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Home Destinations What is this small Calif. city doing on the NY Times’ travel list?

What is this small Calif. city doing on the NY Times’ travel list?

by Staff

Downtown Pasadena, Calif., with the city hall and the San Gabriel Mountains.

Steve Proehl/Getty Images

California is an endless travel resource for millions of domestic and international tourists every year. The massive state is home to beaches, mountains, overwhelming forests and endless desert — all within just a few short hours of major cities in the Bay Area and Southern California.

But according to the New York Times, there’s only one place in the entire state that’s worth traveling to in 2024: Pasadena.

That’s right, the admittedly low-key suburb in Los Angeles County — currently the 45th most populated city in California, behind Sunnyvale, Salinas and Lancaster — landed at No. 40 on the New York Times’ list of global travel destinations. For added context, Brisbane, Australia, sits at No. 39, and the Great Fringing Reef in Egypt’s Red Sea lands at No. 41.

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No other California destination made the list. So why Pasadena, and why now?

The New York Times is high on the area for a number of reasons, not least of which is its history (like the Rose Bowl) and its accessibility both to the rest of LA (thank you Metro rail system) and to the nearby Angeles National Forest — though it’s worth noting that Fodor’s recently put the adjacent San Gabriel Mountains on its own no-travel list for 2024. Last year, city and regional officials even worked together to revive ArroyoFest, a mileslong street party that turned the Arroyo Seco Parkway (the oldest freeway in America) between Pasadena and downtown Los Angeles into a pedestrian and cyclist-only bonanza.

Pasadena is further praised by the paper for its robust art scene, with the award-winning Pasadena Playhouse — where comedian Kate Berlant currently has a show up — and multiple museums and other public art spaces available to tourists year-round. The city has a quirky streak too, as evidenced by the occasionally annual Doo Dah Parade.

And then there are the restaurants, including neo-French spot Bar Chelou, which has picked up a variety of award nods this year from other publications, like Eater. The paper even highlights the region’s longstanding Asian food heritage as a gateway city to the massive San Gabriel Valley, rich with countless Taiwanese and Chinese restaurants.

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That’s all to say: Pasadena is great, but is it really the best (and only) California destination worthy of the New York Times for 2024, especially considering some of the other heavy hitters on this list, like Vienna, Austria, and the entire country of Morocco?

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