Rose Parade 2014 guide: Your pick for the 11 best places to visit in Pasadena

pasadena city hall

Photo by Michael Chen via Flickr Creative Commons

Pasadena City Hall.

If you're coming to the Rose Parade or the Rose Bowl, welcome to Pasadena: Home to a charming downtown with plentiful shopping and beautiful tree-shaded streets lined with Craftsman bungalows. (It's also home to KPCC.)

This year, there will be two Rose Bowl games in town: The Jan. 1 bowl game, as well as the national championship on Jan. 6. 

Locals can expect tons of tourists to flood Pasadena over the next couple of weeks. That's why we turned to you and asked: Where should tourists go? What should they know? Below is a collection of things to do, places to visit and top travel tips.


1. Stone Company Store | MAP

(Photo: Edwin D./Yelp)

"Stone is arguably the leader of the microbrew movement, and this is the only official tasting room outside of their Escondido HQ," says a source via our Public Insight Network. "Lots of great, hard-to-find brews on tap, great merchandise and bottled beer to take home, plus you can bring outside food." Stone Company is located at the Del Mar Metro station, which also houses delicious dining spots La Grande Orange and The Luggage Room


2. Visit the turtle ponds at Caltech | MAP

(Photo: Richard L./Yelp)

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) isn't only known for its science and engineering program and its connection to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Its campus boasts architectural beauty, as well as gardens and self-sustaining ponds. Expect to see snails, crawfish and turtles in the ponds on campus. "Walk around a beautiful safe campus with unique mid-century modern architecture and gardens," writes Aison N. on Yelp. "The turtle pond is awfully cute." Grab lunch at Lucky Boy's afterwards. 


3. Perry's Joint | MAP

Perry's Joint video created by John Muir High School


(Photo: Mike M./Yelp)

Pasadena local Petrea Burchard  suggests Perry's for a Chicago-style hot dog. This neighborhood spot also serves sandwiches, ice cream and coffee. But what truly makes Perry's Joint so special is the owner's love of jazz music, which is reflected through records on the wall and soft sounds of jazz permeating the room. (Call to inquire about live shows.)


4. The Gamble House | MAP 

The Gamble House on PBS


A National Historic Landmark, the Gamble House (and furniture inside) was designed by Charles and Henry Greene in 1908 for David and Mary Gamble of the Procter & Gamble Co. Often referred to as America's "Arts and Crafts masterpiece," the house hosts docent-led tours showcasing the house's exquisite woodwork and meticulous gardens. Look familiar? Exterior shots were used as Doc Brown's pad in the "Back to the Future" movies.


5. Langham Huntington hotel | MAP

Tweet from Langham Pasadena

The historic Langham Huntington is a sight to be seen. While the original 1907 Hotel Wentworth building was largely demolished for earthquake retrofitting in 1988, some areas — including two ballrooms and a few bungalows — were retained. The new hotel was built to replicate the old, and the result is a magnificent building at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains (complete with outdoor gardens and a lovely pool). Stop by the Tap Room for a drink — an elegant bar with a gorgeous patio, writes Stefanie G on Yelp


6. Explore the museums | MAP

Tweet from The Huntington


See a collection of European paintings and sculptures at the Norton Simon Museum; explore rare books and botanical gardens at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens; and delve into Chinese palace-style architecture at the Pacific Asia Museum (which recently partnered with USC). "These are historical landmarks that really embody the art culture of Pasadena that oftentimes gets overlooked," Amy She told KPCC. 


7. Vromans Bookstore | MAP

(Photo: Carolyn/Flickr)

Vromans is a rare gem, says Stephen Hinkel. "There aren't many independent bookstores with such a wide variety of items for purchase, plus you can have a great cup of coffee (or tea) with a snack," Hinkel told KPCC. The store also hosts in-store discussions and book signings; click here for a list of events. 


8. Hike the mountains | MAP

(Photo: Randall P./Yelp)

Janet Quezada says her two favorites local hikes are Eaton Canyon and Echo Mountain/Lowe Railroad.

She writes to KPCC: 

The Echo Mountain hike is best done early when it is not too hot and it takes us at a slow pace four hours in and out. [It] leads to and old mountain resort, you can still see the foundations of where the ballroom and tennis courts were.  

The Eaton Canyon hike takes us one hour and a half and is easier but you have to cross the river nine times to get to the rocky waterfall at the end. 

For maps and hiking directions to Eaton Canyon, click here. For details on Echo Mountain, click here. And for details on Lowe Railroad, click here. (Just be careful about going off trail.)


9. Shop for souvenirs at a flea market | MAP

Shop vintage at Pasadena Flea

Get a real taste of California hipster life at the Pasadena City College and Rose Bowl flea markets, which happen on the first and second Sundays of every month respectively. From denim apparel to vintage jewelry, shop for yourself or grab souvenirs — and don't forget to bring cash. Find more details on Pasadena City College flea here; more on Rose Bowl flea here


10. Visit NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory | MAP

(Photo: Grant Skater/KPCC)

Home to NASA's Curiosity rover, JPL is also known for engineer Bobak Ferdowsi, aka "Mohawk Guy," whose hairdo went viral last year. The research and development center hosts tours that let folks explore the facility and learn more about its recent missions. Here's a list of available tours. Afterwards, hike this woodsy trail behind the building. 


11. Cruise the Arroyo Seco Parkway | MAP

(Photo: waltarrrrr/Flickr)

View L.A's palm tree horizon while driving along the Arroyo Seco Parkway, the first freeway in California and the western United States, which opened in 1940. This is arguably also the most beautiful freeway in the U.S., with historic bridges, hilly houses and the Los Angeles skyline. Pro tip: Wear your seatbelt and hold on tight; the road is windy, and local drivers tend to drive fast. 


OTHER TIPS FROM KPCC LISTENERS: 

  • Use the FlyAway bus to and from LAX: Cheap, fast and easier than driving. Then rent a car at Union Station or in Pasadena: cheaper and more convenient. You can also ride the Gold Line to Pasadena then take a cab to a car rental place. —Jeffrey Erickson
  • If you'll be taking the train a fair bit, a day pass is a great option at $6 for unlimited travel on public transit (buses and trains alike) all day. —Jamie Ramirez
  • In many parts of the city, street parking from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. is prohibited unless you have a parking permit, so make sure you get one if you're planning on parking overnight! Also, the BEST way to get around L.A. without the traffic is to take the Metro Gold Line. There are many stations that go through Pasadena. It's cheap, convenient, and you bypass all the L.A. traffic! —Amy She
  • Don't be afraid to head out north or east into L.A. county instead of heading toward the Westside, traditional tourist spots or sticking to Pasadena. If the weather is nice and you want to hit the beach, consider heading south — less crowded, and it's not that long a drive.

What'd we miss? Share your favorite Pasadena spots and traveling tips in comments, on Facebook or Twitter

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