Pasadena is an unusual place. The city is probably best known for its Tournament of Roses parade, held every year on New Year’s Day. It’s also home to the highly regarded Cal Tech University, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Even though Pasadena is home to so many important institutions, it still retains its reputation for quiet, elegant streets and architectural charm. However, it’s easy for tourists to find rental cars in Pasadena, good restaurants, beautiful historic architecture, and exciting nightlife.
Pasadena has nice weather throughout the year. Newcomers to the area might find that the summer temperatures are hotter than many parts of nearby Los Angeles. Luckily for nature lovers in Pasadena, there are many public gardens and parks where you can spend some time and beat the heat. We’ve assembled a list of 5 garden spots you won’t want to miss, whether you’re in Pasadena for a business trip, vacation, or a permanent resident.
The Wrigley Gardens is one of the best examples of old Pasadena you’ll find. The house, called Wrigley Mansion, has 22 rooms and more than 18,000 square feet of total floor space. The house is mostly converted to the headquarters for the Tournament of Roses parade, but it’s still a beautiful destination. While the parade only lasts a few hours, once a year, planning this enormous spectacle keeps almost 1,000 people busy all year round.
Outside the mansion you’ll find an astonishing arrangement of roses, camellias, and various other beautiful annual plants. If you’re a fan of the yearly parade, you’ll love to see where many of the cultivars of roses were developed for the elegant parade floats.
Pasadena and nearby Los Angeles are generally green all year round. Don’t let that fool you. They’re basically a desert when it comes to yearly rainfall. Gardeners in the area manage water restrictions by growing many types of drought-resistant plants. Arlington Garden is a great place to see how a community can establish and care for a drought-tolerant garden.
The garden is only about an acre, but it feels like more. It’s a peaceful retreat from urban street scene, and a great place to relax or meditate. The park seems larger than it is, because the paths take long, winding routes to show off all the plantings. Go in the spring to see the best flowers.
Eaton Canyon is more wilderness than park. The canyon is a wonderful place to hike and sightsee. If you’re in town on business, the canyon makes a nice break from pavement and buildings. The San Gabriel Mountains allow for both easy and challenging hikes, depending on your mood. It’s a great place for birdwatching, too.
Don’t let Eaton Canyon’s proximity to the built-up parts of Pasadena fool you. It can get wild really quick. It’s easy to get lost if you wander off the trails. Luckily, the trails are clearly marked, and you can follow trails for any level of exertion you prefer.
Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden
Parts of Los Angeles borrow heavily from Japanese culture, architecture, and gardening. The Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden is an excellent example of a Japanese style tea house and garden. Like many Japanese gardens, it’s small in size but packed with interesting yard architecture, water features, and lush plantings. It’s refreshing to sit next to the pond and forget you’re in the center of a city. The garden is a great way to recharge your mental batteries, especially on a hot day.
The Huntington Library and Gardens
Finally, the Huntington Library is a great destination any time of the year. This urban oasis is split evenly between an interesting interior art museum and a beautiful outdoor garden. The museum has a nice mix of European and American art. For novice art lovers, it’s nice to find familiar works like The Blue Boy by Gainsborough, or one of Edward Hopper’s famous paintings of sailboats.
The museum has American art from the 17th to the 20th century, and it’s interesting to follow the development of art in the United States over its history. The European collection is eclectic, and has many fine sculptures and bronzes to go along with its fine art paintings. There’s a library that will interest any book lover as well. Parking is easy for rental cars in Pasadena, and there’s lots of dining and shopping nearby.