411 West Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, CA, 91105
Hours: Monday, Wed-Thurs, Sat-Sun: 10am-6pm | Friday: 10am-9pm (Closed Tuesdays)
http://www.nortonsimon.org | (626) 449-6840
In A Nutshell: The Norton Simon Museum has been at the epicenter of Pasadena's art scene since the 1920s. Their collection ranges from ancient Asia, European art from 14th-19th centuries, modern and contemporary, prints and photographs, and an ever-rotating series of exhibitions making Norton Simon a must-see for a strong dose of culture.
Know Before You Go: $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and free for kids under 18, active military with I.D., and students with I.D. First Friday of the month is free from 6pm-9pm and ample, on-site free parking is available.
Must See: Van Gogh haunting "Self-Portrait" is on loan from the National Art Gallery in D.C. through March 4th.
The Huntington Library & Gardens
1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA, 91108
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 12pm-4:30pm | Saturday-Sunday 10:30am-4:30pm | (Closed Tuesdays)
http://www.huntington.org | (626) 405-2100
In a Nutshell: With 120 acres for their Botanical Gardens - including Japanese Garden, Lily Ponds, Jungle Gardens, Shakespeare Garden and more; a stunning array of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts from the 17th-20th centuries, and a conservatory with interactive exhibits, The Huntington Library and Gardens is a weekend's worth of nature, art, and culture all on one property.
Rachael's Top Picks: Rose Garden and Tea Room; and Greene and Greene, featuring the Arts & Craft furnishings of Pasadena architects Charles Sumner and Henry Mather Greene.
Know Before You Go: Admission is $20/$23 (weekday/weekend) for adults, $15/$18 for seniors; $12/$13 for youths 12-18, $8 for ages 5-11 and kids under 5 are free. Ample, free parking is available on site.
Pasadena City College Flea Market
1570 East Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, CA, 91106
Hours: Sunday, January 6th - 8am-3pm http://www.pasadena.edu | (626) 585-7906
In a Nutshell: Once a month, 450 vendors gather to bring you the best in vintage and retro apparel, antiques, collectibles, rummage sale wares and it is especially proud of its numerous record vendors. Market Sundays are set up in the parking area along Bonnie Avenue. Best of all? Admission is free.
Know Before You Go: Parking is $2.00 in the on-campus structure along Del Mar Blvd.
38 South Raymond Avenue Pasadena, CA, 91105
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 10am-8pm | Friday-Saturday 10am-10pm
http://www.shoptherapy.com/pasadena | (626) 605-2855
In a Nutshell: The only west coast extension of this "Alternative Lifestyle Emporium" offers unique apparel, accessories and wares imported from around the world while still maintaining affordable prices.
Top Picks: Russian Amber Jewelry collection, hilarious magnets to personalize the fridge with, sales rack and the diverse maxi dress collection.
695 East Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, CA, 91101
Hours: Monday-Thursday 9am-9pm | Friday-Saturday 9am-10pm | Sunday 10am-8pm
http://www.vromansbookstore.com | (626) 449-5320
In a Nutshell: Not just your run-of-the-mill bookstore, Vroman's is the oldest and largest independent bookstore in Southern California and hosts numerous community-driven activities including trivia, bake-offs, craft and culinary classes, write-in's, signings, and readings from authors such as Anne Rice, David Sedaris, Neil Gaiman, and President Bill Clinton.
Know Before You Go: Book signings can get packed, so arrive early. Some events require tickets or purchase. See website for details.
Kidspace Children's Museum
480 North Arroyo Blvd. Pasadena, CA, 91103
Hours: Tuesday-Friday 9:30am-5pm | Saturday-Sunday 10am-5pm (Closed Mondays)
http://www.kidspacemuseum.org | (626) 449-9144
In a Nutshell: The ultimate hands-on experience for kids, Kidspace Children's Museum promotes education through interactive experiences in science (Galvin Physics Forest), nature (Digging Deeper Exhibit Gallery, featuring bottle rocket, tennis ball launcher, giant lever and more), sensory learning (Outdoor Play with climbing, water play, and Stone Hollow Amphitheater), art (Flutterby Art Center), and so much more. The elements are a big part of Kidspace, so be prepared for a bit of soil and water.
Know Before You Go: Definitely use the Trike Tracks! They do offer helmets, but if you have your own, bring it. Climb to the top of the Raindrop Climber with your kids! (Mom-tip courtesy of Melissa Burton from www.thevalentinerd.com)
Dog Haus Biergarten
93 East Green Street Pasadena, CA, 91105
Hours: Monday-Thursday + Sunday: 11am-12am | Friday-Saturday: 11am-2am
In a Nutshell: An Old Pasadena favorite with good drinks, lots of 80s music, and gourmet grub with names like "The Abe Froman", "Soooo Cali", and "The Hangover" to help seal the memories of quite possibly the best hot dog and/or burger and/or sausage you will ever chow down. Local craft beer served by friendly and knowledgeable bartenders. Happy Hour 4pm-7pm weekdays.
Know Before You Go: Happy Hour is from 4pm-7pm weekdays and 90 minute free parking is at the multilevel Green Street Parking structure less than one block west.
Rachael's Top Picks: B.L.A.S.T (hot dog), Hail Maria Burger, or Customize your own!
239 East Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, CA, 91101
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, Sunday 5:30pm-11pm | Friday-Saturday 5:30pm-midnight
http://www.thevol94.com | (626) 356-9494
In a Nutshell: A cacophony of shared plate style dining, featuring Korean flavors with culinary influences from South America, France and Napa Valley. Not to mention a whole lot of wine.
Top Picks: "SGV" Duck (that's San Gabriel Valley), The 60's ['Shrooms and Weed], Pirate's Gold (squid ink gnocchi), and Drunkin' Soft-Shell Crab.
La Luna Negra
4 West Green Street, Pasadena, CA, 91105
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 11am-2pm/5pm-10pm | Friday-Saturday 11am-11pm | Sunday 11am-10pm (Closed Mondays)
http://lalunanegrarestaurant.com | (626) 844-4331
In a Nutshell: Tapas restaurant in the heart of Old Pasadena. Entertainment runs Thursday-Sunday evenings with flamenco dancing and a bevy of international music from live bands.
Know Before You Go: Ample parking is available at the De Lacey Parking Structure with your first 90 minutes free of charge.
Top Picks: Sangria, Sinful Shrimp, Pincho de Solomillo, Cordero Asado, and Hongos Rellenos. Save some bucks and go during happy hour: Tuesday-Thursday 3-7, Friday 4-6.
85 West Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA, 91105
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11am-11pm | Friday-Saturday 11am-midnight
http://www.21Choices.com | (626) 304-9521
In a Nutshell: Pasadena's premiere sweet stop packs in the crowds all year 'round. Flavors rotate daily and can be customized with mix-ins and mash-ups to the individual's preference, or patrons can pick from a fixed menu of pre-mixed flavors.
Know Before You Go: The six adaptable flavors are listed daily on the website. Free 90 minute parking is available one block south at the De Lacey Avenue Parking Structure.
Top Picks: Tahitian vanilla with fresh strawberries; Dutch chocolate with fresh strawberries or Nutella strawberry.
950 East Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, CA, 91106
http://www.normastacos.com | (626) 795-1224
In a Nutshell: Family owned and operated, Norma's Tacos is known for their authentic, simple Mexican food. Perfect for visitors to get a taste of Southern California's diverse Latin America flavor. Bonus: A wide variety of vegetarian options.
Top Picks: Tacos Dorados (crispy tacos; choice of beef or potato filling); Chicken Quesadilla.
Rachael L. Faught is a local blogger who writes about food and travel. You can read more of her reviews of local eateries or hear tales of her adventures journeying across the U.S. and overseas at her blog www.glassofwin.com.