Playhouse District – Pasadena, CA

Known as a cultural hive of arts and history, Pasadena's commercial Playhouse District serves its local residents with an urban decor against a backdrop of Manhattan sensibility. A small shopping center that also houses local office buildings, this tiny part of Pasadena represents a historical landmark uniquely separated from the rest of the city. Development projects continue to flourish under high-end properties that promise to make the Playhouse an even more lavish and elegant section of real estate. The Playhouse District is located just south of I-210, between Old Town Pasadena to the west and South Pasadena to the south.

Schools in Playhouse District

School data provided by GreatSchools

Restaurants & Nightlife

With entertainment, bars and restaurants at every end of the boulevard, Pasadena's Playhouse District profits from moderate pedestrian traffic in a town heavy with potential development prospects. Food options are almost endless in this historically art-centric cultural hodgepodge. The Huevos Yucatan, breakfast burritos, empanadas and stuffed pasilla chilis make popular entrées at Yahaira's Cafe for locals wanting a modern coffee shop twist on classic Mexican fare. Any foodies interested in Japanese and French fusion cuisine may find the grilled duck foie gras and wagyu kobe grilled steak a succulent addition to their routines at Maison Akira. For drinks, locals sometimes travel to neighboring Old Town Pasadena, which houses a collection of roughly 100 restaurants and cafes. The Blind Donkey, also in Old Town, is sure to kick your aspirations for good times into high gear. The speakeasy bar marks a space where a 1920s prohibition theme clashes against flavored cocktails garnished with fresh fruit. The Ice House Comedy Club, the oldest comedy venue in California, hosts some of the biggest acts in the area with celebrity comics that include Gabriel "Fluffy" Iglesias, Joe Rogan, Marlon Wayans, Tom Green and Kevin Smith in a fun, friendly atmosphere that serves tasty eats paired with intoxicating libations. The Pasadena Civic auditorium grants access to some of the greatest shows in the area. Whether you're searching for classical sounds, lavish theatrical productions or funny jokes in front of a live audience, this 3,000-seat stadium provides its audience with a state-of-the-art sound system that echoes with impeccable acoustics. Madeline Garden, located just one block south of district borderlines on South Catalina Avenue, indulges its audience with a delectable selection of afternoon tea while providing a variety of artistic performances for fans of poetry, folk, jazz and classical music. Driving a few miles North on Lake Avenue takes you to The Coffee Gallery in neighboring Alta Dena, where two stages invite performances for patrons wanting a scone and coffee with their entertainment.

History & Culture

The Playhouse District began as a cultural arts community juxtaposed against commercial shops and restaurants on Colorado Blvd. during a real estate expansion in the early 1920s, paving the way for now historical landmarks that truly define the heart of Pasadena. The Pasadena Playhouse theater itself was constructed in 1925 and carried the tagline of "The State Theater of California." During financial instability in 1969, the theater was forced to close until its renovation and resurrection in 1984. The Playhouse District is now home to one of the oldest live theater venues in California. The Pasadena Methodist Church, Pasadena Presbyterian Church, the Church of Christian Science and Fuller Theological Seminary all are within the district's limited borders. Other historical sites include the Pacific Asia Museum, Vroman's Bookstore, The California School of Culinary Arts, Le Cordon Bleu school of culinary arts and the Pasadena Museum of California.


The Los Angeles Metro bus and rail system ensures convenient transportation for residents needing an alternative to fluctuating gas prices and overpriced taxi cabs. Registered senior citizens unable to use public transit may also use the Pasadena Dial-a-Ride to take them to and from their points of destination. Public parking lots are mostly found in neighboring parts of Old Town Pasadena to the west of Colorado Blvd. and typically cost around $5. Shopping, eating and entertainment are within walking distance in every direction, and bike lanes invite healthy lifestyles for those willing to pursue it. Lyft and Uber also help people get around during night hours when some bus lines have already stopped running, The Gold line rail station runs almost all hours of the day, shutting down between 2 am to 4 am for maintenance, and the all local Pasadena Arts buses stop running after 10:30 pm.


Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Pasadena's historic Playhouse District runs around $1,605, around 1 percent higher than the city average. Metro fares for both bus and rail can be bought at subway stations, and local Pasadena Arts shuttles run like clockwork in this part of the city. Beers can cost anywhere between $3 to $7 during happy hour, but normal prices may range between $4 to $10, depending on the location. Gas prices fall around 16 percent higher than the national average.


Shopping malls and plazas adorn Pasadena, making shopping easy and fun. Shops on Lake Avenue houses various chain stores in a shopping mall perfect for families looking to build a new life in the area. Locals looking to start a new home may turn to Pacific Sales for their appliances. Some stores and venues have even become historical landmarks and well-known staples in the area, such as Vroman's Bookstore, the Laemmle Theatre and Canterbury Records. Old Town Pasadena is a fantastic shopping and dining district, housing unique and trendy businesses in historic buildings. Be sure to visit Amara Chocolate & Coffee, Neon Retro Arcade, Banana Republic, Clothes Heaven, the Apple Store, Gold Bug, and the nearly 200 other businesses located in Old Town. Neighboring Paseo Colorado also has various chain shops, antiquities and name brand boutiques for anyone that enjoys hanging out at a busy mall before catching a movie at the ArcLight movie theater. The Pasadena Antique Mall and the nearby Pasadena City College Flea Market sell anomalous oddities to the willing bidder. Those looking for farmers markets can find one every Wednesday at the Playhouse District Farmers Market between 3:30 p.m. and 5.30 p.m.


Though the Playhouse District is representative of the historic side of the city, public parks in Pasadena mostly reside outside of district boundaries in nearby neighborhoods. Arlington Garden may not be dog friendly, as pathways through this natural wonderland were created for human feet, but children will glow at the marvelously kept flora as small critters like lizards and squirrels roam in the early hours. Tennis courts and a baseball field may be found at Grant Park for those that want to add a little bit of exercise to their leisure time, while neighboring Brookside Park adds an aquatic center into the mix. Locals wanting to celebrate community activities typically look forward to the Rose Bowl Parade, which runs across the entire city of Pasadena annually every New Year's Day.
The Andalucia
686 E Union St, Pasadena, CA 91101
1 / 17
1 wk
$2,042 - 4,500 Studio - 2 Bedroom Available Now
The Hudson
678 E Walnut St, Pasadena, CA 91101
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$2,485 - 5,210 Studio - 2 Bedroom Available Now
Trio Apartments
44 N Madison Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101
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$2,039 - 3,989 Studio - 2 Bedroom Available Now
Avalon Pasadena
708-716 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91101
1 hr
$2,398 - 3,356 1-2 Bedroom Available Now
Pasadena Gateway Villas
290 N Hudson Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101
1 wk
$1,744 - 3,539 Studio - 2 Bedroom Available Now