South Pasadena

Welcome to South Pasadena

Popular filming location with an inviting small-town feel.

South Pasadena is a charming city nestled between Pasadena and Los Angeles in the West San Gabriel Valley. South Pasadena has an inviting small-town atmosphere that feels distinct from other nearby Los Angeles County areas. Because of its classic American small-town feel, South Pasadena is a popular stand-in for Midwestern and Northeastern towns in many films and television shows. More than 200 films and television shows are shot in South Pasadena every year. South Pasadena neighbors Pasadena, but it has been a distinct community since it was incorporated in 1888. South Pasadena features traditional neighborhoods with beautiful tree-lined streets and well-preserved homes from the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

What to Love

  • Classic small-town feel
  • Tree-lined streets and historic homes
  • Popular filming location
  • Arroyo Seco hiking trails

People & Lifestyle

South Pasadena is located less than 10 miles northeast of Downtown Los Angeles, and the city has served as a filming location for a vast array of classic Hollywood motion pictures. Some of the biggest hits filmed here include La La Land, Back to the Future, The Terminator, and American Pie. Many residents commute into the nearby neighborhood of Bunker Hill to work in finance or government roles. South Pasadena is also home to many professors and other staff from the University of Southern California.

Dining, Entertainment & Shopping

South Pasadena’s small-town America vibe is on full display with the many mom-and-pop stores lining its main commercial streets of Mission Street and Fair Oaks Avenue. The Fair Oaks Pharmacy has been a South Pasadena institution since 1916. This delightfully old-school pharmacy features a soda fountain and a menu of classic American comfort eats, including burgers, hot dogs, milkshakes, and ice cream desserts.

With a distinctive blend of Egyptian and Spanish Baroque architecture, the 1925 Rialto Theater is a local landmark that has been famously featured in La La Land and the Robert Altman movie The Player. In 2020, renovation work began to return this historic single-screen theater to its former glory. Videotheque is another throwback must-visit for movie buffs, with a huge selection of hard-to-find independent and foreign films.

South Pasadena also offers a diverse range of local restaurants, cafes, and bakeries. Nicola’s Gourmet Market & Café serves tasty sandwiches, salads, breakfast omelets, charcuterie plates, and baked goods with a touch of French flair. La Monarca Bakery & Café offers organic Mexican coffee alongside tempting pastries, cakes, and light lunch bites. Gus’s BBQ has been a South Pasadena favorite for mouthwatering Southern-style meats slow-cooked over pecan logs since 1946. Oak Tree Inn serves authentic Southern Chinese and Cantonese dishes with a focus on seafood specialties. Pizza lovers are spoiled for choice in South Pasadena, with delicious pies on sale at Tomato Pie Pizza Joint, Mama’s Brick Oven Pizza & Pasta, and Blaze Pizza.

Things to Do

The Arroyo Seco stream runs along South Pasadena’s western boundary with the Los Angeles neighborhood of Highland Park, providing a scenic natural landscape for hikers to explore. Hillside hiking trails along the Arroyo Seco lead to the four-acre South Pasadena Arroyo Seco Woodland and Wildlife Park. This attractive natural area features walking, jogging, and equestrian trails surrounded by mature native walnut trees and coastal sage scrub plants. The hiking trail winds past Arroyo Seco Golf Course, which features a challenging 18-hole public course, a nine-hole miniature golf course, and a driving range.

There are five parks covering a total area of 92.2 acres within South Pasadena’s city limits. Recreational amenities at these parks include lighted athletic fields and playground equipment at 19.9-acre Arroyo Park and tennis courts and lighted softball and soccer fields at 2.5-acre Orange Grove Park.

South Pasadena Farmers’ Market takes place every Thursday year-round, with vendors selling fresh local produce, crafts.

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