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Los Angeles City Trip - Old Pasadena

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Where to Stay Where to Eat What to See & Do

LOS ANGELES DAY 2: The Grove and Old Pasadena

Begin your day with breakfast at the Farmers Market, a historic, always-buzzing venue offering a wealth of festive food and fun. There are many breakfast options here, from chilaquiles and menudo at ¡Loteria! Grill, New Orleans-style beignets at The Gumbo Pot, or some of the city's best traditional doughnuts at beloved Bob's Coffee & Doughnuts. Take in the sights — including dozens of stalls of fresh produce, ethnic and specialty foods, artisanal candles and hand-crafted jewelry — or stroll over to the immensely popular shopping center called The Grove, adjacent to the market. But don't shop too long ... you've got a busy day ahead of you! You're off to charming Pasadena, which hosts far more than just the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Rose Bowl. The Rose City has emerged from its sleepy history into a lively, diverse community with a wealth of cultural, shopping, dining and nightlife opportunities.

One can enter the city from the west with a quick drive through Old Pasadena, in the shadows of the city's signature Beaux-Arts City Hall. This pedestrian-oriented commercial district is on the National Register of Historic Places and its cafés and boutiques attract all ages. On the edge of the district is the Norton Simon Museum, one of the finest art museums of its size in America (particularly noted for its Degas collection), and a few blocks away is The Gamble House, one of the prime examples of the Arts & Crafts architectural movement that emerged in the early 1900s. Pasadena is filled with lovely Craftsman-style homes, but this grand one, designed by local architects Charles and Henry Greene, is surely the most celebrated. Guided tours are a popular attraction with locals and tourists alike, and advanced reservations are recommended.

The Japanese Garden at The Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens in Pasadena, California

If the weather is good, head over to the Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens, located in the stately residential community of San Marino, adjacent to Pasadena. The Tournament of Roses happens only once a year — for the other 364 days, the Huntington is the pride of the Pasadena area. This estate of railroad tycoon Henry Huntington is filled with rare manuscripts and 18th-century art. The extensive art collection, primarily housed in a grand Georgian mansion, is most famous for Thomas Gainsborough's Blue Boy and Sir Thomas Lawrence's Pinkie. The Library, which contains more than 600,000 rare books and documents (including a Gutenberg Bible, circa 1410), also has rotating exhibits appealing to a wide range of interests.

The meticulously maintained grounds of the Huntington, covering over 150 gently rolling acres, include sculpture courts and the impressive botanical gardens: a Desert Garden, Australian Garden, Sub-Tropical Garden, California's first classical Chinese garden — called the Garden of Flowing Fragrance — and a Japanese Garden (complete with a traditional Japanese house, moon bridge over a koi-filled pond, bonsai garden and Zen rock garden). In the midst of three acres overflowing with nearly 1,500 eye-popping varieties of roses is the Rose Garden Tea Room. An informal high tea in this charming cottage tea room is an essential element of any visit to the Huntington. However, seats fill up fast in the small space and reservations should be made at least two weeks in advance.

Remaining in Pasadena for dinner is a viable option. Wander into Old Pasadena, where a diverse collection of dining experiences awaits.

The dining room at Spago Beverly Hills in California

If you feel you haven't gotten a full taste of Beverly Hills, you might consider heading back there for dinner, instead, particularly if you're staying in the vicinity. For star power — and some outstanding California cuisine — there's no better place than Wolfgang Puck's famed Spago Beverly Hills, fresh from a complete makeover and offering a more moderately priced menu than in years past (but be sure to make reservations well in advance). Since L.A. is truly part of the Pacific Rim, you might consider Urasawa, a once-in-a-lifetime sushi experience at an intimate bar where a maximum of eight diners receive a personalized, artfully executed omakase feast.

For a nightcap, head to the clubby wood-clad hotel bar at The Peninsula.

Continue to Day 3
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