Hidden Gems in Pasadena

We've got a list of hidden gems in Pasadena that will help you get a feel for the city while going off the beaten path.

Huntington Library
Huntington Library

Pasadena is a historical enclave of culture, education and athletics, a beautiful city filled with the riches of generations past and present. Visitors from near and far make their journey to Pasadena for a glimpse of the sweeping mountain landscapes, priceless art collections, archetypical Craftsman architecture, world-class education, research and athletic facilities.

We've got a list of hidden gems in Pasadena that will help you get a feel for the city while going off the beaten path. Whether you take an eating tour featuring lesser-known places, explore a secluded garden at The Huntington, or attend a show in Old Pasadena, we've got just the things for you to do.

Eaton Canyon Falls   |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa
Eaton Canyon Falls  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Eaton Canyon Nature Center

Many are familiar with the lush landscapes of Pasadena, but few know about the Eaton Canyon Nature Center, a nature preserve where you can hike, picnic and learn all about the zoological, botanical and geological features of the area. There are regularly scheduled tours and themed walks to satisfy your curiosity for nature and wildlife. Whether it's hiking to the waterfall or marvelling at the exhibits inside the Nature Center, there is something for the whole family at Eaton Canyon.

California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology


The California Institute of Technology is world-renowned for its seismic sleuthing and Nobel Prize-winning faculty. Less well-known is that Cal Tech is an architectural paradise. The entire school dates back to 1891 - 18 of the 50 buildings on the 128-acre campus were built before World War II. You'll love learning about the trenches built for military exercise and a multitude of other anomalies in the famed school's infrastructure.

norton simon museum
norton simon museum  |  Photo: Discover Los Angeles

Resurrection by Dieric Bouts - Norton Simon Museum

There's a high-priced gem of a painting at the Norton Simon Museum, the Resurrection by the 15th Century Dutch painter, Dieric Bouts. It’s the most expensive painting in the entire collection, won at an auction to the tune of $4.2 million. Be sure to pay close attention to the exquisite and intricate detail of the painting. If you'd like to visit for free, show your valid student I.D. or plan your visit between 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. the first Friday of every month.

Grace Nicholson Building at the USC Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena
Grace Nicholson Building | Photo: USC Pacific Asia Museum

USC Pacific Asia Museum

The Pacific Asia Museum is a bastion of historic and modern Asian art and culture. The museum is a spectacularly-designed structure in the "courtyard" style of the Imperial Palace, built in 1924 by Grace Nicholson, with many parts imported directly from China. It was subsequently donated to the City of Pasadena in 1943. After exploring the permanent and temporary exhibits, walk in the beautiful courtyard with the tranquil koi pond. Every second Sunday, the museum offers free admission.

Exterior of the Gamble House in Pasadena
The Gamble House | Photo: D1v1d, Flickr

Gamble House

Originally a commissioned retirement house of Cincinnati residents David and Mary Gamble of the Procter & Gamble fortune, The Gamble House is a Craftsman-style masterpiece built in 1908-09. This National Historic Landmark has a stunning interior, made with multiple grains of wood with eye-catching textures, colors and grains, as well as custom furniture built for the Gamble family. There are Japanese influences inside and outdoors, where multiple balconies and a beautiful garden await.

Jackie Robinson statue outside Rose Bowl Stadium
Jackie Robinson statue outside Rose Bowl Stadium  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Rose Bowl Stadium

The Rose Bowl is world famous for its namesake Tournament of Roses football game, home of the UCLA Bruins football team, and its huge, monthly flea market. What you probably didn't know is that now you can see hidden gems throughout this historic venue with the Rose Bowl Stadium Tours. Explore the Rose Bowl Stadium, from the field to the press box, and learn everything about the site of Super Bowls, Olympic events, Men's and Women's FIFA World Cup finals, and NCAA BCS Championship Games.

Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. |  © The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens  

Palm Garden at The Huntington Library

Many have come to associate palm trees with Southern California living, but the Palm Garden at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens remains relatively unknown. Here, you'll walk in the presence of over 200 species of palms, one of the largest collections on public display in California. Some, such as the Chilean Wine Palm, are endangered, but thrive in the microclimate specifically envisioned by Mr. Huntington in the early 20th century.

Armory Center for the Arts
Armory Center for the Arts | Courtesy of Facebook 


What originally began as the center of the "Athens of the West," the stomping grounds of intellectuals such as Upton Sinclair, Albert Einstein and Bobby Fischer, is now a designated Historic District known as Old Pasadena. The district is a thriving center of retail, dining and much more. Best of all, you can Go Metro and get discounts to various shops and restaurants in Old Pasadena.

Located within the bustling Old Pasadena district are local treasures such as the Armory Center for the Arts, an interactive learning center and gallery that offers innovative approaches to creating, exploring and presenting the visual arts to youths of all ages and adults. The Armory presents contemporary art exhibitions and performances, as well as offer studio art classes and educational outreach programs to schools and the community.

Pasadena Playhouse
Pasadena Playhouse

Pasadena Playhouse

Established in 1917, the Pasadena Playhouse has been housed at its current venue since 1925. Built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, the Pasadena Playhouse mounts critically acclaimed plays, musicals and other theatre. You'll be as charmed by its architecture as much as the award-winning productions. Even longtime patrons might not know that the Pasadena Playhouse is the Official State Theatre of California.

Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Boston Court Performing Arts Center | Photo courtesy of the website 

Boston Court Performing Arts Center

Located in the Pasadena Playhouse District, the Boston Court Performing Arts Center is a unique, artist-driven performing arts center dedicated to showcasing edgy, challenging theatre. Boston Court is a great venue for experiencing vibrant plays, musicals and multimedia. A wide range of repertoire is produced at Boston Court, providing a theatre-going experience you won't soon forget.

Front Entrance - Kaleidoscope
Images courtesy of Kidspace Children’s Museum.

Kidspace Children's Museum

Located in Brookside Park, the Kidspace Children's Museum provides 2.2 acres of outdoor learning environments that are designed to encourage children to discover the excitement of learning while engaging in creative play. Children can unleash an earthquake, feed giant bugs, craft art through nature, and climb raindrops 40 feet in the air.