Tucked away in the northeastern part of Los Angeles County, Pasadena is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. Renowned for hosting the annual Tournament of Roses Parade and the Rose Bowl Game, Pasadena has more to offer than just sports and festivities. Its lively downtown, scenic palm tree avenues, and European-style cuisine make it an irresistible destination for travelers seeking an authentic Californian experience.
In this article, we want to show you what makes Pasadena so special and why we loved visiting the charming of Pasadena.
1. Lots of Cali Vibes: California-Style Downtown
Pasadena's downtown is the city's heart and embodies everything you'd expect from a lively Californian downtown, situated on the old historic Route 66. It's a vibrant hub of shops, boutiques, and cafes that cater to all interests and tastes. One of the standout features of the downtown is Old Pasadena, a chic and artsy neighborhood with an array of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. With plenty of nightlife options, historic architecture, and artistic scenery spread throughout, Pasadena's downtown is a must-visit spot for anyone traveling to the area.
2. Tons of European-Style Restaurants
Pasadena is home to some of the best restaurants in Los Angeles, and many of them exude a European feel, transporting you across the Atlantic to a charming village in the heart of Europe. Whether you're looking for Italian, French, or Spanish cuisine, Pasadena has it all. Don't miss out on trying a typical American restaurant with a European tough served at Agnes Restaurant & Cheesery (top left picture), Mediterranean flavors at Cafe Santorini (top right photo), or trying wines and tasty Charcuterie boards at We Olive & Wine Bar.
If you are searching for unique flavors, we highly recommend the Nepalese restaurant Tibet Nepal House Restaurant, traditional Ramen at Ramen Tatsunoya, or Venezuelan cuisine at Venezuelan Chamo Cuisine.
3. Historic Buildings & Charming Book Stores
Pasadena is also home to treasure troves of historic buildings that add character and charm to its city. From the iconic Pasadena City Hall, with its stunning Mediterranean architecture, to the enchanting Gamble House, these landmarks offer a glimpse into the city's rich past.
For book lovers and enthusiastic shoppers, Pasadena is a paradise. Its bookstores, like Vroman's Bookstore, one of the oldest independent bookshops in Southern California, invite endless shelves of literature. Beyond books, the city is adorned with beautiful boutiques and stores, each one a unique gem offering everything from exquisite clothing to handcrafted treasures, making Pasadena a haven for those seeking retail therapy amid picturesque surroundings.
Vroman's Bookstore - great bookstore with a variety of different books and gifts
Alexandria II - metaphysical store with crystals, tarot cards, incense, oils and more
4. Rose Bowl Flea Market
If you're a flea market fanatic, you can't miss the Rose Bowl Flea Market, one of the biggest flea markets in the United States. The flea market takes place on the second Sunday of every month and attracts hundreds of vendors from all over the country, selling antiques, vintage clothing, jewelry, and much more. Even if you're not typically a fan of flea markets, the Rose Bowl Flea Market is an experience worth having. It's an excellent place to find unique treasures and meet new people while soaking in the fun and friendly Californian vibes.
Prior to leaving California for our South America backpacking trip, Jake and I sold about 90% of our belongings at the Rose Bowl Flea Market.
5. Palm Tree Alleys and Californian Vibes
No trip to Pasadena is complete without experiencing the breathtaking palm tree-lined avenues that the city offers. The palm trees that stretch towards the sky create a perfect visual ambiance that's enhanced by the consistently sunny, warm weather prevalent throughout Pasadena. With an array of outdoor activities available, including hiking and biking in the nearby San Gabriel Mountains and visiting the Pasadena Nature Park, visitors can fully immerse themselves in the Californian lifestyle.
Pasadena is an understated destination located within the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles County. With its lively downtown, rich history and heritage, trendy restaurants, and beautiful nature, Pasadena has something for everyone. If you love a balance of culture, adventure, and relaxation, Pasadena is a location that you just can't miss. Its perfect blend of California living and European charm creates a unique ambiance that's hard to resist. So when planning your next trip to Los Angeles, make sure to pay a visit to Pasadena and discover why it's one of Southern California's most captivating destinations.
Have you been to Pasadena, California? What were your favorite things to do and see in this charming city? Let us know in the comments below!