Best Things to Do in Pasadena with Kids

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Best Things to Do in Pasadena with Kids view
Enjoying high tea with a view of the pasadena hills Credit:Autism SheBuysTravel Margalit Francus
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One of L.A’s best-kept secrets is the quaint town of Pasadena. Famous for its annual Rose Parade the city is exceptionally family- friendly with top-notch museums, exquisite gardens, and ethnic restaurants. Here are the top places to stay, dine and explore when visiting Pasadena with kids.

Pasadena is L.A. County’s ninth largest city and home to world-famous landmarks, including the Rose Bowl and Jet Propulsion Laboratory From cultural and historical locations to innovative food venues, the town offers visitors many great options to explore. Whether planning to attend this year’s Rose Parade or just ready to discover a new Los Angeles gem, here are the best family-friendly spots in Pasadena.

Where to Stay in Pasadena with Kids

The Langham Huntington Pasadena

If you are looking for a posh place to stay, the Langham Huntington is a great option. We overnighted for a staycation and enjoyed every minute. This property is near various attractions, including Old town Pasadena, the Huntington Library and the Rose Bowl Stadium. Also, it is close to LAX and Burbank Airport.

The Langham Huntington boasts twice daily housekeeping. Guests can enjoy the Chuan Spa with Traditional Chinese Medicine-inspired treatments as well as a fitness center and outdoor heated pool.

Dining options include the Royce Wood-Fired Steakhouse as well as The Terrace for bistro style food. If staying at the hotel over a weekend, make sure to book their lavish afternoon high tea.

Pricing starts at $270 a night. Guests can also book in advance on the hotel’s website to save fifteen percent. Overnight valet parking is available for twenty-nine dollars per night.

SheBuysTravel Autism Tip: Our son got a kick out of attending the exclusive bell ceremony in the garden held nightly at 7 PM.

Best Things to Do in Pasadena with Kids including ringing the Pasadena Langham bell.
Kids will find ringing the Pasadena Langham Ceremony pretty irresistible.  Photo Credit: Margalit Francus

The Sheraton Pasadena

Located at 303 Cordova Street and within walking distance of Old Town Pasadena, the  Sheraton Pasadena is a more budget-friendly option for families.

The property features a newly renovated complimentary wi-fi system as well as a free shuttle service to nearby landmarks. The hotel offers a 24-hour fitness center and outdoor heated pool.

Dining options include Restaurant Soleil featuring Mediterranean cuisine as well as Charlie’s Bar offering appetizers and continental cuisine in the evenings.

Since the Sheraton Pasadena is an SPG Property, guests can stay on SPG or Marriott accrued loyalty points. Pricing starts at $260 per night, and there are AAA discounts. Self and valet parking is $18-22 per day, respectively.

SheBuysTravel Autism Tip: Some rooms at the Sheraton Pasadena feature private balconies. Parents who might be concerned about this should avoid booking rooms with balconies.

Best Things to Do in Pasadena with Kids include high tea at the Langham Pasadena.
The Langham Pasadena is all about pampering and relaxation.  Photo Credit: Margalit Francus

Where to Dine in Pasadena with Kids

Zankou Chicken

Zankou Chicken offers traditional Mediterranean food in a casual fast food setting.The chain has locations in the L.A area including Pasadena. The restaurant’s menu includes tri-tip shawarma, falafel, kabobs, and rotisserie chicken. Visitors absolutely must try the unique and delicious garlic sauce, our family favorite.

This venue can be hard to park at as it only has a small back parking lot along with some nearby street parking. Zankou chicken keeps extended hours, from 10 AM to 11 PM daily.

SheBuysTravel Autism Tip: If you order your food to go, ask for the salads to be put in small containers. This way the salads won’t drip. Also, be sure to ask for extra napkins since the food is delicious but messy.

Best Things to Do in Pasadena with Kids includes introducing them to different cuisines such as at Zankou Chicken
Introduce your kids to different cuisines in Pasadena.  Photo Credit: Margalit Francus

Su Beoreg & Monta Factory

Su Beoreg & Monta Factory located on 1531 E Washington Blvd offers Middle Eastern and Armenian cuisine. We love to watch as cooks create their dishes. Menu favorites include Sini Monti, Tomato Soup, and large plates of Monta. The best part is that they also sell frozen Monta for guests to take home!

The restaurant does not have indoor seating, but the staff is accommodating. The venue opens at 10 AM from Monday to Sunday with a two-hour pause in the afternoon.

SheBuysTravel Autism Tip: Since opening hours vary, it is best to call the restaurant ahead of time to avoid disappointment.

Exploring Old town is one of the Best Things to Do in Pasadena with Kids.
Old Town Pasadena is filled with architectural gems to explore.  Photo Credit: Margalit Francus

Pencil

Pencil on 12 Harkness Ave is a  quaint family-owned sandwich shop and juice bar. This cafe offers various drinks and smoothies along with delicious freshly -made sandwiches.

If you are there for breakfast, make sure to get the avocado toast. Our son always orders it. Also, the venue offers plenty of vegetarian and vegan items. Hours are 10 AM to 4 PM Monday through Saturday.

SheBuysTravel Autism Tip:: Be sure to check out the art on the walls, a tribute to a young son who passed away.We found it very moving.

Searching for Best Things to Do in Pasadena with Kids? Discover Pasadena's Colorado' Boulevard shopping and dining venues.
Discover Pasadena’s Colorado’ Boulevard shopping and dining venues. Photo Credit: Margalit Francus

What to See in Pasadena with Kids

Old Town Pasadena

Old Town Pasadena is an excellent place to visit for a downtown outing.The main thoroughfare is Colorado Boulevard which constitutes most of the Rose Parade route.  We love to visit the Neon Retro Arcade or shop for artisan souvenirs.

The area around Colorado Boulevard features many ethnic restaurants, including Argentinan, German, Indian, Mexican, and Japanese. There are several vegan options including Green Earth Vegan Cuisine as well as various bakeries and gelato places. Visitors can also enjoy the Farmer’s Market every Sunday from 9 AM to 2 PM.

SheBuysTravel Autism Tip: If you want to beat the crowds then head onto the Boulevard in the early afternoon.This way you can enjoy items on the ‘happy hour’ menu and find seats without waiting.

The Norton Simon Museum Pasadena is one of the Best Things to Do in Pasadena with Kids garden
The Norton Simon Museum Pasadena is a relaxing spot for families.  Photo Credit: Margalit Francus

The Norton Simon Museum

For any art lover, Norton Simon on 11 W. Colorado Blvd is the place to visit. Since this venue is particularly family friendly it has a unique audio guide for kids and docent lead special tours. Most of all, this museum is famous for its collection of European Masterworks from the Renaissance to the 20th century. Our sons always come back for their Degas and Rembrandt paintings. But its other exhibits are impressive too.

The Norton Simon is open from Noon to 5:00 PM Mon-Thus, 11:00 am – 8:00 pm Friday and Saturday and 11:00 am – 5:00 pm Sunday. Admission is $12 for adults with discounts for seniors. Access is free for students, museum members, and anyone 18 and younger.

SheBuysTravel Autism Tip: Most noteworthy is the Sculpture Garden, a beautiful outdoor area. It features artistic sculptures and is perfect for antsy kids to run around. Our son nicknamed it ‘Monet’s Garden’ because of the waterlilies.

Kids will love the compact well lit halls of the Norton Simon Pasadena.
Kids will love the compact well lit halls of the Norton Simon Pasadena.  Photo Credit: Margalit Francus

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Pasadena is home to the world-famous  NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory at 4800 Oak Grove Drive. While the laboratory offers free public tours they do need to be reserved in advance. On the tours, guests can see the von Karman Visitor Center, Space Flight Operations Facility, and Spacecraft Assembly Facility.

The Visitor Day Tour accommodates up to ten people, at a time. It runs once a week on  Mondays or Wednesdays.

SheBuysTravel Autism Tip: Tours run for two to two and a half hours with a lot of walking and stairs to climb. Hence, guests need to wear comfortable shoes.Finally, the tour can accommodate persons with disabilities if the Lab is notified in advance.

Best Things to Do in Pasadena with Kids who are a future astronomer or science buff is to head to the Jet Propulsion Lab.
Parent with kids interested in astronomy or science should put  Pasadena’s JPL.  Photo Credit: Margalit Francus

Kidspace Museum

The Kidspace Museum on 480 North Arroyo Blvd is an interactive museum designed for children ten and younger. The museum features several exhibits meant to stimulate artistic and scientific exploration in kids. Moreover, once a month the venue hosts a  Free Family Night.  During the event, the museum teaches visitors about different cultures from around the world.

The Kidspace Museum is open on Mondays from March 13 – September 4, from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm. Admission is $13 for adults and children. Admission is free for infants, Kidspace members, and ASTC Passport holders. Discounts are available for EBT card holders, military, and AAA members.

SheBuysTravel Autism Tip: Pack an extra set of clothes, water shoes, and a towel if your kid wants to play in the water and mud exhibit. Kids and adults need to wear socks indoors at all times.

Best Things to Do in Pasadena with Kids is feeding the ducks and running around the grounds of the Norton Simon Museum.
Kids will love feeding ducks at the Norton Simon Museum garden in Pasadena. Photo Credit: Margalit Francus

Huntington Library

The Huntington Library and gardens, on 1151 Oxford Road San Marino, was founded in the early 1900s by Henry Huntington. The library started as a research center with an art collection and botanical gardens.

The library itself features rare books and manuscripts from British and American history. The art section of the Huntington Library boasts three separate galleries and features 18th and 19th century British and French art. The onsite Botanical Gardens covers 120 acres with specialized sections, including the Herb Garden.

The library is open all days of the week excluding Tuesdays from 10 AM to 5 PM. Weekday admission is $23 for adults, with discounts for seniors, students, and children. Access is free for children under four as well as members.

SheBuysTravel Autism Tip: The Huntington Library offers wheelchairs as well as a color-coded map of areas of the museum that those with physical disabilities might want to avoid. Also, the library provides a Special Assistance Vehicle that makes stops every half hour at various locations.

Worth a stop is Descanso Gardens as one of the Best Things to Do in Pasadena with Kids japanese garden
Pasadena’s Descanso Gardens has a Japanese garden and mini train that kids can ride.  Photo Credit: Margalit Francus

Descanso Gardens

As a final relaxing stop, one should visit the Descanso Gardens on 1418 Descanso Drive La Cañada Flintridge. The gardens feature California native plants as well as a rose garden. Furthermore, during the holiday season, the gardens host the Enchanted Forest of Light event. This nighttime experience includes light displays throughout the gardens.

The Descanso Gardens are open daily except on December 25 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission is nine dollars, with discounts for seniors, students, and older children. Children younger than five get in for free.

SheBuysTravel Autism Tip: Not to be missed is the Enchanted Railroad, a train through the gardens that runs Tuesdays and Fridays ten to noon and ten AM to four PM on the weekends. Parents should arrive early to avoid crowds on weekends.

2 responses


  1. I have had no plans to visit Pasadena — until reading this enticing story.
    Thank you for the specific tips you give; they are so helpful by being specific.

  2. 5

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