Where to Have a Blast on a Budget? Think Pasadena

Written by | Travel

As an LA resident, whenever I have an urge to go out of town but don’t really have the time (or the budget) to fly out somewhere fabulous, I head to Pasadena. Yes, that’s right: Pasadena.

Pasadena CA

Sadly, many Angelenos have never even been to Pasadena. The thought of taking the 110 Freeway north feels to them like it spirals off to a different dimension, or leads somehow to the edge of the universe. People, you’re missing out: Pasadena, just northeast of downtown Los Angeles, may seem far, but it is only a mere 18 miles from West Hollywood (or a 30-minute drive in light traffic).

Pasadena CA

When in Pasadena, I recommend you visit the Norton Simon Museum. Although the museum is fairly small, it houses a few Van Goghs and Degas, and the Rodan sculptures are particularly amazing. In addition, the City Hall of Pasadena has been used to film Parks and Recreation. The architecture is so beautiful and a favorite subject among photographers. Another piece of fine architecture is The Gamble House, a brilliant example of Craftsman architecture by the Greene brothers.

Pasadena CA

Colorado Boulevard is a charming street filled with cool stores for shopping interspersed with quaint coffee shops and a sublime combination of restaurants and wine bars. My personal favorite, the Huntington Library, does triple duty as a library, park and museum established by Henry E. Huntington and located in San Marino, just next door to Pasadena. The institution houses an extensive art collection with a focus in 18th and 19th-century European art. Its a terrific spot, set on approximately 120 acres of well-manicured and cultivated gardens, including the Japanese Garden (which was used in the movie The Last Samurai), the “Desert Garden,” and the “Chinese Garden.” Each one of them is a joy to behold.

Enjoy new highlights of travel photographer Edwin Santiago’s journeys each week.

Last modified: July 11, 2017