Pasadena. Yep, “The Little Old Lady Terror of Colorado Boulevard” (Jan & Dean circa 1968), delivers. It is a pastoral gem that is as beautiful as it is diverse.
- Julia Child the original celebrity chef
- Mary See founder of See’s Candy
- USA’s first limited access highway - the Pasadena Freeway
- Cordon Blue School of Cooking -
- The Rose Bowl - the Grandaddy of all the New Year’s Day games
- The Tournament of Roses - the most important, globally significant New Year’s Day parade
And that’s just for starters. To present Pasadena, the Convention and Visitors Bureau invited a group of journalists to a three-day visit to let the city “strut its stuff”. We stayed at the Athenaeum - a private, members only hotel on the campus of Cal-Tech. Its corridors are lined with portraits of distinguished faculty and alumni - including Linus Pauling, Albert Einstein, Frank Capra, Frank Borman (Apollo 8). Nobel Laureates, Internationally renowned scientists and geniuses who made their contributions to the world. One cannot help but feel their presence and it motivates to explore an area that is so rich with history, arts, culture, and diversity. From the pastoral, gentrified setting to the more than 500 restaurants established to add flavor to the character of the city…Pasadena is abloom in every season with a wealth of historic sights, shopping, and and happening day and nightlife in Old Town and throughout the city.
Of the 500 restaurants we had the pleasure of experiencing the Parkway Grill, one of five local establishments owned by the Smith Family, Cafe Santorini, Mediterranean dining in an historic brick building in Old Town Pasadena, La Grande Orange Cafe, an eclectic collection of three unique eateries housed in Pasadena’s Del Mar Train Station, Malbec, an Argentinean restaurant where one feels like a Gaucho after dinner, and a marvelous breakfast at the Langham Huntington, Pasadena’s world-renowned Grande Hotel. This gave us a slight sample of the cuisine available in the city, and it’s quite thought provoking to think that it would take close to two years to try every restaurant visiting one every day. Wow.
Our days were constructed to experience variety. We visited the Huntington Gardens, home to an arboretum of incredible flora. Gardens and horticultural exhibits that are intoxicating in their beauty. Chinese gardens, a Japanese Pogoda, ferns, roses, even a conservatory housing a variety of species in a controlled environment. The Huntington is also an art museum with docents at the ready to give guided tours. Here is the original Blue Boy, masterpieces, and...one of the three Gutenberg Bibles in the United States...in Pasadena.
Next was the Gamble House, a California Craftsman structure built for Mr. & Mrs. Gamble, of Proctor & Gamble fame. The house was deeded to Pasadena, who maintains it in partnership with USC. Tours, explaining the intricacies of the home and its grounds are available. This was followed by a visit to the Norton Simon museum, home to a priceless collection of art that is so vast it extends outdoors to a sculpture garden, as well as two levels of paintings and sculptures. Mr. Simon, a wealthy industrialist, chose Pasadena as the location to build his repository in order to share it with the world. He was married to actress Jennifer Jones, who continued his tradition until her own death, and now it is curated by the city of Pasadena.
The final day was the highlight of the trip - A Day at the Races: The Breeder’s Cup at Santa Anita Park. The Breeders Cup is a big deal in Horse Racing. It’s as significant as Ascot, The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness...and for Santa Anita to host the Breeder’s Cup was a coup for both the city and the Santa Anita track. We had a marvelous day. It was sunny and people came dressed to the nines, to enjoy Horse Racing at its finest and to witness the discovery of horses and jockeys that will go on to fame and fortune. We stayed for the full card of 1 races and saw long shots take it all, women jockeys winning races, and watched as favorites won races they were supposed to win. It was a thrill to witness this up close and personal as the horses galloped by on their way to the finish line. At the end of the day, the group had one more night together, and then it was good bye to Pasadena, and a bank full of memories to relive and to immediately plan for a return visit.