Off the beaten path in Old Pasadena

This Southern California town is famous for its big parade, but little-known Green Street is a destination unto itself

Matthew Jaffe

While neighboring Colorado Boulevard enjoys international fame thanks to this month's Tournament of Roses Parade, Pasadena's Green Street is a haven for locals, with fine home-decor shopping and some of the city's best dining. Laid out beneath a leafy canopy of Indian laurel fig trees, it's a vibrant and easily walkable destination with an architectural mix that includes vintage brick buildings and New Orleans-style structures. Green Street's a destination unto itself but also an easy side trip if you're headed to the Pasadena Playhouse, or you grow hungry for more original alternatives after perusing the mall-without-walls offerings along Colorado.

GETTING THERE

Green Street is located in Old Pasadena. From I-210, exit at Fair Oaks Ave. and go south. The best stretches are between Pasadena Ave. and Arroyo Pkwy., and for a few blocks to the east and west of Lake Ave.

SHOP

Fitzsu Society. Fun, clean-lined, modern styles in home accessories from corkscrews to dog bowls. Info: 65 W. Green St.; 626/564-1908.

Galerie Gabrie. A strong collection of plein-air and landscape paintings, including striking Sierra scenes from painter Charles Muench. Info: Tue-Sat; 597 E. Green St.; 626/577-1223.

Jacob Maarse Florists. Housed in a onetime Cadillac dealership, with famously beautiful arrangements plus candles and gifts. Info: Mon-Sat; 655 E. Green St.; 626/449-0246.

Shibui Japanese Antiques. High-quality cabinets, vases, and rare 19th-century stoneware. Info: Tue-Sun; 991 E. Green St.; 626/578-0908.

Old meets new in Pasadena
Taste South Pasadena
EAT

El Portal. Yucatecan-style cuisine at one of Pasadena's most popular Mexican spots. Info: $$; 695 E. Green St.; 626/795-8553.

La Luna Negra. A great bet for a lively night out, with flamenco dancing, tapas, and sangria. Info: $$$; 44 W. Green St.; 626/844-4331.

Trattoria Tre Venezie. Set in a cottagelike building, it's one of Southern California's best spots for the regional dishes of Venice and northeastern Italy. Info: $$$; Tue-Sun; 119 W. Green St.; 626/795-4455.

STAY OVERNIGHT

For a taste of the days when Pasadena was a favored wintering ground of moguls from back east, try the Bissell House Bed and Breakfast (7 rooms from $150; 800/441-3530). Located in South Pasadena on Orange Grove Ave. (often dubbed "Millionaire's Row"), the Victorian mansion boasts gardens, carved wood details, and traditionally decorated rooms, and makes an elegant, romantic getaway. And Pasadena's best cultural attractions are just a short drive away.