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Pasadena originally was built up in large credit due to its easy proximity to Los Angeles. The highway that connected the two cities to transport goods, helped bring tourism to Pasadena at a fast pace.
From Los Angeles, Pasadena is a mere 15 minutes away. The CA 110 interstate will connect you from one city to the other. But that said, it is also common knowledge that the LA area can have awful traffic, 15 minutes is in theory, theory that traffic is moving--and traffic is not always moving.
If you are flying into Pasadena, of course you can fly into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). But Pasadena's more direct airport is the closest , the Burbank Airport (Bob Hope Airport). The Long Beach Airport is the third option for arriving by air.
Getting to and from all of these airports is accessible by several modes of transportation. The city bus is a reliable option, check with the following busses for the transportation you need depending on your arrival point:
Rental car service desks run out all the airports with most major national companies that you will be familiar with.
MTA's Gold Line offers service from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, to Sierra Madre Villa above the 210 Freeway, east of Lake Street. Several of the Gold Line stops are near Pasadena's popular destinations, such as Old Town shopping and dining (try the Fillmore station) or Central Park jazz festivals (use Del Mar station). The MTA website has information such as schedules and fares.
Finally, taxis are readily available outside of these major airports but fares are not the best bargain. A taxi ride to Pasadena from Burbank's Airport will be around $35. From LAX it will be around $80 and from Long Beach $80 as well.