Express Guide to: Pasadena, Los AngelesBy Alicia Grimshaw
Los Angeles is made up of different pockets of neighbourhoods; there’s surfers paradise at Santa Monica Pier, the go getters found around the Hollywood Hills, and the night owls in West Hollywood. For a slice of suburban bliss, rent a car and take a short drive north to Pasadena – Los Angeles’ ninth largest city.
Pasadena has the air of Bel Air (note: wide streets, million dollar mansions and picture-perfect gardens), but with a small-town serenity. Pasadena captures the essence of beauty and style with its historic architecture, world-class art museums, acres of botanical gardens, landmark theatres and three distinct districts offering an eclectic collection of dining, shopping and entertainment.
Pasadena Guide: Where to Stay
What to Expect: The Langham Huntingdon is stunningly beautiful; surrounded by manicured gardens and mountains in the distance, you’d be forgiven in thinking you were staying the night in a European hideaway. The self contained hotel is a peaceful bolthole located minutes from Downtown, and has all the amenities of a high-end leisure club. The hotel has 379 guest rooms, 38 classic suites, 8 private cottages, and 1 two-bedroom, two-story penthouse suite.
The Rooms: The Superior Room is timelessly elegant: think full Italian marble bathrooms, all the modern amenities, and The Langham’s Signature Blissful Bed. If you really want to be private, however, the hotel is home to a collection of cottages. The Wisteria Cottage located near the Japanese Garden features an elegant cone-shaped ceiling, spacious living room, small dining area and separate master bedroom, and a private patio. Dreamy, really.
Where: 1401 S Oak Knoll Ave, Pasadena, CA 91106, USA
Pasadena Guide: Where to Eat
The Lowdown: If you’re ever in LA, but aren’t planning to spend a night in Pasadena, visit Union restaurant for what is quite possibly the best pasta in town. The carb creations at Union are next level – every dish an explosive mix of farm fresh ingredients and homemade pasta. What the kitchen team are banging out night after night is pure magic. It’s not just the food that makes dining at Union an incredible experience – it’s also the friendly staff, extensive wine list and modest decor.
Eat and Drink: The dishes here are a cacophony of tastes – like the house-made stracciatella with roasted garlic and crostini – proving once again that you don’t need to fuss around with ingredients unnecessarily. The Bucatini Cacio e Pepe, topped with a 63 degree egg, reinforces this approach: a superb, off-the-charts dish. Creamy. Decadent. Delicious. The Spaghetti Alla Chitarra with san marzano tomato, garlic and fresno chile is a contemporary twist on a classic originating from the picturesque Abruzzo. Something to consider for a lighter meal, albeit no less gratifying.
Where: Union Restaurant37 E. Union Street, Pasadena, California 91103
The Lowdown: Formally of Chez Panisse, Spago, La Brea Bakery and Campanile fame, Chef Mark Peel is behind Prawn, an all-day spot dedicated to delivering high-quality seafood without breaking the bank. The seafood-inclined menu features everything from rolls, to salads and boat fresh oysters. And if fish isn’t your thing, fear not: Prawn also bang out chicken dishes, and plenty of veggie bites too.
Eat and Drink: Mark Peel’s famous Seattle fish stew is a real taste of the sea and features shrimp, squid, clams, mussels and salmon in lobster broth, with bacon rouille served over rice. Like a stomach busting fish soup. Only better. Other lunch favourites include the build you own grain bowls, pimped up with chicken, tofu or grilled veggies. The lobster mac n’ cheese is the ultimate comfort food dish – elevated to new dizzy heights.
Where: Grand Central Market, 317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Pasadena Guide: What to Do
The Lowdown: Pasadena is one of Hollywood’s hidden playgrounds, and has welcomed A-Listers and big screen hero to film big box office success stories such as Saving Mr Banks, the best film Lindsey Lohan has even starred in, The Parent Trap, and Back to the Future.
What to Expect: The two-hour tour provides insight on Pasadena’s film history, fun facts about movies and more. With over 30 locations crammed into the tour – take in the Harvard-esque corridors in Legally Blonde, stand in Fenyes Mansion, which was the backdrop for Beyonce’s Formation video and drive past the homes seen in Mad Men.
Where: Buy tickets online
The Lowdown: Prepare for every one of your senses to feel alive with a trip to The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. The Huntington encompasses five main areas: a library, art collection, gardens, research and education. Allocate half a day, as the Botanical Gardens covers a staggering 120 acres of the 207-acre grounds – and is one of the most sought-after gardens in Los Angeles. We can see why.
What to Expect: There’s so much going on at The Huntington, but some of the highlights include the Desert Garden, one of the largest outdoor collections of mature cacti and succulents in the world, the Japanese Garden, with a traditional Japanese house, a moon bridge, a walled Zen garden, and bonsai courts, and Seifu-an, a ceremonial teahouse and garden, and the Liu Fang Yuan 流芳園, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance, featuring a 1.5-acre lake, a complex of pavilions, a teahouse and tea shop, stone bridges, and waterfalls set against a wooded backdrop of mature oaks and pines.
Where: 1151 Oxford Rd, San Marino, CA 91108, USA
For more information on Pasadena, visit the website here.