Top 10 Things to Do in Pasadena, CA


I grew up in Pasadena, CA and it is an incredible city…just as long as you don’t spend it all in the Department of Motor Vehicles as I did today. 

Here are my insider’s guide to rocking your world when in Pasadena.

  1. Walk Old Town Pasadena – When I was growing up in Pasadena, Old Town was just the old part of town.  Now it is the Westwood of the 80’s and the Bevery Hills of the San Gabriel Valley.  Great place to visit at night with a special someone and to people watch.  People come from all over to take the walk.
  2. Watch the Rose Parade, Live – Millions of people watch the New Year’s parade on TV but nothing matches watching it live.  I grew up four blocks from the parade route so we used to have lots of company and menudo on New Year’s Eve.  We actually got seats for the ’07 parade and it was much more comfortable than standing on a ladder.
  3. Watch a game/event at the Rose Bowl – the Rose Bowl is a majestic and historic stadium.  The Rose Bowl has hosted some of the most exciting college and professional games in history.  We used to have our homecoming games there against our rivals and I had a chance to be on the field for a game (I was well-respected manager/water boy/trainer).
  4. Visit Jet Propulsion Laboratory– Take a tour of JPL (which I believe is technically in La Canada) and see some of the smartest people in the world walking the campus.  Visit the Wizard behind Mars Phoenix (I figure he/she probably works there).  I had the pleasure of working there for two summers as a lab assistant.  I was friends with they guy who invented the polymer roller skate wheel.
  5. Experience the Arboretum (Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden) – This is actually in Arcadia but it’s just a stone’s throw away from Pasadena’s Eastern border.  The Arboretum is beautiful and huge.  We used to take field trips there all the time.
  6. Visit the Art Center College of Design – If you’re into any kind of design, the Art Center is the mecca of cool.  Check out its student work and see the future of design – from paintings to future cars.  No cameras are allowed.
  7. Eat at Tops Burger – this is a personal favorite activity and I had the chance to eat there today.  They make the best burger in the San Gabriel Valley and I usually get the Tops Special.
  8. The Huntington Library and Japanese Garden – Visually stunning locale.  Lots of wedding parties go here to take pictures.  The library has a rich assortment of books including an entire Gutenberg Bible.
  9. Hike in Eaton Canyon – This was one of my favorite activities as a kid.  I’d jog the two miles to get there then go down to the stream then turn around and job back home. Take plenty of water if you go in hot weather.
  10. Walk through the Norton Simon Museum.  They have incredible works of art including works from Picasso, Diego Rivera, and Paul Klee.  The last time I visited, I only made it through half the museum.  It is deceptively large.

Hope you visit Pasadena, enjoy it, and tell a friend.