Dining, Entertainment & Shopping
While Pasadena has a small-town feel, it has a vibrant retail scene offering a mix of shops and restaurants for every taste. In Old Town Pasadena, you’ll find a walkable business district with over 300 unique boutiques and restaurants housed in historic buildings—including a number of locally-owned small businesses—within a 22 block radius. Along Colorado Ave there is a healthy mix of popular national stores and only-in-Pasadena offerings, such as Gold Bug for unique jewelry, Homage for gifts, Finn + Willow for apparel, and Place Vendome for jewelry finds.
Pasadena’s desirable location and pleasant weather allows for ample farm-to-table dining. Local favourites include “California Italian” restaurant Union, Parkway Grill, a classic American eatery, and El Portal, which serves Yucatán-style dishes in a charming courtyard setting. Pasadena also has a great coffee shop scene, where you can enjoy an upscale cup of joe while working, catching up with friends, or fueling up for the day. Try Copa Vida in Old Pasadena, Jones Coffee Roasters a few blocks South, or Intelligentsia, the largest popular roastery in Los Angeles.
For those interested in nightlife, Old Pasadena has a number of trendy bars that serve craft cocktails without the crowds of popular spots in LA, such as The Blind Donkey, Foothill, Magnolia House and 1886 Bar at the Raymond, a speakeasy style bar within Raymond restaurant that offers craft cocktails. Pasadena also has three movie theaters, including the upscale iPic theater for families or couples looking to escape the heat or catch up on the latest releases.
Things to Do
One of Pasadena’s most famous attractions is the Rose Bowl, which is home to UCLA’s Bruins football team as well as the annual Rose Bowl Game. Once a month, the stadium’s parking lot also plays host to one of the largest and well-known flea markets—the Rose Bowl Flea Market, where people come from near and far to peruse thousands of booths full of antiques, vintage clothing, local art, and specialty products.
The stunning Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in nearby San Marino attracts locals and tourists alike year-round. The expansive grounds has something for everyone—featuring lush gardens, galleries filled with rare art and books, and plenty of space to walk and relax. Many locals spend their free time and weekends walking around Old Pasadena, visiting one of the city’s museums—like the Norton Simon Museum or the Pacific Asia Museum—or going to Brookside Park. Pasadena also has a rich arts scene and free cultural attractions, including the Armory Center for the Arts and several annual art events throughout the city such as Artnigh, Artwalk, Jackalope Art Fair.
The Pasadena Unified School District is home to a number of great public and private schools. You can read about Pasadena schools more in depth here.
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