Things to do
From historic architectural marvels to heavenly craftsman homes, there are over 30 nationally registered historic districts packed into 23 square miles in Pasadena. This is your one-stop-shop for the finest in preservation. (Hero photo credit @tommy.lei)
Touring the Architecture of Pasadena
Simply by visiting the city’s cultural and academic attractions, you’ll see everything from Beaux Arts and Spanish Revival to Craftsman and Northern Chinese Imperialist. With tree-lined streets of iconic craftsman bungalows by Henry and Charles Green and 1920s revival style historic landmarks in the vibrant downtown centers, Pasadena is a pioneer in the historic preservation movement and a must-see American architectural destination.
Designed by Charles and Henry Greene, the Gamble House is considered to be one of the finest examples of architecture from the American Arts & Crafts Movement. The home was built in 1908 for David and Mary Gamble of Procter & Gamble and is a National Historic Landmark that appears as Doc Brown's house in "Back to the Future." Tours available on Tuesdays, and Thursdays through Sundays.
Greene & Greene Neighborhood Tour
Explore the historic Arroyo Terrace neighborhood, a National Register historic district home to nine Greene & Greene houses as well as the works of other noted architects such as Myron Hunt, Edwin Bergstrom, Elmer Grey, and D. M. Renton. See the personal residences of Myron Hunt and of Charles Greene, whose house evolved between 1902 and 1915 as his family grew and his design matured. The tour is led by the Friends of the Gamble House.
Old Pasadena Walking Tours
Old Pasadena is a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places and one of the best examples of downtown revitalization in the United States. The district’s cobblestone courtyards, quaint alleyways and ornate architecture date back to the 1880s. Tours can be arranged through Pasadena Heritage. The Old Pasadena Walking Tour is offered on the first Saturday of each month throughout most of the year, except January, July and October.
Haunted Pasadena Walking Tour
Through castles and courtyards, mortuaries and theatres, darkened alleyways and shuttered shopping malls, get walking with Pasadena Walking Tours to discover the sordid side of the City of Roses. Meet the phantoms who haunt its alleys, underground tunnels, corridors, and back rooms. Unexplained mysteries and dirty dealings pepper Pasadena's past as you uncover the stories through a nighttime wander through the Playhouse Village and Old Pasadena.
Use the Explore Pasadena Architecture brochure for these tours. The brochure features 10 neighborhoods with a rare concentration of landmark homes and buildings. The tours range from 1.2 to 4 miles in length and may be explored on foot, by bicycle or car. Pick up copies of the brochure in the Pasadena Visitors Center or download it here.
Tour 4: Oak Knoll
Once the site of a sheep ranch owned by Henry Huntington, Oak Knoll was developed into large estates in the early 1900s. The rolling oak-covered area is now home to The Langham Huntington, Pasadena and an array of impressive estates.
Tour 6: Civic Center & Playhouse District
Planned in the 1920s, the richly detailed buildings, broad boulevards and park-like settings are firmly rooted in a civic axis. Commanding structures include the historic Central Library, Pasadena City Hall with its red-tile dome, and the revered Pasadena Civic Auditorium.
Tour 10: Lombardy Road
Returning from European study, the aspiring gentlemen architects of the time created fanciful reconstructions of their remembered visions of rural Spain and Italy. This route passes the California Institute of Technology whose faculty has won 39 Nobel Prizes. End the tour at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens with lunch in the Tea Room.