Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.

Arts and Entertainment

New Years Resolutions - Explore Pasadena!

Before you read more...
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

5b2bb7954488b30009268fad-original.jpg

I didn't want to just do a "best of" list. So this year, I've decided to take a years worth of personal New Year's Resolutions, ask around for those of friends and put a call out to readers (email me here) about things you've always wanted to know, always wanted to do and then take those requests and ask an expert, an insider to help out. The result? Here goes...

Today's Resolution:
"I am really good at getting around town and exploring new parts of town, but one place I've been remiss to really take a bite out of is Pasadena. I don't know much beyond the Rose Bowl flea market. I know people rave about this neighborhood but where should I go to take in all it has to offer?"

When I think Pasadena, I think of Jenine Baines. She is a Public Relations Consultant and Writer and I receive the best press releases from her that just make me want to leave my Santa Monica enclave and head out on the 110 to soak in all that is Pasadena. So I asked her to share some of her favorite cultural attractions in Pasadena to make us all want to head over there and explore.

Support for LAist comes from

Without further ado: Top 14 Cultural Attractions in Pasadena

As anyone who has spent even the briefest amount of time in Pasadena soon realizes, there is a lot more to the place than a parade on New Years day or 'the little old lady' immortalized by the Beach Boys nearly half a century ago. This is a city that, according to the Pasadena Arts Council, is home to 8 major art institutions, 2 museums of history, 2 architectural attractions, 5 colleges and universities, 8 musical organizations, 3 dance companies, and 3 theaters...and these numbers don't even begin to include the smaller artistic concerns that proliferate at a pace any self-respecting bunny would envy.

So where does someone craving a bit of cultural color and action start in Pasadena?

My recommendation would be to wait until the evening of March 14 and hop on a shuttle bus graciously provided at no cost by the City of Pasadena's Cultural Affairs Division during ArtNight Pasadena. From 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., fourteen major cultural organizations will be staying open late to welcome the culturally curious.

The budget-minded among us will especially appreciate ArtNight, since each participating institution opens its doors to the public for free. Not sure how you feel about Asian art or Stravinsky or swing? Give it a try. You've nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Meanwhile, those craving a cultural fix now can use the following list as a resource and guide to creating their own ArtNight or day...

  • Armory Center for the Arts
  • Armory Northwest
  • Art Center College of Design
  • Light Bringer Project
  • One Colorado
  • Pacific Asia Museum
  • Pasadena City College
  • Pasadena Conservatory of Music
  • Pasadena Jazz Institute
  • Pasadena Museum of California Art
  • Pasadena Museum of History
  • Pasadena Playhouse
  • Pasadena Public Library
  • Pasadena Symphony

A litte more about each of the 14 cultural hot spots!

Armory Center for the Arts

And you thought armories were only for weapons
The Armory Center for the Arts is a community arts center that offers innovative approaches to creating, exploring, and presenting the visual arts to students of all ages. In addition to providing an outlet for contemporary art exhibitions and performances, the Armory offers studio art classes and a variety of educational outreach programs to schools and in the community.

Where to find the Armory:
145 North Raymond Avenue

Arm yourself with art at the Armory:
Read Me! Text in Art
December 9 - February 24

Support for LAist comes from

Patrick Percy and Maritta Tapananinen
December 9 - March 2

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts
December 9 - February 18


Armory Northwest/965

Another armory?
Armory Northwest is a gallery sponsored by the Armory Center. Best of all, it is open free to the public all the time, not just during ArtNight

Where to find it:
965 North Fair Oaks Avenue

Art Center College of Design

Unique by Design:
Art Center College of Design has been a leader in art and design education for nearly 75 years. The College offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide range of disciplines, as well as Public Programs offering design education to all ages and levels of experience. Fundamental to Art Center's core curricula is a commitment to social and cultural engagement and giving students the tools and skills with which to effect change and address real-world issues.

Where to visit during ArtNight or any day:
The Williamson Gallery

Where to find the Williamson Gallery:
Art Center's Hillside Campus, located at 1700 Lida Street

What's on the horizon:
OBSERVE, a collaboration with the Spitzer Science Center using art and science to answer 'where do things come from and how do they work?'


Light Bringer Project

What it is:
Light Bringer Project was founded by local residents who became interested in the role the arts, architecture and design have played in the growth and development of the Pasadena-area community. The organization has also become a producer of major public art events. The most notable among these are the Absolut Chalk Street Painting Festival and the Pasadena Doo Dah Parade, which continue as annual events and have received national attention. Other large-scale events and activities have included the Arroyo Seco Earth Day Walk, American Indian Festival and Marketplace, and Culture Factory at One Colorado.

One Colorado

Wait! Isn't One Colorado a shopping district?:
Yes, situated on one city block in the heart of Old Pasadena, One Colorado is the project that spurred the area's redevelopment. But it is One Colorado's imaginative cultural programming of outdoor film festivals, live music presentations, site-specific art installations and children's arts & crafts projects that earn it a spot on Pasadena's Top Fourteen Cultural Attractions. During ArtNight, One Colorado mounts an outdoor exhibit curated by the Armory Center for the Arts.

Where it is:
One Colorado is one city block bounded by Fair Oaks, Colorado Boulevard, DeLacey and Union Street in Old Pasadena.

If you can't make ArtNight:
...You've still got a shot at Pasadena Art Weekend, which will take place March 15 and 16, 2008.

Pacific Asia Museum

Why it's worth the drive:
Pacific Asia Museum is one of only four institutions in the United States dedicated exclusively to the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands. The museum was originally the home and art galleries of Grace Nicholson, who commissioned local architects Marston, Van Pelt & Maybury to build a Chinese-style building for "Oriental and Western Art" in 1941. Today, Pacific Asia Museum has a collection of over 14,000 works of art including paintings, prints, sculptures, ceramics, jades and textiles from all over Asia and the Pacific Islands, and a research library containing more than 7,000 reference volumes relating to Asian and Pacific art and culture.

What to see once you get there:
Lotus Moon:
The Art of Otagaki Rengetsu
February 8 - May 11, 2008

Where to find "Pac Asia":
46 North Los Robles Avenue

Pasadena City College

A community college is a cultural attraction?
You bet. The college Art Gallery offers the following programs throughout the year:


  • Artist-In-Residence, which brings nationally and internationally renowned artists to PCC and the Pasadena area community. During a full week spent on campus, the artists exhibit their artwork, create a new work to become part of the college art collection, and through lectures, demonstrations and student portfolio reviews, work directly with PCC students.
  • Annual Student Scholarship Exhibition, where each year, scholarship recipients are honored with an exhibition of their work.
  • Annual Juried Student Exhibition and Student Summer Exhibitions.

Where to find it: The PCC Art Gallery is located inside the PCC Campus
1570 E. Colorado Blvd.
(North of the R (Robbins) Building and across from the Student Services building by the school quad.)

Pasadena Conservatory of Music

Can't claim to be cultural without a Conservatory:
Incorporated on New Year's Eve 1983, the Conservatory began its operations in space rented from a small church, with a faculty of eight, led by a volunteer administration. It has since grown to an established institution enrolling over 1300 students annually, taught by an exceptional, professional music faculty of over fifty.

Not just kids study at the Conservatory:
Lifelong learning for the music lover is a goal the Conservatory embraces. Adult novices and pre-professionals may sign up for lessons in any department offering individual instruction. In addition, some departments offer class and group instruction designed specifically for the adult learner. Additionally, the Theory, History and Composition Department offers a series of music history courses designed to promote an understanding of musical styles and genres.

Why to visit, even if you don't want to study music:
Student and faculty recitals
Mansions and Music series
Master classes (You can sit in and observe)

Where they're playing your song:
100 North Hill Street, #105 in Pasadena

Pasadena Jazz Institute

What kind of institution is the Institute?
The Pasadena Jazz Institute is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, comprised of music educators, musicians, and jazz music lovers, dedicated to promoting jazz education, preservation and participation. Check out their web site or call the Jazz Hotline at 626.398.3344

Where we swing:
Paseo Colorado-second level
260 East Colorado

A must meet:
Founder and executive director Paul Lines

Pasadena Museum of California Art

California grows more than crops:
The Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) is dedicated to the exhibition of California art, architecture, and design from 1850 to the present.

Where to show up:
490 East Union Street

Try not to miss:
The rooftop's killer view of the city

Pasadena Museum of History

What's its history?
Founded in 1924 as the Pasadena Historical Society, the Pasadena Museum of History operates the only Museum and Research Library devoted solely to preserving and educating the public about the history of Pasadena and the west San Gabriel Valley. Since 1970, the Museum has been headquartered on the 2.1-acre grounds of the Fenyes Estate, a Pasadena cultural landmark that is listed on both the National and California Registers of Historic Places. The Museum's historic structures also include the Curtin House, a French-style residence designed in 1915 by Sylvanus Marston, and the Finnish Folk Art Museum, a building designed by Frederick Roehrig and adapted by Consul Paloheimo for use as a sauna/guest house.

Exhibits to "enrich" you:
Prosperous Pasadena: Business in the Crown City and Beyond - until January 6
The Purse and the Person/A Century of Women's Purses - From January 23 to March 31

Where the time traveling takes place:
470 West Walnut Street

Pasadena Playhouse

All the world's a stage:
Pasadena Playhouse is under the guidance of Artistic Director Sheldon Epps, whose commitment to cultural and theatrical diversity brings vitality and direction to the theatre. This commitment is reflected in seasons featuring Tony and Pulitzer award-winning plays as well as in outreach and artistic programs, which have doubled in size in the last two years.

What to see:
ORSON'S SHADOW
By Austin Pendleton; conceived by Judith Auberjonois
Directed by new Associate Artistic Director, Dámaso Rodriguez
January 11 - February 17, 2008

Where to see it:
39 South El Molino Avenue

Pasadena Public Library

'Table of contents'

Bring the kids:
Every Pasadena Public Library site hosts at least one storytime on a regular basis for children under the age of five. Children and their parents attending these storytimes will enjoy being read to, joining in on finger plays, songs and watching a short literature-based film or video.

Also offered:
Book groups
Computer classes
Free films
Teen events

The Pasadena Symphony

Why it's just as good as that orchestra downtown:
"Only in a city with a dazzlingly vital music scene could you find the quality of an orchestra like The Pasadena Symphony and Music Director Jorge Mester and not have it be the most talked about cultural achievement in the entire community. How lucky we are to have this orchestra and conductor."_Rich Capparela, KUSC host__

What's on the program?
Clásica, Las raíces de la música on February 10 featuring guitarist Luis Villegas - a free event
Free Clazzical Notes featuring Geoff "Double G" Gallegos, founder of the daKAH Hip-Hop Orchestra on January 28
"We're Off To See Vienna!" performance of the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra on February 17

Where to hear the orchestra and ensembles:
The Pasadena Symphony, Musical Circus and Pasadena Youth Symphony
Pasadena Civic Auditorium
300 East Green Street

Clásica
Bar Celona restaurant
46 East Colorado Blvd

Clazzical Notes
Caltech's Ramo Auditorium
332 South Michigan Avenue

A High Note for the Author of This Composition:
If you visit The Pasadena Symphony on a concert night, be sure and drop by the Press Table to say hello!

ArtNight Pasadena takes place twice a year, usually on the second Friday evening of the month in March and October. For more information, visit here.

Last week we got great tips on both local stores to help design our space like a professional did it and inspiration to start our own business. Check in tomorrow for another edition of New Year's Resolutions Realized for tips on top places to work that AREN'T your office.