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Architecture Enthusiasts Playground

With 16 historical districts packed into 23 square miles, Pasadena has a wealth of incredible architecture to discover. Take a crash course with a guided or self-guided tour in architectural style by visiting the city’s cultural and academic institutions, where you’ll see everything from Beaux Arts to Northern Chinese Imperialist.

Guided Tours

The Gamble House

Designed by Pasadena architects Charles and Henry Greene, the Gamble House is considered to be one of the finest examples of architecture from the American Arts & Crafts Movement. The home was built in 1908 for David and Mary Gamble (of Procter & Gamble or P&G). The Gamble House is a National Historic Landmark, and is open for public tours everyday of the week. Learn more…

Old Pasadena Walking Tours

Old Pasadena is a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places and one of the best examples of downtown revitalization in the United States. The district’s cobblestone courtyards, quaint alleyways and ornate architecture date back to the 1880s. Tours can be arranged through Pasadena Heritage. The Old Pasadena Walking Tour is offered on the first Saturday of each month throughout most of the year, except January, July and October. Tour info…

California Institute of Technology (CALTECH)

On the CBS TV show, Big Bang Theory, most of the main characters worked at Caltech; the university is one of the world’s most widely recognized institutions in the studies of science and engineering. Caltech offers architectural tours of the campus and its historic halls, which was built in 1891. Tour info…

Self-Guided Tours

10 Tours of Pasadena

Use the Explore Pasadena Architecture brochure for these tours. The brochure features 10 neighborhoods with a rare concentration of landmark homes and buildings. The tours range from 1.2 to 4 miles in length and may be explored on foot, by bicycle or car. Pick up copies of the brochure in the Pasadena Visitors Center or download it here.

Sample Tours

Tour 4: Oak Knoll
Once the site of a sheep ranch owned by Henry Huntington, Oak Knoll was developed into large estates in the early 1900s. The rolling oak-covered area is now home to The Langham Huntington Hotel and an array of impressive estates.

Tour 6: Civic Center & Playhouse District
Planned in the 1920s, the richly detailed buildings, broad boulevards and park-like settings are firmly rooted in a civic axis. Commanding structures include the historic Central Library, Pasadena City Hall with its red-tile dome, and the revered Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

Tour 10: Lombardy Road
Returning from European study, the aspiring gentlemen architects of the time created fanciful reconstructions of their half- remembered visions of rural Spain and Italy. This route passes the California Institute of Technology whose faculty has won 32 Nobel Prizes. End the tour at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens with lunch in the Tea Room.