Pasadena Date Night Ideas–A Local’s Guide to Fun

Pasadena Date Night Ideas–A Local’s Guide to Fun

In all honesty, my husband and I are not very good at the “dating after kids” thing. We went out on our first date when our daughter was 3 weeks old, then did not go out again for another 6 or so months. Life, kids, work always seem to get in the way. This past year, we vowed to each other to make more time for the other person. We splurged on season tickets to the Ahmanson Theatre. We actually saw at least two non-animated movies in an actual movie theater. Of course, we have also eaten at a lot of great restaurants. So here I have compiled a list of excellent Pasadena date night ideas. I think you will find there is something for everyone.

Pasadena Date Night: For the Health Conscious

It’s still the New Year, resolutions abound. If you find it difficult to find time for fitness and your honey, why not combine them? The Rose Bowl in Pasadena has a 3+ mile loop around the iconic stadium. Make sure you keep your eyes open, as the people watching here helps fuel date conversation. We have overheard couples screaming at each about how so and so wore the wrong dress to a fancy party (keeps your own relationship in perspective), moms debating what is the best organic gluten-free vegan baby carrier, and have even seen multiple versions of recumbent bicycles (including one that looked like the early bicycles with one big wheel and one small).

If you prefer a meal, don’t miss True Food Kitchen. You can either sit on the patio (of course there are heat lamps when it is less than 80 degrees), inside the airy bar area, or in the spacious dining room. The menu changes seasonally, and has an excellent selection of vegan and gluten-free options. Any of the soups and the grilled chicken salad are my favorites. The names are simple but the flavors complex. Because it’s date night, splurge on a cocktail. They have a delicious skinny citrus margarita, or several non-alcoholic options.

Pasadena Date Night: If You’re Calling Uber

Everson Royce. Full disclosure: this is my favorite date night or girls’ night out spot in Pasadena. It’s a wine store that offers tastings on Tuesday and Friday nights (5-9 pm), and Saturday afternoons (2-6 pm). The tasting menu changes every day, but they always have several excellent glasses on tap for you to choose. It’s very laid back, no tables. Just sally on up to the counter, help yourself to some bread and fresh creamery butter (sometimes they have salami and cheese if you’re lucky), and enjoy. The staff at Everson Royce are a big part of the draw. They’ll tell you everything they know, and they know a lot. Flights are only $15 per person, and glasses of wine run $6-10/glass.

After you enjoy your tastings, head south on Raymond Ave and turn right on Union. There you will find the perfect spot to soak up the wine (and have another beverage if you are so inclined): Harlowe’s French Dip. They offer four kinds of dips. My husband’s favorite is the braised lamb with lamb au jus and homemade labneh. I prefer the Burger. It’s like the traditional SoCal burger with special sauce, only 1000% better. Make sure you snag an order of the salt-brined Kennebec fries. I’m still dreaming of them.

As you are walking closer towards Colorado Boulevard to get maybe a bespoke ice cream sandwich at Cool Haus or a slice of Earl Grey pie from the Pie Hole, don’t ignore the quiet man lounging by an intriguingly nodescript door who calls, “Hey, do you want to go to the Speakeasy?” You’re calling an Uber anyway, might as well enjoy the ride. You will pass through a curtain into a room with ruby-colored lights illuminating a dazzling array of liquor bottles. Order at the bar (anything, all of the cocktails are handmade and unique), then grab a table and talk to your honey all night long.

Pasadena court house
Pasadena Court House. Avoid a trip here by calling a ride share haha. It’s actually a great place to wander and people watch. another date night idea?

Pasadena Date Night Ideas: if you want to splurge

One thing I still have not adapted to here in Pasadena is that people just do not get as dressed up as they do on the East Coast. It’s a shame, really. I say, to heck with the SoCal suit of nice jeans with $300 sandals. Break out the little black dress and head to one of these beautiful places.

What says a fancy night out better than grass-fed steak and lobster wood-fired over a White Oak grill? Head straight The Royce at the Langham. You park at the hotel (valet only but validated if you’re dining at the restaurant), then head back through the hotel to the comfortably posh Royce. The chairs are white and plush, perfect for sinking into while you enjoy a swoon-worthy glass of red. You can also dine in the temperature-controlled red wine room, where they keep all the bottles served in the restaurant. Don’t worry, it’s a lovely setting and if you get cold, they will loan you a pashmina.

Are there several other steakhouses in Pasadena? Yes. We love Houston’s, Arroyo Chop House, and more. For the real luxury feeling, though, definitely head to the Royce.

Pasadena Date Night Ideas: If you like sushi

I do not eat a lot of sushi. I’ve tried it at several places, but really the only place that will satisfy a non-sushi lover like me is Sugarfish. Get there early as they do not take reservations, but you can always grab a drink at Smitty’s Grill while you’re waiting for them to text you that your table is ready. It’s an easy place to wait, too, as there is a lovely fountain and usually plenty of parking. I digress, though. The sushi. Their very opinionated menu reminds you of the chef’s motto: “don’t think, just eat.” Order the Trust Me or the Nozawa menu to share, and let the whole experience be a conversation starter. If they have hirame, order an extra piece. Oh, and maybe an extra albacore too.

Pasadena Date Night: If you want to be outside

Huntington Library and Gardens not only has a fabulous art collection (including a first Folio of Shakespeare and a Gutenberg Bible), but also some stunning botanical gardens. Make sure you check out the Calendar, as they often have special lectures, evening concerts, tai chi, and more.

If you prefer the cinematic arts, grab a picnic basket and blanket and watch a movie under the stars with Street Food Cinema. It’s more like a giant party than a movie. Before the show, they have contests and games, and an aromatic variety of food trucks. You can always bring in your own food (and wine/beer), though. Most of the outdoor movies are in the spring-fall, but they run special nights at an indoor theater during the winter. February 10, 2018 they have a special showing of The Shining.

Pasadena Date Night Ideas: Outside Pasadena

Maybe you feel you have seen all there is to see of the Pasadena restaurant scene. Which is a little hard to believe, as Pasadena has a very high number of restaurants per capita. Still, though, if you may want to venture a little further afield, check out:

  1. Din Tai Fung in nearby Glendale or Arcadia. It is a Taiwanese chain that specializes in xiaolongbao, or juicy pork soup dumpligs. It doesn’t break the bank, and you can eat a ton. It’s fun to get a little messy, right? If you don’t want soup dumplings, try the noodles in sesame sauce or the Shanghai rice cakes with chicken. Then go catch a movie, as they both abut cinemas.

    Din Tai Fung is at the Americana at Brand in Glendale
  2. Eagle Rock restaurants. These restaurants are not just family-friendly, they are definitely date-night friendly.
  3. Go for a hike. For the experienced hikers, you cannot beat the views on Echo Mountain and Inspiration Point. If you’re still a little hungover after Everson Royce and the Speakeasy, head to Eaton Canyon. You will be rewarded with a cool stream and some small waterfalls. Take off your shoes and enjoy a chat on the rocks.
  4. Head down toward the coast to one of the most beautiful hotels: Terranea Resort. They have several restaurants and bars. You can enjoy a drink and the beautiful Pacific coast sunset with your loved one. Nothing better to spur conversation than an exotic locale.
sunsets at terranea
sunsets at terranea

Other Thoughts

I think one thing I have learned in trying to date my husband again, is that every time we go out, it gets easier.

If you do not happen to live in or travel to Pasadena, make sure you read Fun Date Ideas for Busy Parents from Minivan Adventures. She has some fabulous ideas.

Where do you go in your town? Do you have any great date night ideas?

Hilary Style

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28 thoughts on “Pasadena Date Night Ideas–A Local’s Guide to Fun

  1. Pass the donuts! Sorry – that is what my Father-in-law who lived in Pasadena used to call it! My husband grew up across the street from the Huntington Library and I’ve still yet to visit. Living in Copenhagen doesn’t help right now! One day we’ll get back and explore, definitely saving your list for later. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles community.

  2. It can be hard to fit in time for each other once the kids arrive, but it is SO important! I don’t live in Pasadena, but I do live nearby and since my husband and I are trying to fit in more time of ourselves, easier now that our kids are older, I think we may try a few of these fun places! Thank you for sharing on #farawayfiles

  3. This article reminded me that my wife and I need a date night. You lose track of time so quickly with young kids. I’ll be heading out to Canoga Park for work and these are some great restaurant ideas for the weekend.

  4. Getting date nights in is SO hard when you have kids. I hear ya. Our favorite things are going out to eat (of course), people watching (which sounds fascinating in Pasadena) and heading to the movies for an actual adult film. I’ve heard wonderful things about Pasadena!

  5. I love the way you have categorized these date nights. It made me giggle when I read about the wine tasting. That is always my go-to for date night, girl trip night, or just alone time. LOL!

  6. I had no idea that Pasadena had so much to offer! There are so many fun date ideas in this article. I’d love to watch a movie under the stars!

  7. Fun post! Also true to a great extent. As parents we compromise at every step just so that our kids do not get neglected. We generally go out for movie nights, dinner,coffee or ice-cream break and sometimes game parlours (it helps us take out all the frustration we gather over the days, huh!)

    1. I like the game parlours! My spouse and I are competitive when it comes to games, so we try mostly to stick to card games.

  8. Definitely the ultimate date night guide in Pasadena for all kinds of occasions! Haven’t been to Pasadena yet but when we do,we’re going to start off with the sushi date night! And end the last day they with some splurging! LOL

  9. So many great date night ideas! I love the idea of street food cinema – watch the movie under a blanket in the open air whilst tasting the great food from the food trucks. The soup dumplings sound divine! I do love to dress up too when going out – makes the night extra special! It’s good to splurge now and again – Royce sounds like a great choice!

  10. Sugarfish sounds amazing! I’m a big sushi lover so visiting a sushi restaurant is always high on my list when visiting somewhere new haha 😉

  11. I have always associated Pasadena with the TV show (god that shows my age!). I have never really thought about it as a real place so very insightful post!

  12. I totally feel you! After giving birth, there were weeks when my husband and I did not go out and have our regular ‘dates’ post pregnancy. LOL. We finally did on our 1st anniversary as a married couple (which was about a month and 2 weeks after I gave birth). We figured, we should be spending quality time with each other! 🙂

    Good to know you have finally took the time and took each other out on dates. It’s always amazing to find cool experiences close to home. And Pasadena does have a lot of amazing options. We, on the other hand have enjoyed exploring the food scene here in Cebu (Philippines) as well as re-visiting some old nice spots I’ve visited when I was young! 🙂

  13. Date night? What’s that. Like you, we have found it difficult to have a consistent date night since the kids came along. Good for you. You’re making the effort. This is a great list. Although, as a big fan of French Dip, I think I would have to start with Harlowe’s French Dip. And I’d love to check out Huntington Library and Gardens.

  14. This was such a great/cute post! I wish I could find a guide like this for my neck of the woods! It’s always great to have a variety of date night (or even girls night out) options at your finger tips!

  15. My husband and I weren’t great at date nights after kids either. It took years for us to go out alone. I’d love to visit Everson Royce. A wine tasting is my perfect date. But I do love sushi too….

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