clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

BlockU’s Official Rose Bowl Travel Guide

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NCAA Football: Oregon at UCLA Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Are you one of the thousands of Ute fans making the pilgrimage to Pasadena for New Year’s Day? Do you have no idea what to do once you get there? Fear not, because two of southern California’s finest took their time to give us some pointers on what to do and where to go once you’re in town. Carlos, co-host of the No Truck Stops podcast, and Christine Susa, director of marketing and communications for Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau, shared their thoughts on where to go and what to see while you’re in town.

First and foremost, COVID-19 protocols will be in place throughout California, especially during Rose Bowl-related events, according to Christine.

“[The] Rose Parade, Rose Bowl game, and Float Fest are deemed as ‘mega event locations’, so ticket holders must show proof of full vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the event. Ticket holders 18 and older must provide photo ID when providing their proof of vaccination or test result. All guests two years and older must wear a mask during the Rose Parade, Rose Bowl game, and Float Fest. People should check the protocols of businesses, hotels, and airlines as they come into town because they change from city to city and business to business sometimes. In Pasadena, masks are required in all indoor businesses regardless of vaccination status.”

Essentially, those who are choosing to travel unvaccinated will need to test no earlier than Wednesday, December 29th. To be considered fully vaccinated, ticket holders must have received their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson no later than December 18th, so if you just started your vaccine process, prepare to provide a negative test result before entering the stadium.

If you’re spending New Year’s Eve in Pasadena, Christine suggests hitting Old Pasadena to ring in 2022, saying “There is a ton to do in the city. A lot of our restaurants and bars are open in Old Pasadena; King’s Row Gastropub, Lucky Baldwins, The Mix, The Yardhouse, Club 54...those are some great places for enjoying yourself on New Year’s Eve.” Carlos, on the other hand, suggests venturing outside of Pasadena for your NYE festivities.

“Pasadena won’t be your hot spot for New Year’s Eve happenings. If you’re into parties, the City of LA annually hosts a New Year’s Eve countdown party on Grand Park downtown. It’ll be hectic, it’ll be stimulating, it’ll be crowded. If you’re into that, that’s your scene! You could also try to get into any of downtown LA’s many nightclubs.”

Once you’re in town, you’ll probably be looking for some places to grab a bite. Our experts suggest the following:

Breakfast: “I really enjoy Amara. That’s a great place for something quick to eat. Lucky Boy is [also] great for something quick. They have fantastic breakfast burritos that are the size of your head.”
-Chirstine

BBQ: “Needless to say, American BBQ in California isn’t great. Instead, I’m going to suggest Korean BBQ, a cuisine California is very good at. I have personally never been but have heard great things about Soh Grill House. It’s pricey, but everyone I know who’s tried it has told me great things.”
-Carlos

Burgers: King’s Row in Downtown Pasadena had a great burger. Also, I don’t typically recommend chains but Umami Burger is a smaller chain that makes some funky, awesome burgers.”
-Carlos

Pie ‘n Burger, which is one of the oldest and most famous burger locations in Los Angeles”
-Christine

Bar Food/Beer: “King’s Row Gastropub wins again! They’ve got a great beer selection and they’ve also got plenty of TVs to watch the game in case you traveled all this way and don’t have a ticket.”
-Carlos

Vegan: “Sage Vegan Bistro is a great vegan spot!”
-Christine

Before the game, Carlos and Christine both recommend perusing the various tailgating options around the Rose Bowl. “There will be a hospitality village at the game for tailgating”, says Chrstine, while Carlos suggests “absolutely take a chance to walk the tailgating on the golf course. The Rose Bowl is unique in having a tailgating setting like this!”. And of course, you have the Rose Parade itself.

“Some people are parade people, some aren’t. Here’s my take: the Rose Parade is one of the most iconic traditions in this country’s history. The floats are fantastic, the pomp and circumstance is impressive, and you get to watch your marching band partake. Much like people watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thanksgiving, people get up for the Rose Parade. It takes about 2 hours, so there’s plenty to see.” says Carlos. “You should go if you have low-key New Year’s Eve plans and you have A) the money to buy tickets on the bleachers or B) the patience and energy to look for a spot curbside. Going to the Rose Bowl is a fleeting thing that a lot of fan bases don’t get to experience and the Rose Parade is key to the pageantry of the Grandaddy of Em All.”

While at the game, take some of our expert’s “do’s and don’t’s” tips to make the most of your visit.

DO:

  • “Take pictures of yourself with the iconic Rose Bowl logo at the front!”
    -Carlos
  • Download the Clear app prior to gameday. “That will expedite your entry into the stadium.”
    -Christine
  • “Take the shuttle from the Parsons parking lot (“Parsons East Annex” on Google Maps) in downtown Pasadena! It was literally designed for getting to and from the Rose Bowl.”
    -Carlos

DON’T:

  • “Don’t drive to the Rose Bowl or expect parking nearby! Definitely don’t gamble on trying to find residential parking (you won’t, and most of the streets are blocked off to prevent this.)”
    -Carlos
  • “Don’t try to walk from Old Pasadena to the Rose Bowl.”
    -Carlos

According to Carlos, concessions inside the stadium shouldn’t be your first choice for dining, offering “Rose Bowl concession food has never been my favorite. They’ve got some OK burritos outside of section 6, but nothing to write home about. Their garlic fries are nice, you can find them outside of sections 3, 5, 21, and 26. If you’re hungry, everything at the Rose Bowl is fine. If you’re wondering whether there’s anything worth scheduling your meals around, there isn’t!” Despite this, fans will be able to find specialties such as the Grandaddy Dog, a 14 lb frank topped with pulled pork, bacon, mac and cheese, and BBQ sauce during the game if you insist on grabbing a bite at halftime.

For those fans taking extra time after the game to take in all the sights and sounds Pasadena has to offer, Christine suggests taking a tour of the Rose Bowl, which will resume January 2nd and 3rd, or visiting a piece of movie history.

“I think people will be excited to see the Gamble House, which is an American arts and crafts museum. It’s been in ‘Back to the Future’, so if you’re a fan and want to see Doc Brown’s home, you’ll see that there at the Gamble House.”

If you’ve attended a UCLA game or visited Pasadena before, drop a comment below to let fellow fans know about some of your favorite spots!