EVERYTHING’S COMING UP ROSES
By Don and Ann Jackson
We’ve visited Pasadena many times over the years and usually it’s to see their world famous Rose Parade or attend a football game in the city’s stunning Rose Bowl, the queen of the holiday stadiums. And those two attractions are enough for us to consider multiple returns to this lovely city at the base of the picturesque San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. But now, after our most recent visit, we’ve added numerous other reasons why we can strongly recommend readers consider Pasadena as a viable vacation destination. Now read on as to what we’ve recently experienced that places this lovely city into that premier ‘bed of roses’ getaway stratosphere.
What To See And Do:
*The Huntington, as it’s titled on their brochures, is one of the most famous and popular attractions in Southern California. Officially, it’s known as the Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens. Most people just call it the Huntington Library and over the years we’ve been told numerous times we should visit. Since we were just not into ‘libraries’ we just never bothered to learn that it was so much more than a collection of books. Our bad! The Huntington is truly one of the country’s most magnificent estates and it should be touted as such. When you check out their website and learn about the fascinating history associated with the Huntington family and what’s included on the estate we feel confident you’ll be drawn in. Huntington.org
*Norton Simon Museum is recognized worldwide as one of the most prestigious private art collections ever placed into a public museum. Celebrated works by Raphael, Rembrandt, van Gogh, Degas, and Picasso are included in this amazing collection of many classic art genres spanning over 2000 years. Nortonsimon.org
*Gamble House is one of the country’s finest examples of Arts and Crafts furnishings and architecture open for public tours. This glorious 1908 estate, now owned by the city and a National Historic Landmark, was originally designed for the Gamble family of Proctor & Gamble fame. GambleHouse.org
*Pacific Asia Museum provides a rich array of Chinese, Japanese, Himalayan, and Pacific Islands artifact collections and the building’s Asian architecture was as interesting as the displays. Now operated by the University of Southern California bodes well for their future security and on going improvements. PacificasiaMuseum.org
*Pasadena Museum of History is located on the Fenyes Mansion property; one of few estates on the famous Millionaire’s Row still open for tours, and touring the mansion is the highlight of this museum. Original period furnishings, family heirlooms, and a unique California plein air art collection enhance this 1906 Beaux Arts-style architectural jewel. A short visit to their Finnish Folk Art Museum (Mr. Fenyes was Finnish), also on property, is the only museum of its’ kind in our country and is worth a peek. PasadenaHistory.org
*Old Pasadena is the area’s premier destination for shopping, dining and entertainment. Even though it’s historically the old part of town the wonderful upgrades and modernization over the years has made the “old” moniker quite inaccurate. Tip: Curbside parking meters are free before 11 AM and the first 90 minutes are always free in the Park & Walk parking garages. OldPasadena.org
*California Institute of Technology, known to most as Cal Tech, has been recognized for years as one the world’s most prestigious private universities and research institutions of higher learning. Taking a one-hour casual stroll through the center of their beautiful 126-acre campus is a recommended highlight when visiting Pasadena. CalTech.edu
*Rose Bowl Tours and their famous Flea Market only operate once a month so check out the website for schedules of both. If neither are open try to walk, bike, run or jog the loop around the grounds of this famous sports icon built in 1922. Now home to all of U.C.L.A.’s home football games, besides the annual Rose Bowl game, it gives sport lovers more opportunities to attend a game in this grandfather of all the American bowl sites. RoseBowlStadium.com
*Rose Parade, also known as the Tournament of Roses, started in 1890 and remains one of the most renowned events in the parade universe. Their elaborate floats now feature high-tech computerized animation, exotic natural materials from around the world and all the floats together use approximately 18 million flowers. TournamentofRoses.com
Where To Stay:
*The Langham Huntington is the city’s premier hotel and one of California’s most historic lodging properties exuding a yesteryear elegance. Luxurious public areas, classically decorated guest accommodations, private club level rooms, an award winning spa and health club are hallmarks. Meals in their three restaurants-Royce Steakhouse, Terrace and Tap Room-were all especially positive culinary experiences. Located in a very upscale neighborhood just staying at the hotel allows you to view many of the finest estate and mansion type homes found in Southern California. Pasadena. LanghamHotels.com
*The Constance is Pasadena’s newest boutique style hotel and possesses wonderful four-star potential as their owners continue to upgrade this historic site. Surprising, yet beautiful, modern decor and very tech savvy accommodations have given this classic edifice an exciting new avant-garde vibe. Concierge level rooms with a club lounge, fitness center, spa, event space, another dining option plus a rooftop pool with sundeck and pool bar are coming in 2016. Management is under the well-regarded Dusit Hotel group of Thailand. Our one meal in their bluRoom Lounge was quite good. Dusit.com/dusitd2/pasadena
Where To Dine:
For a few years now dining critics have been anointing Pasadena as the Los Angeles area’s trendy restaurant capitol and although we were only able to try three restaurants besides those in our hotels we can’t argue with that proclamation.
Here are three to consider:
*La Grande Orange Cafe was a special dining experience featuring a modern train station locale, creative takes on American standards, wonderful service and a fun atmosphere. Try the fresh cookies at the front door on arrival. LGostationCafe.com
* Cafe Santorini in Old Town specializes in very innovative Mediterranean cuisine in the upstairs of a historic brick building and features romantic outdoor rooftop dining and an extensive wine list. CafeSantorini.com
*Racion Restaurant is a quite small tapas gastropub and highly regarded by critics for their bold Spanish Basque offerings and we’d recommend dinners rather than lunches where service was quite slow. RacionRestaurant.com.
Nearby Side Trips:
Right next-door in the city of Arcadia, and practically on the Pasadena border, are two attractions we recommend visiting when in town. Santa Anita, one of the country’s finest horse tracks, is a must trek for anyone interested in the sport of kings. Before heading off be sure to ask your hotel concierge or front desk clerk if the racing season is in full throttle. Santaanita.com. Almost across the street from Santa Anita is the Arboretum of Los Angeles County, a 127-acre botanic garden featured in many movies and TV shows and an ideal location for hiking. Don’t miss seeing the Queen Anne cottage, the Train Depot, and the Mayberg Waterfall. Arboretum.org.
For all things Pasadena and full information on more lodging, dining and event options: VisitPasadena.com