Claire Reiner

Pasadena

Claire Reiner
Pasadena

My mother grew up in Los Angeles, and spent much of her childhood in Pasadena--visiting a well-loved uncle and exploring the neighborhoods. For me, it was a less-traveled city, one that I had only experienced briefly, as I sat to take in the Rose Parade. 

Located in Los Angeles county, Pasadena is the ninth-largest city in the county. It is home to the famous Rose Bowl and Rose Parade, as well as the monthly Rose Bowl Flea Market. Pasadena is a unique cultural community, drawing inspiration from nearby Los Angeles, while keeping its own quirky edge. 

We headed north from San Diego, with the Rose Bowl Flea Market in mind. Held on the second Sunday of each month, this flea market is heralded as the largest flea market on the west coast. The Rose Bowl Flea Market features thousands of vendors, with wares that range from clothing to furniture to priceless antique knick-knacks. 

The Rose Bowl Stadium is a dominating structure, with palm trees surrounding and offering very little shade. Arriving at the flea market is comparable to arriving at the biggest concert of the summer--cars line the street for a block, properly heralded by traffic guards with batons. Parking is free in the dirt lots surrounding the stadium. Tickets to the Rose Bowl Flea Market are dependent upon admission time--prices decrease at a sliding scale based on arrival. The market opens at 5 am, with VIP tickets selling at $20.00 per person (for the real serious vintage hunters--not for the faint-of-heart). General admission begins at 9 am onwards, with tickets selling for $9.00. 

Spanning much of the parking lot and surrounding grounds of the Rose Bowl Stadium, the Rose Bowl Flea Market can be quite overwhelming. The expansive space and quality of vendors can be overwhelming for many--especially for those that come with an objective in mind. I came with very few expectations, and found it most enjoyable to simply wander the flea market. Each vendor has so many unique finds and offerings. While many blogs and websites recommend to come with a goal in mind, I find that this sense of expectation and focus distracts you from the beauty and randomness that is the Rose Bowl Flea Market (or any flea market). For more information on the Rose Bowl Flea Market, click here.

After hours wandering the Rose Bowl Flea Market, under the hot sun, I was exhausted and ready for a break. We headed to Lincoln--a perfect place to cool down and regroup. This bustling local favorite has an eclectic menu and lots of pastries to choose from. Though there are plenty of treats to chose from, Lincoln's menu has an appealing healthful simplicity. I loved their Heuvos Rancheros, uniquely served with white beans and salsa verde. Their outdoor patio is beautiful and great for warm summer days, as it's kept nice and shady. For more information regarding Lincoln and menu listings, click here.

After finishing up at Lincoln, we headed out to the Huntington Library. Founded in 1919 by Henry E. Huntington, the Huntington Library is a private, non-profit institution. As stated on the Huntington Library's website, "During his lifetime, [Henry E. Huntington] amassed the core of one of the finest research libraries in the world, established a splendid art collection, and created an array of botanical gardens with plants from a geographic range spanning the globe."

The Huntington Library covers over 120 acres in Pasadena--showcasing beautiful works of art, manuscripts (including incredible illuminated manuscripts) and an ever-changing garden that exhibits flora and fauna from all over the world. I particularly loved the desert garden--one of the largest I have seen anywhere. The variety and quantity of succulents and cacti were truly amazing, and nearly impossible to completely capture in photographs. Another one of my favorites was the Japanese Garden--which includes a drum bridge, Japanese house, walled Zen garden, bonsai court and ceremonial teahouse. The gardens at the Huntington Library seem to create an alternate world, taking visitors elsewhere--and everywhere. For more information on the  Huntington Library, including hours and ticket prices, click here.

Pasadena has so much offer, and there is so much more to explore. My day centered on the Rose Bowl Flea Market left only a dent in this varied and vibrant city. For more information on Pasadena, click here.