Ring In The Holidays At These Charming Local Shops And Eateries In A Historic District

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old pasadena

The picturesque neighborhood of Old Pasadena is the perfect place to celebrate the season while making sure local businesses thrive.

Earlier this year, a historic alleyway in Old Pasadena was turned into a stunning dining space to create a gorgeous illuminated outdoor setting for diners to enjoy takeout meals while supporting local businesses in the area. However, beyond the commUNITY seating areas along Big Bang Theory Way, the historic area offers 22 walkable blocks that boast more than 200 shops and over 100 restaurants.

In celebration of these local businesses, Old Pasadena has initiated a campaign called Local Cheer to give diners and shoppers even more reason to head to the scenic Downtown area. You’ll find twinkling fairy lights giving the old buildings a romantic air and festive lights projecting merry messages and snowflakes on every corner. To make it even more enticing, there’ll be 90-minute free parking, 20-minute pick-up zones and many retailers offer safe curbside pick-up. And don’t miss Small Business Saturday happening on November 28, where there’ll be a range of promotions and specials.

There are tons of amazing places to find the perfect holiday gifts and a plethora of great eateries to refuel at while you soak up the cheer. Here a few of our favorites places to check out while you there:

1. Vroman’s Bookstore

This local treasure is SoCal’s oldest and largest independent bookstore. It was recently on the verge of closing but thanks to community support they’ve weathered the storm and they’re stronger than ever, with everything from their beautiful selection of books to trendy home decor for you to browse. You’ll also find a whole lot of holiday goodies on offer too.

Location: 695 E. Colorado Boulevd, PasadenaCA 91101


2. Union Street Sandwich Co.

This historic storefront of this little independent lives in the 100-year-old Union Building. Not much has changed in appearances over the years and really, not much has needed to. It’s a trip back in time just being on the outside and it sticks to an old-school philosophy of sandwich making too, which is along the lines of “good things take time.” So you won’t find fast food here, but you will find lovingly cooked meats and treats that take inspiration from childhood recipes, all centered around fresh, healthy ingredients. Don’t miss the slow-roasted brisket and order online for delivery or takeout. While it’s been close for a large part of the pandemic, we’re still hopeful that it will return. In the meantime, there are still tons of little independents worth a visit on the street.

Location: 109 E Union Street Pasadena, CA 91103


3. Sushi Roku

High-end sushi that’s absurdly good and you can enjoy it in the huge courtyard with tons of foliage and fairy lights to create a whole mood, plus in the One Colorado where you’ll find plenty of shops to browse. Sample the incredible sushi like the Tuna Jalapeno Roll or lightly fried dumplings with delectable fusion cocktails that smoke. You’ll need to make reservations if you plan to dine here though.

Location: 33 Miller Aly, Pasadena, CA 91103


4. Gold Bug

Gold Bug is home to the truly weird and wonderful—and everything in between. You’ll find quirky ceramics created in collaboration with local artists, to unique jewelry and pendants. Some of the items are so surreal we won’t even attempt to name them, you’ll just have to see it with your own eyes.

Location: 34 E Union St, Los Angeles, 91103


Blue Bottle doesn’t just set up shop anywhere, just like their coffee it’s all curated and crafted to perfection. Their Pasadena cafe is characterized by Art Deco facades and Victorian architecture on the exterior juxtaposed with sleek, modern and finishings on the interior. You can hang out with your four-legged pets and fuel up with a single origin before you stroll the streets for more gifts.

Location: 18 S Fair Oaks, Pasadena, CA 91105


6.  Whitmore Rare Books

This little store has tons of gift options for your holiday shopping and that’s not limited to rare, first edition books with beautiful covers either. You’ll find a whole lot of small giftable items looking for a permanent home.

Location: 121 Union St, Pasadena, CA 91103, United States


7. The Soap Kitchen

The Soap Kitchen is raising the bar when it comes to luxurious lathering. Not only will you find delicious, plastic-free soaps bath products but everything is wrapped up beautifully too. Most of their products are made with nourishing olive oil and the fragrances are so heavenly you’ll struggle not to keep them for yourself.

Location:  25 N Fair Oaks Avenue Pasadena CA 91103


Featured Image: Sushi Roku


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