Just outside L.A. city limits, this buttoned-up town boasts historic architecture and a bustling downtown filled with cobblestoned alleyways and tearooms. Set on 23 acres, the Langham Huntington is a landmark hotel originally built in 1907, and the 380 elegant rooms evoke a bygone era (rooms, from $270; 1401 South Oak Knoll Ave.; 626-568-3900; pasadena.langhamhotels.com). Formerly a Ritz-Carlton, the property was bought in 2007 and underwent a major renovation that added an 11,000-square-foot spa—treatments include the Chuan Balancing massage, which uses Chinese medicine to restore physical and spiritual balance—as well as The Tap Room, the hotel’s inviting, library-like bar.
Railroad magnate Henry Huntington founded the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in 1919. From the rose garden to the Japanese pavilion, there are 14,000 varieties of plants—lotus, bluebells, oleanders—within the 120-acre grounds. Afterward, linger over cucumber-mint sandwiches and chocolate mousse at the Rose Garden Tea Room (1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino; 626-405-2100; huntington.org). Another local gem, the Norton Simon Museum, opened in 1975, houses everything from European paintings to contemporary sculptures but is particularly known for its South and Southeast Asian collections (411 W. Colorado Blvd.; 626-449-6840; nortonsimon.org). Interior galleries underwent renovation in the late ’90s by noted architect Frank Gehry. In Pasadena’s downtown, drop by skincare shop Lather for yuzu bergamot-scented goodies (17 E. Colorado Blvd.; lather.com), or sample white and green teas at Bird Pick Tea & Herb (10 South De Lacey; birdpick.com).