I’d lived in Southern California for an embarrassing number of years before ever setting foot in Old Town Pasadena. Sure, it’s home to the Rose Bowl and some of the greatest shopping – ever! But it always seemed so foreign and out of the way. Finally, I got a job in the area and discovered what many locals have known for years – Old Town rocks.

This lovely little stretch of city sits nestled between upwardly mobile Eagle Rock and the quaint valley communities of La Canada and La Crescenta. Sure everyone is hip to its history as the home of the annual Rose Bowl and its internationally adored parade, but maybe, like me, you’ve never taken the time to explore all of the happening spots in which some serious retail therapy can be done.

Looking for a new take on the classic mall experience? Well, look no further than Old Town’s gorgeous promenade. Like Santa Monica’s Third Street, Glendale’s Americana and the Fairfax District’s Grove, Old Town’s shopping mecca is brimming with old favorites and new discoveries. A quick stroll will unearth names like Banana Republic and H&M. What’s more is that a lot of the inhabitants of Pasadena are ... shall we say, “well-to-do,” so the offerings tend to be a bit snazzier than elsewhere (in my opinion).

However, for those who are seeking a more unique experience or tend to shy away from shopping where the masses do, Pasadena is also home to some of the more interesting and luxe boutiques out there. Kokila’s Boutique (350 S. Lake Ave.; 626-584-1157) boasts a number of fun fashions to make you shine in the bright California sun.

A favorite of denim-loving fashionistas and boy-stunners is Voce Jeans (995 E. Green St.; vocejeans.com). This boutique is chock-full of the latest cuts, colors and brands of America’s signature clothing staple: blue jeans. They’ve got jeans cut to show everybody what your mama gave you and then some. Most of their styles are inspired by the hottest trends coming straight off the streets of Brazil. When you rock these bad boys, you’ll be doing so with confidence.

For all you crafty folks out there, Eliza Boutique (651 W. Duarte Road, Arcadia; 626-447-2728) is a one-stop shop for all your needs. Located just down the way from Pasadena, Eliza’s is stocked with everything that your scrapbooking, collage-making, tie-dyeing little heart desires. The prices are reasonable and competitive with chains like Michaels, but without the irritation of not being able to find what you’re looking for.

All the girls of the world know what a pain it is to find cool clothes at a reasonable price point. Personally, I love chic little shops because you at least have more of a guarantee that you’ll be the only person in the outfit you’ve just shelled out major coin for – instead of looking like a carbon copy of everyone else in Los Angeles.

For people like me, try Alice Boutique (20 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra; 626-282-9158) in nearby Alhambra. OK, so Alhambra is traditionally known for its street races, strip malls and car dealerships, but this sister city to Pasadena is a real gem. Alice’s is a fun place to store up on cool trends that you’ll recognize from the fashion rags (but not on your neighbor or roommate). Yeah, it’s in the boonies, but it can’t all be Hollywood, you know.

Finally, for all you shopaholics who have spent the day blowing through your bank accounts, trust funds and credit card limits (aren’t you the lucky one?), why not replenish all that lost strength with a quick sugar fix. Dots Cupcakes (400 S. Arroyo Pkwy., Pasadena; dotscupcakes.com) is a cherished shop known and loved by foodies and famous folks alike (Dakota Fanning is reportedly a HUGE fan.). Friends and family members enjoying the rigors of carrying around heavy shopping bags can easily relax and unwind with colorful cuties such as Raspberry Cheesecake (Fri.-Sun.) and Apple Pie (Wed.-Thurs.) flavors. They also have standards like Red Velvet (Mon.-Tues.), chocolate and vanilla for cake traditionalists. But the best thing about Dots is its staff that has earned this shop just as much good press as its sweets.