Things To Do

Top 5 Family-Friendly Things to Do in Pasadena

July 25, 2023 | Posted in Things To Do

There’s so much to see and do with children in Pasadena, from world-class museums and botanical gardens to live theaters and music festivals. Take a tip from local parents: whatever your child’s age or interest, there’s a free and fun way to fuel their curiosity and support learning and development. Authored by: Lisa Clements, CEO of Kidspace Children's Museum.

Kidspace Campout

Tucked away in beautiful Brookside Park is 3.5 acres of kid-sized adventure at Kidspace Children’s Museum, a nonprofit museum that launched at Caltech in 1979. Designed to delight and engage children intellectually, emotionally, and physically through hands-on, kid-driven experiences, the museum invites all children to play, discover, create, and to explore the world with curiosity and kindness.

This summer, the hugely popular event, Kidspace Campout, returns—a celebration of the best iconic American summer experiences from visiting National Parks to camping out, fishing, and creating camp crafts. Children will learn about animal tracks, meet some animal ambassadors up close, and explore the campus to look, listen, and learn about native wildlife. They can splash through the Arroyo stream and hop on a trike for a road trip over the Golden Gate Bridge. Best of all, families will gather ‘round the fanciful “campfire” for traditional and silly campfire songs and activities throughout the day.

There is ample free parking available outside the museum. Meals and snacks are sold at the Bean Sprouts Café. Don’t miss the delightful Museum Store for unique gifts and souvenirs. Reserve tickets online and check the calendar for special weekend performances, new exhibits, and seasonal experiences.

The Original Whistle Stop

If you’ve got a train-loving child in your family, you’re probably already planning to visit to ride the Griffith Park trains. During your stay in Pasadena, make sure to drop into this 1950’s model train store on Route 66 in Pasadena. The Original Whistle Stop is a community gem that delights train lovers of all ages with intricate model trains, vintage pieces, railroad literature, wooden train sets, and the friendliest staff anywhere. Trains are irresistible to many children, and playing with them helps builds motor skills, develop spatial reasoning, and introduces early concepts of physics and perspective. All aboard!

Vroman's Bookstore

When my kids were little, reading together was a form of bonding we all enjoyed. It’s also a tremendous boost to children’s cognitive development, language acquisition, and ability to focus. Celebrate the power of sharing stories with your children at California's largest and oldest independent bookstore. Vroman's has been serving the Pasadena community since 1894. Make your way to the second floor to find the robust children’s department with an excellent selection of children’s books, staff recommendations, Saturday Storytime with Mr. Steve, author book signings, unique gifts, gourmet coffee, and an old-fashioned newsstand.

Caltech Turtle Pond

For a healthy trek with a charming destination, grab some scooters, or just lace up your sneakers, and wander through the beautiful campus of the California Institute of Technology. While kids might not be impressed that Caltech is home to some of the brightest minds in the world, they will love a visit to the turtle pond. Watch the turtles swimming, stacking, and sunning themselves, and encourage conversation about what you observe. Don’t forget to take pictures and share them with the Caltech Turtle Club on Instagram and don't miss the chance to participate in the annual Turtle Pond Photo competition!

Pasadena Farmer’s Market at Victory Park

The Pasadena Farmer’s Market is a wonderful way to introduce new fruits and vegetables to children and create awareness about where food comes from. Saturday mornings on the east side of Victory Park, bring your kids to shop for fruits and vegetables in season, taste local honey, unwrap the vegan tamales, and snack on fresh roasted peanuts in a festive, music-filled atmosphere. Encourage your child to select an interesting new food they’d like to try, and you may end up with a brave little foodie in the house!

Eaton Canyon Natural Area

Start at the the Eaton Canyon Natural Area's Nature Center and learn about native plants, rocks, and minerals, check out some nature exhibits, and view a collection of live native animals who have been rescued and rehabilitated. Then follow the Junior Nature Trail to scout for tadpoles in the pond, listen for local birds, and watch quietly for rabbits, lizards, and other wild animals who live here. If you’re feeling energetic, pack a picnic and hike the 3.5-mile main trail, which is mostly flat and appropriate for even young hikers. The waterfall and shallow pool in the middle of the trek is a good stop for splashing and resting before heading back. Nature-based experiences are multi-sensory, teach close looking and mindfulness, and help children develop a connection to wild places and wild creatures all in the course of a lovely family day out.