Top 5 Things to Do in Pasadena

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Old Pasadena
The Old Pasadena Historic Area is a National Historical Landmark dating back to the 1870s.  Spanning 22 blocks, visitors can stroll down quaint alleyways or airy European-style piazzas teeming with 200 outdoor cafes, restaurants, art galleries, boutiques and specialty shops.  Old Pasadena is bordered by Arroyo Parkway on the east, Pasadena Avenue on the west, Walnut Street on the north and Del Mar Avenue on the south.
(626) 356-9725, www.oldpasadena.org
 
 
The Huntington Library Art Collections and Botanical Gardens
The Huntington is located on the 207-acre estate of the late Henry Huntington.  After a $20 million renovation, the Huntington Art Gallery reopened in 2008. In addition to the gallery’s original 18th and 19th British and French masterpieces, including “Pinkie” and “Blue Boy,” there is a new space featuring 1,200 objects of European art from the 15th to the early 20th century. The newly expanded Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art offers one of the largest presentations in California of American art from the colonial period through the mid- 20th century.
 
The Library includes works from American and British literature, including an original Gutenberg Bible and Ellesmere’s manuscript of Canterbury Tales.
 
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. In 2008, the Chinese Garden (Garden of Flowing Fragrance) opened to the public.  Visitors can stroll around the 1.5-acre lake bordered by Tai Hu rocks and enjoy a landscape that includes five hand-carved stone bridges, a stream, and a canyon waterfall connecting to the Japanese Garden.
Hours: Mon., Wed., Thurs. & Fri., noon – 4:30 p.m.; Saturday – Sunday, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Summer hours: Monday, Wednesday – Sunday, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
(626) 405-2100, www.huntington.org
 
Norton Simon Museum
This extraordinary museum features seven centuries of European art and one of the country’s largest collections of Asian sculpture that spans 2000 years.  The museum is home to an extensive Impressionist collection, which features masterpieces by Degas, Van Gogh, Manet, Monet and Pissaro.  The museum also features works by Picasso, Rembrandt, Cézanne and more.  The museum is open noon – 6 p.m. Wednesday through Monday and from noon – 9 p.m. on Friday.
(626) 449-6840, www.nortonsimon.org

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 and is open for public tours.  The Gamble House recently completed a $3.5 million exterior restoration and just celebrated its centennial in 2008. The Gamble House is open Thursday – Sunday from noon – 3 p.m.
(626) 793-3334, www.gamblehouse.org
 
Melting Pot Food Tours
Melting Pot Food Tours offers a new culinary walking tour of Old Pasadena, a 22-block historical area filled with popular one-of-a-kind restaurants and shops. Come experience the charming history, architecture and folklore of Old Pasadena while feasting upon culinary delights from neighborhood eateries. The Melting Pot Food Tour tradition is to acquaint guests with extraordinarily delicious treasures that one may not typically find or taste on their own. The Old Pasadena Tasting Tour promises a myriad of flavors that are both unforgettable and habit-worthy. The fascinating stories behind the foods, and this historic district that was once only a sunny land of orange groves, are guaranteed to entertain and delight. Colorful alleys and secret thru-ways spice up the path as spectacular ethnic eateries and sweets havens are sought out for tastings, including an authentic Mexican tortas cafe, a rare Nepalese-Tibetan restaurant, and an exquisite chocolate shop. Also included is the pleasure of a sensory experience at a handmade soap kitchen. The tour lasts approximately three hours and covers about 1.25 miles over flat terrain.
(800) 979-3370, www.meltingpottours.com