Compared to L.A.'s behemoth shopping malls, the streets of pretty, compact Pasadena are a breeze to stroll. As a general rule, stores are open daily from about 10am, and while some close at the standard 5 or 6pm, many stay open until 8 or 9pm to accommodate the before- and after-dinner/movie crowd.
Dating back to the 1880s, the 22-block-long Old Pasadena district (centered on the intersection of Colorado Blvd. and Fair Oaks Ave.; www.oldpasadena.com) offers some of the best shopping in L.A. -- if it retains the mom-and-pop businesses currently being pushed out by the likes of Banana Republic and Crate & Barrel. Going through its own sort of renaissance, more upscale shopping has been added to the strip, including a Tiffany & Co., 68 W. Colorado Blvd. (tel. 626/793-7424; www.tiffany.com), which has become somewhat of an attraction more than a store, and the new (and hugely popular) H&M fashion store, 60 W. Colorado Blvd. (tel. 626/793-8974; www.hm.com), which now is an anchor to the neighborhood. As you move eastward, the mix of businesses begins to include more eclectic shops and galleries commingling with dusty, pre-yuppie relics, but it's a good segue between Old Pasadena and the Paseo Colorado mall.
Travelers also seem to find something they need at Distant Lands Bookstore and Outfitters, 56 S. Raymond Ave. (tel. 800/310-3220 or 626/449-3220; www.distantlands.com), a pair of related stores. The bookstore has a terrific selection of maps, guides, and travel-related literature, while the outfitter two doors away offers everything from luggage and pith helmets to space-saving travel accessories.
Other Pasadena Shopping
In addition to Old Pasadena, there are numerous good hunting grounds in the surrounding area. Antiques hounds might want to head to the Green Street Antique Row, 985-1005 E. Green St. (east of Lake Ave.), or the Pasadena Antique Center, on South Fair Oaks Boulevard (south of Del Mar Blvd.). Each has a rich concentration of collectibles that can captivate for hours.
You never know what you might find at the Rose Bowl Flea Market, at the Rose Bowl, 1001 Rose Bowl Dr., Pasadena (tel. 323/560-SHOW [323/560-7469]; www.rgcshows.com). The horseshoe-shaped Rose Bowl, built in 1922, is one of the world's most famous stadiums, home to UCLA's Bruins, the annual Rose Bowl Game, and an occasional Super Bowl. California's largest monthly swap meet, held here on the second Sunday of every month from 9am to 3pm rain or shine, is a favorite of Los Angeles antiques hounds (who know to arrive as early as 7am for the best finds). Antique furnishings, clothing, jewelry, and other collectibles are assembled in the parking area to the left of the entrance, while the rest of the flea market surrounds the exterior of the Bowl. Expect everything from used surfboards and car stereos to one-of-a-kind lawn statuary and bargain athletic shoes. Admission is $8 after 9am. (Early bird admission is $10 at 8am and $15 at 7am.) Kids 12 and under are free.
Anglophiles will enjoy Rose Tree Cottage, 801 South Pasadena Ave.; tel. 626/793-3337; www.rosetreecottage.com), and its charming array of all things British.. This cluster of historic Tudor cottages surrounded by traditional English gardens holds three gift shops and a tearoom, where a superb $33 high tea is served thrice daily among the knickknacks (and supervised by the resident cat, Miss Moffett). In addition to imported teas, linens, and silver trinkets, Rose Tree Cottage sells English delicacies like steak-and-kidney pies, hot cross buns, and shortbread. It's also the local representative of the British Tourist Authority and offers a comprehensive array of travel publications.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.