What are the must-visit museums in Pasadena? If you’re looking for a cultural and educational experience while in Pasadena, California, then be sure to check out some of the city’s fantastic museums.
One of the best things about Pasadena, California is its rich history with many historic homes and buildings. And, amongst the tasty itinerary of fabulous eats, parks and gardens, the Rose Bowl, and fun hikes, it also happens to have some amazing museums.
Museums are also not always on everyone’s itinerary. Especially as locals, we tend to forget what is in our own backyard. When it comes to museums, I’ll admit I’m guilty of this, too. Yet, when I travel I visit every museum, and usually, they are large, overwhelming all-day affairs.
What I love about the museums in Pasadena is that they aren’t overwhelming in size. You don’t feel like you need to rush to see everything. Unless you’re visiting the Huntington Library and planning to explore all their exhibits and gardens, too.
If you’re visiting from out-of-town or spending the day in Pasadena, add a museum visit to your itinerary. Have lunch in old Pasadena and then head to a museum for the afternoon. Whether you’re in town for a few days or just passing through, make sure to include one or more of these institutions on your itinerary.
There’s something for everyone here, from art lovers to history buffs. Pick a museum that piques your interest. Explore it. Learn from it. Tell us, what you loved about it? A few of the museums are still temporarily closed due to the pandemic, but they are offering virtual tours, exhibits, and events.
I’ll be taking advantage of my Huntington Library membership to explore the art galleries that have recently opened.
In this post, I share 8 must-visit museums in Pasadena that are guaranteed to offer something for everyone.
Museums of Pasadena
1. The Norton Simon Museum
The Norton Simon Museum is one of the most popular museums in Pasadena. It features an incredible collection of European art, as well as works from Asia and the Americas. For a small-medium-sized museum, you will find everything from ancient to modern art and a collection of canvas and sculptures.
The museum is also home to a beautiful sculpture garden – which is one of my favorite parts.
And, there is a lovely outdoor cafe at the museum for your enjoyment. On a beautiful spring day, it’s the perfect spot to grab a cup of coffee and sit outside in this garden.
- Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
- Open 12 pm to 5 pm
2. Huntington Library, Art Museum & Botanical Gardens
One of the most famous attractions in all of Pasadena is the Huntington Library. It is most known for its exquisite gardens and over 100 acres worth of botanical gardens to explore. However, it is also a museum with many galleries for viewing art from centuries past and also exhibits featuring present artists.
While most art exhibits are closed due to the pandemic, the American Art Galleries are open.
- Open from 10 am to 5 pm.
- Closed Tuesdays.
- Free days are available – book in advance.
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3. The Gamble House
The Gamble House is a museum that celebrates the life and work of Charles and Henry Greene – two architects who were very popular in Pasadena during the Arts and Crafts Movement. The museum showcases many of their original works, as well as furnishing from the time period.
A tour of this iconic American Craftsman home that was constructed in 1908, is worth it.
- Book tours in advance.
4. Pasadena Museum of History
If you’re looking for a museum with Pasadena’s local history, the Pasadena Museum of History is definitely worth a visit. The museum highlights over 100 years of the city’s history, including its original Native American inhabitants and what life was like as a western settlement.
Temporarily closed due to the pandemic. Virtual tours and exhibits are available.
5. Kidspace Children’s Museum
Kidspace Children’s is a kid and family favorite. It is one of the best kid’s museums in Pasadena. It has over 15,000 square feet of fun exhibits to explore, which makes it great if you’re traveling with children who like hands-on activities.
This was one of our nieces’ favorite museums when they lived in the area. Including Brookside Park, across the way, where you can start or finish off your day with a picnic.
- Advanced reservations required.
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Visiting the City of Roses and wondering what to do in Pasadena? Check out the top things to do and see. Go shopping in Old Town Pasadena, explore our Botanical gardens, visit a museum, and more.
6. Southern California Children’s Museum
Toddlers and parents will love the Southern California Children’s Museum in Pasadena.
The smaller children’s museum features a fun interactive play space, as well as a number of other exhibits for children to enjoy. Think of it as an educational indoor playground with sensory activities, art, music, and more.
Make sure to check out the events on their website for storytime and other fun gatherings.
- Closed Wednesdays.
7. USC Pacific Asia Museum
The USC Pacific Asia Museum is one of the most respected museums in Pasadena for its focus on Asian art and cultures. It has a vast collection from across East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and West Asia. There are permanent displays and many rotating exhibits to showcase different artifacts and items from all over Asia.
Visit the lovely koi pond in the middle of the courtyard.
- Advance reservations recommended.
- Open Wednesday to Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm.
- Closed Monday and Tuesday.
8. Armory Center for the Arts
The Armory Center for the Arts is a museum that celebrates both traditional and contemporary art. It has rotating exhibits featuring different artists, as well as collections of works from Pasadena locals.
- New Exhibitions open on January 28, 2022.
- Admission is Free.
- Appointments only.
Pasadena has some great museums. Definitely take time to visit one, two, or all the museums in Pasadena. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon with the family, meet up with a friend, or a great way to spend a rainy day in Pasadena.
What is your favorite museum in Pasadena? Have you been to all of them?
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