There are more impressive buildings in the world than Pasadena's City Hall—the Taj Mahal, Versailles, and I could go on—but a small building can be an architectural gem.
I can't find a less-than-lovely view of City Hall. At each corner of the courtyard is a stairwell. All four are housed in towers identical to this one, with the same elaborate reliefs, wide open window and belvedere on top. I like climbing up inside (even the stairs are beautiful!) and looking out to the mountains. Looking up from below is nice, too.
The courtyard's a good place to take your book, but you probably won't read it. It's more fun to watch what's doing.