A native of Hong Kong and Vancouver, Cheryl Liu Mang is living her best Los Angeles life. Exploring Pasadena through the eyes of her two young daughters (ages 3 and 6) informs the programming and collaborations she brings to the Southern California Children’s Museum (socalkids.org). Mang discovered the space while searching for age-appropriate activities for her then 1-year-old. Years later, her girls have basically grown up at the museum, riding surfboards and sliding through the Wild California exhibit on playdates, dancing at bilingual circle times, taking Sensory Play classes, and having birthday parties there. When the Mang family isn’t at the museum, you’ll likely run into them at one of the following locales.
After the museum, we’ll often pick up Venezuelan empanadas and eat them in the park together. They have a different texture than empanadas from Mexican restaurants because they are made with corn dough and fried. We love the family-owned shop Chamo Venezuelan Cuisine on Colorado near Lake.
Brookside Park behind the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center is hands down our favorite park for kids because it’s tucked back away from any cars or roads. There’s a big open field for the kids to run in and the Pirate Park Playground lends itself to pretend play.
Our favorite local attraction is the Children’s Garden at The Huntington Library. We can beat the heat there in the summer with all of the water play available, and the kids never want to leave the magnetic sandpit. We always pay a visit to Ms. Pixie the Elf in the rose garden (look for the tiny door and sign in one of the trees).
When I’m out shopping with the kids, we’ll go to Montrose to wander the maze of shelves at Lost Books. We can find used books stocked among the new selections in the children’s section to keep down the cost of our frequent visits. I love the gift shop Homage on Fair Oaks when I’m shopping alone. They carry the most delightful Pasadena Map by artist Carissa Potter.
If we’re out for breakfast, we’ll stop at Lunasia Dim Sum House across from The Paseo. Growing up in Hong Kong and subsequently Vancouver, I would go to dim sum with extended family every Sunday. Lunasia serves my favorites, including har-gaw, pan-fried spicy noodles, and egg-custard tarts, all day. Little Flower Candy Co. is our favorite for lunch, especially if we order ahead for pickup and then eat down the street at the small neighborhoody San Rafael Park.
For pizza we grab Mamma’s Brick Oven Pizza & Pasta on Fair Oaks in South Pas. It’s New York–style pie and we appreciate the vegan options for my daughter’s dairy allergy. And then we’ll do dessert at Wanderlust Creamery in Old Pasadena. Our family favorite is the sticky rice and mango (another dairy-free option), but it’s hard to choose since their flavors are inspired by travel and many (like kinder bueno and ube) are nostalgic for me.