South Pasadena, CA

Although the name South Pasadena suggests the city is nothing more than an offshoot of its much larger neighbor, Pasadena, the city has actually had an identity all its own dating to its incorporation, and Pasadena’s, in the late 1880s.

And what, exactly, is that identity?

It has to do with a village-like appeal, a community atmosphere with a more intimate feel than Pasadena in the north and Los Angeles to the south and west. You can get a taste of it by visiting the Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain, or the Rialto Theatre (single-screen, built in 1925), or the many Mom-and-Pop style stores in the business district (not to mention used bookstores for the bibliphiles out there).

Held in the city’s Mission-West District, the Farmer’s Market is a popular weekly event among the city’s roughly 25,000 residents, while a unique opportunity to admire the city’s quaint neighborhoods, Craftsman homes and streets lined with trees—like ash, walnut and sycamore—has been afforded by the Tiger Run, a 5k-10k run held every December.

If the Tiger Run only whets your appetite for more activities in the great outdoors, the 24.9-mile long trail of the Arroyo Seco—“dry stream”—offers hikers an experience of the natural landscapes of South Pasadena and the surrounding areas.

Students attend schools in the South Pasadena Unified School District; public transportation connects with the Metro Gold Line light rail and the 110 Arroyo Seco Parkway winds through the city. A decade ago, the city was famously involved in a fight to prevent the extension of the 710 Long Beach Freeway. One of the proposed routes for the extension would have cut through the city’s middle changing, residents feared, a town that’s long defined itself by three clear words: “small, proud and independent.”