New Year's Eve is a bustling time of year for Pasadena. Every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors make the trek to Southern California for the Rose Bowl and Rose Parade. If you're visiting, welcome!
If you're looking to make the most of your visit without venturing too far, continue reading for favorite recommendations, hidden treasures and a few insights from a handful of locals.
- San Marino
- Eagle Rock
- South Pasadena
- San Gabriel
Things to do
- Stroll the gardens and enjoy afternoon tea/lunch at The Huntington Library in Pasadena.
- If you're traveling with younger children, burn off energy while stimulating young minds at the Kidspace Museum in Pasadena.
- Enjoy an afternoon of art at Norton Simon museum in Pasadena.
- Visit Lightscape in the evening at the Arboretum in Arcadia.
- You'll find plenty of shops for the whole family at The Americana on Brand and across the street at the Glendale Galleria Mall, both in Glendale. While visiting, take a free ride on the iconic trolley at The Americana.
- Visit Mission Street in South Pasadena where you'll recognize street scenes from movies like Back to the Future, Teen Wolf, Step Brothers, 13 Going on 30, just to name a few. Here, you'll find Fair Oaks Pharmacy (an old fashioned soda fountain) and The Dinosaur Farm (our favorite award-winning toy store with a mind blowing selection of dinosaur toys and a large assortment of non-dinosaur themed books and toys for kids of all interests).
- Enjoy the ambience at Vroman's bookstore on Colorado Blvd in Pasadena, the largest and oldest independent bookstore in Southern California. There's an in-store wine bar as well. If you have some time on your hands, catch a movie next door at Landmark Theatres.
- In the heart of Old Town Pasadena, on Raymond Ave near Colorado Blvd, the Neon Retro Arcade is a great place for parents to bond with their video game loving kids. Indulge in nostalgic 80's/90's style old school arcade games and pinball machines. Or, grab a spot in the back of the arcade where you'll find new consoles with games like Super Smash Bros.
- The Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia had their opening day on December 26th. Enjoy an adult-only day out or check Santa Anita's calendar for family fun days, which usually includes a carnival and pony rides for the kids!
- A little further east, you'll find the charming city of Monrovia. Venture through Myrtle Avenue, another iconic Old Town (along historic Route 66), which served as a filming location for movies Legally Blonde and American Pie. Notable favorites in Old Town Monrovia include Hall of Fame Baseball Cards, Clever Bear Toys & Books, and the authentic, family-owned Cuban bakery and cafe, Merengue.
Places to eat
- Select from an assortment of traditional and out-of-the-box donuts at Colorado Donuts in Eagle Rock (reopening on January 2, 2024).
- Grab a coffee or latte made from fresh, in-house roasted beans at Jones Coffee which can be procured from their main location on Raymond Ave, the drive-thru on Arroyo Parkway or their cozy 2-story coffee shop in South Pasadena.
- Choose from a wide selection of culinary delights at the Blossom Market food hall in San Gabriel, located directly adjacent to the historic San Gabriel Mission. If you get there early, you might snag a sweet treat at Baking with Ish– they sell out quickly! If you're headed to Blossom Market, save some room for nearby With Love for fresh-made Taiyaki and Dole Pineapple Whip.
- Grab a slice of pizza, made from handstretched sourdough crust, house-made tomato sauce and fresh, local ingredients at Pizzanista in San Marino. Did we mention this place is also a skateboard shop?
- For handmade pasta, we like Amici Trattoria at The Americana on Brand in Glendale and Union in Old Town Pasadena.
- If you're looking for kitschy, conveyor belt sushi, check out Kura in the Glendale Galleria Mall. It's an interactive experience for the kids! If you're at the mall, stop by the SVOLTA shop at The Drop, a co-op with 40+ independent brands. The Drop is located near Bloomingdale's on the 2nd level, right next to newly-opened Cafe 86, where you'll find all sorts of Ube baked goods, milkshakes, tea drinks, coffee and boba.
Looking for more recommendations in and around Pasadena? Check out Vogue's recently published An Insider's Guide to Pasadena, the Old School Los Angeles Enclave Wooing a New Generation of Creatives.