Things to Do in Pasadena in the Spring

Best Things to Do in Pasadena in the Spring featured by top US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise, Descanso Gardens

Thank you to the team at Visit Pasadena for assistance with this article! All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I’ve lived in Los Angeles for a few years and love exploring Pasadena every Spring. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s a gorgeous, old Hollywood town just 20 minutes north of downtown Los Angeles.

As the sun begins to shine and the days grow longer, this charming city in Southern California comes alive with various activities and events for all ages to enjoy. From strolling through picturesque gardens to attending lively festivals and indulging in delicious food, there is something for everyone to experience in Pasadena this Spring. So grab your sunglasses, and let’s explore the top things to do in this beautiful city!

Short on time? Here is what you need to know about visiting Pasadena in the Spring:

☔️ There is a chance for rain in March — the end of the rainy season in SoCal. Make sure to pack an umbrella.
🛌 You can find the best hotel deals in Pasadena here.
🍝 Want to try all the food in Pasadena? This tour is highly recommended.
🌷 Some of the best gardens to visit during Spring include Descanso Gardens, The Huntington, The Langham’s Japanese Garden, and Tournament of Roses House, AKA Wrigley Mansion.

The Huntington Botanical Garden in Pasadena California

Things to Do in Pasadena in the Spring: Weather & Packing Tips

In Pasadena, the weather should be pretty pleasant in the spring, but note that March is the end of the rainy season, and “May Grey” can also be a thing. During “May Grey,” you could experience cloudy, overcast, and cooler weather, or you could experience the most glorious, warm day with sunshine. If you’ve never visited Southern California, it is chilly at night, so you will want to dress in layers. Also, check the forecast before your arrival and pack accordingly.

P.S. — if it’s 65°F/18°C outside and the sun is shining, it’s going to feel a lot warmer than that. Southern California is a desert, after all!

Things to Pack to Visit Pasadena in the Spring:

If you’re heading to Pasadena in the Spring, I’d recommend packing:

  • A jacket (I love a trench coat for Spring!)
  • Comfortable shoes for exploring
  • An umbrella, just in case!
  • A swimsuit
  • Sunglasses. Trust me, do not forget them.
  • Lightweight sweaters and layers
  • Jeans (folks in SoCal love their denim!)

Overall, Pasadena is a pretty casual town, so outside of some nicer evening dinners, there’s no huge reason to dress up. 

The Langham Pasadena

Where to Stay in Pasadena:

For a luxury stay, I’d highly recommend The Langham Pasadena. Fun fact — this was the hotel that was featured in The Parent Trap (1998), and it is packed with historic charm, top-tier dining, and incredible views. 

If you’re looking for additional hotels and rentals in Pasadena, below is a map with properties that work for every budget.

 

The Huntington Gardens in Pasadena

Descanso Gardens Japanese Garden
The Huntington Botanical Garden in Pasadena CA
  

Garden at Norton Simon Museum

 Things to Do in Pasadena in the Winter: The Best Gardens to Visit

As an LA. local, I love to visit the gardens in Pasadena during the spring. It feels like a little getaway within itself — Pasadena is home to several stunning botanical gardens and opportunities to view some of the most impressive blooms the season offers.

Here are some of the best gardens to visit in Pasadena:

  • Descanso Gardens: Descanso Gardens is a botanical garden and living museum minutes from Old Town Pasadena. Pack your walking shoes here: Descanso Gardens is a 150-acre property, and you’ll want to spend hours roaming around this oasis.
     
    You can visit the gardens year-round, but there’s something purely magical about strolling around Descanso Gardens in the spring. Check here to see what’s in bloom right now.
     
    Good Time to Visit: Here, you’ll find 30,000 tulips around mid-March and can view the cherry blossoms in their Japanese Garden in March/April.
     
  • The Huntington: The Huntington Botanical Garden is a must-visit for me each Spring. This property spans 130 acres, and there are 16 themed gardens you can visit, plus they have a café on-site. It might take a few visits here to see all they offer. I would plan on spending at least a few hours here!
     
    Check here to see what’s in bloom now.
     
    Good Time to Visit: Visit the Camelia Garden in February and March for impressive late-winter blooms and the Rose Garden, which is in bloom from Late March to October.
       
  • The Langham Pasadena: If you’re at the Langham Pasadena in the Spring, whether you’re staying as a guest or grabbing afternoon tea, visit their Japanese Garden. It’s a beautiful, relaxing spot to stroll and enjoy the mini waterfalls, a picture-perfect footbridge, and a beautifully manicured garden.
     
    The Langham Pasadena has 23 acres of gardens between their Japanese Garden and Horseshoe Garden, so you’ll have plenty of blooms to enjoy during your visit!
     
  • Tournament of Roses House AKA Wrigley Mansion: Rose Bowl fans, this one is for you — the Wrigley Mansion, also known as Tournament House and Wrigley Gardens, serves as the Tournament of Roses headquarters. This property spans 4.5 acres and includes gardens filled with annuals, camellias, and, of course, roses.
     
    Good Time to Visit: The grounds are open all year long, and the inside of Wrigley Mansion is open Thursday afternoons from February to August. During this time, you can reserve a free tour to discover hidden details, little-known facts, and endearing trivia about the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association and Tournament House.
     
  • Norton Simon Museum: Not only does the Norton Simon Museum have one of the most distinguished collections of North American and European art, but their grounds also have a pretty remarkable sculpture garden. A ticket to the Norton Simon Museum will get you access to both the indoor art gallery and the sculpture gardens, so make the most out of your trip by blocking off a few hours to enjoy the property in full.
     
    During a spring walk in their Sculpture Garden, you can enjoy stunning water lilies, daylilies, arrowheads, gold medallion trees, and more. 
     
    Good Time to Visit: You’ll enjoy blooms in the Sculpture Garden anytime between Spring and Autumn. 

Afternoon Tea at the Langham Pasadena

Bone Kettle Pasadena CA
The Cafe at The Huntington in Pasadena

 
Coffee and Plants in Pasadena CA

Black Owned Coffee Shops in LA, Coffee and Plants

Places to Eat and Drink in Pasadena

During the spring, Pasadena has many cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy seasonal dishes and local ingredients. Here are some of my favorites, but a more expanded list of places to eat in Pasadena is coming soon to the blog.

  • Motto Tea Café: If you’re going to view the Cherry Blossoms in spring, Motto’s incredibly fluffy, Japanese gourmet Souffle Pancakes are an absolute must. They also have a fun assortment of matcha drinks, teas, lattes, and sweet treats, so pick up a little treat between garden tours.
     
  • Coffee and Plants: Is it really spring if you haven’t gotten a Rose Bowl Latte from Coffee and Plants? I think not. 
     
    Coffee and Plants is easily one of my go-to coffee shops in the area. Here, you can not only grab a delicious coffee, tea, or pastry, but you can also purchase plants at their shop. The coffee here is excellent, and the atmosphere is charming.  
     
  • Afternoon Tea at The Langham: I don’t know about you, but when the temps finally warm up enough to put on a sundress, I must book an Afternoon Tea. The Langham, hands down, has one of the best afternoon teas in the greater Los Angeles area. Reservations are recommended, and their staff is incredible at accommodating food allergies.
     
  • Float Coffee Shop: Looking for more seasonal treats? Float Coffee Shop makes some of the most creative, holiday-themed floats and delicious sandwiches, salads, and toasts. Perfect to grab and go!

Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena CA

Just Like Heaven Music Festival in Pasadena CA
Rose Bowl Flea Market

 
Hot Chip performing at the Just Like Heaven Music Festival in May 2023

More Things to Add to Your Pasadena Bucket List

  • Rose Bowl Flea Market: Every second Sunday of the month, you can visit one of the largest flea markets in the United States — the Rose Bowl Flea Market. Here, you can shop and browse pieces from over 2500 vendors and find incredible hidden gems. From home goods to clothing to pet supplies and antiques, there is something for everyone here. Make sure to purchase a ticket in advance for smooth entry.
     
  • Festivals and Music: Pasadena attracts festivals and performers from across the globe, and this Spring, you can enjoy many music festivals, concerts, food festivals, live shows, and large celebrations.
     
    One of the festivals that I enjoyed last Spring was the Just Like Heaven festival at the Rose Bowl. This might be the millennial in me, but I enjoyed all of the indie acts I loved in the early aughts. It’s a fun, well-organized festival, and it never felt too crowded or overwhelming, and if you’re into that type of music, I would highly recommend it!

Have you ever been to Pasadena in the Spring? Let me know in the comments below!

Photos by Tom McGovern

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1 Comments

  1. Christine wrote:

    Looks beautiful – can’t believe how many gardens there are!

    Posted 1.18.24 Reply