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5 Ways for Families to Find Fun in Pasadena

by Eugenia Lazaris

Dec 9, 2017

© Chon Kit Leong | Dreamstime


Nestled in the foothills of Los Angeles is the beautiful Southern California town of Pasadena, where history, local architecture and good times all come together to create the ideal place to hang out with family.


Rose Parade

Each January, Pasadena becomes the center of attention when it hosts the annual Rose Bowl and the Tournament of Roses Parade. The downtown streets become transformed with beautiful floats made almost entirely of fresh flowers, leaves and seeds. Visitors come from all over the world to take part in the annual New Year’s Day tradition. The night before the parade has become just as much of a family experience as viewing the parade itself, as families brave the cold to secure the best spots along the parade route to view the creative floats, see the beautiful horses and enjoy the showmanship of the marching bands.


Rose Parade in Pasadena, California

Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. Photo: Chon Kit Leong | Dreamstime


Jet Propulsion Laboratory

JPL, the NASA research facility located in Pasadena, is the home of the Mars Rover. The facility, monitoring deep space and interplanetary exploration since the 1960s, offers free tours to the public (however reservations need to be made at least one month in advance). Tours are family friendly and capture the interest and imagination of both young and old minds.


Huntington Library

I know, there is no way you could pass off a trip to the library as a fun activity for a family vacation, right? Well, the Huntington isn’t your typical library. Located in the glamorous suburb of San Marino, it is a huge collection of world-famous works of art and beautiful botanical gardens. It is a great way to take in some culture while enjoying the beautiful weather of southern California.

Huntington Library and Gardens, Japanese Gardens, Pasadena, CA

© Americanspirit | Dreamstime


Neon Retro Arcade

Visit this local hot spot to relive your youth and share the experience with your kids. Classic arcade games such as Pac Man have been fully restored to remind us what entertainment was like before the age of smartphones.


Outdoor Fun

Spend some time outdoors enjoying the beauty of Southern California. Pasadena is ideally located near the San Gabriel Mountains. Part of the Angeles National Forest, these mountains give visitors plenty of opportunities to get some fresh air while hiking, camping or picnicking during the warmer months. They can be viewed from a bird’s eye view thanks to a zipline course located at the Mt. Baldy Ski Resort, which also offers great skiing for families looking for some cold weather fun during the winter months.


If you are really lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the elusive flock of wild parrots that call Pasadena home. These brilliantly colored birds shock the eye with flashes of bright green and red as they fly through the trees. There are many local legends about how they came to be living in this urban environment — some say they were the property of a zoo and were released when they became ill and too expensive to treat, yet somehow recovered and flourished once released into the wild. Another story tells of how they were released from a local theme park when it ceased to operate. Regardless of the true origin, the parrots are a beautiful sight to behold in this already inviting city.


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