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Travel Tips: Pasadena, Continued

By Jean Strauber , Travel Editor

In last week’s Travel Tips I shared with you three of Pasadena’s museums that I visited while on a recent weekend press trip. Here’s some more about my Pasadena holiday.

THE HISTORIC GAMBLE HOUSE

Another one of Pasadena’ attractions that we visited was the Gamble House, built by David and Mary Gamble (Procter & Gamble) of Cincinnatti, Ohio as a winter home and, later, as their retirement residence. I had attended a charity luncheon and fashion show at Gamble House many years ago that was held on the grounds, but as the luncheon was held on a Tuesday, tours were not offered. A surprise to me was to learn that the Gambles chose not to build their home on “Millionaire’s Row” (Orange Grove South). Noted architects Charles and his brother Henry were selected by the Gambles because they liked the design of their neighbors’ home. The Greenes, in consultation with David and Mary designed an 8,200 square-foot house that would complement art pieces belonging to the family. On the one-hour guided tour, our docent pointed out meticulously carved cornices, how wood pieces were joined together without nails, the fantastic Tiffany glass door, the custom-made furniture and carpets and even the switch plates and vents that were all designed to complement each other. Did I forget to mention that the Gamble House is also a glass-lovers’ paradise?

The Gamble House Pasadena CA

The Gamble House Pasadena CA

Light fixtures, wall sconces and cabinets with leaded glass are examples of the Greenes’ unifying architectural style. Tours are offered Thursdays to Sundays. On December 14 the Gamble House is offering a special “Behind the Velvet Ropes” tour at 10:30 am. On this tour the visitor will be invited to visit parts of the House not usually available on the one-hour tour. The docent, wearing white gloves, will open drawers and closet doors for a close-up view of the craftsmanship that went into the completion of this home. Light refreshments will be served. This tour is $40 per person and reservations must be made in advance. The Gamble House is located at 4 Westmoreland Place in Pasadena CA. The Gamble family lived in the house until 1966 when it was deeded to the city of Pasadena in a joint agreement with The USC School of Architecture with the Gamble family remaining in an advisory capacity. Note: You must wear flat shoes (to protect the teak floors). If you wear heels, slippers will be provided. To make reservations or for more information about the Gamble House please call (626) 395-9783 or (626) 793-3334 Ext 10 or e-mail mapstone@usc.edu.

THE ARMORY

Another art museum that some of the journalists visited was The Armory, so named because it was built in 1932 as a California National Guard warehouse. During the Korean war it was used extensively, but now is a venue for modern art exhibits, classes and workshops. There are three display spaces: the Community Room Gallery, used by local and emerging artists; the Mezzanine Gallery which occupies the second and top floor of the building; and the Caldwell Gallery with its rotating multimedia exhibits on the ground floor. I had seen a multi-media show projected on a screen in One Courtyard Old Town. What I didn’t know that it was presented by the Armory. The Armory is located at 145 Raymond Avenue in Old Town Pasadena.

PACIFIC ASIA MUSEUM

Some of you might remember field trips to the Pacific Asia Museum where you were in school. Located at 46 N. Robles in the Pasadena Playhouse District, you know you’re there when you see the building, a replica of one in Beijing’s Forbidden City. Inside you’ll find almost 5,000 years of art and artifacts from Asia and the Pacific Islands. Originally the building was the home of Grace Nicholson (1883-1948) who built it so she could live upstairs and have her Asian and Pacific art collection displayed in galleries on the ground floor. It later was the home of the Pasadena Museum of Art in the 1950s and 1960s, until it moved to Colorado Boulevard and became the present-day Norton Simon Museum. Today you’ll find Buddhist sculptures, jade carvings, ceramics, textiles, Japanese paintings, contemporary Korean ceramics or other items from the 17,000 piece collection.

THE HOTEL LANGHAM HUNTINGTON, PASADENA

While in Pasadena our accommodations were at the luxurious Langham Hotel located on South Oak Knoll Avenue (Lake Avenue becomes Oak Knoll). The hotel has quite a history: It was first built in 1906 by General Wentworth, then bought by Henry Huntington (of the Huntington Library) who hired architect Myron Hunt to modernize it. The property opened as the Huntington Hotel in 1914. It became the premier hotel in Southern California except during World War II when it was rented to the US Army. It later became a Sheraton Hotel but had to be closed due to the fact it did not meet California earthquake codes. The hotel was then closed for renovation as later re-opened in 1991 as The Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa. In 2008, the Langham Hospitality Group purchased the property and now it is The Langham Huntington, Pasadena.

My room, with its queen sized bed, had a fabulous view of the San Gabriel Mountains. There was a flat-screen TV, a CD player, a mini-frige, microwave and coffee maker. The bathroom had more than enough space for me to place all my cosmetics on the counter, and the towels were plentiful and large enough to wrap around my pudgy body. I was also provided with a card that enabled me to take advantage of the exclusive Club Lounge. There, breakfast (with hot and cold entrees) is served, a late afternoon cocktail hour complete with hors d’oeuvres, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages available all day and evening, and absolutely delicious delectable pastries are available at all times. My only disappointment was that I was charged for wireless Internet service. I feel that should have been free and said so on my comment card. On a tour of the hotel with Elsa Schelin, director of public relations, we strolled through the Picture Bridge with its murals depicting California history. We had a view of the pool and spa, saw the lights of the tennis court, viewed the location of the Spanish Revival styled cottages and strolled passed the cheery bar, the Tap Room, before enjoying an elegant dinner prepared by Chef David Feau, Chef de Cuisine at The Royce at Langham. As it was already dusk I regretted that we wouldn’t have an opportunity to stroll through their beautiful Japanese gardens.

On Saturday afternoon I was nibbling on munchies and enjoying a glass of fine wine in the Tap Room while watching my Bruins lose. Much to my surprise I found out that the UCLA Football Team is headquartered here prior to its home games at the Rose Bowl. I met Coach Neuheisal and was tempted to offer my opinion about the UCLA Football team. I did have a very pleasant conversation with Running Back Coach Wayne Moses. A truly nice guy. I also got to meet several members of the UCLA football team. On Saturday morning I had a thrill when I met LA Dodger Coach Tommy Lasorda, who had come to go with the team to the Rose Bowl. Our stay was too short to experience the Huntington Spa’s service such as a massage, facial, manicure or hair service. For those seeking spa services the Huntington is now offering a new element, the Chuan Body + Soul corridor, which incorporates Traditional Chinese Medicine (which includes the five elements, breathing rituals and aqua pressure) to provide a comprehensive experience. A good Christmas suggestion is to give someone dear to you one of the Langham’s spa services. And, why not spoil yourself also?

With the holidays fast approaching The Langham Huntington, Pasadena is offering several holiday delights. The Traditional Teddy Bear Tea is guaranteed to create wonderful memories for you and your children with Santa and his special Hotel Langham Huntington, Pasadena helpers who will be sharing favorite holiday tales and even a marionette puppet show. The Teddy Bear Tea will be held on the weekend of December 10-11 and daily from December 17-23 from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 noon. Another of the scheduled holiday events is the Christmas Day Brunch in The Terrace. A sumptuous holiday buffet, complete with caviar and champagne, is being served from 10:00 am- 12:30 pm. $105 per person, $35 per child (ages 3-12). Live entertainment has been scheduled and your children can have pictures taken with Santa. A third holiday event that I’d recommend is celebrate New Year’s Eve in The Lobby Lounge. From 9:00 pm-1:00 am there will be passed hors d’oeuvres, champagne, wine, and a delectable dessert station. It’s only $75 per person, and if you’re a hotel guest it’s only $40.

For a complete list of holiday activities and packages please visit http://pasadena.langhamhotels.com/restaurants/holiday_specials.htm There’s so much more to see and do in Pasadena besides what I did during my press trip. You can visit the JPL Visitor Center to see a moon rock or a model of the Surveyor that carried the first men to walk on the moon; attend a concert or lecture at the Beckman Auditorium at Cal Tech; peruse the Pasadena Museum of California Art; shop at the Second Sunday Flea Market at the Rose Bowl; hike in the nearby San Gabriel Mountains; and stroll through the shops on Colorado Boulevard or Paseo Colorado. You’ll also find that you have much to choose from in seeking good food, from little holes in the walls to elegant dining establishments. I recommend you obtain a copy of the visitors guide published by the Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau — just go to www.visitpasadena.com.

Jean Strauber

Entertainment Writer

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