The first time I visited Pasadena, I fell in love with its residential area and spent hours driving around trying to select my favorite house to "live in." It was some time later before I learned that my vicarious house hunting had occurred in what is known as “Bungalow Heaven,” a 16-block area bordered by Orange Grove, Washington Boulevard, and Lake and Hill streets.
These charming bungalows were built early in the 20th century during a period of creativity known as the Arts and Crafts Period, which showcased nature’s beauty and the artistry of individual craftsmen. An outstanding, albeit quite grand, example of this is The Gamble House, open to tourists and well worth seeing.
Speaking of grand, Orange Grove Boulevard is home to mansions once housing a veritable who’s who of American consumer products, including Procter & Gamble. Appropriately named Millionaire’s Row, the boulevard is home to the stately Wrigley Mansion, now home of the Rose Parade’s permanent headquarters. Adolphus Busch, co-founder of Anheuser-Busch, established the first Busch Gardens in Pasadena while spending time at his English style mansion, Ivy Wall — unfortunately, no longer standing.
My favorite place to stay is The Langham Huntington. Set on 23 acres of rose-filled gardens and boasting 380 luxurious guestrooms and private cottages, it has grand ballrooms, delightful nooks and crannies in the lobby for socializing or simply people watching, and soothing spa treatments based on oriental medicine. The Dining Room is the only Michelin-rated hotel restaurant in Southern California.
Attractions not to be missed include: the world-renowned Huntington Library with 120 acres of breathtaking botanical gardens, art collections, rare books and European art from the 15th to early 20th century; the Norton Simon Museum, one of the most remarkable private collections ever assembled and a garden featuring sculptures by Edgar Degas, a garden which is truly a living work of art; Carnegie Observatories; the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), for a tour of the campus or lecture; and the Kidspace Children's Museum to learn more about nature.
With Los Angeles next door, the attractions multiply exponentially: Disneyland, the California Science Center, the Los Angeles Zoo, the Getty Center, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Universal Studios Hollywood, the Mount Wilson Observatory, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Knott's Berry Farm, the Hammer Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Santa Anita Race Track, the Natural History Museum — and this is just for starts.
Julia Child was born in Pasadena, so it stands to reason that its citizens and visitors will eat well. Some places for that to happen: Julienne Café, a picturesque sidewalk café featuring French bistro fare (be sure to check out the attached Gourmet Market and Gift Shop); Euro Pane for delicious breakfast and lunch at affordable prices; Café Santorini for Mediterranean cuisine in a city roof-top setting; Roy’s Restaurant, offering seafood from oceans around Hawaii prepared in an exhibition kitchen; Matsuri for sushi and Japanese cuisine; Green Earth Vegan Café; Cheval Bistro for petit plaisirs to make even Child proud; and an old local favorite, Pie ‘n Burger, a throwback to the days of Formica counters, swivel stools and ancient waitresses serving breakfast, burgers and seasonal pies. This place epitomizes my favorite quote from Child: “Fat gives things flavor.”
This is a charming place to visit or to live. I’ve already picked out my favorite bungalow, complete with a rose garden.