Why Pasadena Needs to be on Your Route 66 Road Trip

April 16, 2023 | Posted in Trip Ideas

If you're an avid road tripper or traveler, you've more than likely heard of Route 66, which is a historic highway that runs through the United States, connecting cities from Chicago to Los Angeles.

The route was established in 1926 as one of the original highways in the US Highway System. Countless songs, works of literature, and television shows pay homage to this feat, and various sections of the road are now placed under the National Register of Historic Places.

Saga Motor Hotel

Some of the original motels and neon signs are still standing like the Pasadena Rose and Crown Inn, Saga Motor Hotel, Pasadena Motel, Ace Motel, and Hi-way Host Motel, while others have been converted into other businesses but retain their original architecture like Draper Studio for Models Art Deco Building, which is now Rose City Dental.

Colorado Street Bridge

Colorado Street Bridge

Probably the most notable landmark is the Colorado Street Bridge, which is a joy to view. Though some areas of the decertified highway have been abandoned, Pasadena still honors this historic route and maintains its preservation, as it serves as the main road in the downtown area (now known as Colorado Blvd.) The original Bancroft Marker (also known as the Foothill Boulevard Milestone) is located at 1308 E. Colorado Blvd. and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

gamble house

Gamble House

If you're planning to drive along Route 66 through Pasadena, it's always beneficial to take a detour through its tree lined neighborhoods that feature American craftsman architecture. Some notable buildings include the Gamble House – the filming site for Doc. Brown's home in Back to the Future – and Wrigley Mansion, the official headquarters of Tournament of Roses. Both locations also offer tours of the interior for a full architectural experience.

norton simon art museum

Norton Simon Museum

And of course, with all of its culture, it's no surprise that Pasadena is home to several art and history museums. The Norton Simon is an art museum that sits along Route 66/Colorado Blvd. while The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a 120-acre, full day activity. And to take a deep dive into Route 66's culture and its ties with how Pasadena was established, the Pasadena Museum of History is entirely dedicated to the city's roots and routes. (Pun intended.)

Rose Bowl Stadium

Rose Bowl Stadium

Finally, no trip to the City of Roses is complete without a quick stop at the Rose Bowl Stadium, which hosts the Rose Bowl Game every New Year's Day and has been an iconic location for sporting events, concerts, and more.

Pasadena Arts

Ghost Signs and Neon Signs

The old school signage found around the city is one of the biggest favorites for Route 66 travelers. They are preserved mementos of another time. Other ghost signs include the Pasadena Theatre (in One Colorado), Crown City Mattress Works, and more. Neon signs can be found at Champion Laundry, Cameron's Seafood Market, Saga Motor Hotel (mentioned above), and Orange Grove Shopping Center.


City of Pasadena Historic Pasadena Smartphone App

The City of Pasadena takes pride in its rich historical heritage, and to make it more accessible to residents and visitors alike, they have developed the Historic Pasadena Smartphone App. Download the app to explore Pasadena's historic treasures.

Historic Pasadena Smartphone App