Pasadena is a city in Los Angeles County, California with a population of 150,000 people. Pasadena is an area flourishing because of its versatility. It has mountain vistas, beautiful beaches nearby, tourist sites, historical sites, museums, universities and colleges, gorgeous residential areas and even a thriving commercial district. Many cities boast that they have something for everyone; Pasadena truly does.
Pasadena is located in the San Gabriel Valley at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains next to the Arroyo Seco, a dry riverbed and an important aspect of local geography. Pasadena is essentially but not technically a Los Angeles suburb. In fact, many locals refer to it as a suburb and its closer to downtown Los Angeles than many of that city’s own neighborhoods and suburbs. However, unlike those suburbs, Pasadena is self-supported.
Pasadena’s top employer is currently the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which is a research and development center associated with NASA. They employ more than 5,000 people. Other big employers include Kaiser Permanente, AT&T and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Pasadena also boasts several prosperous commercial areas filled with numerous smaller business entities, and the local hospital and school district play an important role in the local job market.
Perhaps Pasadena is best known for the Tournament of Roses Parade and the annual Rose Bowl football game. The Rose Parade is a New Year celebration comparable to the Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. It’s a televised event including floats, marching bands and celebrity appearances. It leads into the Rose Bowl football game that typically occurs later that day. The Rose Bowl is one of the hottest tickets in US sports, and one of the most important college football games of the year.
The city of Pasadena is also home to a diverse array of museums and galleries. The most notable location is the Norton Simon Museum, which is one of the finest collections of art in the United States. It has a varied selection of art from Europe and Asia as well as North America. Other popular sites include the Pasadena Museum of History, the Pasadena Museum of California Art and the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, which includes several impressive sculpture galleries.
Pasadena offers two high-profile educational institutes in Caltech and the JPL, which accounts for31 Nobel Laureates and 32 Nobel Prizes. Pasadena is also home to the Fuller Theological Seminary, which is one of the most prominent multidenominational seminaries in the entire world. The California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, now called The Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, has produced some of the most well regarded chefs in the world. And the global art community generally considers The Art Center College of Design to be one of the best art schools in the world.
Newcomers, especially tourists, will likely be most interested in the shopping and dining opportunities that Pasadena offers. Old Pasadena, which is the old commercial center of the city, spans 21 downtown blocks and offers a great selection of restaurants, outdoor cafés, pubs, nightclubs and comedy clubs. Old Pasadena really comes alive during those warm nights, and the area is best known for its nightlife. But the area also boasts a wide range of upscale retail locations and is quite happening during the day too.
Old Pasadena is just one of many such areas within greater Pasadena. One of the city’s most popular shopping attractions is Paso Colorado, which is an open-air mall that spans three city blocks. There’s also a large Macy’s department store and the popular Arclight Cinemas. Near the Rose Bowl is the famed Rose Bowl flea market, a swap meet that includes thousands of vendors as well as activities for children and other events for the family.
Pasadena is the birthplace of some very famous people, such as George S. Patton, David Lee Roth, George Reeves, John Singleton, Chase Utley, Alex and Eddie Van Halen, and Wil Wheaton. David Lee Roth still lives nearby in South Pasadena, which was once part of the larger Pasadena area but is now its own city boasting a population of around 25,000. Pasadena is also home to one of the largest, non-indigenous populations of parrots, and this has become an important part of local culture.
Of course, one cannot mention the tourist opportunities in Pasadena without mentioning Hollywood, which is about 20-25 minutes away in best-case scenarios. These best-case scenarios usually involve using some of the mass transit options in the area. If you attempt to drive by car at the wrong time of the day, a 20-minute trip to Hollywood or downtown Los Angeles can take an hour or even longer. Those nightmare stories you’ve heard about Los Angeles traffic are all true.
Fortunately, Pasadena offers plenty of opportunities locally, so you won’t have to travel if you don’t want to or at inopportune times. You can make an adventure just out of walking through residential areas. Bungalow Heaven is a distinct area where there are around 1,000 preserved homes from the 1900s through 1930s. Another popular area is Orange Grove Boulevard, which is near the Norton Simon Museum. There are also some popular historical estates to visit, such as the estate of Adolphus Bush, cofounder of Anheuser-Busch, and the estate of William Wrigley Jr. of Wrigley chewing gum fame.