Sunday Morning Drive: Pasadena
Pasadena, California is known to most people as home to one of the most iconic football stadiums and games on the planet–the Rose Bowl–along with its sister spectacle, the Rose Parade. But many people are unaware that Pasadena is also one of Southern California’s oldest communities and home to a wealth of unique places to visit, eat, and shop. And while Pasadena is part of the vast system of interlocking cities making up Los Angeles, it nevertheless has its own small-town identity. And I just so happen to call Pasadena home, so I’m happy to share a small, curated snapshot of what makes it wonderful.
Pasadena is at the heart Los Angeles’s arterial freeway system and the best way to reach Pasadena by car is on one of America’s first freeways: the 110. Also known as the “Arroyo Parkway,” the 110 is a narrow-laned, canyon chute of a road, a concrete ribbon stretching from downtown Los Angeles into the heart of Pasadena. On an early Sunday morning it’s a short but fantastic opportunity to put your car through its paces…or to take it slow and enjoy the natural beauty of the Arroyo itself.
Russell’s – 30 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena, CA 91103
With a pretty, bistro setting, Russell’s has reached the level of institution for Pasadena locals. Its laurels come from being “just right” and not relying on gimmicks. There are no special donuts or pastries, no famous egg dishes, no mashup cuisine. Russell’s makes a great breakfast efficiently and professionally. The food is fresh, served hot, and the service is friendly. It’s the whole combination of location, setting, food, and company that make Russell’s stand out while providing a welcome sense of familiarity on a Sunday morning.
Alternate Food Stop:
Euro Pane – 345 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91101
Dark, modern, and tucked into an office building on a corner of Colorado Boulevard, Euro Pane is deceiving. The sleek exterior belies the wonderland of baked delights, made fresh and in-house, that await you inside. Well-known to Pasadena residents, Euro Pane offers up some of the best croissants in town, along with excellent coffee. Pro tip: get your treats to go, and then head around the corner to the City of Pasadena’s amazing City Hall where you can sit and enjoy your pastries al fresco.
The Norton Simon Museum of Art – 411 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91105
After breakfast and a light stroll, head over to The Norton Simon Museum, a gem of a museum that’s easy to miss. Los Angeles is home to many many famous and not-so-famous cultural institutions and museums–over forty at last count. The Norton Simon is easy to overlook but to do so would be a mistake. Easily consumed in a few hours, the musuem is the perfect cultural break, with works by famous artists like Van Gogh and Rousseau to lesser-known wonders from Asia and India. With a lovely cafe and sculpture garden, the Norton is a fantastic escape.
On Your Way Out of Town:
Mark Piscitelli – 589 E. Green St., Pasadena, CA 91101
Writes Pasadena Weekly: “For the businessman who is not content with the status quo of a black suit and white shirt, Mark Piscitelli offers garments selected and shipped from Europe with colors, patterns and textures that catch the eye while exuding class. Their attention to detail includes a custom shirt department that tailors to a man’s exact size.” Menswear shops like this are often forgotten in the desire to make our purchases from our desks while chewing on a sandwich, which is a mistake. Shops like Mark Piscitelli exist to help you dress better, look better, and learn what works on you. You don’t cut your own hair, do you? That’s right: professionals matter.
Gold Bug – 22 East Union St., Pasadena, CA 91103
One of the most unique shops in California, not just Pasadena, Gold Bug is a highly curated collection of the mysterious, unique, and downright bizarre. Its collections range from jewelry and china to one of a kind art and curios. Truly worth a visit.