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36 Hours in Pasadena, California

New York Times – View Online

Beyond its well-known cultural institutions, this sunny city offers distinctive architecture, a venerable playhouse and beloved shops.

The second oldest city in notoriously youthful Los Angeles County — after Los Angeles itself — Pasadena has aged admirably. With its deciduous tree-draped streets, it has often been a Hollywood stand-in for the American Everytown. Known for neighborhoods of historic grandeur and institutions of repute, its cultural and scientific heavyweights — the Norton Simon Museum, the Gamble House and the nearby Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens among them — are why most people visit. But Pasadena and the surrounding towns like South Pasadena andAltadena also have a delicious Mediterranean climate, enchanting architecture and plenty of charming Americana, including A-frame motels and the original concrete mile markers along what was once Route 66.

7.TAKE A HIKE, 1 P.M.

Pasadena’s position at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains is one of its greatest assets. Head to Altadena, an unincorporated area just north of Pasadena that has long fought annexation by its southern neighbor, for a hike at either Eaton Canyon or Echo Mountain via the Sam Merrill Trail. Both have intriguing histories, including a famed resort, now in ruins, once accessible by the scenic Mount Lowe Railway. Air quality allowing, bothoptions offer views of the Los Angeles basin and trails through cactuses and live oaks. Reward yourself with gelato in flavors like pistachio or pear atBulgarini Gelato Artigianale, which also features foreign films or live jazz