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2 Days- "Must Dos" in LA/Santa Monica/Pasadena

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2 Days- "Must Dos" in LA/Santa Monica/Pasadena

My husband and I are going to the BCS National Championship Game in January. The game is on Monday at the Rose Bowl. We will be flying down Friday, but are trying to decide where to stay and what to do until Monday. We have never been to CA, so are at a lost on how to choose. Since we will only have 2 days, Im looking for the "Must-Dos" that we can do during that weekend. We will be renting a car, so we are looking for options anywhere in that general area.

All that we have figured out thus far is that we want to use a day to drive the Pacific Coast Highway, so if there are any great little hidden beaches, hiking areas, shops, or restaurants along there, I would love to hear about those as well. We are sightseers, as well as adventurists, so were open to several ideas.

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1. Re: 2 Days- "Must Dos" in LA/Santa Monica/Pasadena

Also looking for hotel suggestions!

Santa Monica...
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2. Re: 2 Days- "Must Dos" in LA/Santa Monica/Pasadena

First, it's best to post on the Los Angeles forum, rather than the large California forum. Once on the LA forums, you'll see Top Questions on the right side of your screen, and more important, you'll see the FAQs at the top of the forum. Read What to Do and Where to Stay. There's loads of information in the FAQs that will help you.

I assume you'll have a car, since you want to drive PCH and also to get to the Rose Bowl. What is your budget per night for the hotel?

Fremont, California
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3. Re: 2 Days- "Must Dos" in LA/Santa Monica/Pasadena

There is a bus shuttle to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena - check the Pasadena courtyard (probably already booked) but perfect location to walk to many restaurants and the shuttle is a couple minues walk away) Its the easiest way to get to the game. With a car, and since you are here on the week-end it would be easy to get to other areas of LA such as drive to Santa Monica and enjoy the beach areas.

In the Pasadena area if you decide to stay local, Huntington Library

marriott.com/hotels/…

http://www.huntington.org/

You will want to head to the game at least two or more hours in advance - (and if parking a car earlier.)

its a nice stadium and hopefully it will be a nice Southern California day for the game.

Lucky you. Have fun.

Pasadena, California
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4. Re: 2 Days- "Must Dos" in LA/Santa Monica/Pasadena

Pasadena hotels most likely will have highly inflated prices because of the game. Perhaps not as bad as for the Rose Bowl/Parade, but still, higher than they should be. Do you plan on driving to the game or would you prefer to take public transit?

In Pasadena, some highlights are:

Huntington Gardens, Libarary and Gallery, in nearby San Marino. One of the best things to do in the whole LA area, in my opinion. Wonderful themed gardens (Chinese, Japanese, Childrens, Rose, Cactus, etc, etc...). All should be beautiful in January except for the Rose Garden. There is a fabulous temporary exhibit of Renaissance portraits there, so don't miss it if you happen to go there.

Norton Simon Museum, near Old Pasadena. Smaller museum with world-class collections. Fantastic.

Gamble House, between Old Pasadena and the stadium. If you walk from Old Pasadena (@ 1.75 mile), you'll pass within a block of it. Worth the detour to take a look.

Great regional and very authentic Chinese dining in the nearby San Gabriel Valley. 10 minute drive from Pasadena.

Edited: 22 November 2013, 23:39
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5. Re: 2 Days- "Must Dos" in LA/Santa Monica/Pasadena

Thanks for your replies. I will post in Los Angelas as well. We are only planning on staying/being in Pasadena for the game. I think there are just so many other things to do around, we would like to explore other towns the days before the game.

Ive been looking into starting our trip out in Monterey, and then gradually heading south over the weekend and hitting key attractions/towns along the way. I believe its a 6hr trip from Monterey to LA on the PCH. From what Ive read, this is a good way of being able to see different things. Im thinking we may do Monterey - LA over a 1.5 day span, and then doing half a day and night in LA on Sunday, and then heading to Pasadena on Monday. There are so many hotels, beaches, restuarants, and attractions that it is becoming very overwhelming.

Pasadena, California
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6. Re: 2 Days- "Must Dos" in LA/Santa Monica/Pasadena

Perhaps stay in Cambria or Pismo beach, or the furthest south would be Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara is a bit far south to be ideal, but it is a great town, and it would be okay to do the last bit in the dark, as the San luis Obispo-Santa Barbara stretch is freeway #101. Weather can be iffy even in California in January, so be prepared to take the inland (101) route from Monterey to LA if rain is expected, skipping the iconic Big Sur drive on Rte 1. That coastal route is best in good weather.

Must-dos are all personal. LA is a huge area and you'll need to narrow down your preferences before we can really advise. Pasadena is famous for its turn-of-the-century residential architecture and lively Old Pasadena district. The best of the architecture is just up hill from the Bowl, near Rosemont and Orange Grove, so if you are interested in architecture at all, try to take a little time to look around. If you'd like a 1-hr walking tour, let me know and I'll outline one.

Edited: 23 November 2013, 00:04
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7. Re: 2 Days- "Must Dos" in LA/Santa Monica/Pasadena

first, I would suggest that unless you are going to have a hotel in Pasadena, the best way into Pasadena the day of the game will be to take the Gold Line light rail train (www.metro.net) from Union Station in downtown LA to the Memorial Park station in Pasadena. From there you can walk to the parking lot of the Parsons Corporation, which is the pickup point for a free shuttle bus to the Rose Bowl stadium itself. Or you can walk there from the Memorial Park station but the walk is around 2 miles. Traffic in/around Pasadena and the Rose Bowl on the day of the game will probably be a zoo which is why taking the train is a much better option.

In Pasadena itself, what's been mentioned so far (Huntington Library/Gardens, Norton Simon Museum, Gamble House) are all excellent.

Elsewhere, what's a "must see" or a "must do" depends on your interests.

For hiking, Runyon Canyon is popular, as is Temescal Canyon. If you like museums, I really do like the Norton Simon but we also have the Getty Center (Brentwood) and the Getty Villa (Malibu) (both at www.getty.edu), the Armond Hammer museum in Westwood near UCLA, MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) in downtown LA, and LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), the Page Museum / La Brea Tar Pits, and the Petersen Automotive museum all near each other at Wilshire Blvd. and Fairfax Ave. A few others would include the Annenberg Center for Photography in Century City, the Pailey Center for Media in Beverly Hills, the Reagan Library out in Simi Valley, and the Autry National Center near the zoo in Griffith Park. The Grammy Museum in downtown at LA Live is also worth mentioning if you like music.

In Malibu I always suggest driving through the Pepperdine University Campus for some great views. Malibu Country Mart has lots of shops / restaurants. Paradise Cove is a small touristy beach and restaurant - I usually find it to be a tourist trap with parking and food prices to match but it does sort of feel like a "hidden" beach.

Otherwise the main beaches are all fine - Zuma, Santa Monica, Venice, Manhattan, Hermosa, Redondo etc.

Pasadena, California
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8. Re: 2 Days- "Must Dos" in LA/Santa Monica/Pasadena

Just realized that by "Pacific Coast Hwy", you probably meant Rte. 1 from Monterey south. We don't call that Pacific Coast Highway in California. We call that Rte.1 or Hwy 1. When you ask about PCH in an LA topic, people will assume you mean Malibu. Though a street called PCH meanders thru much of LA and Orange Counties, often thru unattractive urban (and non-seaview) areas. Hence, Mach3's responses, all regarding Malibu.

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9. Re: 2 Days- "Must Dos" in LA/Santa Monica/Pasadena

Hi,

Under your screen name there is a place in your profile to put your home location.

That will help people understand from where you are starting out and if you need explanations of things that USA citizens might take for granted. It is a good idea to fill in that location.

Santa Monica...
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10. Re: 2 Days- "Must Dos" in LA/Santa Monica/Pasadena

Where are you flying into, or where are you from? Monterey to LA is an all day drive, and what airport would you fly into? Having not been to LA before, you'll want the full two days here.