Pasadena, California Rose Parade, Museums & History

The Golden Era of Los Angeles is showcased in no finer way than through Pasadenaa's architecture, art. hotels, shops and towering palms set against a backdrop of the San Gabriel mountains. Whether you are one of the thousands of readers in San Marino's famed Huntington Library, are camping on the sidewalks to see the Rose Parade (official web site listed at bottom of page) , or are exploring the city's many attractions,  you'll notice that Pasadena has old world charm along with luxury comforts.

While many of California beach cities look a little sandy and overexposed, Pasadena is 30 minutes east of the ocean and was designed for elegance as home to wealthy barons who built houses and estates and found the idyllic place much to their liking when they settled in the region in the early 1900's. At the same time, resorts sprang forth as Pasadena was considered one of the healthy spots to relax, rejuvenate and enjoy Los Angeles from arm's length. Today, visitors are delighted to discover that history has been preserved with over 1,000 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, with an annual parade over 100 years old and with Old Pasadena 20-block Historic Area alive with retail stores, art galleries, trendy boutiques, antique shops and vintage clothing.

The word pasadena is believed to be of Chippewa origin and likely meant "crown of the valley". The earliest inhabitants of this valley were Shoshonean  Indians, with Gabrielinos, later tending the fields and gardens of the lands of Mission San Gabriel. California became a state in 1850 and people migrated west with folks from Indiana settling and founding the town in 1875. They held what is believed to be the first Citrus Fair in 1880. The Rose Parade also came into being but looked nothing like it does today.


From humble beginnings, the Tournament of Roses has grown into one of the largest and most watched parades in the world.  Every January 1st, around one million people flock to the streets of Pasadena to  attend  the event with an additional estimated 350 million viewers in more than 80 countries throughout the world watching televised broadcasts of the Parade featuring floats made entirely of flowers. There's also a college football game played in the beautiful Rose Bowl. Surrounding the Tournament of Roses are other events such as Fanfest, Bandfest, Chili Cookoff and Equifest.  Information and all your questions can be answered at Pasadena events  include Doo Dah Parade, Flea Market at the Rose Bowl,  chalk painting, antique car show and  Playboy Jazz artists' series of concerts.


NORTON SIMON MUSEUM in Pasadena, California, is one of the world's finest and most prestigious.  Western and Asian art represented.  European paintings and sculpture range from the 14th to the 20th century. The Museum exhibits Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo masterpieces by Raphael, El Greco, Rubens, Rembrandt, Hals, and Tiepolo, along with works from the 19th and 20th century by Goya, Manet, Monet, Degas, Renoir, van Gogh, Cézanne, Rousseau and Picasso. The print collection boasts some of the finest and rarest etchings by Rembrandt, Goya and Picasso. The South Asian sculpture collection contains major examples from India, Nepal, Thailand and Cambodia. Open every day except Tuesday, 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m., and Friday until 9:00 p.m. The Norton Simon Museum  is located in Pasadena, California, on the corner of Orange Grove and Colorado Boulevards at the intersection of the Foothill (210) and Ventura (134) freeways. Admission for adults is $8 (approx).  NORTON SIMON MUSEUM 411 West Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, California 91105 (626) 449-6840

ART CENTER COLLEGE OF DESIGN 1700 Lida Street, Pasadena The College's galleries house revolving exhibits of students' work and exhibitions by national and international artists and designers. Open Tuesday - Sunday, noon - 5 p.m. and Thursday, noon - 9 p.m.


CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY  Caltech provides one of the nation's most widely recognized courses of study in science and engineering. Architectural tours of the 124-acre campus are conducted on the fourth Thursday of each month at 11 a.m. (except Dec., July & Aug.).  Tours depart from the Athenaeum at 551 S. Hill. Please call for reservations.


CITY HALL 100 N. Garfield Avenue, Pasadena  This exquisite 1927 landmark exhibits Italian Renaissance and Spanish influences with its red tile roof, ornate fountain and lush garden courtyard. (626) 744-4000


DESCANSO GARDENS 1418 Descanso Drive, La Canada Located on 160 acres, Descanso Gardens contains forests, streams, a lake, and bird sanctuary highlighted by 80 acres of colorful flowers, including camellias, lilacs and roses. Open daily 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., except Christmas 


EL MOLINO VIEJO (THE OLD MILL) 1120 Old Mill Road, San Marino Completed in 1816 as a grist mill for Mission San Gabriel, the two-story oven-baked brick and adobe structure is a testament to Southern California  history. Open Tuesday - Sunday, 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.


THE GAMBLE HOUSE 4 Westmoreland Place, Pasadena Built in 1908 during the American Arts and Crafts movement, this masterpiece is the best preserved example of work from internationally recognized architects Charles and Henry Greene. The home was built for David and Mary Gamble of Procter &  Gamble and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Docent Tours: Thursday - Sunday, noon - 3 p.m. 


THE HUNTINGTON LIBRARY, ART COLLECTIONS AND BOTANICAL GARDENS 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino  Located on the estate of the late Henry Huntington, the Library of this research and cultural center features works from British  and American history and literature, including an original Gutenberg Bible and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The Gallery's collection includes 18th and 19th Century British and French masterpieces, including the "Blue Boy" and "Pinkie."  The Botanical Gardens cover 150 acres. Open Tuesday - Friday, noon - 4:30 p.m.; Saturday - Sunday,  10:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; Summer Hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 10:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (626) 405-2100


JET PROPULSION LABORATORY  4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena JPL is a world-renowned research, development and  flight center for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Tours by appointment.


KIDSPACE MUSEUM 390 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena Kidspace is a participatory museum with hands-on exhibits designed to make  learning a fun and enjoyable experience. Exhibits include Inter Antics, Robotix,  Critter Caverns and more. Open Tuesday, 1:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.; Wednesday - Friday 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.; Saturday,  10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.  Call for summer hours. 


MOUNT WILSON OBSERVATORY  To visit Mount Wilson Observatory, follow CA Route 2 (Angeles Crest Highway) out of La Cañada/Flintridge into the San Gabriel Mountains for 14 miles to Red Box Road; turn right, and go another 5 miles to the Observatory gate. Parking is available in a large lot just beyond the front gate. No private vehicles are allowed beyond the parking lots.


NINTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS 125 South Grand Avenue, Pasadena The Court is now housed in the original Vista del Arroyo Hotel which was built   in 1903. The building was restored and reopened by the federal government in 1985. Tours by appointment only. (626) 229-7250


PACIFIC ASIA MUSEUM 46 North Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena  Housed in the historic Grace Nicholson mansion, the museum is dedicated to the preservation, promotion and understanding of the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Open Wednesday - Sunday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Thursday, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. (626) 449-2742


PASADENA HISTORICAL MUSEUM 470 West Walnut Street, Pasadena The museum is housed in the 18-room Fenyes Estate. Built in 1905, this landmark contains its original furnishings and paintings. The Finnish Folk Art Museum, Research Library and History Center Galleries are also open to the public. Open Wednesday - Sunday, noon - 5 p.m. (626) 577-1660


ROBINSON MEMORIAL Garfield Avenue, across from Pasadena City Hall This memorial honors the  historic accomplishments of brothers Mack and Jackie Robinson  with two 9-foot bronze portraiture sculptures. 


OLD PASADENA Explore the historic streets and alleyways of Old Pasadena. Tours are given  the second Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. For reservations, call Pasadena Heritage at (626) 441-6333.


TOURNAMENT OF ROSES  This annual event goes on year round with the planning of floats, float construction and events surrounding the parade and bowl game.  Visit the official web site to get all the information you need about the Tournament of Roses.



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