48 Hours in Pasadena
by Mackenzie Reed Mize & Michelle Maestas Simonsen, Pretty in Pasadena
Welcome to the City of Roses! If you are flying in, Burbank is the airport the locals love! Walk off the plane onto the tarmac, grab your bags, and be on your way in just minutes! From Burbank, you will head towards Pasadena from the 134 highway, and as you enter the city you will glimpse to the south the majestic and historic Colorado Street Bridge (you’ll recognize this beautiful structure from many films and shows-- most recently LaLa Land!) Once you arrive in Pasadena, head straight to The Langham Huntington Hotel. Built in 1907, and reopened as The Huntington Hotel, this beautiful pink palace is nestled among the old tree lined neighborhoods and beautiful homes of this classic neighborhood.
Luckily, Pasadena has no shortage of excellent coffee shops to start your day off. Jones Coffee on Raymond Avenue can’t be missed, as they are a Pasadena staple! Their super laid back coffee shop and local roaster vibe is perfect for sipping a cup of the good stuff and people watching. Sometimes they even have live music! They’ve got all the fancy lattes, mochas, and more, but their coffee is so good, we love to just get a regular drip, or one of their two daily cold brew choices on tap. You may even want to bring a bag of beans home!
As Californians go we love our avocado toast, so head north to Seed Bakery in North Pasadena for one of our favorite versions. This small shop sits on the edge of the historic Bungalow Heaven neighborhood. Here they pile avocado onto fresh baked bread (grab a loaf to take home!) and they always top it with seasonal ingredients including fruit! If you’re like us, you’ll be needing a second coffee right about now, so run down the street to Lavender and Honey for a French lavender breve. This drink is the perfect mix of sweet, strong, and smooth, and the ambiance is so bright and relaxing! You can find us most weekends sitting in the sun soaked window seats, people watching, and chatting with our neighbors!
VINTAGE FINDS PASADENA: ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE & HUNTINGTON COLLECTION
Pasadena is such a treasure trove of architecture and vintage shops, that you never know what you’ll find while shopping! We love Pasadena Architectural Salvage, for totally unique treasures from old homes. Whether you’re looking for some antique door pulls, or the perfect light fixture, this store has it all. Another store that absolutely can’t be missed is the Huntington Collection, and The Annex (both on the same property). The Huntington Collection is such a fun, high end thrift store with crazy great prices. Their vintage clothing section is full of gorgeous clothing, hats and shoes, and the rest of their store has all kinds of trinkets, pottery, glassware, linens, and some absolutely beautiful china sets. The ladies that volunteer their time at the shop are some of the sweetest, and are always happy to chat and tell you a bit more about the pieces that come through. Don’t miss The Annex next door, where you will find all kinds of beautiful, antique furniture and rugs at really reasonable prices. Pasadena has such a rich history of style and architecture along with all of the interesting people (and their belongings) this place is a hidden gem to find a small piece of it for yourself.
THE GAMBLE HOUSE (BUILT BY THE GREENE & GREENE BROS.)
Speaking of antiques, don’t miss a tour of the famous Gamble House. Built in 1908, this National Landmark house was built by famed Pasadena architects Charles and Henry Greene, and is considered an outstanding example of American Arts and Crafts style architecture. (Pretty tip: the carriage house on the property was featured as Doc’s house in Back To the Future!)
All that shopping and touring always makes us hungry, and lunch at Julienne in San Marino (Pasadena’s neighboring city) is an experience in itself. Nestled on a quaint boutique and tree lined street, this restaurant and gourmet food store was established over 30 years ago, and is where you will find fine ladies, families, and shoppers all gathering for a meal. We love to sit outside on their ivy covered patio and sip a glass of chardonnay or iced tea, which we would pair with their Classic Chicken Tarragon Salad Sandwich on Rosemary Currant Bread. Honestly, you can’t find anything less than delicious on this menu! After lunch, explore the market inside, and find incredible homemade frozen foods, foods to go, and home and hostess gifts.
Don’t forget to schedule in a few moments to drive over the Historic Colorado Street Bridge! Crossing the Arroyo Seco, this bridge was built in 1912 and has been the stage for many commercials, television and films. (You may recognize it from 2016’s La La Land)
Back at The Langham, enjoy the beautiful amenities, and relax before dinner. Don’t miss the sunset view from The Taproom bar! Have a craft cocktail on the patio, and take in the views overlooking the gardens of the hotel. It’s one of our favorite places in Pasadena (have you heard our Podcast: “Live from the Langham?!)
You can’t miss dinner at Crossings Restaurant in South Pasadena. Their new chef, Kevin Malone, is bringing local, sustainable and exciting food to this historic building on South Mission Street. We are huge fans of the raw oysters with foam, the mushroom salad with umami puree, the Wagyu Navel, and the Uni Carbonara- fresh pasta with smoked egg yolk, chorizo, and san joaquin gold cheese. The Roasted Banana dessert can’t be missed- it is simple and utterly delicious, along with the Pot De Creme for a little bit of chocolate! Don’t forget amazing wine pairings, excellent service and super cool atmosphere! [The menu is always changing with the season, so new items may be there starting May 8th!]
After dinner, head to the State Theater of California, The Pasadena Playhouse, for an incredible live theater performance. After you take in a show, head to the patio of The Raymond 1886 for a night cap. This quintessential Pasadena spot, this old bungalow is hidden from the busy street of South Fair Oaks Avenue by lush greenery, and is like taking a step back in time. The beautiful dark wood paneling, is comfortable, and the unique craft cocktails are exciting. They also have a great happy hour menu so you could get there early to grab a spot outside on the patio by the big stone hearth, and enjoy a perfect Pasadena evening.
After waking up at The Langham, take some time to simply relax and enjoy the beautiful grounds! When it’s time for the first meal of the day, go straight to Lincoln, for breakfast and coffee. We love their rotating quiche, breakfast sandwiches and pastries. It’s a great little shop where you can find some tasty treats to take along for later as well, also stop into their little gift shop full of unique finds curated by the owner.
If you’re visiting on a Sunday, you can’t miss the Old Pasadena Farmers Market on Holly Street. Stop by and chat with local farmers and vendors, and pick up some delicious local dips, spreads, and produce.
Meet up with Julia Long from Pasadena Walking Tours for another Pretty In Pasadena must do activity! Julia, a Pasadena native and the host of Pasadena Walking Tours, takes visitors and local alike on a historical journey through our city, sharing secrets and stories of the past.
THE HUNTINGTON LIBRARY, ART COLLECTIONS, AND BOTANICAL GARDENS & THE HUNTINGTON'S ROSE GARDEN TEA ROOM
Lunch has got to be afternoon tea at The Huntington's Rose Garden Tea Room. Make a reservation in advance, and set aside a few hours to take it all in! You’ll be getting tickets to go into the garden so make an afternoon of it! Walk through the gardens on your way to the restaurant, which is nestled right in the middle of the beautiful rose garden (it’s namesake!). Enjoy tea sandwiches, sweet and savory pastries, and their signature rose tea while you relax. After lunch, stroll through the library, art collections, and botanical gardens at The Huntington. You will feel like you are a million miles from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles!
Another favorite place of ours is Carmela Ice Cream! This place has such incredible seasonal and one of a kind flavors. We love the Strawberry and Cream flavor, as well as the Rose Petal (perfect for Pasadena!). All their flavors are seasonal, so be ready to be surprised!
In the summer months, one of our favorite ways to spend an evening is outside! The Luggage Room is our go to spot for pizza, so head over and order one, along with a chopped salad and their famous devilled eggs, to go. While you wait for your food, walk next door to Stone Taproom where you can get some tasters (or fill up a growler!) of delicious west coast craft beer. After the food arrives, pack it up (along with some blankets to sit on) and make your way to the Levitt Pavilion for the summer concert series. Sit under the stars, listen to some free music (different bands perform each week, June to September) and enjoy the summer in Pasadena.