The great thing about having our wedding in Pasadena is that it’s not only a beautiful location, but a fabulous vacation destination. In addition to the number of attractions Pasadena provides, the city’s proximity to Los Angeles and Orange County make it an ideal location for your home base. We’ve highlighted some of our favorite So. Cal activities as well as provided links to a few of the popular tourist attractions.
Things to do and see
Huntington Gardens and Library
Founded in 1919 by Henry Huntington the Huntington Gardens and Library is one of our favorite spots to visit when we’re in the area. The gardens range from Dave’s favorite- the Cactus Garden to Rose Gardens, Japanese Gardens, Chinese Gardens and more. The grounds also contain art galleries (featuring works like Thomas Gainsborough’s Blue Boy and Edward Hopper’s The Long Leg), Huntington’s former home and a vast library collection showcasing one of the surviving Guttenberg Bibles and Audubon’s Birds of America. Huntington Gardens has also been featured in many films including, The Wedding Planner, Beverly Hills Ninja and National Treasure 2.
With fantastic views of downtown LA and the Hollywood sign and a number of hiking trails Griffith Park and Observatory is a must see for first time visitors. The Observatory is also a great spot for those interested in astronomy and we highly recommend a show at the planetarium! Just a short drive from Pasadena.
The Getty Center houses European and American art from the Middle Ages to present. The grounds gardens are also impressive and are located quite close to a number of other attractions in LA. The Getty Villa is a little bit farther out of the way out on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. The Villa is modeled after the Villa of the Papyri and is breathtaking. In addition to the gardens and the view there are plenty of ancient art pieces to occupy your time. Admission to both are free, but you must pay to park. Additionally, if you plan on attending the Getty Villa you need to make advanced reservations. We’ve visited both and highly recommend them!
Eat and Drink
Our wedding site and the hotel we’ve blocked for guests are located right in the heart of Old Town Pasadena. Old Town is the spot of many of Adrian’s high school memories and offers great shopping, restaurants and entertainment for all ages. The area is ever-changing and developing (so I’m sure there are plenty of hot new spots), but we’ve mapped out a few of our favorites.
No trip to California would be complete without a stop at the world famous In-N-Out. The menu is simple, but if you know your stuff you can order “off menu” for a variety of yummy renditions on the traditional burger, fries and drink. Adrian always goes for the #2 Animal Style (grilled onions, added pickles and extra sauce). Dave usually opts for the Double-Double Animal Style. Animal Style fries, Neapolitan shakes and 4 by 4’s are also good “off menu” choices:)
Our favorite bar in Pasadena! Lucky Baldwins has great food and even better beer. Specializing in Belgian style beer they have a huge beer list- both on tap and bottled. They also have a nice outdoor patio and a second location in Adrian’s home town, Sierra Madre! Check out their beer menu here.
Adrian’s favorite hometown spot. This funky coffee shop out in Sierra Madre has been a special part of her life since elementary school and was where she stopped on the first and last day of school each year for an ice cream cone. They have the best iced tea in the world and their pastries and milk shakes are simply delicious! Additionally, they have an awesome game cabinet. The indoor seating area is an eclectic mix of couches, tables and bars, plus there are a number of outdoor tables set up in front of the shop.
Best Fro-Yo ever! With daily rotating flavors and the option to add plenty of extras on the cold-stone style bar. A great deal for a deliciously cool treat.
A new addition to our list. We visited the Gastropub last summer with our friends Robyn and Andrew and were highly impressed! A large open kitchen and a great outdoor patio provide a sophisticated, but comfortable atmosphere. Drinks are a little fancy (aka: pricey), but delicious and they have a great rotating draft list. Happy Hour menu is worth checking out.
Delicious cupcakes and sweets with a friendly family atmosphere. Located just a block from the Marriott we absolutely recommend Violet’s to satisfy your sweet tooth. The Double Chocolate cupcake is a favorite of ours!
Old Town and the LA/Pasadena area have MANY, MANY more options than those we’ve listed here. If you try anything AMAZING definitely let us know so we too can hit it up on one of our California trips.