From Lush Gardens to Flea Markets, This City Is Full of History and Natural Beauty
Known as one of Los Angeles’ neighbors to the north, the city of Pasadena boasts a unique blend of charm, nostalgia and energy. From its appealing promenades to the mouthwatering array of restaurants and cafes that line the city streets, Pasadena is a destination worth visiting. Aside from its more famous sites, such as the iconic Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena is filled with historic places to stay, dine and explore. But with so many worthwhile restaurants, museums, shops and attractions to choose from, it can be difficult to pin-down the ideal staycation itinerary. That’s why we’ve compiled all the insider tips and local insights into a carefully curated schedule for the best 48-hour trip to Pasadena. Let this be your guide!
Where to Stay
When it comes to beautiful grounds, luxurious amenities and spectacular views, the Langham Huntington, Pasadena simply cannot be beat. This landmark hotel features over 23 acres of beautiful gardens, Pueblo Mission Revival architecture and a stunning pool deck, making it feel as though you are on the grounds of a royal palace. Pair this with a state-of-the-art fitness center, gourmet terrace dining and proximity to popular attractions like the Huntington Library, and you get what is easily one of the best hotels in the area.
Brunch at Agnes
A boujee brunch is a must for any getaway itinerary, and Agnes more than fits the occasion. This gourmet cheese shop and cafe is a staple in the Pasadena area and is renowned for its stunning blend of comfort and charm. Choose from a wide variety of charcuterie, pastries and decadent breakfast staples, such as their popular pimento cheese omelet, and wash it all down with one of their many delicious signature summer cocktails. For anyone looking to start their morning off right, Agnes is the place to dwell.10/27
Explore + Shop at Burlington Arcade
Dining and shopping go hand in hand, so after indulging in a delicious brunch, head on over to the Burlington Arcade to experience one of the best shopping plazas in the area. Taking after its London based namesake, Burlington Arcade boasts all the upscale, whimsical charm of the iconic English shopping district. Featuring vintage storefronts, scenic promenades and even retro telephone booths for added ambiance, Burlington Arcade is as adorable as they come, making it well worth the stop.
Visit the Rose Bowl Flea Market
As they say, “Don’t spend it all in one place,” because after the Burlington Arcade, you’ll want to make a stop at the Rose Bowl Flea Market. Considered by many to be one of the best flea markets on the West Coast, the Rose Bowl Flea Market stands alone in terms of its sheer size, quality and atmosphere. Hosted at the iconic Rose Bowl Stadium, this long-standing monthly tradition brings together over 2,500 different vendors, including antique collectors, craft jewelers, and local restaurants to create one of the most iconic events in the area. Be sure to check the calendar and see if you can squeeze this ever-popular activity into your Pasadena getaway.
Refuel at Coffee and Plants
After all that shopping and exploring, it’s time for an afternoon pick-me-up. We recommend heading down to Coffee and Plants, one of Pasadena’s cutest coffee shops. Loved by locals and visitors for its flower-adorned storefront and innovative selection of beautiful beverages, Coffee and Plants is an eco-friendly coffee shop dedicated to helping the planet. Thanks to their partnership with the National Forest Foundation, for every 100 cups sold, Coffee and Plants commits to planting a tree, which helps the planet heal while bringing the community together. Stop by for one of their famous 24-karat charcoal lattes or Chagaccinos (remember: One sip; everyone knows the rules!).
Relax at Arlington Garden
After exploring the city, we recommend taking a bit of time to soak up the sun and get some much-needed rest and relaxation at the beautiful Arlington Garden. Pasadena’s one and only public garden, Arlington boasts three acres of beautiful flora, stunning water features and an abundance of birds and butterflies. Whether you plan to relax under one of the towering trees at the oak grove or explore the labyrinth near the citrus grove, this three-acre oasis is sure to impress.
Drinks + Dinner at Bar Chelou
After a bit of peace and quiet, it’s time to complete day one of your getaway with a trip to one of Pasadena’s most unique restaurants: Bar Chelou. Housed within the same iconic building as the Pasadena Playhouse, Bar Chelou is the perfect place to dine and unwind. With a neighborhood bistro vibe and an eclectic menu of playful appetizers, such as their scallop tartare, and decadent entrees like the Iberico pork chop, you really can’t go wrong at Bar Chelou. Just be sure to leave room for dessert—their lemon-chamomile semifreddo is a winner.
Breakfast Tacos at HomeState
After a night of rest at the Langham Huntington, kick-start your second day with a hearty breakfast courtesy of the talented chefs at HomeState, Pasadena’s premier, authentic slice of Texan cuisine. With everything from slow-smoked brisket to savory scrambles, HomeState’s extensive menu begs to be devoured, but their renowned breakfast tacos undeniably steal the show. Offering up nine unique variations, these breakfast tacos caught the attention of local and international foodies alike, making them an obvious choice for your day-two breakfast destination.
Local Insight: HomeState uses pasture-raised eggs from Vital Farms, and most of their breakfast tacos are named after Texas rivers!
Shop + Eat at the Pasadena Farmers Market
After indulging in a pair of shredded brisket breakfast tacos, we recommend burning off those calories by taking a stroll through the Pasadena Farmers Market. Hosted every Tuesday at Villa Park and every Saturday at Victory Park, this open-air market is a great place to shop, snack and engage with the local community. Shop handcrafted goods from as many as 60 different vendors and enjoy quality eats and treats from some of the area’s best local restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries.
Play at Neon Retro Arcade
No visit to Pasadena would be complete without soaking up some of the nostalgia found in the city’s iconic old town district called Old Pasadena, and Neon Retro Arcade offers up a fun, healthy dose of exactly that. Peruse some of your favorite arcade games from the ‘80s and ‘90s, or bring a buddy and challenge them to some friendly competition. Neon Retro Arcade offers up a perfect way to step out of the sun and into the neon light for a break from the heat, all while enjoying what makes Old Pasadena so much fun.
Drinks at Ladies and Gentlemen
After a day spent shopping, exploring and gaming, it’s time to get ready for dinner, but before heading out to our restaurant of choice, grab a sultry drink at Ladies and Gentlemen, Pasadena’s premier speakeasy and cocktail lounge. The cocktails at Ladies and Gentlemen are so much more than the standard (think smoking disco ball libations and flaming tableside concoctions). The dedication to craftsmanship, flair and excellence put on display by the bartenders here elevates the pre-dinner cocktail experience to a whole new level. The bartenders take their craft so seriously that they dress like chefs! Saying any more would spoil certain elements of the experience, but trust us when we say that Ladies and Gentlemen offers up an unrivaled sipping experience.
Dinner at Bone Kettle
After a few pre-dinner aperitifs courtesy of Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time to make your way to one of Pasadena’s most adored restaurants: Bone Kettle. Here, Chef Erwin Tjahyadi has dedicated himself to bringing quality, authentic Southeast Asian cuisine to the Los Angeles area. Whether you are snacking on some of their decadent ube gnocchi or delving into the warm and rich flavors of their acclaimed nasi goreng, you’re sure to be blown away by the harmonious blend of authenticity, innovation and indulgence. One trip to their serene, wood-paneled dining room and it’s easy to see why Bone Kettle has been praised so highly by some of the area’s biggest culinary connoisseurs.
Dessert at Miss Cheese Tea Cafe
Rounding out our Pasadena escapade is none other than a trip to one of our favorite late-night hotspots for some sweet confections. Miss Cheese Tea Cafe serves up quality, hand-crafted desserts and beverages to satiate even the stoutest of sweet tooths. While they specialize in a variety of sweet treats and decadent milk teas, the star of the show is their souffles. Served warm and topped with everything from fresh fruit to syrup drizzles, these fluffy confections are the perfect way to end a couple days spent exploring and enjoying the beautiful and vibrant city of Pasadena.