Welcome to Pasadena
A historical city in California with a rich cultural and intellectual presence
Located north of Los Angeles, California, is Pasadena, a historic city founded in the 1800s. While it was once known for its prominent role in the citrus industry, this famous city is now a bustling enclave with incredible schools, intricate architecture, and renowned arts and culture. Widely loved for its rich history, great neighborhoods, and craftsman bungalows, which range from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, Pasadena is an eclectic, lively, and charming place to live.
Beyond being shaped by its role in the citrus industry, Pasadena has an influential history as the end of the railroad from Chicago. Specifically, the Desert Wind was an Amtrak long-distance train that brought people from the Windy City to Pasadena from 1979 to 1997. Before that, in the early 1900s, Pasadena was a main stop on The California Limited Train, which ran to Chicago. It was the only Southern California train exclusively for first-class travel at the time.
Originally Native American land, Pasadena eventually went to Spaniards who established Mission San Gabriel Arcangel in September of 1771, then to Mexicans, then finally to settlers. During this time, the area saw an abundance of growth, including the first real estate office in 1885 and a 200-room hotel in 1886. Unlike other major cities, like Boston and San Francisco, downtown wasn’t developed until later on, not truly gaining traction until after the 1920s, when Pasadena had already been gathering attention long before that. In the 1950s, the addition of freeways helped join the communities surrounding Pasadena together.
Still maintaining a peaceful, small-town feel today, many special residential neighborhoods reside within Pasadena. San Rafael Estates, located on the west side of the Arroyo Seco, is home to 20th-century properties created by California’s most successful architects. Both San Rafael Estates and Arroyo Seco are close to Old Town Pasadena and neighboring areas’ incredible dining, shopping, and entertainment. South Orange Grove, once lovingly known as Millionaire’s Row, now features a wide range of cozy townhouses and condominiums, as well as the iconic Wrigley Mansion. Families flock to Madison Heights for its quiet and welcoming residential areas, which boast custom homes tucked along tree-lined streets adjacent to Caltech and the South Lake Shopping District.
What to Love
- A variety of charming neighborhoods
- Old Town Pasadena’s sprawling culinary scene
- Rich land history as orange and avocado groves, along with being the end of the railroad from Chicago
Pasadena offers a leisurely lifestyle for locals without the congestion of Beverly Hills, Westwood, West Hollywood, and the Palisades. There are many great local restaurants and shops to explore. The community is made up of elegant neighborhoods, and each has its own personality. Neighboring areas like South Pasadena, Altadena, and San Marino are all interrelated and only a short drive away, with some even sharing a school district. While Pasadena might seem sleepy and understated, it’s home to some of the most affluent individuals in the country who prefer the intellectual historical haven over the extravagant glitz and glamor of nearby cities.
Dining, Entertainment & Shopping
Pasadena offers a myriad of shopping and dining opportunities. In Old Town Pasadena, there are numerous independently-owned restaurants and shops for locals to explore. At the Langham Huntington Hotel, locals can enjoy a sumptuous meal inside or opt to dine al fresco. With white linen tablecloths and carefully-selected art on the walls, Parkway Grill offers upscale California cuisine and a romantic ambiance, perfect for a special occasion or date night.
Arroyo Chop House is a luxurious, upscale steakhouse offering various high-quality meat cuts and fresh seafood. The eatery’s full-service bar is ideal for unwinding with a cocktail. At The Arbour, locals choose from items on a farm-to-table menu featuring California dishes.
Pasadena is also home to one of the nation’s favorite grocery stores, the original Trader Joe’s. Opened in 1967 by founder Joe Coulombe, the much-loved store has since expanded to span 530 stores across the US, although California still boasts the most locations with 192. Locals love the welcoming vibe and commitment to freshness and the community.
Things to Do
On New Year's Day, all eyes turn to Pasadena as the city hosts the highly anticipated Rose Parade. It ends with the celebrated Rose Bowl Game known as “The Granddaddy of Them All” at the Rose Bowl Stadium, which is the oldest currently operating bowl game. The stadium is home to the UCLA Bruins, and the Rose Bowl has been the highest-attended college football bowl game since 1945. Throughout the rest of the year, the Rose Bowl Stadium offers big-name concerts and Class A events watched worldwide, as well as Los Angeles’ fourth largest fireworks display on the Fourth of July.
The Norton Simon Museum is renowned for its beautiful sculpture garden, which houses European and Asian works of art. Initially the Pasadena Art Museum and then the Pasadena Museum of Modern Art, this area staple has been displaying stunning galleries since its inception by the Pasadena Art Institute in 1922 and has seen several major renovations since.
Pasadena is also the proud home of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center managed by the California Institute of Technology. It offers fascinating onsite tours for the public to learn about the lab’s activities and accomplishments.
The Pasadena Unified School District serves the community of Pasadena. Top-rated public, private, charter, and high-education schools include:
California Institute of Technology (CalTech), one of the finest tech schools in the country
JPL, Polytechnic School, a well-regarded program overseen by NASA running the renowned Mars Rover program
Westridge School, Grades 4-12, all-girls private school
Mayfield Junior School, Grades 6-8
Mayfield Senior School, Grades 8-12
Sequoia School, Grades K-12, local private school