For those of us used to spending our weekends exploring the streets, shops, and hidden corners of Pasadena, COVID-19 has been particularly dispiriting. The days of discovery have seemingly become another joy lost to the demands of our ‘new normal.’ But there is hope. For all those feeling disconnected from the city we love, there’s now a way to explore it again—from the comfort of your own couch with Pasadena Walking Tours.
Pasadena Walking Tours began offering guided tours through the streets about the history of Pasadena in 2017. Founder and Pasadena native Julia Long was working with a tour company in Los Angeles at the time and wanted to create something similar in her hometown. Since then, the tours have grown in popularity and now cover a wide breadth of topics, including Saloons & Speakeasies, Haunted Pasadena, and Women Who Shaped Pasadena.
Earlier this year, the pandemic and resulting regulations made in-person tours impossible, but Long, undeterred, quickly shifted the entire operation to an online, pay-what-you-can model.
“We brought everything online about a month after we went into lockdown, around April,” she says. “One thing we’ve been able to do since switching to digital is really grow an international audience. We’ve had people join from Australia, Italy, France, Germany, and South America.”
Participants receive a Zoom link to access the stream, which is led by a live guide. By utilizing Google Street View, guides “walk” participants through the city to each point of interest as they explain the stories and people that make it unique. Historical photos and documents regularly splash across the screen to provide further context.
Pasadena has so much history hidden in corners all throughout the city and it feels good to be exploring them again. Despite having lived in and written about this city for years, we still found ourselves learning new stories and interesting details at every stop of the tour.