Tips for Experiencing Pasadena
Many will visit Pasadena for the first time during Arroyo Seco Weekend and add on extra days before or after the festival to explore the city. There is so much charm and history here that figuring out where to start can be overwhelming. This is a quick reference guide to help you plan your time outside of the festival grounds, whether you extend your stay beyond the weekend or if you just want to spend the day exploring the town before making your way to the Rose Bowl.
Spiritual Travel Experiences
Some of the best travel memories involve a spiritual experience—from a Temazcal in Tulum to a sound bath in Joshua Tree. Oftentimes people retreat to the mountains, there’s something about nature and altitude that clears the noise. The desert is another mecca for the metaphysical-minded, where orphic beauty reveals itself the moment you open your third eye.
Just Float is a spa that specializes in flotation therapy, you’ll find large private tanks filled with warm water and lots and lots of salt to make you float. The tank shields you from outside noise and light, after five minutes lights and ambient music playing inside the tank will switch off. At this point the water is the same temperature as your body, without light or sound you feel as if you are floating in space. Your first float costs about $40. More→
El Larson began her journey as a DJ before discovering yoga, which led her to mastering Ayurveda and Tibetan singing bowls. She put all of her talents together and formed Heare, where she conducts sound sessions (sound baths). For larger group sessions, El creates music on her modular synthesizer and she plays that during your session, she pairs that with live sounds created by Tibetan singing bowls, tuning fork, gong and percussion. You can imagine she is like the Hindu Goddess, Kali with six arms playing all of these instruments at the same time. Private lessons at El’s home studio in Pasadena can be arranged through her website, or you can check her calendar for public sessions throughout LA. Calendar→
Hike to Echo Mountain
Pasadena is situated in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, a massive mountain range with several trails varying from moderate to very difficult. The hike to Echo Mountain and Inspiration Point should be at the top of your list, the scenic hike leads you to the ruins of a mountaintop resort from the 1800s—where guests took a trolley to a funicular rail car, and finally the resort. The Echo Mountain Resort eventually went down in flames.
Hike to the Bridge to Nowhere
For the more advanced hiker, The Bridge to Nowhere is worth looking into. The trail straddles and crosses the San Gabriel River, which provides several opportunities to swim, eventually leading to a random bridge in the middle of a canyon that has no purpose. It was built in the 1920s for a highway that was meant to cross the San Gabriels, during construction of the highway, a storm and subsequent flood ruined much of the work and the project was abandoned.
Desert Garden at The Huntington
The Desert Garden is officially the most Instafamous spot at The Huntington. The gorgeous botanical garden is over 100 years old, featuring elusive desert flora and is one of the largest collections of succulents in the world. Website→
The treatments at this spa are inspired by Traditional Chinese Medicine. You are asked to fill out a short questionnaire upon arrival, this determines which Wu Xing elements you should harmonize and treatments are suggested based on this result. Website→
Day Drinking Alfresco
With nearly 200 sunny days per year, folks around here happily consider day drinking alfresco a survival mechanism. There are plenty of bars and restaurants with outdoor seating, designed to take full advantage of great weather. Here are a few highlights.
This Bavarian Bierhaus offers a beer garden in a historic alleyway. You’ll find the expected German craft beer selection, some unique German-inspired taps and exceptionally great cocktails. Details→
Kings Row Gastropub
This watering hole offers a great outdoor terrace and large windows swing open to bring the outdoors in. Choose from a large selection of craft beer and cocktails and tasty pub food. Details→
Equator by Edwin Mills
This is a playful bar at the intersection of Edwin Alley and Mills Place, and features great programming like love jazz on Wednesdays. Details→
From vintage threads to California Coastal boutiques, here are the shops you need to know about.
Mohawk General Store (Women)
The only way inside this small but beautiful boutique is through a pedestrian alleyway in Old Pasadena. It is located in the One Colorado quarter of the neighborhood. Come here to find high fashion brands like Dries van Noten, A.P.C. and Shaina Mote. Website→
If Tim Burton curated a store, this would be it. Gold Bug is a shop of curiosities, jewelry and artwork. Think steampunk, goth and sorcery. Website→
High Low Vintage
Green Street Village near the Pasadena Playhouse is home to a radical vintage shop with a very unique and well-curated inventory. Website→
Scotch and Soda
For new clothes made the old fashioned way, go to Scotch & Soda in Old Pasadena. While the brand originated in Amsterdam, their line epitomizes the cool California Coastal style. Website→
Norton Simon Museum
Andy Warhol’s first West Coast exhibition was shown at this museum, and Morgan Neville made featured it in The Cool School, a documentary about LA’s art scene. More→
Anchoring the southern end of Millionaire’s Row, the Gamble House is a craftsman masterpiece by Pasadena architect, Charles and Henry Greene. Just this year, the Gamble House was the subject of a documentary by Don Hahn, who is responsible for Beauty & the Beast and The Lion King. More→
Pasadena Museum of California Art
The PMCA is contemporary art museum that celebrates California art, architecture, and design, and the museum’s parking structure is covered in street art by Kenny Scharf. More→
Pasadena Museum of History
This museum dedicated solely to preserving and sharing the history Pasadena. The museum is a complex with a few buildings on site, two of the structures are homes that serve as exhibitions. More→
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