Travel Guide: 2 Days on the Pasadena Boba Trail Exploring Route 66
Pasadena’s Boba Trail features 30 (and counting) boba shops, each with their own flavors and snacks. When you look at the map, the boba culture is strong along Pasadena’s Route 66. Let this tasty, customizable beverage take you on a journey through all the fun attractions and historic landmarks along the way. Use this two-day travel guide along the Pasadena Boba Trail to find out where to get breakfast, what to do, where to eat, and where to stay.
Breakfast on Route 66
The boba subculture begins around 11 a.m. or 12 p.m., so it’s not really a breakfast activity. Luckily, Pasadena is home to countless coffee shops, even celebrity owned ones. Enjoy a drive through brew from locally owned Jones Coffee Hut, located on the historic Route 66 on Arroyo Parkway, or go to their full coffee shop with a wide selection of fresh breakfast pastries. . If you keep heading north, you'll find yourself in Old Pasadena, where there's plenty to explore. Stop by the Trader Joe’s nearby – it's the first location they ever opened.
Another great light breakfast spot is Tepito Coffee, located at Vroman’s Bookstore in the Playhouse Village District. Opened by Emmy-nominated Richard Cabral and his business partner Mike De La Rosa, the coffee shop works with Homeboy Industries. Enjoy Mexican heritage coffee, locally made conchas, and Apple empanadas. Inside the Arcade Lane here, you'll find Yahaira's Cafe, a cozy and down-to-earth Mexican eatery with a fantastic patio and delicious huevos yucatan. Afterwards, explore Vroman’s, which is Southern California’s largest bookstore. Pop in next door to Los Angeles’ oldest record shop at Canterbury Records. When you're done, pop into 7 Tea or R&B Tea for freshly made boba to sip on.
If you are looking for a heartier breakfast, check out Russell’s in Old Pasadena for generous servings of pancakes, sausage, omelets, and other classic American breakfast items in a chandeliered American diner setting. Or head on over to Popping Yolk for Nashville Hot Chicken eggs benedicts, French Toast, and the whole gamut of exciting brunch items. After brunch, take a leisurely stroll through the alleyways of Old Pasadena, and you’ll be sure to run into a couple boba shops, such as Boba ChaCha, Bearology, and OneZo.
What To Do
Grab a boba from Home Brewed Bar on Madison Avenue and explore the area. Visit the USC Pacific Asia Museum and its garden, the only university museum in the United States dedicated exclusively to the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands. The building is an ornate landmark, built in the style of China’s Imperial Palace.
Walk around to marvel in the architecture beauty of Pasadena City Hall and check out the Robinson Memorial dedicated nearby. From here, you’ll have a great view of the San Gabriel mountains on one side, and the historic Pasadena Civic Auditorium on the other. For a quick sweet treat, stop into Bearology Pasadena inside the Indiana Colony for some colorful boba. It's no doubt the architecture in Pasadena is a star of the show. While you sip, enjoy everything from Beaux Arts to Northern Chinese Imperialist with a self guided walking tour utilizing this handy dandy guide.
At the edge of Old Pasadena, the Norton Simon Museum is a world-renowned art lover's dream. Grab a boba and fluffy pancakes from Motto Tea Cafe before heading over to the museum's galleries filled with masters like Degas and Monet. There's also an outdoor sculpture garden to enjoy. From there, head to Desiderio Park to get up close and personal with historic Colorado Street Bridge, which is recognizable from La La Land. Along the Arroyo Seco nature area, the historic Rose Bowl Stadium is worth take a look at, where there is a rotating calendar of sporting events, music festivals, stadium concerts, and community events. On the last Friday of every month, you can take a public tour of the stadium.
Where to Eat
Head to Float Pasadena for sandwiches in Dutch bread and impressive salads. It’s in the picturesque Burlington Arcade, where there’s ample parking in the back on Shoppers Ln. Afterwards, explore the Kimono No Kobeya shop, where you’ll find one-of-a-kind kimonos and other Japanese finds, or grab a manipedi at Nailbox. At the end of the arcade, OinkMoo Boba is the perfect spot to grab a roadie as you explore the South Lake Shopping District.
A walk around Old Pasadena will offer a variety of dining options. Grab hot pot at Boiling Point Concept and enjoy with a cup of boba from their JIN Tea Shop next door. Mexican cuisine at Maestro or Tortas Mexico, and indulge in handcrafted pastas and Italian cuisine at Union and U Street Pizza. There’s also sushi, ramen, korean barbeque, burgers, Indian food, Nepalese food, and so much more. If you find yourself in front of a boba shop, stop inside and see just how each one is different. YiFang Fruit Tea specializes in fruit infused tea drinks as well as brown sugar milk teas, CHA Redefine offers seasonal flavors such as taro as well as tea gift sets, and more.
Eat at Parkway Grill on Route 66, an upscale spot serving Californian cuisine in an art-filled, elegant setting since 1984. The space has a large outdoor space featuring a culinary garden. Nearby, The Raymond is another phenomenal spot with a garden patio, serving steaks, seafood, and theatrical craft cocktails. Along Arroyo Parkway, you will also find the large Howlin’ Rays full-service restaurant, dishing out one of LA’s most popular Nashville-style hot chicken.
Where to Stay
Stay in the Civic Center District, near City Hall, The Paseo, and the Pasadena Convention Center with hotels like Sheraton Pasadena, Westin Pasadena and the Hilton Pasadena.
Located in the Playhouse Village District, enjoy a stay at the new Pasadena Hotel & Pool in a 1926-built hotel that offers a pet package offering a puppy tent, bowl, and amenities.
In Old Pasadena, stay at the Courtyard Marriott Pasadena or the Residence Inn Pasadena.
Immerse yourself in Pasadena’s heritage with historic hotels like The Langham Huntington, Pasadena, an elegant historic hotel with sprawling 23-acres of lush greenery.