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Top Outdoor Activities In South Pasadena

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Ask anyone, and they’ll tell you South Pasadena is a city that’s full of charm.The city works hard to preserve its original culture and history, and retains a small-town feel that makes it desirable to people around the world. Because what’s better than being able to reside in a town that’s far enough to exude community spirit in a small-town scene, but close enough to head over to Hollywood in just a short car ride?

Whether you want to stay indoors or catch some air, the area is versatile enough to appeal to all types of activities. And when it comes to South Pasadena, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities to keep you busy during the nicer days (which is pretty much year-round). Here are a few to keep in mind:

Visit The South Pasadena Farmers’ Market

The South Pasadena Farmers’ Market is the place to go for all your local California cuisine needs. Live music enhances the ambiance, and locals and visitors alike scour the dozens of vendors for some of the best food trucks and take-home options. The market takes local shopping to another level, and has a strong community presence that resonates throughout the space. Options are endless here. Head over to Nicole’s for fresh goat cheese, Nana’s nachos for drizzling cheese and tortilla, Apple Sherrill Orchards for freshly squeezed natural juices, and Mama Musubi for gourmet rice balls.

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Visit The Fork In The Road

South Pasadena’s infamous Fork in the Road is one of the city’s best photo-ops, and it never goes out of style. Whether you’re new to the area or have seen the Fork dozens of times, it’s always a welcome reminder of all that South Pasadena has to offer, no matter which way you go.

This 18-foot wooden fork sits at the intersection of Pasadena and St. John Avenues. It was installed by local businessmen Bob Stane and Ken Marshall, who originally placed it without permission from local city officials. Since then, it has become a popular site for city events, such as fundraisers and food drives.

Go Horseback Riding

The San Pascual Stables have been offering horseback riding to South Pasadena since 1978. This is an ideal outdoor activity for all ages and riding education levels. There are all types of lessons available, too, including a summer camp program for kids and regular riding lessons for adults. San Pascual Stables is also known for hosting family-friendly events, such as the San Pascual Holiday Horse Show during the Christmas Holiday.

Go On A Park Crawl

South Pasadena has no shortage of parks, and there’s a hundred different ways to explore them. One of the best and most popular parks in the area is Garfield Park. It sits on seven acres and is beautifully landscaped throughout. It has tennis courts, fire pits, picnic tables, playgrounds, and more. Every year, the Summer Concert in the Park series takes place here. A massive easter egg hunt called Eggstravaganza also takes place here. Check the South Pasadena Events page for an updated list of current happenings.

Arroyo Park is another popular South Pasadena staple. It sits on nearly 20 acres of land, and has athletic fields, playgrounds, picnic tables, a barbecue, and a small amphitheater. This is the go-to spot for local sports and ideal for watching a game of soccer or baseball. Other parks include Orange Grove Park (which also has a 9,500 square foot recreation center), Library Park (home to the library and Senior Center, with plenty of meandering walkways), and Legion Park (which has a landscaped memorial garden).

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Taste of South Pasadena

South Pasadena is prime real estate for food, and it might get difficult to narrow down your top choices—especially as a newcomer. That’s where Taste of South Pasadena comes in, an walking tour event that takes you to some of the best eateries in town. One Yelp reviewer said, “Taste of South Pasadena is a great way to explore the city, stroll, and sample yummy treats, food, and wine.” The next Taste of South Pasadena event takes place on April 17th, 2018. Last year, the event had 22 participating restaurants and 12 wineries, and had a whopping 850 attendees. There will also be live music and an optional wine tasting. Children under 7 are free.

Rose Bowl Stadium

Just a hop, skip, and away from South Pasadena is the Rose Bowl stadium—a must for locals and visitors alike. The stadium is home to a slew of events, from some of the most renowned football tournaments, to concerts, and even a monthly flea market held every second Saturday of the month. And of course, it’s home to UCLA’s Bruins team. No matter what month of the year, there’s always something going on here.

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Take Golf Lessons

The Arroyo Seco Golf Course is the perfect place to take a golf lesson–or simply play golf if you’ve already mastered the art of the swing. According to the official City of South Pasadena website, the golf course has an 18-hole, Par 3 course, full driving range, 9-hole miniature golf course, and putting and chipping practice areas. Anything a golfer could need is readily available here.

The range was recently renovated, and now features a spacious practice area and  state-of-the-art hitting mats. It’s also an illuminated course, which means it stays open late until 10pm. There are five professional teachers that take up residence at the Arroyo Seco Golf Course.

There’s also a full-service restaurant and bar on site for before or after your game. And lastly, the site plays hosts to weekly events, such as Wine & Song, the Arroyo Seco Men’s Golf Club, and the Arroyo Ladies Golf Club.

Best Kids & Family Activities in South Pasadena

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Although South Pasadena is just 3.5 miles of area, but it packs a strong punch. South Pasadena’s city mission is to stay small, making plenty of room for mom-and-pop shops and creating the perfect family environment. There is a strong sense of community in the area, and kids are the center of that community. The South Pasadena neighborhoods are charming, and parents have plenty of opportunities to keep their children engaged. Here are some of the best kids and family activities in South Pasadena:

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Amy’s Playground

Amy’s Indoor Playground is the perfect place to take your little ones. The business was founded and continues to operate by Amy, a South Pasadena mom that always has the children’s best interest at heart. The shoe-free, carpeted indoor playground is designed to be challenging, stimulating, and a blast for anyone who joins.

What to expect: a huge bounce house with a slide, miniature houses and cars, and even a balloonist once a week that makes awesome balloon creations. And the space is also built to be just as cozy for adults: there’s a quiet reading area, free coffee, picnic tables, and a bring-your-own-food policy (though drinks and snacks are available for purchase). And at just $8 for a day pass, it’s a steal.

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 Visit Garfield Park

If the weather’s on your side, take your kids over to Garfield Park––a South Pasadena staple. This is a town where parks are the focal point of the city, and it shows when you arrive. There are six parks in total in South Pasadena, and Garfield easily ranks at the top for many residents.

This beautifully-landscaped park sits on seven acres, has plenty of picnic tables throughout, two tennis courts, a fire pit, and is even home to the Summer Concert in Parks series. Other events, (especially during the holiday) take place here, too. Keep an eye out for Eggstravaganza, an Easter egg hunt happening on March 31st, and check out the park’s website for more upcoming events. At the northern end of the park is the The South Pasadena Children’s Memorial and Healing Garden, a place reserved to memorialize young Pasadena residents who have passed away.

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Kids Klub Summer Camp

At Kids Klub, there’s an endless supply of fun. Michael Wojciechowski, CEO & President of the Kids Klub, says, “Our philosophy is a ‘Back to Basics’ approach where we provide a safe, clean, and stimulating environment for children to play, learn and grow in, while teaching the children self-esteem, respect, and responsibility.” Part of what makes the Kids Klub unique is their mission to mix fun with education by providing stimulating “Discovery Areas” that allow children to learn in a hands-on environment. There are a variety of services available: infant care, pre-school, after-school, and evening and weekend drop-off services. Prices are provided in “membership” tiers by season. Check out their site for more details.

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The Dinosaur Farm

The Dinosaur Farm is specialty toy and book store in South Pasadena, and if your children weren’t fans of these prehistoric creatures before, they just may be after they step through the Dinosaur Farm door. Everything dinosaur is found here: cups, puzzles, games, merchandise, inflatables, party supplies, and much more.

There are also other collectibles outside of dinosaurs to be found. But it’s not just about buying a handful of toy gear; what makes this place so great is the experience it offers. The store opened in 1994, and has received a handful of awards and press mentions since. Forbes Magazine listed the Dinosaur Farm as one of the Top 10 Amazing Toy Stores, alongside nationally recognized brands like FAO Schwarz.

Partake in Parade Festivities

The city puts on the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade annually, and it’s an event you don’t want the kiddos to miss. Every year, this floral-based event takes on a different theme. In 2016, the theme was “Find Your Adventure,” while 2018’s theme was “Making A Difference.” The event coincides with the Rose Bowl Tournament festivities, where several cities in the area make a float to contribute to the high-energy parade event.

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San Pascual Stables

South Pasadena’s San Pascual Stables make for an ideal day-trip during a warm day. Like many local businesses in South Pasadena, San Pascual is steeped in history. The center has been in operation since 1978 and has been offering premier horseback riding lessons ever since.

The expert instructors work with any type of rider, at all age levels. The Riding Academy also offers “Mommy (or Daddy) & Me” lessons, as well as a summer camp program for children who really enjoy horses. They also host events during the holidays, like the free San Pascual Holiday Horse Show this past December, which offered pony rides, games, and food.

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Kidspace Children’s Museum 

The Kidspace Children’s Museum is Southern California’s premier family destination, and one look at their reviews can attest to this. There are so many activities here, that you’ll have to check the lineup to see what’s happening during a particular time. It’s true that Kidspace has it all: fun physics classes, art lessons, mud to play in, science experiments, playgrounds, and tunnels galore. These sites and exhibitions allow your children to explore, have fun, and learn. Check out the Free Family Night, which occurs on the first Tuesday of every month.

Best Places To Eat In South Pasadena

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There’s a certain charm about South Pasadena, which the Los Angeles Times referred to as a “hip little enclave.” The area is steeped in city landmarks with its range of historic buildings, but that doesn’t mean the city has fallen behind the times. In this neighborhood, you’ll find inventine cuisine along the Gold Line tracks, Indie stores, restaurants steeped in history, and galleries galore. And when it comes to food, there’s little left to be desired. Here are some of the best places to eat in South Pasadena.

Cos&Pi

Cos&Pi focuses on seasonal breakfast and lunch menus. Their philosophy is to let the food speak for itself, and this has worked for the restaurant since it opened. This neighborhood eatery is small in size, so visitors are expected to arrive early to secure a seat. After all, this is one of the highest-rated restaurants in South Pasadena. Check out the breakfast menu here, and the lunch menu here.

What to try: Avocado toast, Breakfast burger, Potato hash au gratin, Egg tostada, Salmon toast

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Fiore Market Cafe

Owners Anne and Bill Disselhorst had a modest beginning. After visiting Italy in 2003, they were so inspired by the aura and cuisine there––particularly the slow pace and locally-grown food––that they decided to bring their own version back to South Pasadena. In a blog post that Bob wrote when the cafe first opened, he said: “It’s our vision and our dream to create a European style cafe with the charm and character of something you would find along the Seine in Paris.”

The market is not just about consuming or purchasing food, but making it, too–– their bread baking classes are a classic, and almost always fill up quickly. You can purchase everything here, from fresh salads and sandwiches to grains to local ingredients. There’s even a live jazz band that performs weekly. Check out the menu here.

What to try: Spicy udon noodles, Cold rare roast beef sandwich, Roasted chicken sandwich with basil walnut pesto, Walnut chocolate cookie

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Nicole’s

Nicole’s is part-gourmet store, part-gourmet dining. It has wide selection of over 200 cheeses from around the world. They also sell high-end French ingredients, imported wines, and fresh breads and croissants. The market and cafe are family-owned by a mother-daughter duo, and just steps away from the local farmer’s market. Check out the breakfast and lunch menus here.

What to try: Cheese plate, Melted brie and tomato, Prosciutto & Pecorino sandwich, Ham, Egg and Cheese on Croissant

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Gus’s Barbecue

Gus’ Barbecue began with a culinary mission of transplanting Southern cuisine and hospitality to Southern California. And it achieves this with its South Pasadena location. The restaurant’s meats are seasoned overnight and cooked old-fashioned style over pecan logs. Rubs and sauces are made daily in-house.

The original owners–-three siblings from Cleveland––left their family-owned bar and headed West on Route 66 sampling a plethora of flavors along the way. Today, Gus’s BBQ is the oldest barbecue restaurant in Los Angeles. Founded in 1946, it has stood the test of time and continues to thrive as a city must-have.

When its newest owners, brothers Chris and John Bicos, took over the restaurant in 2006, they decided to keep the family appeal, bring the design of the space up to modern standards (some have said its interior looks more like an upscale steakhouse), and go back in time to more traditional, pan-regional BBQ cuisine. Since then, the restaurant’s remained a Los Angeles landmark. Check out the menu here.

What to try: Beef brisket, BBQ sampler, St. Louis ribs, Carolina pulled pork, mashed potatoes

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Briganti

Briganti is the go-to spot for traditional Italian fare. This is a sleek, upscale spot with an outdoor patio perfect for sipping wine. The owner also runs La Buca, another well-regarded Italian spot in Los Angeles, though, according to LA Weekly, Briganti is the better of the two. Check out the menu here.

What to try: Fettuccine bolognese, Gnocchi, Crab ravioli, Spaghetti pescatora, Branzino

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Aro Latin

Aro Latin is a contemporary restaurant serving up Pan-Latin cuisine in a rustic, cozy setting (designed by Akar Studios in Santa Monica). The founders are a couple who met in Los Angeles––the husband, Karan comes from India, and the wife, Candy, hails from El Salvador. Together, they wanted to bring savory Latin taste to Southern California. To do so, they traveled extensively throughout Mexico, Central America, and South America looking for ways to reinvent classic Latin flavors without compromising authenticity. Check out their lunch and brunch menu here, and the Aro Latin dinner menu here.

What to try: Chaufa de pollo (Peruvian-style chicken fried rice), Costillitas (baby back ribs cooked in coconut milk with mango relish), Cordero aro (roasted lamb shank slow cooked with honey mustard glaze)

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Canoe House

Island culture and hospitality are in full force at this tropical-inspired Hawaiian restaurant. The interior is reminiscent of a Hawaiian plantation house, and in addition to the cocktails and cuisine, Canoe House provides the perfect backdrop for a fun evening of dining and drinking. Take a look at their list of menus here.

What to try: Hawaiian strip steak, Spicy tuna on crispy rice, Seared ahi sandwich, Hawaiian fried rice, Pineapple upside down cake

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Shiro

Creative French-inspired Japanese cuisine makes Shiro a uniquely fit place for experimental dining. For thirty years, it’s been one of the top restaurants in Los Angeles, and was even listed as the number one restaurant by Zagat. The menu is revolving depending on the season and availability, but you can check out their most current menu by visiting their homepage. Alternatively, you can view a gallery of food images from its most recent offerings.

What to try: Whole sizzling deep-fried catfish, Roasted New Zealand lamb chops, Sonoma breast of duck, Sea scallops and lobster, Broiled Chilean seabass with soy-ginger-mirin marinade & potato puree

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Crossings

Crossings was founded in 2011 by Patrick & Stephanie Kirchen, who aimed to create a dining space where people could feel at home, be a part of a community, and create memories centered around delicious American cuisine. Located in the historic Edwards & Faw building, it features two floors of dining space and a patio that’s partially shaded by a 100-year-old oak tree. The menu features locally-grown ingredients and food includes steaks, seafood, and a hearty selection of chops. Check out the Crossings menu here.

What to try: Uni carbonara, Filet mignon, Oysters on the half shell, Salmon with Yogurt, beet, blackberry, smoked roe, and fresh herbs

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