Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »

Pasadena, California

The Pasadena Busch Gardens

A guided walking tour through the former grounds of one of Los Angeles' earliest theme parks.

Though not a theme park in modern respects, the first Busch Gardens in Pasadena (1904-1937) set the precedent for water and natural settings of future Busch Gardens in America.

In 1904, brewer and philanthropist Adolphus Busch purchased a winter retirement home in Pasadena, California and immediately added undeveloped acreage to the area for the purpose of creating massive gardens. By 1906 Busch Gardens was open to the public, and by 1910 it reached 38 acres in size with a full-time crew of 40 gardeners to maintain.

The landscape consisted of terraced gardens, concrete pathways, a pond with waterfalls, and a replica of a German mill, among many other natural and man-made wonders. Hundreds of films were made here, including Gone With The Wind, The Adventures of Robin Hood, and Frankenstein

This adventure consists of a guided walking tour through the neighborhood formerly known as the first Busch Gardens. The 2-mile walk includes slight hills and narrow stepped concrete paths—moderate fitness is suggested. Our docents will show us historic pictures at the points where they were taken and guide us through the history, geography and many of the remnants that still exist to this day. As a special treat, we will access private property, nearly untouched in 115 years, with a famous feature: "The Old Mill."

BY POPULAR DEMAND, A SECOND TOUR HAS BEEN ADDED AT 12:30 PM!

Our Guides

Michael Logan has researched and created large maps of the Gardens showing exact locations of all features with a clear overlay showing current streets and property outlines—copies can be studied at the Pasadena Museum of History. He also has written a book on this historical location and assembled over 200 images for it, layout and publication forthcoming. 

Tina Lenert is a Pasadena resident and enthusiast who for years would go jogging past the Busch Gardens “ruins,” wondering what they were. As a docent for Pasadena Heritage, she has had the privilege of assisting Michael Logan on many of his tours of the Gardens. Tina is also a docent at the Gamble House.

Additional Details

  • Meeting point is the main entrance to the Pasadena American Red Cross headquarters at 430 Madeline Dr, Pasadena, CA 91105
  • Soft sole hiking or tennis shoes are highly recommended.
  • Stay hydrated, bring a small bottle of water.
  • There are no public restrooms along the course, please plan your time accordingly. 

Questions?

Email Siegfried Tieber at sigi.tieber@atlasobscura.com.

Stay connected! Subscribe to the LA Obscura Society newsletter and like our Facebook page for a first glimpse at upcoming events.

Advance Tickets Only. All Sales Final. No Refunds or Exchanges.