If you are looking for locations to take the perfect Instagram pictures, there are plenty of amazing Pasadena photo spots. From beautiful historic landmarks, colorful murals, to cute cafes, there are plenty of awesome places to take pictures in Pasadena.
There is no shortage of Instagrammable places in Los Angeles county – there are so many unique neighborhoods and enclaves (like the bohemian Venice Beach, urban cool Downtown LA, even the picturesque Catalina Island). Yet Pasadena is one of the best, with so many photogenic spots, that I decided that I had to highlight them in its own blog post!
Growing up in the Los Angeles area, I lived about five miles away from Pasadena so I’ve become very familiar with it over the years. I even started my college career there, taking classes at Pasadena City College before transferring to a four-year college in San Francisco.
It has always been one of my favorite cities in LA county, because of its rich history and beautiful landmarks. It has also been one of my favorite places to photograph because there are so many photogenic backdrops – whether it is a charming brick alleyway, a grand historical mansion, or a colorful mural!
If you are looking for some of the best Pasadena photo spots, look no further – I’ve compiled nine of my favorites for you. Keep on reading to find out some of the most Instagrammable Pasadena photoshoot locations!
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Amazing Pasadena Photo Spots
Pasadena City Hall
The Pasadena City Hall is one of the most stunning buildings in California, so it is no surprise that it is also one of the most beautiful Pasadena photo spots.
It is also a popular filming spot – the building has made an appearance in many TV shows and movies over the years, dating all the way back to when Charlie Chaplain featured it in The Great Dictator way back in 1940. More recently, it was also used as the Pawnee City Hall in Parks and Recreation, which is one of my all time favorite TV shows!
It is also one of the most popular places for photo shoots, not only in Pasadena, but in all of Southern California – chances are you’ll see a wedding shoot, engagement shoot, or a Quinceanera shoot going on while you are here.
One look at the Pasadena City Hall and you will immediately see why it’s featured so prominently in Hollywood, and why it is one of the top Pasadena photoshoot locations. The building features an impressive tower that stands over 200 feet high, and is designed in the Mediterranean Revival Style and Spanish Colonial Revival Style, with influences from Italian Renaissance style architecture.
The Pasadena City Hall was commissioned in 1923 when the city was booming and decided it would need a grand new civic center to fit its rising status. The building was designed by famed civic architects Bakewell and Brown, who also designed the City Hall building in San Francisco (which is also one of the most beautiful places in the city).
The interior space covers 170,000 square feet, so there are plenty of photo ops here. The Pasadena City Hall features an amazing courtyard which is one of my favorite places to shoot here! It has a beautiful fountain, as well as a pretty garden. I love coming during the spring months, when the roses are in bloom – the combination of the flowers and the gorgeous tower truly make this one of the best Pasadena places to take pictures in Pasadena!
Another spot that has an incredible view of the tower is from the walkway that connects one side of City Hall with the other. The tower will feature prominently here allowing for a beautiful shot!
Finally, walk up to the top floor of the building. You’ll get a perfectly framed view of the tower, along with the details of the iron staircase, which combine for a pretty photo.
You can walk the grounds for even more photo ops, as this is one of the best Pasadena photo spots, but these are my favorites!
Do note that a permit is required for professional photography – see here for more details.
Address: 100 North Garfield Ave., Pasadena, CA 91101
British Phone Booth at the Commons
Craving a trip to London but not in the cards right now? That’s ok, because you can pretend that you’ve transported yourself there without leaving LA County by taking some photos at the British phone booth at the Commons shopping center on Lake Avenue.
You’ll find the two British phone booths in front of the Williams Sonoma store. They stand in front of a green ivy wall, further making you feel like you’ve transported yourself to Britain!
If you want more British vibes, head on over to the nearby Burlington Arcade, another one of the best places in Pasadena to take photos. It is inspired by its namesake shopping center in London, and also has a third phone booth!
Address: 140 S Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA
Mural lovers rejoice – the Dots Cafe location on East Colorado Boulevard (do not confuse it with the Dots Cupcakes location in Old Town Pasadena) is one of the best Pasadena photoshoot locations for the collection of Instagrammable murals that are displayed in the alley behind the cafe.
There are three murals here, all featuring pretty florals and soft pastel colors, making this one of the best Pasadena photo spots! The first is a “welcome to Pasadena” mural, bordered with roses in varying shades of pink. This is the perfect way to celebrate the beautiful City of Roses in your photos!
The second wall boldly states “do what you love,” and is framed by beautiful pink and purple florals. This is the perfect backdrop for those Instagram posts that highlight your dreams and passions.
The third mural is perhaps my favorite – it features colorful hexagons and sunny florals, with subtle text that reads “some days you have to create your own sunshine.” I love the combination of the geometric hexagons and the feminine flowers here – there are so many possibilities with this one!
Be sure to check out the inside of the cafe, which is decorated with the cutest floral wallpaper. Be sure to treat yourself to a cupcake (or two!) as well – their red velvet has been a favorite for years!
Address: 3819 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91107
Wrigley Rose Garden
Can you believe that even after growing up five miles away from Pasadena and visiting so many times over the years, I never knew that the Wrigley Rose Garden existed until recently? Better late than never though because the Wrigley Rose Garden is one of the most gorgeous Pasadena photo spots!
The garden is located on the grounds of the Wrigley Mansion, which once was the home of chewing gum conglomerate William Wrigley (who also owned Catalina Island!). It is located on Orange Grove Boulevard, nicknamed “Millionaire’s Row” because of the grand mansions that once lined the street (some still remain today, including this one).
These days, the mansion serves as the headquarters of the Tournament of Roses Foundation. The 3-story, 21-room mansion itself is also stunning and one of the best places to take pictures in Pasadena, however, it is the rose garden that really steals the show!
You’ll find over 1500 varieties of roses in all sizes, shapes, and colors in the 4.5 acre garden – it is absolutely gorgeous (and smells heavenly!). It makes the perfect backdrop for a springtime photo shoot!
The Wrigley Rose Garden is open year-round, but the best time to visit is during the spring months, when the roses are blooming. I visited in mid-May and there were still plenty of roses in bloom, but some were starting to die off. I’d say that the best time to visit is probably in late April or the first weeks of May.
Note that a permit is required for professional photography – see here for more details.
Address: 391 South Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91184
Ombré Wall at ArtCenter South Campus
This colorful mural is one of my all-time favorite Pasadena photoshoot locations! It has the look of dripping paint, with a colorful gradient across the entire wall. It is so colorful and beautiful and a feast for the eyes – it is so appropriate that it stands in the parking lot of an art school!
You’ll find this one in the parking lot of the south campus of the ArtCenter College of Design, located on Raymond Avenue. Because this is a parking lot of a school campus, there are usually cars parked during school hours. I’ve found that the lot is usually pretty empty on the weekends, so that is the best time to shoot here.
The colors also change a bit with the light – I’ve noticed that it looks much more bold and saturated when shooting in full sun (not recommended though because of the shadows), and a bit more pastel when there is shade.
Address: 950 S Raymond Ave., Pasadena, CA 91105
Colorado Street Bridge
The stunning Colorado Street Bridge is one of Pasadena’s most recognizable landmarks – the historic Beaux Arts-style bridge has impressed residents and visitors since it was built in 1913. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places
The 150-foot tall bridge spans over the Arroyo Seco and was intended to ease travel between Prior to the bridge being built, one would have to descend into the Arroyo Seco, cross a small river, and come back up on the other side. At the time, it was the highest concrete bridge in the world.
The bridge has a bit of a sad history (which I won’t get into here – but you can read more here if you’re curious). It is also said to be haunted (it does kind of have a spooky feel at night). A number of spirits are said to roam the bridge and the Arroyo Seco below. Still, the bridge is an engineering marvel and is a gorgeous piece of architecture.
Today, it offers picturesque views and is one of the most beautiful places to take pictures in Pasadena. It has also been featured in a number of movies and TV shows – one of the most recent and well-known is the Oscar-nominated film La La Land.
The bridge features high, graceful arches, as well as a curved deck. Ornate circular lampposts line the span of the bridge – these made for some amazing photos! Unfortunately, the city of Pasadena added high fences to the sides of the bridges to prevent suicides (rightfully so), so taking photos on the bridge itself is a bit difficult.
Therefore, the best way to photograph the bridge is from underneath it. One of the best Pasadena photo spots is Desiderio Neighborhood Park, which is located right under the bridge, right off South Arroyo Boulevard. This park is a bit of a hidden gem (not many people know it exists), but it is definitely one of the best places to take pictures in Pasadena!
Note that can be a bit confusing to find and your GPS might lead you astray (it led us right onto the bridge, not underneath). The best way to find it is to go north on Orange Grove Boulevard from Colorado Boulevard and turn left onto Holly Street. You will then make another left onto Arroyo Drive, which will lead you under the bridge and to the park.
Here, you can capture the arches of the bridge, which is probably my favorite feature of it! The arches of the bridge also perfectly frame the Court of Appeals Building, which is another historic landmark in Pasadena.
There are a few short walking trails, as well as some picnic tables and some greenery. There are also some lampposts here, which can also add some interest to your shots!
If you are looking for more places to photograph the Colorado Street Bridge, I’ve also heard that Hermon Park (also known as Arroyo Seco Park) is another good spot, however, I have not been there.
Colorado Street Bridge address: 504 W Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91105
Desiderio Neighborhood Park address: 10 N Arroyo Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91105
Wrdsmth Typewriter Mural at Vroman’s
The typewriter mural that stands in front of the Vroman’s Bookstore is one of the most perfect Pasadena photoshoot locations for couples!
The wall reads “I will forever be in love with you. And that’s not fiction” and is an ideal location for engagement photos or Valentine’s Day photos (the colors are so perfect for this)! The mural is by LA-based street artist Wrdsmth who has these typewriter murals all over the world.
I suggest shooting here earlier in the day, because in the afternoon there will be harsh shadows cast by the objects that are nearby – not ideal at all!
Afterwards, browse the selection at Vroman’s – it is the largest and oldest independent bookstore in Southern California. They have an extensive inventory of books, stationery, gifts and more – every time I go in here, I get lost for at least an hour and always walk out with a t least a few things.
Address: 695 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91101
Coffee and Plants
I was initially drawn to Coffee and Plants because of the name – after all, coffee and plants are two of my most favorite things! Therefore, I needed to check out this cafe that featured both of these things.
It is seriously one of the cutest cafes you will find and one of the best Instagram spots in Pasadena! There is usually a cute vintage bicycle standing right outside of the cafe, with seasonal flowers inside the basket, that would make some adorable photos.
My favorite thing here though is the wall of greenery and the neon sign that reads “Coffee and Plants” – seriously Instagrammable!
While the name of the cafe is “Coffee and Plants,” I opted to get a lavender lemonade here because I thought it would be refreshing on a hot day (it did not disappoint). I ended up loving how the bright colors of my drink contrasted with the plant wall!
Address: 62 W Union St, Pasadena, CA 91103
My Camera Gear for Shooting at the Best Pasadena Photo Spots
Many of the photos in this post were shot with the Nikon D7000 (which has now been updated to the Nikon D7500). I shot on this trusty camera for years and it has accompanied me on many of my travels!
Recently, I decided to enter the world of mirrorless cameras and purchased the Sony a6000. I am loving it because it is soooo lightweight – so perfect for travel! Sony definitely makes the best mirrorless cameras, and the image quality is excellent.
The vast majority of my photos are shot with the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 (for Nikon, Sony). The 28-75mm range covers much of what I need while I’m traveling so I only need one lens. The f2.8 means that it works great in low light and gets amazing bokeh (or that blurred background).
I love this lightweight tripod, which is cheap, easy to set up, and not super annoying to carry around. I also use this selfie stick tripod to help me take self-portraits on my phone! This is especially handing when trying to get self-portraits at places that don’t allow tripods.
Have you ever been to Pasadena? What are some of your favorite places to take pictures in Pasadena?
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The Ultimate LA Bucket List
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The Ultimate Guide to Catalina Island
Laguna Beach Photo Spots
Orange County Bucket List
Fun Things to Do in Costa Mesa
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Caroline is a Southern California based traveler, writer, and photographer. She travels all around California, the US, and the world in search of the most colorful places, the most delicious food, and bucket-list adventures. Her aim is to inspire other travelers discover how to add more adventure and joy to their lives. On Pictures & Words, you’ll find detailed guides + itineraries, along with vibrant photos to help you plan the the most epic trips. When she’s not traveling, Caroline also runs half marathons.