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No doubt Southern California is a popular spot for families when planning a vacation, especially with such fun attractions as Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood. But if you’ve never considered Pasadena as your next vacation destination, I’m here to set you straight.

Located less than an hour outside of the LAX airport, an easy route for even an infrequent driver like myself, Pasadena offers more than a just a place to stay.

No skipping breakfast on this trip. For a decadent morning meal head over to Marston’s Restaurant for ricotta pancakes or my favourite, frosted flake encrusted French toast. If leisure isn’t what you had in mind, grab a sanger (and open face sandwich) from Sangers & Joe or a fresh juice next door at Juice Served Here.



What I’ve discovered on my limited visits to Southern California is just how amazing and diverse the landscape can be. A short drive out of the city of Pasadena can take the family into the Hollywood hills or at the bottom of the waterfall in Eaton Canyon. A visit to Griffith Observatory brings you to a family-friendly hike for a closer view of the famous Hollywood sign.


For a slightly more adventurous hike still geared at families, head over to Eaton Canyon. Kids will love jumping streams and stepping across stones as you work your way toward the waterfall above you.



For lunch Pasadena offers many dining options for families that still deliver on great food. Walk the city and pedestrian friendly alleyways to find a variety of options or opt for a foodie tour with a little city history from the folks at Melting Pot.



Having explored nature in the morning, the afternoon calls for some fun adventure. For a little thrill you can’t beat flying a broom through Hogwarts, learning stunt tricks from the masters or avoiding King Kong in the jungle. You can find it all in Universal Studios Hollywood, especially for your tween and teen.


If you have younger kids head over to the Kidspace Children’s Museum, a hands-on center of discovery. Explore nature in the activity center. See what it’s like to be an ant underground or a flower at the top of a stem. Our favourite part had to be the outdoor Physics Forest. Various stations encourage kids to experience the fun side of physics. Use gravity and force to make rollercoasters, hoist yourself up a pole using pulleys, maybe try shooting bottle rockets high into the air. Don’t forget to drive by the Rose Bowl Stadium before you call it a day.



Wrap up your evening exploring the lively alleyways with shops and restaurant patios, like the little Mediterranean spot, Café Santorini, with an outdoor patio on the third floor, or grab a slice of pie and coffee to go at Pie Hole. After such a full day, the whole family will be asleep before your head hits the pillow, ready to wake to another adventurous day.

Pasadena was just one stop on our seven day Southern California road trip. See more from our 7-day adventure or visit our Youtube channel and our family travel playlist:

Thanks to the, Visit California and Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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