People forget, or have never discovered, the beauty of Pasadena. This city provides a calm and easy-going retreat compared to its congested big sister in nearby Los Angeles.
There’s much more here than the Rose Bowl. The rims of the nearby mountains provide a crystal clear backdrop to the city. Towering palm trees strut their stuff in the breezes like leggy chorus girls. The profusion of Saguaro and other cacti remind you that this is an arid climate not far from a big dessert.
The soft air mixes with the coastal breezes from a few miles west to support growth of Pasadena’s famous fragrant roses. And speaking of good smells, Pasadena is a haven for orange trees. The heady aromas of delicate white blossoms permeate entire neighborhoods. Since citrus trees grow everywhere, they attract bees, hummingbirds, and even parrots who chatter in mysterious languages.
The residential areas of Pasadena are more beautiful than Beverly Hills – in my opinion. We stayed at two completely different, historical, and attractive places. Both hotels are in great residential areas. You can slow down, take a break, and smell the roses – literally.
In the 1900s, Pasadena was a winter destination for eastern wealth, and famous for its hotels and resorts back in those days. Most are long gone, with one exception; The Langham. A beautiful property once owned by the Ritz Carlton and about 8 minutes from restaurants and shopping.
It has acres of gardens, spas, and pools. You can ride a bike in the neighborhood, take a tai-chi class along with the locals at the fitness center, or enjoy a formal afternoon tea in the bar.
On the B&B side of the lodging spectrum, is South Pasadena’s The Bissell House. Originally built by the Bissell vacuum-cleaner family, it is on the historic register of famous Pasadena homes.
During the Rose Bowl parade, the flower-coated floats line up outside The Bissell House along Orange Grove Boulevard. A room at the inn is coveted geography on New Year’s. Guests spend hours walking among the floats. Locals explained how the event genuinely is a source of pride which has an important restriction.
Like at the Langham, The Bissell House is also a good spot for hours of walking and exploring. Its street is nicknamed Millionaires Row; since, historically, it was the location of so many luxurious mansions. The inn is an easy 15 minute walk to South Pasadena’s Mission Street, a hip reclaimed area for walking, restaurant hopping, and shopping.
Once on Mission, there are plenty of restaurants. Try Mike and Anne’s or casual California, classic Americana at the Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain and Raymond’s for a more upscale California-style cuisine.
The Huntington museum and gardens are worth a trip. Home of the famous Gainsborough painting, The Blue Boy, the gardens are among its springtime attractions. When the Wisteria Gardens bloom, insiders call it “Wisteria Hysteria.”
If you are a horse-racing fan, beautiful Santa Anita is where Seabiscuit became a legend. There’s even an early-morning behind-the-scenes Seabiscuit tour for fans.
Where I laid my Head:Hotels
The Langham 1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue, Pasadena, California 91106, USA
The Bissell House 201 Orange Grove Avenue, South Pasadena, California, 91030, United States
Where I Ate: Restaurants
Mike and Anne’s at 1040 Mission St, Suite 102, South Pasadena, CA
Raymond’s 1250 South Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105
Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain 1526 Mission Street
Where I Played: Attractions