Los Angeles is a sprawling conglomeration of smaller cities within LA county. It can be hard for a visitor to know where to go. Sure, beach communities like Malibu, Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach have their appeal, and the Hollywood/Beverly Hills region always draws a crowd. But if you want to experience LA’s coolest burb, head north to Pasadena. This pocket has its own history, identity and charm. A few decades ago, the gritty neighborhood was slated for demolition, but today it is one of the finest examples of downtown revitalizations in America. The historic hub of Old Town Pasadena (also called Old Pasadena or Old Town) is full of heritage buildings from a bygone era that now house a vibrant array of shops, bars, restaurants, galleries and museums. As you wander around and soak in the scene you may stumble upon an outdoor concert, festival or event. Poke down a cobblestone passageway and discover art, trinkets and fashions you won’t find elsewhere. Park yourself at one of the many sidewalk cafes and people-watch the day away. There’s the occasional pawn shop and hole-in-the-wall interspersed between upscale offerings just to keep things interesting. Here are a handful of reasons to visit Old Town Pasadena.
1. Tournament of Roses Parade
One of the big events that puts Pasadena on the map is the annual Tournament of Roses parade and Rose Bowl football game held on New Year’s Day. Even if you’re not a fan of college sports, this 125 year old extravaganza is something to see. It has the marching bands, equestrian troops and celebrity grand marshals you might expect. But the decorative floats are beyond what any other parade on the planet pulls together. Each of the elaborate displays are entirely made of flowers and natural organic materials. It’s a painstaking process that takes thousands of hours and volunteers to produce. They say each float contains more flowers than most florists use in five years. You may have seen this parade on television, but there’s nothing like seeing (and smelling!) these floral wonders go by in person. People camp out along Colorado Boulevard the night before to secure a good viewing spot, and it has become a coveted New Year’s Eve rite of passage for many.