Top 12 Things To Do In San Gabriel, California

things to do in san gabriel california
| 5 min read

The San Gabriel Valley is one of the most beautiful regions of southern California. The valley is shadowed by the San Gabriel Mountains and it is a place graced with natural beauty and local art, perfect to visit at any time of the year. If you’re planning a trip to San Gabriel, take along this list of the top 12 things to do in the region, to be sure you make the most of your holiday!

1. Huntington Library & Botanical Gardens

Established in 1919, these botanical gardens offer solace from the busy streets of LA. The library consists of six million rare books and related items, which are on display to the public, including a Gutenberg Bible and the manuscript of the Canterbury Tales by Geoffery Chaucer. It is pretty darn impressive!

The over 120 acres (48.6 hectares) of land features various themed gardens which are beautifully landscaped with sculptures, ponds, and fountains. The garden has plants from all over the world, be it Japanese cherry trees or Sahara cacti. The library and the gardens are a highlight of any trip to California!

Huntington Library & Botanical Gardens

Address: 1151 Oxford Rd, San Marino, CA 91108, USA

Website: Huntington Library & Botanical Gardens

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2. 626 Night Market

626 Night Market
Source: Photo by Flickr user tofuprod used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The largest Asian night market in the U.S. is found in the San Gabriel Valley. This market is huge, I mean, HUGE! There’s just so much to see and eat here and the market features food, merchandise, crafts, art, concerts, games and other attractions. It is easy to get lost in this place, so stay together!

The highlight of your trip here will be the food and whatever your favorite food, you’ll find it here: Chinese, Indian, BBQ, fast food, sweet, sour, spicy, tangy, this market has it all. Highlights include the famous boba tea, grilled whole lobster, musubi in a boat, and so many flavors of ice cream! Go with an empty stomach and a huge appetite!

626 Night Market

Address: 285 W Huntington Dr, Arcadia, CA 91007, USA

Website: 626 Night Market

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3. Vineland Drive-in Movie Theatre

Drive in Theatre
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user FabSubeject used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Drive-in movie theaters are so rare in this age of technology that they themselves seem like something out of an old movie! It is a great place for a romantic evening - you can watch the movie from the comfort of your car and eat your favorite food!

Since this is an outdoor theater, you can bring your own chairs, so there is no need to sit in uncomfortable theater seats with spilled drinks! If you are looking for a nostalgic movie experience, this is the place!

Vineland Drive-in Movie Theatre

Address: 443 Vineland Ave, City of Industry, CA 91746, USA

Website: Vineland Drive-in Movie Theatre

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4. The Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanic Garden

Nestled near the San Gabriel hills, this 127 acres (51.4 hectares) of land is a refuge from the concrete jungle. The arboretum features flora from all over the world and the garden houses different attractions, such as the Aquatic Garden, Meadowbrook, Rainbow Serpent Garden, Celebration Garden, and the Rose Garden.

Queen Anne Cottage was built in the 1800s and is preserved as a historical landmark for its exceptional architecture. It is also said to be haunted, how awesome is that! The garden is home to over 200 peacocks and other animals and demands to be visited!

The Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanic Garden

Address: 301 N Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007, USA

Website: The Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanic Garden

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5. Hsi Lai Temple

Hsi Lai Temple is one of the largest Buddhist monasteries in the west. This magnificent temple was built in 1988 and houses two shrines and a small museum. It also houses various artifacts, including Chinese paper cutting. As you enter the temple, you are greeted by the aroma of burning incense and the Bodhisattva Hall is the first shrine that you will encounter, upon entering.

There are two gardens on both sides of the temple, the Arhat Garden on the left and the Avalokitesvara Garden on the right, both depicting statues of monks. In the main temple, there are three main figures of Buddha and thousands of images on the walls. The ornate style and peaceful atmosphere of Hsi Lai Temple is worth the visit!

Hsi Lai Temple

Address: 3456 Glenmark Dr, Hacienda Heights, CA 91745, USA

Website: Hsi Lai Temple

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6. Norton Simon Museum of Art

Established in 1969, this gem houses the art collection of the industrialist Norton Simon. The collection includes various sculptures and tapestries, paintings, sculpture gardens. The incredible art pieces vary from ancient statues to Renaissance art to contemporary pieces.

Some of the prominent works include the Parsonage Garden by Van Gogh, Rembrandt’s self-portrait, and a Kushmandini statue from India, dating back to 900 BC. The Norton Simon Theater shows film programs daily and hosts lectures and art performances, year-round. The ever-growing collection in this amazing museum is inspiring!

Norton Simon Museum

Address: 411 W Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91105, USA

Website: Norton Simon Museum

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7. The Gamble House

Straight from the Back to the Future movies, this beautiful house was designed by the Greene brothers. A sight for sore eyes, this thoughtfully designed home is futuristic in every way. The Greene brothers designed this house with a mix of Japanese and Californian styles and a focus on natural materials. The attention to the detail here is breathtaking.

The style of the house is casual yet pleasing and the outdoor space is well utilized, with porches and a terrace. The furniture is designed to fit the house aesthetic and even the lamps match the house!

The Gamble House

Address: 4 Westmoreland Pl, Pasadena, CA 91103, USA

Website: The Gamble House

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8. Vroman’s Bookstore

Source: Photo by Flickr user POP used under CC BY 2.0

Founded in 1894, by Adam Clark Vroman, this bookstore is an important landmark in the history of California. It has been the largest independent bookstore for over a century and it has books for everyone!

The staff is very helpful and gives great recommendations and apart from books, they have a section for stationery and writing equipment. They also have books that are out of print. This is the perfect place for bookworms!

Vroman’s Bookstore

Address: 695 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91101, USA

Website: Vroman’s Bookstore

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9. Eaton Canyon

The trail of joy, Eaton Canyon trail has a waterfall at its end! The trail starts pretty easy, at the Eaton Canyon Nature Area and continues up a dirt trail, which is pretty flat and uneventful, but the real show starts at the end of the trail!

The adventurous part of the hike starts when you begin climbing the narrow canyon, crossing the banks and along a winding creek. Be careful on the rocks and get ready to get wet! It is roughly 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the waterfall, a great trail for beginners. The waterfall at the end is beautiful, so bring a picnic basket and have fun!

Eaton Canyon

Address: 1750 N Altadena Dr, Pasadena, CA 91107, USA

Website: Eaton Canyon

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10. Fairplex

Fairplex is the 487 acre (197.1 hectare) area of land where the Los Angeles County Fair Association conducts events and fairs, year-round. The complex is open even when no events are hosted and they also include a hotel, multiple RV parks, and storage facilities. There are also some museums here, such as the Train Museum, Motorsports Museum, the Fairplex Garden Railroad and the Millard Sheets Art Center.

In early 2017, they organized an incredible Alice in Wonderland exhibit here. The fair is fun for both young and old and there’s usually a petting zoo for kids, with farm animals. The rides and games at Fairplex are amazing and the food is delicious!


Address: 1101 W McKinley Ave, Pomona, CA 91768, USA

Website: Fairplex

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11. Old Town Pasadena

The original commercial center of Pasadena, Old Town is a great place to spend your day. This magical place is full of history and every building tells a different story. The district has changed from residential to commercial throughout the years and now it’s a shopping hub, balancing the old stores with new brands.

The old town houses numerous clothing stores, clubs, theaters, restaurants, gaming arcades and much more. It is a great place to go on an adventure, sing karaoke at Barney’s, shoot darts, or have a dance-off in a club!

Old Town Pasadena

Address: 23 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91105, USA

Website: Old Town Pasadena

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12. Rose Bowl Flea Market

On the second Sunday of every month, the Rose Bowl Market goes crazy! This flea market has all kinds of things, old and new, from clothes, furniture and antiques to perfume and handmade jewelry. Make sure to start your shopping early, as this place is huge!

If you have something specific in mind, take a look at the online map as this place can get crowded and it is easy to get lost. This is a great place to save some money and find odd knick knacks!

Rose Bowl Flea Market

Address: 1001 Rose Bowl Dr, Pasadena, CA 91103, USA

Website: Rose Bowl Flea Market

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An unbelievable valley

This beautiful place has so many things to offer that it is impossible to list them all. San Gabriel Valley is a place where nature meets the city and it’s the place to go on an epic journey and rest in its peaceful groove.

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Kasturi is an avid reader and traveler. Based in India, she works as a freelance travel writer. On days she's not writing, she goes hiking with her dogs. She likes to travel to places where she can...Read more

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