Pasadena is a city located about 40 minutes from Los Angeles and I think it makes a great destination for a weekend getaway. The city retains some of its small-time charm and its compact size means you can park the car and walk everywhere. It also has the key elements for a great weekend getaway destination: luxury hotels, fine restaurants and great shopping. Here is my guide to a great weekend getaway in Pasadena:
Where to stay
I suggest the best hotel in town, now called the Langham Huntington (1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue, Pasadena) Built over 100 years ago by Los Angeles’ original real estate tycoon, Henry Huntington, the hotel was created to host Huntington’s friends, rich Easterners who would come West for the winter season. The hotel sits on 23 manicured acres in a green oasis, only minutes from the Old Town area. Totally renovated and featuring the world-class service of Langham, it’s the perfect home away from home in Pasadena.
Where to eat
Pasadena is a kind of foodie heaven and there are many dining options. We had a great meal at The Royce, the super-steakhouse at The Langham. Great selection of beef, including Australian Wagyu and Japanese-style cuts as well. Very knowledgeable waiters, which is very helpful at a place like that. My son recommends The Raymond 1886 (1250 South Fair Oaks, Pasadena), owned and run by a chef, with a ever-changing menu. Sunday brunch is always a highlight.
We love the Norton Simon Museum (411 West Colorado Blvd., Pasadena). A breathtaking collection of Old Masters, Impressionist pieces and ancient Asian and Indian art all collected by one man. It’s an easy walk from the Langham to the museum. Henry Huntington’s former estate is now The Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Garden (1151 Oxford Road, San Marino). Be warned, you can easily spend a full day in each. The museum has beautiful artwork, antique furniture and other forms of art like pottery, silver and glass. The library, a museum of rare books, features original works by Shakespeare, an original bible printed by Gutenberg and other literary masterpieces.
What to do
Aside from visiting the museums, the city’s Old Town section provides hours of shopping, dining, entertainment and people watching in an area of a few square blocks. The Rose Bowl hosts UCLA football games and it’s a great place to watch one. Because of the huge capacity, day-of-game tickets are frequently available. If you happen to be in Pasadena on the second Sunday of the month, don’t miss the Rose Bowl Flea Market, now in its 45th year.
Pasadena is about 30 minutes from downtown Los Angeles by car. The city is served by the Gold Line train, which runs from Union Station and connects to Hollywood, Universal City and the rest of Los Angeles’ Metro mass transit network.