Pasadena Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Pasadena

Only ten miles away from Los Angeles but having a distinct character, Pasadena is most famous for being host to the Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl. With a location at the San Gabriel Mountains' feet, the city initially received its fame as a resort town in 1886.

The city's name comes from a word in the Chippewa language that translates to "Crown of the Valley." You'll note a crown on the city's flag, as well as the seal, and visitors would say it lives up to its reputation.

During the Craftsman era that lasted from the 1890s to the 1930s, the city saw the construction of many houses in this style. The Robert R. Blacker House and Gamble House still stand as two stunning examples of this landmark style.

The 21 blocks that make up Old Town Pasadena are excellent examples of historical architecture and are a mecca for shopping, dining, and nightlife opportunities. Twice a month, the area immediately surrounding the Rose Bowl is host to a flea market, including everything from vintage clothing to pottery.

Pasadena's Pacific Asia Museum has a diverse art collection that includes a vast array of Kabuki prints. Many of the sculptures are of South Asian origin, and the paintings, sculptures, and calligraphy prints in the primary collection are from various Asian countries.

A self-guided walking tour of Pasadena is the best way to make sure you don't miss any important sights.
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Pasadena Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Pasadena Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Pasadena (See other walking tours in Pasadena)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
Author: Caroline
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Pasadena City Hall
  • Jackie and Mack Robinson Memorial
  • All Saints Episcopal Church
  • Pacific Asia Museum
  • Pasadena Playhouse
  • Colorado Boulevard
  • Pasadena Civic Auditorium
  • Castle Green
  • One Colorado Market Place
  • Memorial Park
1
Pasadena City Hall

1) Pasadena City Hall (must see)

Pasadena City Hall, completed in 1927, serves as the central location for city government in Pasadena and it is a significant example of the City Beautiful movement of the 1920s. In 1923, the people of Pasadena approved a bond measure issuing $3.5 million towards the development of a civic center. City Hall was to be the central element of this center.

The San Francisco architecture firm of Bakewell and Brown designed the City Beautiful and California Mediterranean of Mediterranean Revival Style and Spanish Colonial Revival Style architecture influenced City Hall. It was completed on December 27, 1927 at a cost of $1.3 million. It measures 361 feet (110 m) by 242 feet (74 m), and rises 6 stories. There are over 235 rooms and passageways that cover over 170,000 square feet (16,000 m2). The defining dome, located above the west entrance, is 26 feet (7.9 m) tall and 54 feet (16 m) in diameter.

The City Hall has long been a favorite shooting location for filmmakers. The courtyard was used in the 1995 movie "A Walk in the Clouds" to portray a Napa Valley town square. It has also been used as an embassy in the "Mission: Impossible" television series, and a villa in Charlie Chaplin's Oscar-nominated 1940 film "The Great Dictator." Pasadena City Hall currently serves as the city hall of fictional Pawnee, Indiana, in the television show "Parks and Recreation."
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Jackie and Mack Robinson Memorial

2) Jackie and Mack Robinson Memorial

This memorial, in honor of Jackie and Mack Robinson, pays homage to two of Pasadena's most famous residents, Jackie, a native of Cairo, Georgia, and his brother, Mack. Jackie attended John Muir High School, as well as Pasadena Junior College. He is most famous for making history by playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1947 to 1956, eventually earning a place in the baseball Hall of Fame. The sculpture featuring Jackie's face looks east towards Brooklyn.

Mack, Jackie's older brother, earned a Silver Medal in the 1936 Olympics for the 200-meter sprint. Even though he made history by coming in second place after Jesse Owens, Mack received less local acclaim than his younger brother when returning to his hometown. When he and other black residents of Pasadena fought the city in court to end segregation at the city's pool, he lost a city job, creating a somewhat complicated relationship with the city. His sculpture faces towards Pasadena City Hall.
3
All Saints Episcopal Church

3) All Saints Episcopal Church

All Saints Church is an Episcopal church and part of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. The current building is the third home for activities of this church.

The church has a reputation of being one of Southern California's most liberal churches and one of the largest Episcopal churches in the country. Former Rector Ed Bacon said that political activism "is in the DNA of the church."

The church began in November 1882 when eleven people gathered in the home of Mr. and Mrs. C.C. Brown for services conducted by the Reverend Trew. In 1885 the congregation dedicated its first church building at the corner of Colorado Blvd. and Garfield Ave. on April 5 (Easter Day). The parish continued to grow rapidly, and a new site was purchased at 132 North Euclid for the building of a 600-seat church. First services were held Easter Day, April 21, 1889. The congregation outgrew the church building, and a new church building was built in 1923. It opened in 1924 and has been in service since then.

All Saints bought additional property in 1926–7, where it built a parish hall and rectory. They were also designed in the English Gothic style, and form an integrated courtyard with the main church.

In 1980, All Saints was listed by the National Park Service on the National Register of Historic Places as a Contributing Structure to the Pasadena Civic Center District.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Pacific Asia Museum

4) Pacific Asia Museum

Set in an Asian-style building on the University of Southern California campus, the Pacific Asia Museum covers the Asian-Pacific region's art, culture, and history. The exhibitions bring a greater awareness of similarities and differences between Asian and non-Asian cultures, along with educational opportunities and special programs.

Some examples of exhibitions that have been popular include contemporary art in Los Angeles, Kabuki prints, and ceramics. The permanent exhibit includes over 800 Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian pieces. Materials used include jade, stone, ivory, and wood sculptures from the Neolithic Era onward.

The classes and workshops held during the year allow visitors to experience the full breadth of culture found in Asian art. Chinese Calligraphy and Brush Painting is a popular type of class for visitors to take. Even if you're spending most of your time on the grounds outside the museum, you will have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the unique architecture and get a few photos.

Operation hours: Wednesday - Sunday: 11 am - 5 pm, Thursday until 8 pm.
5
Pasadena Playhouse

5) Pasadena Playhouse

The Pasadena Playhouse is California's state theater and has welcomed audiences with top-notch entertainment for over 100 years. This theater's auditorium seats 686 in a building constructed in Spanish Colonial Revival-style. Many of the plays by top playwrights such as Eugene O'Neill, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Tennessee Williams premiered at this theater.

This theater stands out because of its superior acoustics and stage design that helped it become an early pioneer in community theater. Taking a tour of the theater is a perfect way to learn valuable insights about its history and the actors who helped make it famous. Visiting the green room provides an exciting look into all the preparation required for actors to get ready when appearing on-stage.

Another exciting part of the tour is a visit to a Craftsman-style library that offers all kinds of exciting information. The decor inside the auditorium area reflects the building's 1920s origins. This theater also boasts modern lighting and other effects that bring the sets to life.
6
Colorado Boulevard

6) Colorado Boulevard

Colorado Boulevard, also known as Colorado Street, is one of Pasadena's major east-west streets and used as the route for the Rose Bowl Parade. The street has always been a major center for the shopping, banking, and hotel sectors. Many of the buildings that still stand in this area date back to the late 1800s and are always worth photographing.

There are plenty of exciting things to do when you're walking down this street. Stop by the Neon Retro Arcade and play some vintage video games. Take some pictures of landmarks like the First Baptist Church of Pasadena or City Hall. If you're interested in buying some exciting items, check out Distant Lands, Gold Bug, The Pasadena Antique Mall, and Mignon Chocolate.

Restaurant options to consider include Avanti Italian Bistro & Bar, La Grande Orange Cafe, Malbec, and Ramen Tatsunoya. If you decide to grab a drink while on your walking tour, consider Bodega Wine Bar Pasadena, The Rose, or Salt Lounge.
7
Pasadena Civic Auditorium

7) Pasadena Civic Auditorium (must see)

The Pasadena Civic Auditorium, host of America's Got Talent, the Daytime Emmy Awards, and the NAACP Image Awards is one of the top performance halls in the United States. In addition to these star-studded events, the auditorium is host to cultural performances, film and TV events, graduation ceremonies, and theatrical performances.

This auditorium dates back to 1932 and still features many of the decorative elements unique to that time. One of the theater's most noteworthy features is a Moller organ, which is one of the world's largest instruments. In front of the auditorium, the plaza has become a popular place for tribute bands to play, with musical selections including 80s tributes, Elton John, and Journey.

Although the auditorium is not open for public tours, stopping for a moment to take a picture of the building is worth your time. The architecture is some of the finest in Pasadena, and you will be glad you stopped to take a look.
8
Castle Green

8) Castle Green

Castle Green dates back to 1898 and is one of Pasadena's most beloved historic locations. This Victorian-era gem has its origins as an annex to Hotel Green, a popular resort of the time. During the 1920s, the hotel became private residences that have attracted artists, collectors, designers, and musicians.

This building features a Mediterranean Revival style invoking elements from southwestern Europe and North Africa into its designs. The hotel has been a famous filming location for its Victorian interiors and beautiful grounds.

Arched walkways and verandas crafted of lovely stone add to the unique beauty of the grounds. There is a lily pond that adds a sense of tranquility to the grounds, despite the hotel being in one of Pasadena's most popular neighborhoods.

Expansive lawn areas and beautiful trees help add to the grounds' inviting nature. Many guests enjoy this area because of how peaceful the grounds are and the number of photo opportunities available.
9
One Colorado Market Place

9) One Colorado Market Place

One Colorado Market Place is a premier Pasadena shopping, dining, and entertainment destination. The brick buildings date back to the Victorian era, evoking another time. An open-air courtyard provides the perfect spot for socializing, people-watching, or soaking up the sun.

This open-air is host to fun activities that are often perfect for the whole family. DJs and musical acts are regular fixtures at this mall. You might even see dance acts here.

Some of the most popular upscale retailers include Anthropologie, J. Crew, Nike, and Sephora. Being able to shop for so many designer brands in one location is worth the visit.

Dining choices that you'll enjoy taking advantage of include Main Chick, Russell's Famous Hamburgers, and Sushi Roku. If you're on the hunt for a quick snack, consider 21 Choices Frozen Yogurt and Il Fornaio Bakery.

One Colorado Market Place also has an IPIC movie theater. Watching movies in this setting is worth the time because of the quality of the sound and picture.
10
Memorial Park

10) Memorial Park

Memorial Park stands out in Pasadena for its memorials, kid-friendly fun, and free summer concerts at its pavilion. Sculptures and artwork are found throughout the park, offering some exciting selfie opportunities for visitors. One of the structures includes remnants from the first public library building.

The pavilion area is one of the most iconic parts of the park. There is plenty of seating to comfortably accommodate everyone during a concert. When artists perform here, visitors are assured of being able to hear everything clearly.

This park has a mulched playground area for children that is well-maintained. Kids are sure to enjoy the playground equipment that has a fun forest motif.

There are several benches that are ideal for watching everything going on, reading, or enjoying a cup of coffee. The park has sufficient space to enjoy picnics, leisurely walks, or pick-me-up sports.

Walking Tours in Pasadena, California

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