A leafy suburb north of downtown LA, Pasadena epitomizes the relaxed Southern California lifestyle. Everyone shows up on New Year’s Day for the famous Rose Parade, with its flower-bedecked floats. Year-round, you can amble through art museums and go shopping, dining and drinking along the pedestrian-friendly blocks of Old Pasadena.
Start with a tour of the Gamble House, an excellent example of early-20th-century California bungalow architecture, or explore the Norton Simon Museum of European and Asian art. If it’s just too gorgeously sunny to spend all day indoors, head east to the Huntington estate and stroll through its botanical gardens, then admire the art collection and rare books in the library. On one Sunday each month, antiques hawkers and bargain hunters gather to haggle at the Rose Bowl Flea Market.
For business travelers, downtown Pasadena is compact and walkable. If you’re here on vacation, Pasadena makes a less-frazzled base for exploring Los Angeles – Hollywood and Downtown LA are each less than 30 minutes away by car, without any traffic jams.