Pasadena is just over 10 miles northeast of Downtown Los Angeles but sometimes feels worlds apart. It is a clean, well-organized city with a small-town vibe partly because of its abundance of trees, landscaped yards, and well-preserved late 19th and early 20th century homes.
Traffic here is more manageable on its surface streets, and the pace of life is not as breakneck as other parts of L.A. County. Yet, it is far from boring; Pasadena boasts a rich mix of cultural, entertainment and educational opportunities.
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If you’re looking to buy a home in a charming neighborhood with lots of foliage, you’ll be impressed with your options in Pasadena.
First, trees are everywhere. So much so that sometimes it feels you’re driving through rather than under them as you cruise along the city’s bucolic streets.
Mature trees – planted decades ago – provide plenty of shade to homes, backyards, and sidewalks.
Second, yards are beautifully landscaped. Flowers thrive in the Southern California sunshine. Bright orange bird-of-paradise plants and ruby red bougainvillea paint Pasadena’s neighborhoods with brilliant colors everywhere you go. The fragrant smell of blooming gardenias permeates the air every spring.
Pasadena is big enough that, depending on where you shop for homes, prices vary quite a bit. Home values start near the L.A. County average price but can quickly climb to the multi-million range, especially the mansions in Oak Knoll. More expensive properties are found near the west side of town or in the foothills.
Home sizes and styles range from condos and charming California Bungalows to large estates. The history of the residential architectural styles in Pasadena follows a predictable timeline that closely matches the rest of Southern California.
Some beautiful and well-preserved homes date back to the late 1800s. During the Victorian Era, many of the larger houses in Pasadena were built in the Queen Anne style. From time to time, one will come on the market that generates a lot of buyer interest.
By the early 1900s, Pasadenans would buy a lot for $1,000 and then mail-order a small Bungalow or American Foursquare house to place on it. My how times have changed! During this period, Pasadena became that national center of the Craftsman genre. Other stick-built homes during this period followed the Colonial or Georgian Revival aesthetic. Neoclassical and Cottage homes were also erected.
During the Interwar Period (1918-1940), home designs followed several branches of the Revival Styles including Tudor/English Cottage, Spanish Colonial, Italian/Mediterranean Renaissance, and California Monterrey. If you drive around and keep your eyes peeled, you’ll even find a few French and Regency Revival homes and an occasional Pueblo house.
The Postwar Period (1945 – 1968) brought economic growth and the ensuing suburbanization of L.A. County. Home construction was fueled in part by VA and FHA Loan programs. The rise of car ownership also made America mobile, increasing folks’ willingness to travel to and from work each day. Mid Century Modern and affordable single-story California Ranch homes dominated the scene.
Pasadena is culturally and economically diverse, so home shoppers who think they might be priced out of the market might be surprised at what they find. What’s more, different lifestyle preferences – like living within walking distance of restaurants and shops – are possible. Conversely, if you prefer living in relative solitude, there are areas well-suited for that, too.
Here are some of the core neighborhoods that comprise the city of Pasadena, by region:
- North Arroyo (Upper Arroyo) – upper portion of the Arroyo Seco that contains several small enclaves all of which lie north of the 134 Freeway
- Arroyo Terrace – historic district with several homes designed by notable architects
- Linda Vista / Brookside Park – neighborhoods that surround the Rose Bowl and contain mostly luxury homes
- Hastings Ranch (Upper and Lower) – a former ranch dating back to 1882 ten subdivided in 1942 into luxury housing tracts
- Kinneloa Mesa – an unincorporated area and hillside community below the Angeles National Forest
- Orange Heights – historic district, dog-friendly neighborhood with plenty of Craftsman homes
- Bungalow Heaven – tight-knit community and historic district with landmark status, preserved houses in styles of Craftsman, Tudor, and Spanish (and, of course, Bungalow)
- Downtown / Old Pasadena – bustling business district with mostly condos, near many cafes, shops, and restaurants
- South Arroyo (Lower Arroyo) – historic district in the lower portion of the Arroyo Seco
- Annandale – quiet, shaded neighborhood with lots of hedges that line winding streets
- Madison Heights – historic neighborhood with houses dating back the late 19th century, annual 4th of July Parade and Picnic put on by the Madison Heights Neighborhood Association (MHNA)
- Oak Knoll – prestigious homes, and mansions along curving streets south of California Boulevard
- South Lake / Caltech – premier shopping district and home to California Institute of Technology
- Chapman Woods / Lamanda Park – former walnut grove and warehouse district
Life in Pasadena
Pasadena is a very comfortable place to live but hotter than L.A. in the summer and chillier in the winter because it is farther from the Pacific Ocean (which has a moderating influence on seasonal temperature extremes). The same is true for daytime and nighttime temperatures. However, sitting farther from the ocean has a benefit: the consistently low humidity here takes the edge off both seasonal and daily temperatures. Broadly speaking, the climate here is Mediterranean, which is considered mild when compared to much of the rest of the United States.
Sunny skies are the norm, so much so that an occasional rainstorm makes headlines and snarls traffic. Roughly 20 inches of rain falls annually, but only in 43 days. When it rains here, it really comes down. Persistent drizzle is not an issue here like it would be in the Northwest. From May to October, it hardly rains at all.
Pasadena is highly walkable in the sense that you can easily roam in any direction on tree-lined sidewalks. The shade helps keep walkers and runners cool on hot days. However, daily errands may require a car unless you strategically buy a home near shopping centers or strip malls with grocery stores like Trader Joe’s.
Cycling culture is well-represented in Pasadena. Road bikers hustle around town on the city’s many bike lanes.
Commuters can take advantage of Metro’s Gold Line which has a direct route to DTLA. Busses come in handy for quick crosstown trips. Freeways encircle the city; you’re never too far from an onramp to the 710 or 110 Freeways. Clever drivers know all the best surface streets and shortcuts to avoid freeways during rush hour.
There’s no lack of entertainment options in the city. Keep abreast of the latest cultural events via the Pasadena Convention & Visitor Bureau’s calendar. Here are a few local favorites:
- Ice House – live comedy from local and national comics
- Pasadena Playhouse – live theater and renowned training ground for future television and motion picture stars
- Arroyo Seco Weekend – largest outdoor concert event, 25K concert-goers per day, held annually at Arroyo Seco Park
- The annual Tournament of Roses Parade draws 700,000 people along the parade route every January 1st. Onlookers enjoy elaborately decorated floats, many adorned with flowers. The “Granddaddy of Them All” Rose Bowl Game kicks off that afternoon.
Art, science, and history are just a few subjects celebrated among Pasadena’s world-class cultural institutions. There are many museums in town, but here are a few notable ones you’ll visit more than once:
- Southern California Children’s Museum
- Kidspace Children’s Museum
- Norton Simon Museum
- USC Pacific Asia Museum
- Pasadena Museum of California
- Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens
- Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Shopping & Dining
The dining scene is robust and varied; you’ll never be far from your next great meal in every price range. Pasadena ranks as one of the highest restaurants per capita cities in the world (even higher than New York City). Nearly every form of ethnic cuisine is available and current culinary trends like farm-to-table, gourmet burgers, and ramen joints are well represented.
There are three main shopping districts and two malls in Pasadena.
The original business district, Old Pasadena, mixes old and new. Guests wind their way through alleyways and streets to shop among its many boutiques, galleries, and shops. The district is also home to the One Colorado and Paseo Colorado malls, the latter a mixed-use development with retail spaces and condominiums.
The South Lake Avenue shopping district extends ten blocks. The wide, tree-lined street is home to national retailers, small shops, and boutiques. Get to know local chefs (and their food) every October at Taste of South Lake.
In addition to being ground zero for performing arts venues, the Playhouse District is home to galleries, showrooms, and museums.
Do you like to buy fresh produce from local farmers? You can do so twice a week at Pasadena Certified Farmers Market. On Tuesdays, the smaller version (13 vendors) meet at Villa Parke Center. The larger Saturday market hosts 60 vendors at Victory Park.
On the second Sunday of each month, 20,000 people descend on the Rose Bowl Flea Market to scour through 2,500 vendor kiosks looking for art, clothing, and antiques (to name just a few items sold here). It’s a massive event. Parking is free. However, there is a small admission fee.
Parks & Recreation
The City of Pasadena manages and operates one thousand acres of parkland and twenty-three city parks. Big parks and several pocket parks dot the area.
Brookside Park is the largest (61 acres) and one of the area’s favorite parks. Facilities include the Jackie Robinson Baseball Stadium, multipurpose field for soccer and football, picnic areas, restrooms, amphitheater, drinking fountains and a beloved pirate-themed playground for kids (the layout mimics a pirate ship)!
Arroyo Seco is a beautiful canyon with a seasonal stream that starts in the Angeles National Forest and runs to the Los Angeles River. Eight of its 25 miles reside within Pasadena where it runs past the Rose Bowl Stadium. A wide range of activities and landmarks like the Colorado Street Bridge dot the areas. Amenities here include disc and regular golf courses, an archery range, and parks.
The Eaton Canyon Natural Area Park and Nature Center sits at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. The park is a great place for folks to take advantage of beautiful nature trails, moderate hiking trails, and guided tours. Be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife like lizards and spiders. The nature center is well worth a visit for their live animal displays and exhibits.
There are clubs for fly fishing enthusiasts (Pasadena Casting Club) and bird watchers (Pasadena Audubon Society) in town. In fact, the best locations for bird watching are plotted on the Audubon Society’s website’s bird map.
Nearby Angeles National Forest, part of the San Gabriel Mountains, sports steep terrain and rugged trails that lead to panoramic vistas. Popular destinations for day hikers include the Mount Wilson Observatory and Eaton Canyon Falls. El Prieto Canyon is a local favorite with mountain bikers.
Questions about homes for sale in the Pasadena area? We’re here to help answer them! If you’re interested in buying a home and are ready to view a few of them, contact us today to schedule a private showing. We know the ins-and-outs of the market and our real estate agents can help you get the best deal possible.
If you’re selling a home in Pasadena, contact us today to get a customized home valuation report based on the most recent home sales data. We can walk you through the current Pasadena real estate market trends, outline the best marketing strategy for your property, list it on the MLS, advertise it on our site, and expertly negotiate the sale of your existing home. We specialize in creating the conditions necessary for the quickest home sale possible.
The Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) serves roughly 16,700 students in Pasadena, Altadena, Sierra Madre and parts of L.A. County that are unincorporated. Here’s the breakout of schools by type:
- 19 elementary schools
- 7 middle schools
- 4 high schools
- 1 continuation school
- 1 alternative independent study school
Academic programs include S.T.E.M., Math Academy, gifted student programs, special education, and arts education. There are four theme-based magnet schools (arts, dual language, elementary S.T.E.M., and technology). You can find specific school boundaries with this easy-to-use map finder.
Higher learning opportunities in the city include:
- Pasadena City College
- California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
- Fuller Theological Seminary
- Art Center College of Design
Pasadena Info & Trivia
- Population: 142,059
- Area: 25.15 square miles
- Population Density: 5,648 people per square mile (Average for L.A. County)
- Zip Codes: 91101, 91103, 91104, 91105, 91106, 91107
- BUR: 15.4 miles
- LAX: 27.4 miles
- Downtown Los Angeles: 11.7 miles
- Beaches: 25 miles
- In 1980, an asteroid was named after Pasadena. So was a nuclear submarine.
- Pasadena is L.A.’s first suburb, incorporated in 1886 primarily to banish alcohol sales and saloons. Thankfully the abolitionist sentiments of its founders were not passed along in perpetuity.
- As one would naturally expect, the official flower of the city is a rose.
- The first college football bowl game, the Rose Bowl was played in 1902, making it the “Granddaddy of Them All.”
- The Tournament of Roses once included ostrich and chariot races.
- Caltech faculty and alumni boast 38 Nobel Prizes in chemistry, economics, peace, physics and physiology/medicine.
- If you add up the trees in parks, on wild lands, private property, and that line the city’s streets, the total urban forest of Pasadena approaches 123,000 trees.