Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

Pasadena & the San Gabriel Valley

It’s easy to spend hours amid the global vegetation, waterfalls, spring-fed lake and historic buildings of this fantastic, rambling, 127-acre park. Originally the private estate of real-estate tycoon Elias ‘Lucky’ Baldwin, it’s so huge there’s even a tram to haul those who are foot-weary.

The grounds are often used in filming, standing in, for instance, for the African jungle in African Queen and as Central Park in End of Days. It’s in Arcadia, about 5 miles east of central Pasadena, right by the Santa Anita Park racetrack.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Pasadena & the San Gabriel Valley attractions

1. Aztec Hotel

2.67 MILES

This supposedly haunted hotel built in 1925 sports elaborate Mayan Revival–style detail and once housed a speakeasy where Hollywood celebs knocked 'em…

3. California Institute of Technology

4.19 MILES

With 34 Nobel laureates among its faculty and alumni (not to mention that it's the fictional setting of TV's The Big Bang Theory), it’s no surprise that…

4. San Gabriel Mission

4.54 MILES

In 1781, settlers departed from this mission to found El Pueblo de Los Angeles in today’s Downtown area. Set about 3 miles southeast of Pasadena in the…

5. El Molino Viejo

4.73 MILES

While in the Huntington Library area, make a quick detour to this transporting brick-and-adobe structure with creaky wooden floors and exposed timbers in…

6. Pasadena City Hall


Pasadena's 1927 city hall is on the National Register of Historic Places and a prime example of California Mediterranean-style architecture.

7. Mack & Jackie Robinson Memorial

5.36 MILES

This pair of giant heads depicts the Robinson brothers, groundbreaking athletes who spent their formative years here in Pasadena. Jackie (1919–72) gained…

8. Mt Wilson Observatory

5.57 MILES

As you drive into the Angeles National Forest take the Red Box Rd turn-off, which, 5 miles later, dead ends atop 5715ft Mt Wilson. Operating since 1904,…