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Founded in 1886, Pasadena is the second oldest city in the area, only after Los Angeles. The city became a popular winter resort town for wealthy Easterners after the railroads led there. The area was shaped by Influential people like railroad tycoon Henry Huntington, who established the Huntington Hotel (now the Langham Huntington Pasadena), and the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. Architect brothers Charles and Henry Greene – renowned for their contributions to the American Arts & Crafts movement – built most of the homes in Pasadena’s “Little Switzerland.” Charles See and his mother Mary started See’s Candies from their home in Pasadena; and Julia Child, the famous chef who brought French cuisine to America, was born there.

Festivals & Cultural Activities

Pasadena is a city rich in history and longstanding traditions. Consider traveling during one of the town’s distinct festivals for a quintessential Southern California experience – several of which are free. Winter Festivals include the Tournament of Roses and Live on Green. Spring is for the architecture enthusiasts with three major events: the Spring Home Tour, Pasadena Showcase Home of Design and Bungalow Heaven Home Tours. Summer brings Make Music Pasadena and the Colorado Street Bridge Party. In the fall, don’t miss Craftsman Weekend and Art Night Pasadena.


Pasadena is home to an abundance of renowned cultural institutions, many within walking distance of one another. The Norton Simon Museum is very well known for its collection of famous classical works, but most people don’t know that the museum has an impressive contemporary works in its archives.  The Pasadena Museum of California Art shows more contemporary works with exciting exhibitions like Someday is Now: The Art of Corita Kent. The Huntington shows the private collection of the Huntington family and houses a research institution. And the USC Pacific Asia Museum is a university museum housed in a mansion inspired by the Chinese Qing Dynasty, dedicated to the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands.


Pasadena is chock-full of architectural gems; Frank Lloyd Wright’s La Miniatura is an eight-minute walk from The Gamble House, located in Pasadena’s Little Switzerland (most of the homes there were designed by Greene & Greene). Bungalow Heaven is a landmark district containing 800 small craftsman homes built from 1900 to 1930. At the heart of downtown Pasadena, City Hall, the Civic Auditorium and the Public Library were inspired by the City Beautiful Movement; the Mediterranean Revival buildings anchor Pasadena’s historic Civic Center District.

Shopping, Dining & Entertainment Districts

Downtown Pasadena is made up of three unique districts offering shopping, dining and entertainment. Old Pasadena's brick alleyways are lined with boutiques like Mohawk General Store, Joie and Vince. The Playhouse District is an artsy neighborhood surrounding California's State Theatre, the Pasadena Playhouse. This district is the performing arts hub featuring Boston Court Performing Arts Center, Ice House Comedy Club, as well as coffee shops and wine bars. The South Lake Avenue District is a European-style, tree-lined boulevard where people go to pamper themselves at boutiques like Olive & June, Drybar, SoulCycle and Contessa Chocolate Collection.

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