15 Best Things to Do in South Pasadena, CA

South Pasadena, CA
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Only six miles from the core of Los Angeles is where you will find the lovely city of South Pasadena.

The community, known as the City of Trees, is renowned for its gorgeous residences, distinctive local businesses, and top-notch schools.

Once part of the larger Pasadena City, South Pasadena is now an independent city that offers visitors a unique blend of small-town charm, suburban convenience, and urban amenities.

South Pasadena is a part of the metropolis of Los Angeles and spans 3.42 square miles.

The city is also the oldest self-builder of floats that joins the historic Tournament of Roses Parade.

The Hahamog-a tribe of Native Americans, a division of the Tongva Nation who speaks the Shoshone language group, inhabited the Los Angeles Basin and the adjacent areas, including South Pasadena.

There are plenty of things to do in South Pasadena, whether you're looking for a fun family outing or a romantic getaway.

Here are the best things to do in South Pasadena, California:

Recreate a Movie Scene at the Rialto Theatre

Exterior of the Rialto Theater
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The Rialto Theatre has existed since 1925 and is a historical landmark in South Pasadena.

It is an Art Deco movie theater that was used as a filming location for the films La La Land, The Rocketeer, Scream 2, and The Player.

Lewis A. Smith, who previously designed the Vista Theater on Sunset Boulevard, completed the Rialto Theatre in 1925.

Marquee of the Rialto Theater
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The theater has been one of six campuses for Mosaic, a Los Angeles-based multi-site nondenominational church, since 2017.

The Rialto Theatre is open for public tours, and you can also rent out the space for events.

Ticket booth and entrance door of the Rialto Theater
Mcbruin12, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spend Some Tee Time at Arroyo Seco Golf Course

Opened in 1955, Arroyo Seco Golf Course is a public, 18-hole course located in South Pasadena.

The course is adjacent to the Arroyo Seco Parkway and spans 1,953 yards.

In addition to golfing, the course also offers a driving range, practice greens, a clubhouse, and a pro shop.

The Arroyo Seco Golf Course also features a nine-hole miniature golf course for those who want to putt around.

Arroyo Seco Golf Course is a South Pasadena landmark tucked away in a shaded arroyo below the 110 Freeway.

It's a terrific place for expert golf lessons or hanging out.

Do Some Shopping at Hodgson's Antiques

Hodgson's Antiques has been in business for over 50 years.

The store specializes in English and European antiques from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.

Hodgson's Antiques also offers vintage jewelry, paintings, and porcelains.

Collectors are welcome to browse the constantly changing inventory.

Vintage China, Chinese and Japanese antiques, modern and vintage sterling jewelry, fine art, Antique Native American jewelry, crafts, and Navajo rugs are all available at Hodgson's Antiques.

The store is located on Mission Street in South Pasadena and is perfect for those looking for one-of-a-kind items.

Enjoy the Wildlife at South Pasadena Nature Park

South Pasadena Nature Park is nestled at the southwestern tip of the Arroyo Seco Parkland.

It is a three-acre park home to many different animals, including ducks, turtles, frogs, snakes, and fish.

The park also has a variety of plant life, including willows, oaks, sycamores, and sagebrush.

Visitors can also enjoy picnicking in the park.

If you want to witness something whimsical, you can visit the cosmically-connected small pebbles, which act as a type of sundial.

South Pasadena Nature Park includes excellent visual and educational signage and a well-maintained trail popular for walking, hiking, and jogging.

Its overall environment is very tranquil, with views of the San Gabriel Mountains and the Arroyo nearby.

South Pasadena Nature Park is open daily from sunrise to sunset and is a great place to take a nature break.

Check Out the Local Art Scene at the South Pasadena Arts Crawl

The South Pasadena Arts Crawl is an event that takes place every summer to support the city's artists and local businesses.

During this time, businesses and firms open their doors to the public to showcase local art.

There is live music, food trucks, and family-friendly activities.

Jewelry, various artworks, food, and other handmade items are available during the South Pasadena Arts Crawl.

The South Pasadena Public Library also participates by having an art exhibition.

This event is a great way to support the local community and get to know the city's artists.

The South Pasadena Arts Crawl is free and open to the public.

Take a Hike at the Arroyo Seco Parkland

The Arroyo Seco, surrounded by urban development, has healthy natural ecosystems that include several native plant communities and offer refuge, food, and nesting locations for numerous wildlife species.

The Arroyo Seco Parkland is a ribbon of green that follows the flow of the Arroyo Seco river through South Pasadena and Pasadena.

It includes hiking and equestrian trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, historical sites, and nature centers.

There are opportunities to view wildlife in their natural habitat.

The Arroyo Seco trails offer opportunities for all types of visitors.

Visitors can jog around the Rose Bowl Recreation loop, take a stroll or brisk walk along a trail, or attempt the hill south of Devil's Gate Dam.

All trails are conveniently reachable from nearby residential districts, bus stops, and parking lots for the general public.

Tour the South Pasadena Public Library

Exterior of South Pasadena Public Library
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The South Pasadena Public Library, established in 1895, is one of the oldest libraries in Los Angeles County.

It offers public computers with internet access, Wi-Fi, printing and photocopying services, and meeting rooms.

The library is warm and quiet, with plenty of seating.

One of its most-loved sections is the children's area with comfy chairs and hundreds of books.

Close view of South Pasadena Public Library
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It also has an outdoor patio with tables and chairs, perfect for reading or working on your laptop.

The South Pasadena Public Library is a great place to study, research, or find a good book to read.

This place is an excellent resource for the community.

Building sign of South Pasadena Public Library
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Relax at Garfield Park

Garfield Park is popular among residents and visitors for its serene atmosphere and beautiful surroundings.

It is a great place to relax, have a picnic, or take a stroll.

You initially enter from the Mission Street side and proceed through a small but lovely rose garden.

The park also has shrubs, trees, and cobblestone touches that give it a distinct South Pasadena vibe or small-town coziness with unmistakable LA flair.

The seven-acre Garfield Park features a playground, two lighted tennis courts, a playground horseshoe pit, picnic spots, and restrooms.

The Summer Concert Series in South Pasadena and other community events are held in the park.

Garfield Park is a great place to bring the family or enjoy time alone.

Revel in the Exclusivity of Orange Grove Park

A hidden gem in the city of South Pasadena, Orange Grove Park is an oasis of green space and trees in the middle of a bustling metropolis.

The park features a playground, a basketball court, picnic tables, and BBQ grills.

Orange Grove Park is also home to the South Paws-adena Dog Park, where dogs can run off-leash and play with other dogs.

Children will have a wonderful time on its playground.

Halloween events are also held at the park, so check them out if you're in town during that time.

Orange Grove Park is great for taking the family or your dog for a walk.

Discover the South Paws-adena Dog Park

The South Paws-adena Dog Park is an excellent place for your dogs to run and play.

It features two fenced-in areas, one for small dogs and one for large dogs.

There is a water fountain and a hose to fill the water bowl.

A fantastic play structure is available for the dogs to explore.

The hiking trail adjacent to the South Paws-Adena Dog Park is also a great place to take your dog for a walk.

A decent water fountain and after-dark lighting are present at the dog park.

There are lovely benches there for the guardians to use as well.

The South Paws-adena Dog Park is a great place to take your dog to play and explore.

Stroll through the Farmers' Market

Vendors and shoppers at South Pasadena Farmer's Market
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The South Pasadena Farmers' Market is open every Thursday from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., rain or shine.

Families, friends, and neighbors gather at the market to take advantage of the finest produce, a wide variety of prepared food sellers, live music, and a unique, friendly atmosphere that shines under the shade of huge trees.

The market features local farmers' fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, honey, flowers, and cheese.

Prepare food options such as tamales, empanadas, soups, and bread are also available.

After you've finished shopping, don't forget to browse the many local independent stores and eateries, many of which stay up late on market nights.

The South Pasadena Farmer's Market is great for buying fresh produce and supporting local farmers.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Walk around Arlington Garden in Pasadena

A walkway at Arlington Garden in Pasadena
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Arlington Garden in Pasadena is a climate-appropriate public park open daily from sunrise to sunset.

The three-acre garden features more than 600 varieties of plants, a fountain, and plenty of benches to relax on.

Stone sculpture of snails at Arlington Garden in Pasadena
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Located on the 710 freeway, Arlington Garden in Pasadena replaced it in 2005 as a sound barrier.

The garden is also home to many events, including concerts, art exhibits, and farmers' markets.

Many photographers use the park as a backdrop for engagement and wedding photos.

Signage of Arlington Garden in Pasadena
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Enjoy the Beauty of the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden

The Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden is a beautiful and serene spot in Pasadena.

Beginning in 1935, when Charles and Ellamae Storrier Stearns employed Kinzuchi Fujii, a first-generation Japanese immigrant, the garden was planned and constructed over seven years.

Once its design was finished, the 1.45-acre garden took four years to build and cost $150,000.

The garden was planned as a "chosen kaiyu shiki" hill and pond strolling garden, which often has walkways and water elements.

Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden features hills, bridges, walks, and ponds 25 feet (7.6 meters) long with waterfalls.

Visit Pasadena Museum of History

Side view of Pasadena Museum of History's exterior
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Pasadena Museum of History aims to conserve the history of the city of Pasadena.

In 1932, as part of the brand-new Civic Auditorium, a space created mainly for the museum's collection became its first permanent home.

Pasadena Museum of History is devoted to the history, culture, and arts of historic Pasadena and the west San Gabriel Valley.

Welcome sign of Pasadena Museum of History
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Pasadena Museum of History fosters recognition of history, culture, the arts, and sciences essential to Pasadena and neighboring towns through public exhibits, tours, lectures, seminars, and workshops.

The museum features exhibitions on the history of Pasadena, from its founding to the present day.

Steps leading to Pasadena Museum of History's entrance
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Play with Your Dog at the Hermon Park in the Arroyo Seco Dog Park

The Hermon Park in the Arroyo Seco Dog Park is great for taking your dog for a walk or playing fetch.

Hermon Park in the Arroyo Seco Dog Park is where dogs can run off-leash and play with other dogs.

It has a working water fountain to quench your dog’s thirst, and even supplies you with poop bags for convenience.

The Hermon Park in the Arroyo Seco Dog Park is located at the back side of the regular park, Hermon Park.

Hermon Park has a playground, a lighted tennis court, a picnic area, and BBQ grills for visitors who just want to take a rest.

The Hermon Park in the Arroyo Seco Dog Park is great for bonding with your dog.

Tour the Rose Bowl Stadium

The Rose Bowl Stadium is an American landmark known for its art deco architecture and as the location of the annual Rose Bowl Game.

The stadium, also home to the UCLA Bruins football team, has a seating capacity of 92,542.

The Rose Bowl Game, the oldest college football game, is also held at the Rose Bowl Stadium on New Year's Day.

Considered the 16th largest stadium in the world, Rose Bowl Stadium is located at Rose Bowl Drive in Pasadena.

Since it was built in 1922, the stadium's seating has undergone several configuration changes.

The South end was filled in, extra seats were added, and in 1969, metal benches were installed in place of the old wooden ones.

Final Thoughts

Enjoy a day of exploring South Pasadena's streets.

Find something that suits your taste and stop for a bite at restaurants or cafes.

Shop at local stores, and don't forget to take your time walking around the different parks.

And if you're looking for more things to do in the area, visit South Pasadena.