15 Free Things to Do in Pasadena, CA

Free Things to Do in Pasadena, CA
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Pasadena takes pride in its nickname as the “City of Roses.”

Every year, it hosts a long-awaited parade that’s adorned with gorgeous bright roses of varying hues.

However, there’s much more to Pasadena!

It’s also home to historic districts, scenic natural destinations, and impressive architectural buildings.

Whether you’re on a budget or not, Pasadena is filled with worthwhile attractions.

Since its incorporation in 1886, the city has continued to grow and thrive in various industries and businesses.

It’s a splendid place to visit in Los Angeles County.

Read on to discover some of the free things to do in Pasadena, California.

See Lovely Flowers in Arlington Garden in Pasadena

Nature trail at Arlington Garden in Pasadena
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The Arlington Garden in Pasadena was built through the efforts of the local community.

From an empty lot, the lands were transformed into a tranquil haven filled with native plants, flowers, and structures.

Since its establishment in 2005, the Arlington Garden in Pasadena has had several improvements.

It’s become one of the most popular destinations for leisure in the city.

Snail sculpture at Arlington Garden in Pasadena
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Some of its exhibits include fountains, mini forests, floral meadows, and other manmade wonders.

You’re free to roam around the venue, bring your pets, and take pictures of the wonderful paradise.

Enjoy endless sights of colorful flowers, verdant trees, and lush plant species!

These beautiful gardens are located along Arlington Drive.

Explore the Old Pasadena

Street view of Old Pasadena
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Discover the city’s thriving local scene at Old Pasadena.

Along Colorado Boulevard, this area is famously known as the business district.

It’s filled with bustling establishments, from restaurants and local shops to museums and cultural venues.

Plus, it’s home to an array of historic buildings, reflecting the old-school eras of the early to mid-20th century.

The district is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Outdoor dining at Old Pasadena
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However, Old Pasadena wasn’t as successful before as it is today.

In fact, it had been severely abandoned before a revitalization project was planned to bring it back to life.

Now, you can easily walk around the district and discover many brilliant local sights.

Street view of Old Pasadena
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Enjoy the Facilities at Brookside Park

Children's Museum at Brookside Park
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Brookside Park is most known for its wide assortment of recreational facilities.

Located north of Arroyo Boulevard, this park takes pride in its spacious lands, spanning as much as 61 acres.

From baseball diamonds and horseshoe pits to multipurpose fields and a swimming pool, this venue is a center for various sports.

View of Brookside Park
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It’s also equipped with amphitheater seating and designated areas for picnics.

You can enjoy picnics in an open, tranquil environment that’s well-maintained through the efforts of local officials.

Brookside Park is a great place that has amenities for both leisure and active recreation.

Spot Wildlife at Eaton Canyon Natural Area and Nature Center

Eaton Canyon Natural Area and Nature Center was given its name to better preserve its inherent resources.

However, the first Spanish settlers had once called it “El Precipio” because of its steep gorges.

Throughout the years, it’s been renamed more than once.

The important thing is that the preservation of its scenic natural wonders has always been of high importance.

As a result, Eaton Canyon Natural Area and Nature Center remains to be a pure, beautiful paradise.

Popular ways to explore the lands include hiking and horseback riding.

Along the way, visitors can see the city’s native plant species, floral adornments, and abundant wildlife.

You can find this natural preserve north of Altadena Drive.

Drive through Colorado Street Bridge

View of Colorado Street Bridge
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Colorado Street Bridge is one of the most historic landmarks in the city.

Built in 1912, this bridge has stood strong for over a century.

It has undergone major renovations, but local officials have made efforts to keep it similar to its original design.

With its notable curve and distinct Beaux Arts-style arches, it’s become an eye-catching piece of classic architecture.

Night view of Colorado Street Bridge
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It’s even been featured in movies, TV series, music videos, and other contemporary styles of art appreciation.

A drive along the Colorado Street Bridge offers picturesque views of the Arroyo Seco Riverbed, some parts of the city, and the park below.

It’s also easily accessible through pedestrian and bike walkways.

If you’re ever in Pasadena, you shouldn’t skip out on this architectural gem.

View of Colorado Street Bridge
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Read a Book at Hastings Branch Library

Out of all public libraries in Pasadena, the Hastings Branch Library was the last one built in 1959.

The establishment of this library fulfilled the goal of local officials to make book services convenient within the city.

It features a one-story building with a classic red brick design for a cozy, cabin-like vibe.

Located east of Orange Grove Boulevard, the branch boasts an extensive collection.

It contains more than 64,000 resources, which include written books, audiobooks, CDs, and periodicals.

For genres, you can also expect a diverse selection that includes fiction, biographies, folk, travel, etc.

The Hastings Branch Library is a haven for book enthusiasts.

Admire the Iconic Sculptures at Pasadena Robinson Memorial

View of Pasadena Robinson Memorial
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The sculptures at Pasadena Robinson Memorial are important pieces of the city’s history and culture.

They present facial portraits of Jackie and Mack Robinson, two African American athletes who brought honor to the city.

Each sculpture was carefully handcrafted with lavish bronze material by a team of local artists.

View of Pasadena Robinson Memorial
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You can see the realistic portrayal of each person through intricate details like surface hair and defined jawlines.

There’s also an informative pamphlet that you can use to learn more about the two athletes.

Stop by to take a picture or admire the sculptural treasure!

Pasadena Robinson Memorial is along the northern part of Garfield Avenue.

Visit Eaton Blanche Park’s Rose Garden

With updated modern facilities, Eaton Blanche Park is a well-developed site for leisure and recreation.

It contains two lighted tennis courts, a softball diamond field, a lighted basketball court, and a free open grass area.

For leisure, you can check the park’s picnic tables and roam around the pristine space.

One of its most popular attractions is the beautiful rose garden!

It's a sight for sore eyes, open to anyone who’s interested in natural beauty.

If you’re traveling with children, there’s a structured playground that they can enjoy.

Eaton Blanche Park is located east of Del Mar Boulevard.

Play at the 24-Hole Frisbee Golf Course of Hahamongna Watershed Park

Scenic view of Hahamongna Watershed Park
Levi Clancy, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Along Oak Grove Drive, you can discover the wonders of Hahamongna Watershed Park.

The park spans 1300 acres, beginning from Devil’s Gate Dam to the northern part of the San Gabriel Mountains.

A visit to this park takes you to a woodland paradise with various trees and plants surrounding the premises.

Nature trail at Hahamongna Watershed Park
Levi Clancy, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can also use its diverse facilities, including athletic fields, hiking trails, biking paths, and picnic areas.

A popular feature of Hahamongna Watershed Park is the 24-hole frisbee golf course.

It’s a unique attraction that’s unavailable in most parks, so it could make for a one-of-a-kind experience.

Bring Your Kids to Garfield Park

Garfield Park is a good option for those seeking peace amid greener pastures.

Along Park Avenue, lush trees provide ample shade to the park’s visitors.

There’s also a miniature tranquility garden that’s filled with stunning flowers of various kinds and colors.

It’s a splendid space for peaceful meditation within nature’s calming presence.

With its field courts and a looped path, you can also venture into active recreation at Garfield’s Park.

Kids can also enjoy the jungle-themed playground at the center.

Moreover, the park hosts vibrant community events like music concerts and local gatherings for the public.

Take in Stunning Views at Henninger Trailhead

Bridge over a valley at Henninger Trailhead
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For the ultimate hiking experience, check out the Henninger Trailhead.

Located at Altadena Drive, this trailhead provides access to the scenic Henninger Flats.

It offers gorgeous, sweeping views of the city’s local landscape, as well as its picturesque environment.

The journey to the top through the Henninger Trailhead is just as beautiful!

You’ll encounter stretches of dense forests, rocky terrains, and backdrops of hills and mountains.

With its elevated, straightforward path, the route is considered to be of a moderate level for most people.

It’s also accessible via horseback riding and mountain bikes.

Many have said that the view at the top is one of the best you can see in Los Angeles County!

Admire Historic Architecture at Pasadena City Hall

Front view of Pasadena City Hall
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Just because it’s a government office doesn’t mean that Pasadena City Hall can’t be a tourist attraction.

At Garfield Avenue, the building is an architectural gem.

It’s a prime example of the City Beautiful Movement from the 1920s, featuring hints of Mediterranean Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival.

It boasts classic white tones, eye-catching domes, and towering pillars.

Fountain at Pasadena City Hall
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There’s a courtyard with lovely plants and an intricate fountain built from sturdy materials.

The Pasadena City Hall has also been the location for many films and TV series over the years.

At night, the building’s lights create a stunning silhouette.

Built in 1927, the city hall is an example of fine architecture that attracts people from across the city.

Garden at Pasadena City Hall
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Other Things to Do Nearby

Browse Trains and Railroads at Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn

Exterior view of Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn
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About 15 minutes away from Pasadena, you can check out Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn.

It offers a collection of unique displays related to the formerly thriving railroad industry.

The collection began in 1950, stemming from Walt Disney’s love and passion for trains and railroads.

Miniature train at Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn
Sam Howzit, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

From miniature trains to construction tools and workbenches, Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn is filled with interesting items.

You can also find photos that teach you about Walt Disney and his legacy in the railroad business.

It’s a worthwhile stop for train enthusiasts and history buffs!

Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn is located at Zoo Drive in Los Angeles City.

Take Pictures at the Hollywood Sign

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The Hollywood Sign is one of the most iconic cultural landmarks in the county.

It was created in 1923 to serve as an advertisement for real estate, but its popularity kept it on the edges of Mount Lee.

For more than 100 years, the sign has represented glamor and stardom to almost anyone who’s seen it.

Even if you’ve seen it in countless movies and films, you should still make the trip to see it in real life.

Street view of Hollywood Sign
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There’s an elevated trek to reach the location, so it’s best to bring water during hot weather.

You’ll also enjoy gorgeous views of the surrounding cities and other natural landscapes.

The Hollywood sign is less than 30 minutes away from Pasadena in the city of Los Angeles.

Skyline from Hollywood Sign
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Explore Space in Griffith Observatory

Facade of Griffith Observatory
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Since its opening in 1935, the Griffith Observatory has been a well-known tourist attraction.

It’s a public observatory that allows visitors to venture into space through exhibits and classes.

You’ll enjoy stunning performances with vibrant special effects, immersive sound technology, and wise speakers.

There are also public telescopes that you can use to observe the skies.

Night view of Griffith Observatory
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While it opened in 1896, Griffith Observatory has tried to keep up with modern times through technological improvements.

Located along Observatory Road, it’s close to the iconic Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles, less than 30 minutes from Pasadena.

Telescope at Griffith Observatory
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Final Thoughts

As a city in Los Angeles County, it’s no surprise that Pasadena has a stellar reputation.

It’s home to all free attractions, including simple, tranquil leisure and dynamic, lively recreation sites.

Whatever your mood, diverse facilities and venues are available in Pasadena, California.

For a budget-friendly trip, try these free things to do in Pasadena, California!

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