Pasadena , the City of Roses, is most famous for its New Year's Day Rose Parade and Rose Bowl football game. The number of people in the city balloons every year after Christmas as visitors come from all over to decorate and view the floats, as well as to attend arguably the most famous college football bowl game of the year.
Pasadena has become the most exciting place for night life in the San Gabriel Valley. With a vibrant Old Towne in the western section, chic shopping and dining on South Lake and abundant services in the eastern area, Pasadena is really the place to be!
Pasadena also boasts the California Institute of Technology which is known for its Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Downtown Pasadena is a cultural mecca with museums, theater houses, and movie theaters playing independent films.
Most visitors to Pasadena will also not want to miss the nearby Huntington Library with its large art collection but more famous for its 150 acres of botanical gardens used as a backdrop for many Hollywood films.
There are a couple of ways to get to Pasadena from the LAX airport, other than a taxi, which costs around $80.
Supershuttle and Primetime are shared-ride vans which serve the Pasadena area from LAX. Stand under the orange "shared ride vans" sign in the center concrete island outside the airport. Tell a customer service representative that you need a ride to Pasadena. They are easy to identify by their blue jackets (Supershuttle) or red jackets (Primetime). If no representative is available, then flag down a blue van (Supershuttle) or red van (Primetime) with a "Pasadena" placard in the windshield. Approximate cost is $25 per person. Approximate time to Pasadena is 1 hour.
The cheapest method to get to Pasadena from LAX is to use the Metro. Do not use this method if you have many bags to carry or if you do not want to walk long distances. Stand under the green "FlyAway, Buses and Long-Distance Vans" sign in the center concrete island outside the airport. Board a blue FlyAway bus heading to Union Station, $4 one-way (a 45-minute trip). It is a large charter-style bus, and is occasionally not labeled. FlyAway buses operate every half hour, 24 hours a day. Next, walk behind the ticket counter, and proceed down the stairs. Follow the path and enter Union Station on the left. Walk to the Metro Gold Line (yellow signs) which is located at track 1 in Union Station. Inside the track 1 terminal is an automated kiosk for purchasing tickets. Buy a one-way ticket and insert $1.25. Consider a day pass if you will be traveling by Metro again in the same day. Proceed up the stairs to the trains. All trains on this track travel to Pasadena, however be sure not to board an Express train during rush hour because there are limited stops. The Gold Line stops in Pasadena at Fillmore, Del Mar, Memorial Park, Lake, Allen, and Sierra Madre Villa stations. Total cost is $5.25. The travel time is as little as 1 hour and 15 min to as long as 2 and a half hours. *The Gold line does not operate between the hours of 11:52pm and 3:45am.
Pasadena is less than a half hour away from Downtown L.A. via the light rail Metro Gold Line. Three of the stops (Fillmore, Del Mar, Memorial Park) are along the Arroyo Seco Parkway, and the other three (Lake, Allen, Sierra Madre Villa) are in the median of Interstate 210.
Please note that travelling by light rail between Pasadena and LAX will take approximately two hours and requires getting on a FlyAway bus between LAX and Union Station, then travelling on the Gold line.
Greyhound Lines  serves Pasadena at 645 E. Walnut Street.
From Downtown L.A. or other southern cities take the 110 freeway north until it ends. The 110 freeway ends at the south end of Pasadena. From the east and west Pasadena can be reached via Interstate 210. California Highway 134 East is the most direct way from Glendale and Burbank.
The Metro Gold Line  serves the Arroyo Seco Parkway, Old Town Pasadena, and East Pasadena. While convenient, buses may be required to reach more distant destinations.
Pasadena is primarily served by the county-wide Metro  and the local Pasadena ARTS  network. Additional (mostly commuter) service is available from Foothill Transit , Montebello Bus Lines , and LADOT .
Pasadena as a whole is large enough to require use of a car or public transit, but major shopping and entertainment areas like Old Town Pasadena and South Lake Avenue are easily walkable.
- Old Town Pasadena , a popular area home to many small shops and restaurants along a recently renovated stretch of Colorado Blvd (between Pasadena Ave and Arroyo parkway) and its adjoining streets, which can get crowded on weekends. This is a great place for young people, with many clubs and a great vibe! Get off the Gold Line at Memorial Park and walk south to Colorado.
- Paseo Colorado  is a fun, outdoor shopping area about a block east of Old Town on Colorado near Pasadena's Civic Center. This outdoor mall is great on warm evenings and a great place to eat and catch a movie.
- The Huntington Library , Art collections, research, and 150 acres of botanical gardens make this a popular stop in the nearby city of San Marino. Free admission on first Thursday of the month. Adult admission $15. (626) 405-2100
- Pacific Asia Museum , Hosts a permanent collection of some 14,000 pieces of Asian art along with temporary exhibits. Admission is $7. Operates daily until 5pm with extended hours on Fridays. Bargain hunters can get in for free the fourth Friday of each month. (626) 499-2742. Make sure you try the authentic gelato  in the garden.
- The Gamble House , this National Historical Landmark is an example of American Arts and Crafts style architecture designed by Charles and Henry Greene in 1908. Admission $10, students & seniors $7. (626) 793-3334
- Pasadena Museum of California Art , Open Wed-Sat until 5 pm. Admission is $6 with the first Friday of the month being their free day. (626) 568-3665
- Pasadena Museum of History , Hours vary for exhibits and a Fenyes Mansion available for tour. A library containing a large collection of documents is also open for researchers. Fee varies from $5-$7 depending on what you wish to see. (626) 577-1660
- Norton Simon Museum , hosts a private collection of art from various places and times. Open until 5pm with extended hours on Friday. Free admission on the first Friday of the month. Free admission for all patrons with a valid student I.D. Adults $8.00. (626) 449-6840
- California Institute of Technology , this world-wide known science institution is worth taking a morning of your visit: interesting architectures, laid back atmosphere and colours displayed by ever-lasting blooming flora. Free entrance, facilities, restaurant, bookshop.
- Jet Propulsion Laboratory  has an open house (see space craft being worked on in the clean rooms!) on a Saturday and Sunday in May.
Visitors around the New Year will most likely want to see the Tournament of Roses Parade. The parade moves along a five and one half mile course west to east through the center of the city, principally along Colorado Blvd. The easiest way to get a view of the parade is to buy tickets to bleachers setup along the route. For the budget viewer, "front row" space has to be found well in advance. Many parade viewers arrive the night before with blankets or sleeping bags to secure their seat for the parade. There is a general party the night before with everyone sleeping out to reserve their seats. If you go to the beginning of the parade at about 2:00 a.m. on the morning of the parade, you can see the floats up-close as they stage themselves on South Orange Grove Blvd.; it will likely be quite cold, so dress warmly. If you want to see the parade and don't want to pay for a seat or arrive the night before, then you will want to bring something to stand on or head for the stretches of Colorado, east of Allen Ave. Keep in mind that the parade start time is for the beginning of the route, and that it takes a couple hours for the first floats to reach the end of the route. So if you wake up late, head for the end of the route on Sierra Madre Blvd. BE AWARE that it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to cross the city north/south after midnight the night before the parade, until about 2:00 p.m. the day of the parade. Also, many people cruise the night-before party on Colorado, but don't be surprised by an errant water balloon or a stream of silly-string.
If you don't want to deal with the dense crowds at the parade, head to the intersection of Sierra Madre Blvd and Washington Blvd the day after, where the Floats are parked for a couple days. There is an admission charge of $7, but once inside, you can walk right up to the floats, and take your time to examine the detailed flower work.
Visitors and locals can volunteer to decorate a float. The floats begin to be assembled in early to mid December and decorated with flowers right until the parade. Although the work is detailed and repetitive, it is incredibly fun and exciting to know that you glued the thousands of poppy seeds that became a shadow on a giant leaf. There is a sense of camaraderie amongst the volunteers, and you get to climb on and decorate actual floats. Children under 16 are not allowed, but if you have older kids, this is an excellent family activity. You work in four hour shifts, and volunteers are fed out of a chow wagon for free. For a list of float companies and independent float volunteer opportunities, visit: http://www.tournamentofroses.com/events/floatdecorating.asp
A quirky alternative to the Tournament of Roses Parade is the Doo Dah Parade (http://www.pasadenadoodahparade.info), held in late-November of every year. People dress-up in costume, assemble a group (such as the The Brief Case Drill Team) and generally act silly.
Pasadena's Rose Bowl Stadium is home of the UCLA football team, the New Year's Day Rose Bowl game, and various special events. The stadium holds approximately 100,000 people and consists of a single level. If you get a seat more than half way up, you will need to not be afraid of heights and bring binoculars. Tickets for the Rose Bowl game start at $125.
Old Town Pasadena and the Playhouse district have a number of theater and movie houses and are a good place to see some of the latest independent or foreign films.
The San Gabriel mountains above Pasadena offer some excellent hiking opportunities. Of specific interest are some of the hikes along along the abandoned Mount Lowe Railway in the Angeles National Forest. You can pass such places as the site of the White City, Echo Mountain, the site of an old observatory, and Inspiration Point. Start at the northern end of Lake Avenue.
Go for a swim year-round at the Pasadena Aquatics Center .
Skate at the Pasadena Ice Skating Center . The rink is actually the former ballroom of the Pasadena Civic Center and has chandeliers hanging above the ice surface.
- Arroyo Seco Historic Parkway(110 Freeway), (Starts at Colorado Blvd. and Arroyo Seco Parkway and head south to the intersection of CA-110 and CA-101.), . 24 hours. The Arroyo Seco Historic Parkway (110 Freeway) is a National Scenic Byway that runs for 9.4 miles (15.1 km) between Pasadena and Downtown Los Angeles. The Parkway starts at Colorado Blvd., home of the famous Rose Parade, passes through the Arts-and-Crafts style neighborhoods of South Pasadena into China Town, and ends at the 101 Freeway amongst the skyscrapers of Downtown Los Angeles.Free.
- Neomeze, 20 E Colorado Blvd, ☎ 626.793.3010, . This hip restaurant and lounge in Old Town offers interesting meze (Mediterranean small plates made for sharing), an extensive wine list and imaginative cocktails. Live music and entertainment offered in the lounge nightly. Happy Hour deals include half-off all cocktails as well as an inexpensive food menu. The sleekly designed lounge even has a retractable roof for those hot summer nights. Great for romantic dates or large groups. Private dining room available.
- *Mijares Mexican Restaurant, 145 Palmetto Drive - Palmetto and Pasadena Avenue, ☎ 626-792-2763, . Pasadena's oldest restaurant is it's best kept secret! A local favorite, this restaurant and bar serves delicious mexican cuisine in a delightful, family-style setting.
- Fred's Mexican Cafe,119 E. Colorado Blvd ~ In the heart of Old Pasadena, Fred's serves the Freshest Mexican Food and the best Margaritas north of Tijuana! Fred's is open daily at 11am closing at 2am. The kitchen stays open every day til midnight! 626-304-9955.
- Orean's: The Health Express, 817 N. Lake Avenue (north of the 210 Freeway). 626-794-0861. Vegetarian/vegan fast food, yummy. A bit on the pricy side for fast food -- about for a five dollars per person.
- All India Cafe, 39 S. Fair Oaks Ave., just south of Colorado Blvd. in Old Pasadena. Good Indian food.
- Marston's, 151 E. Walnut St., between Fair Oaks and Marengo. GREAT breakfasts in a converted old home. Come early because the crowds start to build up on weekends in the late morning. Esepcially recommended is the corn flake encrusted french toast.
- Kabuki, 88 W. Colorado Blvd. in Old Pasadena and 3539 E. Foothill Blvd. in Hastings Ranch. Popular Japanese food chain, moderately priced.
- Kansai, 36 S Fair Oaks Ave. 626-564-1560. Japanese udon and soba noodles, and highly recommended.
- The Hat, Lake & Villa, 626-449-1844. Pastrami sandwiches, chili fries, Orange Bang, and other stuff that's bad for you but so good. 
- In-N-Out Burger, 2114 E. Foothill Blvd., with many more locations throughout Southern California. The best burgers in the country. Well worth the lines and the wait.
- Cafe Verde, 961 E. Green St., A gem worth hiding from the world but karma would kick in. This intimate shoebox sized restaurant packs a wallop taste in every bite. A fusion of California style cuisine with strong Latin influences is a delight to the senses. Too much to describe here, just click the link, read THE professional review, and I'm sure I'll see you there sometime.
- Bulgarini Gelato, Perhaps the best kept "sweets" secret of the region. This may well be the most authentic gelato I have come across in my domestic travels. Only a trip to Rome would surpass the experience. A startup family business currently nestled in a few boutique locations (Pasadena's Pacific Asian Museum  & Laemmle Theater ), Bulgarini Gelato is poised to grow with each tasting. Don't mind the gruff server/owner, he's authentically Italian!
- Fu Shing Restaurant , 2960 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, 626-570-0725. Amazing Chinese food; Try the Sweet and Pungent Shrimp!
- La Nueva Posada 2835 E Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91107-3463. Great Mexican food. Try the margaritas and say hello to the always-smiling Peter! This is a family-owned business and they really care about their customers.
- Trader Joe's is a small local grocery chain (maybe 300 stores total nationwide) where virtually everything you get there is delicious and fresh. And cheap!
Pasadena has a wide range of hotels to accommodate all budgets. The pricier hotels tend to cluster around Old Town and downtown Pasadena, which provide ready access to shops, restaurants, and entertainment. Pasadena also has a strip of motels and other budget hotels in the eastern part of the city along Colorado Boulevard, presumably to accommodate Rose Parade/Rose Bowl visitors, which are farther from most of the attractions in town.
- Camerons Seafood, 1978 East Colorado Blvd(2 blocks east of allen ave east pasadena), ☎ 626-793-3474. Voted Pasadenas Best Seafood Restaurant, for 24 straight years. Mesquite grilled fresh seafood daily, steaks and chicken, wonderful cheers style bar, lots of free onsite parking, handicap accessable, sunday brunch, 7 days lunch and dinner happy hour, great food est 1984. Camerons is on the famous rose parade route. Established in 1984 Camerons brings the ocean to you with over 30 different fresh seafood daily, grilled, or try the fmaous macadamia nut halibut, or some parmesan crusted sole. Awsome New England Clam chowder, made fresh daily as well as our manhattan clam chowder. Fresh Blue point oysters from the Chesapeake bay, or some Hawaiian Ahi. Camerons has it all plus private dining and meeting rooms for that special event.
- Best Western Colorado Inn, 2156 E Colorado Blvd, +1 626 793-9339, Fax: +1 626 568-2731, .
- Best Western Pasadena Inn, 3570 E Colorado Blvd, +1 626 796-9100, Fax: +1 626 405-9948, .
- Best Western Pasadena Royale, 3600 E Colorado Blvd, +1 626 793-0950, Fax: +1 626 568-2827, .
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, 3500 E. Colorado Blvd, +1 626 792-1363, .
- Kingston Inn and Suites Pasadena, 2156 E. Colorado Blvd, +1 626 793-9449, .
- Courtyard Los Angeles Old Pasadena, 180 North Fair Oaks Ave, +1 626 403-7600, Fax: +1 626 403-7700, . Conveniently located at the northern edge of Old Town and near both Memorial Park and its Gold Line station. Rooms start at $99/night.
- Pasadena Hilton, 168 S. Los Robles Ave, +1 626 403-7600, Fax: +1 626 403-7700 .
- The Westin, 191 North Los Robles Ave, +1 626 577-1000, Fax: +1 626 584-3148, . Within walking distance of Pasadena's Civic Center, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Paseo Colorado.
- Sheraton Pasadena Hotel, 303 E Cordova St, +1 626 449-4000, Fax: +1 626 796-6209, . Near the Pasadena Convention Center and Paseo Colorado.
- The Ritz-Carlton Huntington hotel & Spa, 1401 South Oak Knoll Ave, +1 626 568-3900, Fax: +1 626 568-3700, . Built in 1907 when Pasadena was the prime destination for the affluent traveler, the Huntington is the last resort hotel left in town and is nestled in one of the more pristine residential parts of the town. Well worth the stay if you can afford at least $250/night. You can also go there for a special dinner, or just sit on the veranda with a drink and enjoy the incredible view.
Drive to the northern end of Lake Avenue for a spectacular view of the San Gabriel valley.
During Christmas time, see amazing light displays at: 1) the Balian House at about 2000 N. Allen and 2) Hastings Ranch (go north on Michillinda, about one mile past Sierra Madre Blvd. and make a left -- about a square-mile of residents in the area decorate their properties!).
Enter the Eaton Canyon nature preserve at the intersection of Altadena and New York. Great hiking, and during the spring, a pretty good river to hike next to. Go far enough up and you will get to a waterfall that is well-known to locals.
This page was last edited at 03:48, on 15 March 2009 by San Francisco Girl. Based on work by CL, Steve, Joel Walkley and Stacy Hall, Wikitravel user(s) Akira742 and Morph, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.