Known for its beautiful and historic architecture, rich cultural heritage, and picturesque natural beauty, Pasadena is a place that has it all.
So, if you are looking for 15 cool things to do in Pasadena that don’t involve simply visiting museums, here’s the list you need!
1. Historic Old Pasadena
Historic Old Pasadena is a vibrant and historic neighborhood in Pasadena, California.
It is the original commercial and cultural center of Pasadena and is considered one of the best-preserved early 20th-century commercial districts in Southern California.
The area is known for its well-preserved architectural heritage, including Victorian and art deco buildings, as well as its vibrant shopping, dining, and entertainment scene.
It is a popular tourist destination and attracts visitors with its rich history, cultural offerings, and unique shopping and dining experiences.
So, when you are there, you can visit attractions like the Norton Simon Museum of Art and the Pasadena Museum of California Art or go for some shopping therapy at the Paseo Colorado shopping center.
If you are an antique collector, Colorado Boulevard is filled with antique stores, while if you love the urban landscape and architecture, you can take a self-guided walking tour of the historic architecture of the area.
2. Tournament House And Wrigley Gardens
The Tournament House and Wrigley Gardens are popular attractions that offer a variety of activities and experiences.
Touring the Tournament House you can explore the collection of artifacts, exhibits, and memorabilia related to the history of the Tournament of Roses and the Rose Parade.
The Wrigley Gardens, on the other hand, are a beautiful collection of gardens, fountains, and sculptures that are open to the public, allowing you to spend time strolling along, relaxing on the lawn, or having a picnic.
Depending on when you visit, you might also get the chance to attend events as they regularly host concerts, as well as other cultural events, even weddings!
Moreover, the gardens offer a breathtaking view of the surrounding area and the San Gabriel Mountains, making it a popular spot for photographers and sightseers.
So, if you want to add something from Pasadena to your portfolio, this is the place to go.
3. The Pasadena Museum Of History
The Pasadena Museum of History is the best place to go if you want to spend time looking at exhibits showcasing the history of Pasadena and its surrounding areas, including the history of the Rose Parade and the Tournament of Roses.
The museum also regularly hosts lectures, workshops, and educational programs related to Pasadena’s history and cultural heritage, allowing you to learn more about this place and its history.
If you want to get a guided tour of the museum, they are available for individuals and groups, while you can also join their special events and celebrations throughout the year, including holiday celebrations, cultural festivals, and community gatherings.
4. Jet Propulsion Laboratory
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a NASA research center that focuses on the development and operation of robotic spacecraft for space exploration and scientific investigation. Sounds cool, right?
Here you can join a guided tour and get a behind-the-scenes look at the laboratory’s facilities, projects, and history or even attend public lectures and workshops on topics related to space exploration, planetary science, and cutting-edge technology.
With interactive exhibits, displays, and educational programs showcasing the laboratory’s missions, technology, and achievements, this is a fun place for kids to spend time learning new things but also for grownups who want to see the lab in action by attending a live event!
5. The Fork In The Road
When on your street tour in Pasadena, make sure to stop at the intersection of Pasadena and St. John avenues to take a picture of a big fork.
As its name clearly suggests, this is a 18-foot tall fork, an installation that is well-known for its distinctive design that serves as a prime attraction for photographers, foodies, artists, or anyone who enjoys offbeat Americana.
6. USC Pacific Asia Museum
The USC Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, California is a fascinating and unique museum that showcases the art, culture, and history of Asia and the Pacific Islands.
It offers visitors a chance to explore the rich cultural heritage of Asia and the Pacific Islands in a beautiful setting, with a variety of hands-on experiences and educational programs.
The museum hosts a range of cultural events and programs throughout the year, including concerts, film screenings, festivals, and more, that celebrate the diverse communities represented in its collections, making it an accessible and fun museum to explore.
7. Mount Wilson Observatory
The Mount Wilson Observatory in California is a world-renowned astronomical research center known for its groundbreaking contributions to astronomy and science.
As one of the leading astronomical research centers in the world in the early 20th century, it is responsible for many groundbreaking discoveries in the fields of astronomy and astrophysics.
Therefore, if you are interested in science and the universe, rest assured that here you can be inspired by the artifacts and information you will get, but also stunned by the views it offers, situated at a 5,710-foot peak in the San Gabriel Mountains.
8. Lucky Baldwin’s
Lucky Baldwin’s is a popular pub and restaurant in Pasadena, California that offers a range of fun activities and experiences for visitors.
Known for its hearty pub fare, including burgers, sandwiches, and more, you can visit the pub to watch a game or play one, as apart from multiple TVs, it also has a variety of games available, including darts, pool, and board games, providing a fun way to pass the time and engage with others.
The pub also regularly features live music performances, ranging from local bands to solo artists, providing a lively and entertaining atmosphere for an unforgettable night!
9. Kidspace Children’s Museum
For Interactive exhibits focused on science, nature, and the arts, hands-on exhibits and activities, an outdoor nature play area, and programs and workshops for kids of all ages, the Kidspace Children’s Museum is the top place to visit when in Pasadena.
It is a great place for families to bond and learn together, with the seasonal water play area being an extra treat for the little ones!
10. Pasadena City College Flea Market
Of all the places you can go shopping, the Pasadena City College Flea Market is by far the hippest one.
An outdoor market and one of the best of its kind, it offers a wide variety of items including vintage and antique goods, handmade crafts, and local merchandise.
You can also find a diverse selection of food vendors serving up delicious treats, all in a fun and lively atmosphere with live music and other entertainment.
It is an affordable and fun day out for families and friends but also a chance to find one-of-a-kind items and a treasure hunt for hidden gems you don’t want to miss!
11. The Bubble House
If you are looking for an opportunity to take unusual and memorable photos for social media or personal memories, you must go to the Bubble House!
A must-visit for fans of unconventional architecture, it is the only Airform – houses created by deflated rubber balloons covered with gunite and wire mesh – left in the US, and its look is just as appealing as its history.
12. Vroman’s Bookstore
A charming and historic building with a rich history dating back to the early 1900s has been housing Vroman’s Bookstore for over a century now, making it one of the oldest and biggest independent bookshops in the country.
Needless to say, if you are a book lover or simply love the smell and history of a good bookshop that’s not another chain, Vroman’s Bookstore is a necessary stop.
13. Ice House Comedy Club
Ending the day with some good laughs and drinks is the best way to enjoy your time in Pasadena, and the Ice House Comedy Club offers a combination of both.
From established acts to up-and-coming talented comedians, this historic venue is the safest bet for a lively and fun atmosphere that will have you giggling for days.
14. The Gold Bug
Diamonds might be a girl’s best friend but even if you are a man, popping in the Gold Bug is something you won’t regret doing.
Found on a calm side road in Pasadena’s Old Town, is genuinely a one-of-a-kind shop perfect for individuals who hate mass-produced merchandise devoid of uniqueness and style.
It is a boho jumble full of offbeat jewels ranging from locally manufactured accessories produced with nothing but natural desert components to contemporary casual wear and snazzy art.
In other words, it is the next best thing after the Fork On The Road for many people!
15. The Rose Bowl Stadium
One of the oldest and most prestigious stadiums in the US, the Rose Bowl Stadium hosts the annual Rose Bowl game, one of the oldest and most iconic bowl games in college football.
With a large capacity of seating for over 90,000 spectators, it is a versatile venue that also hosts concerts, events, and other large-scale gatherings.
So, check out what’s on when you’re in Pasadena and book some tickets!
The Bottom Line
There are so many fun things to do in Pasadena and now you have 15 good reasons to visit it, so start making your plans and check things off your wishlist!