Pasadena Museum of California Art

There’s a lot to do in Pasadena, but two days gives you time to take in the must-sees Pasadena has to offer.

Day One

Pasadena’s Norton Simon Museum has one of the most remarkable private art collections in the world. View seven centuries of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century, including works by Van Gogh, Picasso, Rembrandt, Fragonard and Rodin. And don’t miss the Pacific Asia Museum, among just four institutions in the country dedicated exclusively to the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands. Around the corner from the Pacific Asia museum, Pasadena Museum of California Art is the only museum in southern California devoted exclusively to California art, architecture, and design.

Nightlife

When night falls, Pasadena comes alive. With 11 performing arts organizations, the options are limitless. Enjoy an award-winning play at the Pasadena Playhouse, a performance by the revered Pasadena Symphony, a cutting-edge production at Boston Court Performing Arts Center, or a concert by the Grammy-winning Southwest Chamber Music. During the summer months take advantage of free concerts at the Levitt Pavilion and the California Philharmonic Orchestra’s exciting outdoor concert series. All of these organizations and more offer group rates. The city is also home to a famous comedy club, a variety of popular dance spots, and sizzling jazz hideaways.

Day Two

Start your morning at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Located on the 207-acre estate of the late railroad baron Henry Huntington and his wife, Arabella, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is regarded as one of the world’s foremost cultural centers. Treasures of the Library include a Gutenberg Bible, a manuscript of Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales,” Benjamin Franklin’s handwritten autobiography, and the double-elephant folio edition of Audubon’s “Birds of America.” The Art Collections are distinguished by their four separate locations. Housed in what was the home of the Huntington’s, The Huntington Gallery contains Gainsborough’s “The Blue Boy” and Lawrence’s “Pinkie,” as well as other 17th and 18th century masterpieces. The Erburu Gallery showcases the institution’s growing collection of American Art. The Virginia Steele Scott Gallery specializes in American paintings from the 1730s to the 1930s, and Renaissance paintings of 18th Century French artists are featured in the Arabella Huntington Collection. The Boone Gallery is dedicated to changing exhibitions. The Botanical Gardens feature 14,000 varieties of plants on over 150 acres. Gardens include the Rose Garden, Herb Garden, Japanese Garden, Desert Garden, Zen Garden, Australian Garden and Children’s Garden. The Garden of Flowing Fragrance, or Liu Fang Yuan, is an authentic Chinese garden that refects traditional Suzhou-style scholar gardens.

THE GAMBLE HOUSE

Spend the afternoon at 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 early 20th century Arts & Crafts Movement. The home was built in 1908 for David and Mary Gamble (Procter and Gamble soap and toothpaste fame). The house, a National Historic Landmark, is owned by the City of Pasadena and operated by the University of Southern California. It is open for public tours.