May 19, 2010

Two days in Pasadena

Where’s the Little Old Lady in Pasadena?! Remember that song? Go granny, go granny, go granny go!

According to Jan and Dean (and then the Beach Boys) she drove a fast car down Colorado Boulevard and no cop could catch her. The song was written in 1964 and is said to be a bit of a micky-take to the many elderly widows who settled in this part of LA and where evidence of Old Money is still seen along quiet tree-lined streets with houses that look like boutique hotels standing behind their water features and circular driveways.

I’ve just spent 2 days in Pasadena and didn’t see granny. Mind you, if she was using a blue rinse in the 60s that’d make her well old by now!

Here’s looking atcha!

What I did find in Pasadena was a great stopover alternative for a couple of days in LA. The city within the city of Los Angeles has a reputation for eating (500 restaurants for its 100,000-ish population) – like these prawns from new tapas-style restaurant Dish Bistro & Bar on East Union St. I felt like we tried every item on the list (and don’t deny it you girls!) of small plates and then 1 large dish just to taste the lamb. Prices range from $7 to $30 and include things like asparagus fries and foie gras.

The end of flowering season

As it happened I had sat next to a lady on the flight from Auckland to LA whose daughter lives in Pasadena (what a small world!) and she told me about the stunning and enormous Huntington Gardens and museums with priceless art galleries and an eclectic science museum as well as acres of landscaped grounds featuring several countries and climates, so off I went for a walk around its 120 acres. Well more like a glimpse of most of it and a meander through a few like the impressive cactus garden (who knew cacti could be so pretty?!), Shakespeare’s garden, the Japanese garden and the very different neighbouring Chinese garden – yes they ARE different.

The Norton Simon Museum is another gallery for boffins of priceless, private art collections and has a very cute story right now with a family of geese who wandered across the busy highway, right up to the front door where they were let in. They marched purposefully through the atrium to the pond and sculpture garden and that is where they now live.

The “arts & crafts” style Gamble House

There is shopping and an outdoor vibe in Old Pasadena, plus for history buffs or architects, the 100-year old Gamble House (Procter and Gamble) is wow. Every piece of timber was hand carved including even the architecturally designed furniture. And this was just their holiday home.

Of course you’ll know about Pasadena’s famous Rose Parade on New Year’s Day that sees people lining the streets the night before with their sleeping bags for the best view before the Rose Bowl Game. But did you know about the Doo Dah Parade on May Day (May 1st)? Over 1200 took part in this year’s Doo Dah, with wacky floats and names like the Electric Squirrels, Martinis in the Morning, Howdy Krishna, Stupidiotic Evolution, LA Derby Dolls, Dead Robert Palmer Girls, Drunk in the Garage, and Doo Dah Random Dancers.

And if you’re on the 2nd Sunday of the month, the Rose Bowl Flea Market is a must-see. It is so huge you can even pay to on a tour of it! You pay and admission price to get into the market, but according to the reviews I can find, it is definitely worth it.

I stayed at the Westin which is just a 2-block walk down Colorado Boulevard and Old Pasadena where Granny used to blat. The Westin has the comfiest beds ever – in fact I loved them so much I bought one last year! True.

For more information on Pasadena, click here for Visit Pasadena.

And if you’re reading this in New Zealand, United Travel are ready to work you out some pretty cool deals, so click here to check them out or give them a call.

About Megan Singleton

Megan

Megan Singleton is a travel writer, blogger and radio correspondent. She's been gallivanting around the world telling stories for the last 16 years and has her suitcase always half packed (or half un-packed!) Follow along on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for monthly newsletters if you want to keep up with the journey!

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