Obscura Society LA: Escape to Pasadena - Atlas Obscura
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Pasadena, CA

Obscura Society LA: Escape to Pasadena

A day trip exploring the architectural, historical, and cultural treasures of the City of Roses

Join Field Agent Sandi Hemmerlein on a day-long excursion to the crown jewel of the San Gabriel Valley, Pasadena – a town which boomed in the early 1920s thanks to a small group of settlers from Indiana, and subsequently a flock of midwestern industrialists who fled harsh winters in search of milder weather and idyllic scenery.

Just added: Pasadena Heritage's William Washington Ellinger – an award-winning restoration architect and historian with 45 years of experience – will accompany us in the morning and join us for lunch to share his unique perspective on preservation and Pasadena!

Stop #1: Pasadena Playhouse
We'll start at the Pasadena Playhouse, a Mission Revival theater from 1924. Shockingly on the forefront of technology for a legit playhouse, it was responsible for launching and operating one of the first TV stations in Southern California, KTTV, and trained technicians that went on to work at other TV stations and even the Air Force. With a rich history that includes performing Shakespeare's entire canon for the first time stateside, The Playhouse has cranked out so many Hollywood stars such as Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman, it earned the nickname "The Talent Factory." On our docent-led tour, we'll go behind the scenes, backstage and into their green room and library, and explore other secret and hidden corners of the historic landmark.

Stop #2: Lunch at The Pasadena Star-News Building
Join us for a casual, no-host lunch at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School's Technique Cafe, located in the former headquarters of the Pasadena Star-News, a newspaper that made radio history. We'll get to eat food prepared by actual Le Cordon Bleu students in a historic setting.

Stop #3: Wrigley Mansion / Tournament of Roses House
A short drive away to the west sits the former home of chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr., now officially the Tournament of Roses House. Situated along "Millionaire's Row," the Italian Renaissance mansion was one of Wrigley's six homes away from his Chicago home, purchased in 1914 and gifted to the City of Pasadena in 1958 specifically to house the Tournament of Roses, home of two of Pasadena's longest-standing traditions – the Rose Bowl and Rose Parade – and organizers of the infamous chariot races which once supplanted the annual New Year's Day football game. We'll enjoy the restored house interior, Rose Parade memorabilia, and the garden which includes more than 1500 varieties of camellias, annuals, and, of course, roses.

If you think you're ready to discover the treasures of "The Crown of the Valley," be warned: you may never want to leave.

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Notes for this adventure:

- Tours are subject to last-minute cancellation with little to no advanced warning in the event of a citywide emergency.

- Please note that this event takes place on a weekday – specifically on a Thursday.

- Be prepared for one (1) mile of walking outside throughout the day. Wear comfortable shoes and sun protection.

- Plenty of nearby all-day parking lots and structures (for a fee), or take the Metro Gold Line to the Memorial Park Station (a 4-minute walk from our starting point)

- The cost of lunch is not included; please bring a form of payment for your meal.

- Family friendly! But please no children under 8 years old.

- Disabled access is limited in some areas. Contact us if you have special needs.

Advance tickets only. All sales are final.