Rose Bowl Seats

A couple of the best seats in the house

Tips for Traveling to the Rose Bowl Game, Pasadena, Rose Bowl Stadium and More

December 28th, 2015

The following tips are from my personal experiences that come from being born and raised in southern California, having lived in Pasadena, and having been a long time UCLA season ticket holder at the Rose Bowl.

Getting Tickets
Buy Tickets Now Or Wait?
Counterfeit Tickets
Fraud And Misrepresentation Of Tickets
Two Great Seats For Sale And Image Of Real Tickets

Car Rentals And Transportation
For Those Who Do Not Want To Drive In Los Angeles
The Stuff The Tourist Books Don’t Want You To Know About

Game Day Experience, Schedule, And The Rose Bowl Stadium
Getting To The Game And Parking

(NOTE: all the links on this page are just that, links – I do not get a commission or profit on any of this – I’m just a long time UCLA season ticket holder who knows a lot about this stuff and hope you find it helpful!  However, as a disclaimer, I am considered a major UCLA donor.  This gives me two prime seats in the exclusive Terry Donahue Pavilion for the Rose Bowl Game.  Since UCLA is not in the game, I am selling them. Information about these tickets can be found at the bottom of this page.


Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the biggest and main airport in southern California and is probably over 30 miles to the Rose Bowl. It is big, crowded and in my opinion, not particularly organized compared to other major city airports.

If you have trouble getting a flight into LAX, not to worry since southern California also has other airports such as Burbank, Ontario, John Wayne, and Long Beach and all of them are served by most major airlines (including Southwest Airlines). All these airports receive flights from around the country. Depending on where you are flying from, you may not be able to get a direct flight to one of these airports, but if you are flexible in your arrival time and don’t mind a stopover along the way, you will be able to get a flight into the area.

Something that might make an even better trip is to stop in Las Vegas for a day or two and then fly or drive on to southern California.  You may also want to consider flying into San Diego and driving to Los Angeles.  San Diego is a pleasant city with a lot to do and is a relatively short drive up the coast.

If you want to stretch the distance a bit, you can also try Santa Barbara Municipal Airport which is a mid-size airport served by U.S. Airways, United, Frontier, American Eagle, Alaska Air, Skywest and Mesa Air. Palm Springs International Airport has 10 major airlines and direct flights across the country. San Diego International Airport is also an option with all the major airlines and can provide some cheaper flights on certain routes. All are at least a 2-3 hour drive to the Rose Bowl WITHOUT traffic.

I checked around yesterday and found a few deals.  Flight availability and prices change frequently so if you find a good deal, I recommend you book it immediately and not wait to see if they go down. If you got a good price you probably won’t save much and if you wait you might have to pay a lot more.

A good tool is on Kayak where you see a grid with the lowest prices across the board based on departure and arrival dates.  This is very useful when you get used to it.

See the grid for Des Moines departures HERE.  When I wrote this it showed round trip flights from $672 on American Airlines.  They seem to be going up.  It also indicates that prices are expected to rise.

See the grid for Cedar rapids departures HERE. When I wrote this it showed round trip flights from $482 on Delta.  They seem to be going up quickly though since then.

Again, the prices and availability change constantly.  Sometimes the number of people that can book these prices changes (they may only have 3 seats left at this price for instance).  A good example is this morning I found a ridiculously good deal on Des Moines to LAX.  I immediately posted it on this blog.  When I checked to make sure the link worked, I found out the price had already changed and gone up considerably.   It was only a five minute time span.   All the prices I mention were good when I posted them here.  The Kayak fare predictor indicates that Iowa to Los Angeles prices are expected to rise, and not drop, so it may be best to lock in the airfare sooner rather than later.


Car Rental and Transportation

All the airports and some hotels offer car rentals and if you are traveling to Los Angeles, you will need a car. Southern California covers a large area and is a car culture.  Public transportation is getting better, for instance you can now ride the Metro train to get within walking distance to Universal Studios, Hollywood and downtown Pasadena. The Metro does go near, but not to LAX.  There is a shuttle available from the station to the airport.  Generally though, you will probably feel very restricted on what you want to do without your own car.

I usually get good deals for cars by going to to see what the current rack rates are. I then go to and see how much cheaper they are (Hotwire does not let you know the name of the car agency until you buy). I then go to and place a bid for about 20% less than Hotwire. It is a little bit of work but I have gotten some great deals this way.  In fact, in November 2015, I rented a car for four days for only $45 total, tax and fees included, using this method.   That’s $45 for all four days, not per day!

I have also gotten good rates through Costco online. They have a lot of deals such as rent two days and get two days free. I have seen prices there that I couldn’t find anywhere else. You may want to try that if you are a member.


For Those Who Do Not Want To Drive In Los Angeles

I strongly recommend that you have a car since the region is not particularly friendly for public transportation.  If you can’t drive or prefer not to, there are some alternatives.  First, I would suggest that you find a hotel that is within walking distance of any Metrolink station.  This will help immensely.  If you arrive at LAX, you can catch a shuttle to the Metro Green Line station which is about 1 mile away.  From there you will need to use the Metro map to find the route to your hotel.  If you are arriving at LAX or any of the other airports, you can hop on a shuttle like Prime Time or Super Shuttle to the front door of your hotel (I have not had particularly good experiences with either but they are a lot cheaper than a taxi or private limousine).  You just have to ask where their airport pick up area is.  While a taxi is also possible, it can be very expensive if your hotel is far and traffic is heavy.   On game day you can take the Gold Line Metro to Pasadena where you can catch the free shuttle to the Rose Bowl stadium.  After the game, reverse the steps.  Since you may stay in Pasadena late, you should verify the schedule since they run fewer trains at night.

Uber is very good in Los Angeles, however I believe they are still limited in access to airport pick-ups.


I am hearing all the hotel rooms are booked up for the game. Hogwash. Southern California is HUGE with a ridiculous amount of places to stay. If you are looking for a room in the hotel where you team is staying then, yeah, it is probably booked and most rooms in the city of Pasadena will be crazy expensive.

However, you don’t have to stay in Pasadena, especially if you have a car. You only need to be in Pasadena on game day.

Let’s say you will be here for 4-5 days to see the game and do a little sight seeing. One day in Pasadena, a day at say Disneyland or Universal Studios. A day visiting the beach and the beach cities. Well, all these things are far apart. Staying in Pasadena only helps you on game day. The rest of the time you are driving somewhere else. So my point is that you can stay almost anywhere in southern California and you will have the same logistics situation.

For areas that have a lot to do, have great restaurants and a nightlife, good freeway access, and have an abundance of 4-5 star hotels, look at Santa Monica, Long Beach, and the West Side.

I can’t go into every area, but here I will delve a little deeper into the shoreline area of Long Beach because I think it has the best value as an alternative area to stay.  It is off the tourist beaten track and the prices reflect that even though it has been completely redeveloped over the past 20 years.  Very nice hotels, lots of shopping (like Shoreline Village, The Pike, and Pine Avenue), bars and restaurants, harbor dinner cruises, a major aquarium (with 1.5 million visitors a year), movie and live performance theaters, a 13,500 seat arena (with the world’s largest mural), a Metro Blue Line station, and a great ocean front walk.  Amazingly, ALL of these things are within easy walking distance of each other and the major hotels!

If you are looking for a really unusual hotel experience, look into Dockside Boat Bed and Breakfast on the shoreline of Long Beach.  Your “room” is actually a private yacht and is within walking distance to just about everything.  Another unusual stay in Long Beach is the Hotel on board the Queen Mary.  The Queen Mary was a 1930’s ocean liner and the original first class staterooms and suites are now available to stay in (they are actually quite reasonably priced for the experience you get).  It is really an amazing place, a step back in time, and the historic ambiance is incredible.  There are also some nice restaurants on board.

Hotel room on board the Queen Mary (notice the original port holes)

Other hotels in Long Beach in great locations include:

  • Hyatt the Pike (located in the Pike zone this 5 star boutique Hyatt is in a great location if you plan on walking around the shoreline or shopping)
  • Hyatt Regency – 4 star
  • The Westin – 5 star
  • Executive Hilton – 4 star
  • Renaissance Long Beach – 5 star
  • Hotel Maya (a 4 star boutique Hilton on the bay)
  • There are also all the less expensive chain hotels such as Travelodge, Residence Inn,  Marriott Courtyard, etc…If you want one of these, make sure they are downtown in the shoreline area and close to these other hotels.
  • Golden Shore RV Resort is in a great location if you will be coming here via your RV.

The Long Beach skyline at night (hotel row) with the giant Ferris Wheel

If you just need an inexpensive place to sleep, and a 2-3 star place in a suburban neighborhood is fine , then they are everywhere.

Around Ontario Airport are several nice enough hotels that are very reasonably priced (around $100 or less).  It is not close to anything you will be visiting but the prices and convenience to the airport are very good value if you are flying in there.   It is also a clean safe area with large malls close by.

One place is the Ayres Hotel.  This is a reasonably priced but popular local chain and the Ontario location is in the Ontario Mills Mall parking lot.  So the location is within walking distance to restaurants, an enormous shopping mall, and as a bonus, provides a free breakfast.  It is also close to the Ontario Airport (I suspect the hotel runs a free shuttle service to the airport) and a couple hundred yards from a freeway entrance.  I looked up their rates and they started at $110 during game week.  They are good about discounts, so you can probably get a better rate if you are military, senior, have AAA etc.  I usually check their rates online and then call and see if I can get a better deal – it usually works.

Some people have asked me about traffic in these “out of LA” suburban type areas since you have to drive into LA.  My experience with Los Angeles area traffic is that it can be very unpredictable and have found myself in traffic jams at 2:00 a.m.  So for me, it is just something you need to always be prepared for and deal with it.  Trying to avoid it is an inexact science.  Also most of the freeways now have HOV diamond lanes so if there are 2 or more of you, you may be able to take advantage of those.  It might also be smart to get a Metrolink transponder with your rental car that will allow you to drive in the HOV lanes during rush hour traffic.  If you have Google maps/navigation on your phone use it to see traffic ahead if you are concerned.  The WAZE app is also good.  By the way, in southern California, I have found that Verizon coverage is by far the best and most comprehensive.  ATT is second but getting better. Both have stores literally everywhere should your phone have a problem.

Many people are willing to spend the exorbitant rates in Pasadena because it will be a hang out for fans of both teams. Colorado Blvd in old town Pasadena is full of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and a generally great place to hang out. Most fans will be there the night before the game, and on game day. Also, the Tournament of Roses Parade runs through downtown Pasadena if you will be here on New Year’s day.  If you park at the Parson’s Parking Lot on game day, you will be able to see both the Rose Parade and the game without having to pay exorbitant parking fees twice.

What do you get with these seats?
What is the experience like?
Where are the seats?
See the actual tickets here
Buy the tickets


Getting Tickets

The least expensive way is through your school’s allotment.  These are basically the tickets the Bowl provides to a school to distribute to its donors, faculty/staff, students, and season ticket holders.  While they are not cheap, they are still less than you will find in the second hand market.  Although, the caveat is that they may not be in the best sections.

If you could not get tickets directly through your school then StubHub is good for picking up tickets because they have guarantees for the buyer so the risk is minimized.  Also, the prices are set by the ticket holders so if you are buying, you don’t have to worry about being gouged or taken advantage of by a ticket scalper or tour promoter with big markups.  That is why I chose to use StubHub to sell my tickets.

Pasadena generally bans scalpers so it may not be easy to find tickets at the game.  Sometimes I have found them in the Parsons parking lot where the shuttle is but you cannot count on it.

If you REALLY want to go to the game I would recommend having tickets beforehand.  If you don’t really care and want to just show up and see if you can find some tickets cheap that someone needs to unload, then give it a try.  Try to buy from a ticket holder as opposed to a scalper.  You can get a better deal.

As for prices, you want to look at the location.  The Rose Bowl is a big stadium so if you are too low or close, you might have difficulty viewing the game when the plays are not close to you.  These tickets look good on a map but as a person who has had those seats, I was not always happy.

Cheat Sheet on seats:

  • In the Bowl, sections/gates 1-28.  This is where the majority of the fans sit.  It can be a blast if you are surrounded by your fans, but there are a lot of caveats.  Restrooms and concession stands are a nightmare during TV timeouts, regular timeouts, half time, and other game breaks.  This game is going to have a lot of people, so if you are sitting in these sections and don’t want to miss anything, I would suggest using the restroom and concessions about 45 minutes before game time, and wait about 30 minutes after the game.
  • Lettered rows on field level sections 1-28:  We are seeing inexpensive seats  at the 50 yard line in these areas, but there is a high probability that there will be obstructed views here.  Media crews, cameras, people on the sideline etc may all be in your way.  The one interesting thing about these seats is that if you can get center field, you will be close enough to hear, cheer and yell at your team (or the opposing team).  These seats are very close.
  • Numbered rows:  The bowl goes up to row 77, and rows can be as long as 101 seats.  Try to sit close to the aisle or it can be quite an adventure getting in and out.   Stay away from the end-zone seats – sections 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28. The bowl kind of tapers back and the end-zones are really far from the field.  Not to mention you will miss the half of the game at the other end of the field.  Also I recommend you stay away from the hard metal bench seating.  They are hard, tight in both width and leg room, and do not have backs.  It can get really uncomfortable after 2-3 hours of sitting here.  If you are going to pay hundreds of dollars for a seat, at least get a seat with a back, right?
  • Terry Donahue Pavilion Gate F.  This is the large structure above the stadium bowl. Located here is the press box, sky boxes, suites, and the “Premium Club D & E.” These are very desirable seats because they are generally unavailable to the schools or to the public and are pretty much the best seats in the house.  This section also comes with generally uncrowded restrooms, larger over-sized padded chairs, a full bar and the only escalators/elevators in the bowl.   Also, certain seats in Level “E” come with a very worthwhile full, all-you-can-eat buffet.  The seats without the buffet cost the same so you might as well get the free meal (which starts two hours before the game and finishes one hour after the game – really convenient if you just want to take two minutes to load up on some snacks and drinks during the game).
  • Club “E” seats: located in the Terry Donahue Pavilion, these seats have absolutely awesome views IF you are in the front row, Row A.  I don’t recommend seats in Row B, or further back.  It is basically like this:  Sit in Row A and have what feels like a million dollar view, or sit in Row B and look at the back of the head of a guy with a million dollar view.  It really is that simple.
  • Suites:  Some seats appear to be opening up in the suites.  I have very mixed views about this.  I mean it is great to say you have a seat in a suite, but I am not convinced the prices reflect the experience.  As an example, my seats are in Row A.  Behind me is Row B.  Behind Row B are the seats for the suites (a suite is basically a room with TVs, a glass wall overlooking the field with a couple rows of seats in front of it reserved for the suite ticket holders.)  So even though you are in a suite, I don’t think your view is nearly as good as the Club E seats in front of the suite.  Also, I doubt anyone actually watches the game from inside the suite anyway. However, the suites are very useful for corporations who want to mingle with their clients.

Summary: For the best experience, try to get tickets that are between the 40 yard lines and in rows about 30-40, or pretty much anywhere in the press box/”E” Club sections.  Below row 30 and you may have blocked views because of media and players in front of you.   Rows go up to Row 77.  These are really far from the field because the Rose Bowl stretches back as opposed to just going up like modern stadiums.  So if you are in say Row 70, you will be both far and high, and if you are in the end zone, you may be hating yourself for the amount of money you spent on those seats.  If you are finding seats in the rows of 60 or higher, make sure you get a very good deal (absolutely no more than $400 on the second hand market) to avoid too much disappointment when you get there.  The lesson is that in the Rose Bowl Stadium you get what you pay for – if you can spend twice as much as you planned, your experience will probably be multiplied 10 times better.

WARNING I: the Rose Bowl has thousands of hard metal bench seats, often without backs.  There is not a lot of legroom to begin with (especially if you are tall, and without a seatback, it can really get uncomfortable). If you have a choice, I strongly recommend you avoid these for the sake of comfort. I had these seats one season long ago, and it felt like I had bodies hanging all over me. The seating spaces were tight, and with little legroom, I kept bumping the person in front of me with my knees. And the people in front of me kept leaning back trying to use my knees for a backrest. It was generally unpleasant – never again!

Notice in this photo the rows of backless bench seats


 Now or Wait?

Everyone keeps asking me if they should buy now or later on game day because they think the prices may drop.   Well, the game is less than two weeks away and waiting any longer may prevent you from having much choice as to where you sit or what you pay.   You also have to take into account that the game is in one of the most populated and affluent regions in the country which is likely to cause a last minute surge in prices.

Based on my experience last year when the Rose Bowl hosted Stanford and Michigan State, prices are probably at their lowest right about now (December 17/18/19.) Particularly the better seats, between the 40 yard line markers between rows 30 and 40, are much more desirable, fewer, and therefore holding their prices.  The same goes for the pavilion premium seats in Level “E” which were never available to the public and are showing an increasing trend in prices because of the rareness of them.

Stanford and Iowa have already sold out of their allotments and there appears to be quite a few fans, particularly Iowa, who did not get tickets in the school lottery. Last year, Michigan State fans waited to see if a lot of tickets dropped on the market hoping other Michigan State fans would sell them once received. That didn’t happen and the ones who waited paid a lot more. On the other hand, with the National Championship game at the Rose Bowl two years ago, Florida State fans DID sell their tickets en masse and some sections did drop in price. Stanford was steady last year in sales and I expect the same this year, but I don’t have a good feel about Iowa. If the Hawkeye fans show up, ticket prices will likely rise dramatically as the game gets closer. However, if the Iowa fans sell their tickets to Stanford fans, tickets should temporarily drop a little. This is not an exact science but what I have experienced in selling my tickets to the Rose Bowl Game over the years.

One thing about sitting in the Rose Bowl, is that you get what you pay for.

Counterfeit and Misrepresentation of Tickets

I listed my tickets on StubHub and noticed a number of tickets had descriptions that I knew were not likely accurate.  Such as listing them as being in “VIP” or “Premium” sections.  The Rose Bowl has very specific sections for these types of tickets, and some ticket sellers try to piggyback on this by listing the tickets as being in those sections when they are not.   When I was listing my tickets, it gave me a lot of leeway in describing them, and it did not require me to prove my claims.  That is why I decided to write this section.  Since I initially wrote it, I received a lot of questions so it keeps expanding.

WARNING:  Buying in the last few days before the game is much riskier for counterfeit tickets.  Criminals that deal with counterfeit tickets will drop these on the market at the last minute at really good prices.  People are suckered into buying them because of the cheap prices but don’t have enough time to verify that they are valid. They then go to the game and get turned away, or worse interrogated by the Pasadena police for trying get into the game illegally.  Not to mention all their expenses that are lost: tickets, airfare, hotel, etc.  Further down I have posted images of my tickets so you can see what the actual tickets look like.  To avoid getting scammed, try to only buy from the original owner of the tickets.  Either donors of the schools who were allotted by the schools for their tickets, or high level UCLA donors who own their seats in the suites and Club E sections.  Also, I would definitely avoid buying tickets from strangers at the stadium on game day.  The counterfeiter will take your money, give you phony tickets and disappear into the crowd before you can get to the gate.  He’s gone, your money’s gone, and your trip is ruined.

Fraud and Misrepresentation of Tickets

Tickets for this game are expensive, so fraud and misrepresentation are to be expected.  However, that doesn’t mean you should be afraid to buy tickets on the market.  The vast majority are good.  However, it is prudent to take some precautions and know what you are buying.

WARNING II:  I am seeing all kinds of descriptions of tickets that people are re-selling.  In some cases, they are making up descriptions and using terms that don’t apply to their seats.  For instance, I am seeing the term “Premium Seats” pop up.  “Premium” seats refer to specific seats that are sold by the Rose Bowl Stadium itself (not the Rose Bowl Game organization) in the Terry Donahue Pavilion and Club “E”.  They are extra large, padded seats with nearby private restrooms, a full bar, private entrance and elevator and more.  They were never available to the schools or to the public.  When someone says they are selling “premium seats” in the bowl, I recommend that you verify that.  It is quite possible they either don’t know what a premium seat is or they are trying to mis-lead you.  You don’t want to pay the price of a “Premium” section seat and not get it.  Also, I have had a rash of fans asking me about seats advertised as being inside suites.  In researching this, I have also been seeing tickets for sale in the “suites section” or the private “Club E” section and upon further inspection, their gate number, row number and seat number show that they are not in the suite or “Club E”  sections at all, but are just regular seats in the bowl.  The tickets may say “Gate 15” and the sellers are listing them as “Suite 15” which is a completely different place with about $1,000 to $2,000 difference in price.  Pay close attention to the “Level” and “Gate” printed on the ticket.  If you are considering Club or Suite seats on the Premium “E” level, make sure it actually says “Level E” on the tickets.

I advised one fan to not buy a suite ticket based on the info they provided me. They responded that the interactive map provided by the reseller (in this case StubHub) showed the ticket in the suite so therefore that is proof that the location is legitimate. As a person selling my own personal Rose Bowl tickets I can tell you that these reseller sites allow the ticket seller to place the tickets anywhere they want. StubHub and most if not all the other sites never actually verify or even see the tickets until AFTER they sell, and the buyer complains when they get to the stadium and find they didn’t get what they paid for.  So my advice is that if there is some question about the location of the tickets, get real proof from the seller (preferably by actually taking a look at the ticket), and not trust a location map, or some vague description from the StubHub site.

Cheat Sheet:

-Suite tickets: If it says it is a suite it should have “Gate F” as the entry gate PRINTED  on the ticket.  If it has a different gate, I would be suspicious.

-Club E tickets: If it says it is in the private or Premium “Club E” section it should have “Gate F” and “Level E” PRINTED  on the ticket.  If it has a different gate, I would be suspicious.

-Premium seats:  If you see seats advertised as “Premium Seats,” the authentic ones are located in the Terry Donahue Pavilion and will also have a “Gate F” entry PRINTED on the ticket.

-50 yard line seats:  If you are looking at 50 yard line seats with a lettered row, instead of a numeric row number, they may have seriously obstructed views, with the exception being the lettered rows in the Gate F Pavilion sections.

-VIP section or VIP seats:  While some sellers are claiming their seats are “VIP seats” or located in the “VIP section,” there is no such official designation in the Rose Bowl general seating.  However, the Rose Bowl does use the term “VIP” in describing seats that are located in the Terry Donahue Pavilion Club E section.  If the seats are advertised as VIP but are located in the general bowl seating area, then I would advise approaching with caution.

-Scan Code:  When you enter a gate at the Rose Bowl, the attendant will use a bar code reader to scan your ticket to be sure it is valid.  Once a valid code is scanned, it cannot be used again.  So once you are in, you don’t have to worry about someone else who bought a counterfeit ticket showing up and demanding your seats. They won’t be able to get in if the ticket with your code has already been scanned.

Make sure you see the actual tickets before buying to verify that you are getting what you think you are paying for.  This is a scanned image of one of my actual tickets.  This is the real thing, except for the addition of my watermark.


The bottom line is that counterfeit tickets are fairly rare and you shouldn’t have to be too concerned if you buy from a legitimate party.  I just wanted to make sure that you have the information needed to protect yourself.  So don’t obsess over it, but just be an informed consumer.


Game Day And The Rose Bowl Stadium

Let’s start out by saying that the Rose Bowl is very big. It is shaped like an oval as opposed to being round and most of the parking is on a golf course.  Parking will be very expensive for this game (see “Getting To The Game” below for tips).   I suggest you bring a map (or use Google navigation)  since the way you drive in will probably not be the way they let you drive out.

If you have not been there before, I would suggest entering the stadium through Gate A.

Rose Bowl Main Gate “A”  This is the main entrance, and the most photographed area with the famous “Rose Bowl” sign on the front.  Warning: it does get really crowded at this gate.  There will be heightened security and the last we heard the game will have 87,000 tickets distributed or sold, which means a lot of people – on the road, parking, walking etc.  The streets around the Rose Bowl are residential and small so give yourself a lot of time.

Outside of the Gate A area (also sometimes referred to as Lot H), is a grassy area where most of the activities will be taking place.  That is the entrance where the teams and bands enter.  So you will find the team buses parked there, and your band might be found playing there before the game.  In that area you will find food booths, commercial tents, the TV pre-game color team will usually broadcast there, tailgating etc. There is expected to be a lot to see for this game so I suggest getting to the game early and walking around.  The teams usually arrive about 2-3 hours before game time,  so if you are there early enough you may have an opportunity to greet them.  Both school’s alumni tents are on the golf course on the north side of the stadium.

On the grassy area of Lot H will be the Rose Bowl Tailgate.  This is free and will be located in a giant tent.  Will have activities, entertainment (they are implying there will be at least one major headline act playing), and interactive exhibits, live telecasts, as well as food and beverages.  If there is anything worth seeing in the tailgating area, this is it.

Pasadena police are generally great and for the most part let you enjoy tailgating and the pre-game experience.    They don’t like you walking around with open beer bottles but cans seem to be okay.  They do have a very low tolerance for drunkenness or rowdy behavior so behave or you will be in jail instead of at the game.

Speaking of alcohol, several fans have asked my about the consumption of alcohol inside the stadium.  First, there is no Yuengling anywhere in California, so we can put that to rest!  The Rose Bowl Stadium is a mostly dry stadium.  The only area I am aware of that you can buy alcohol and take it to your seats is in the Terry Donahue Pavilion, specifically Levels D & E.   They have a full bar there.  There is a section in the bowl itself I have seen a bar which was accessible for a pay fee and you had to drink your beverage there – no taking it to your seat.

Souvenirs – you will probably want to pick up some gear.  I would recommend that you first shop in old town Pasadena the day before or the morning of the game.  Should be a huge selection and the prices will be much less than at the stadium.  Several people have asked me what they should buy.  My recommendation is an official Rose Bowl Game lanyard to hold your ticket.  The tickets are large, so a lanyard will make it convenient for you as you move around the stadium.  You will be asked for your ticket when you enter the stadium, again when you enter your tunnel, and possibly again when you enter your seating section.  And all over again if you get up for a drink or the restrooms.  The lanyard will save the day.  The ticket will always be ready, protected like new, and not get lost.  You can then store/frame your lanyard with the ticket still inside when you get home.

Tailgaiting is a big part of the Rose Bowl experience since it is mostly done on grass.  If you plan on tailgating bring all your food and drinks with you because there are no stores in the area.  

Game day schedule:

Parking lots open at 4:00 a.m.

Merchandise and souvenir booths open at 7:00 a.m.

Public tailgate in Lot H opens at 8:00 a.m.

Gate B Ticketmaster Will Call opens at 10:00 a.m.
Shuttle from Parsons lot starts at 10:00 a.m.

Gate F for Premium Seating sections (Club, Suite, and Loge sections) for the Terry Donahue Pavilion opens at 11:00 a.m.

Gate A (far left side) University Will Call opens at 12:00 p.m.
All entrance gates for general public opens at 12:00 p.m.

Stadium pre-game starts at 12:30 p.m.

Game start time 1:30 p.m.

Public tailgate closes at 1:00 p.m.


The Rose Bowl has recently started stadium tours for the public. If you want a sneak peak before the game this may be just what the doctor ordered. Click HERE to get official information about the tour and to order tickets. They say you can get walk up tours but for this game I would highly recommend buying your tickets online now considering how many out-of-towners will be attending the game.  In past years, they have arranged special tours for fans of teams that are playing in the game so you may want to request one of those if you are interested.  So for example, there may be an Iowa fan tour.

For more information HERE is my page on the Rose Bowl Stadium.

Getting To The Game And Parking

The Rose Bowl is located in a canyon in a residential area and to my knowledge there are no hotels, stores, restaurants etc within walking distance (1 mile or less). So everything you might need, bring with you.  To get there, you will need to drive, take a shuttle (see below), or have a very long walk.  Do not use GPS directions to find the parking lots.  It doesn’t understand the traffic flow or which roads are open or closed.

If you are not staying in Pasadena, you may want to drive to Pasadena early – have breakfast, stroll the shops etc.  This will allow you to not have to worry about the unpredictable traffic and make a pleasant day without worry.  Trust us, you do not want to find yourself stuck in a traffic jam when the game is starting in a half hour.

Regardless of where you are staying, try to get to the stadium a minimum of two hours before game time.

Do not plan on taking a taxi.  They will be treated as regular cars and charged $40 to enter the parking lot.  If you want to take a taxi, take it to the Parson’s shuttle and ride the shuttle in.


The Rose Bowl parking areas are well known for being great places to tailgate if you drive to the game. However, it can be a time consuming, hectic experience driving in and out of a sold out game. Give yourself plenty of time.

Parking will also be outrageously expensive for this game – $40.

If you park there, you will likely be on the golf course.  There are large balloons with numbers on them in each parking section so make a note of the number on the balloon closest to your car so you can find your way back.  This is a big golf course parking lot so they have portable toilets.  They have also announced they will be stack parking up to 5 deep for this game.  That means you could be boxed in and have to wait quite a while to get out.

Some people park for free or inexpensively in old town Pasadena and walk to and from the game.  I have not tried it but it “feels” far, might be easy to get lost on the dark residential streets, and I would probably not recommend it.

Over the years, I have seen a number of recommendations for “secret” free parking areas in the residential streets around the stadium. I have actually tried to find some of them.  While I think there are probably some left, they are getting fewer and fewer with every game.  First, all the streets in the area are blocked off and you have to be a resident to get in.  Second, the parameters are getting extended constantly to force visitors to pay for parking.  So if you come across one of these secret parking tips, and want to try it, I would suggest getting there early.  If you get there and find the streets are blocked, or are signed for no parking you will have to find your way back, around a lot of closed streets, and start over.

Personally, if I was trying to avoid the high parking fee, I would opt for the free shuttle (see next paragraph) rather than waste a couple hours hoping to find  a parking place on a residential street and hiking in.

There is a free bus shuttle service from the Parson’s Engineering parking lot in Old Town Pasadena directly to the Rose Bowl.  The lot is across the street from the Marriott Courtyard Hotel on Walnut & Fair Oaks.  I always take this for the UCLA games because it is convenient to all the restaurants, bars and shopping in old town Pasadena, far less congested, cheaper to park, and much easier than driving on the small residential streets to get into and out of the Rose Bowl parking lots.  The shuttle is free, but you have to pay to park.  The shuttle will run from 10:00 a.m. til 2 hours after the game. WARNING: The Parson’s lot is charging $40 to park.   To save a little money, I would recommend parking in one of the cheaper lots a block or two away and walking to the free shuttle.

You can also take the metro Gold line and get off at Memorial Park Station which is within walking distance of the shuttle.

IMPORTANT: This year the game is early so there will be a lot of traffic from both the game and the parade.  So plan to arrive very early.  You can make a full day of it by coming very early for the parade, then take the free shuttle to the game.  That will save you from paying crazy parking prices twice.

The Stuff The Tourist Books Don’t Want You To Know About

You can get all the tourist stuff out of books and off the internet.  So I have come up with my own list of things to do or see that are probably overlooked in most of the guides.  As I think of them and have time, I will be adding to this section.

The Sky Room in downtown Long Beach.  Imagine you have been transported back to the 1930’s and Gatsby and his gal are going out to dinner.  This is the place they would choose.  Located on the top floor of the charming old Breakers Hotel, you take a private elevator (with an elevator man) directly to the restaurant.  There, you have ridiculous views of the city and the ocean.  Breathtaking, romantic, you name it, this place has it.  The food is fine, and expensive, but the ambiance is unbeatable.


The Magic Castle in Hollywood – very old mansion turned into a magical world.  Every night numerous magicians perform in a number of rooms and you can move from one room to another.  Also has a restaurant.  This is a private club for magicians but occasionally they open it to the public.  If you can get in here, do so.


Dim sum in Monterrey Park.  Monterrey Park is the largest city in the country with an Asian majority population.  Dim sum is a special meal usually only served at lunch.  In the traditional dim sum restaurants (which is what you want), older Chinese ladies push carts from table to table with what you might call finger foods.  You pick what you want off each cart.  It is generally very cheap, a lot of fun, and very adventurous.    My wife’s and my favorite used to be in Chinatown but since it has closed, our new favorite is the Ocean Star – a very large and traditional place.   Hint: if you try a dim sum restaurant, make sure they have the carts.  Some are now offering menus that you order off of.  The experience is not the same, and frankly, it is much easier and more fun to see the food in front of you and pick something than trying to figure out what “Steamed Fun Guor” on a menu is.


Cemetery hunting.  Like I said, these are ideas you are not going to find on the main tourist books.  Being Los Angeles, there are a few celebrity cemeteries around.  If you have any interest in seeing where your favorite deceased movie star, rock star, or gangster is buried then this may be for you.  Sitting next to the Paramount Studio back lot, Hollywood Forever is a cemetery which has many of the old time celebrities including mob gangster Bugsy Siegel, Douglas Fairbanks,  Rudolph Valentino, Peter Lorre, Tyrone Power, and many, many more from old Hollywood.  They will give you a map at the entrance to see where all the residents are buried.  Another is the Westwood Village Memorial Park where slightly more recent stars can be found, including Marilyn Monroe,  Jim Backus (Thurston Howell III on Gilligan’s Island), Ray Bradbury, Truman Capote, James Coburn, Rodney Dangerfield, Richard Dawson, Farrah Fawcett, Janis Joplin, Don Knotts, Burt Lancaster, Jack Lemon, Dean Martin, Walter Matthau, Roy Orbison, George C. Scott, Natalie Wood and a lot more.  Some people have asked me about Michael Jackson – he is buried in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn cemetery.


The Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades.  A very delightful park-like setting that few tourists ever know about.  Created by a “Yogi” mystic in 1950, the former movie set has a lake filled with white swans, a dutch windmill, fern grottoes, lily ponds,  waterfalls, fountains, beautiful statues,  brick paths, hidden stairways and walkways, and a huge golden lotus arch. Elvis Presley loved this place and would frequent it often.  The Beatles loved it too – George Harrison’s memorial service was held here.  It is also one of the few places in the world where you can actually visit the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi.  Note: while this is considered a spiritual center, it has representation of all religions, and is free and open to the public  – in other words, no one will bother you there.


Hidden away in Sylmar is probably the finest museum that no one ever heard of in southern California.   I am talking about the Nethercutt Collection.  Started by the heirs of the Meryl Norman cosmetic fortune, this museum is primarily a car showcase with a lot of other things sprinkled in.  If you enjoy cars, they perform most of their own restorations, showcase over 250 restored autos, and the Grand Salon is a room you will never forget.  Jay Leno, an avid car collector himself, said about the collection “It’s the equivalent of Cooperstown in baseball or the rock ‘n’ roll museum in Cleveland. It’s the hall of fame for cars.” Even if you hate cars, you will enjoy it. But the museum is not just about cars, it also includes one of the largest Wurlitzer theater organs in the world (they play it for you), a great collection of mechanical musical instruments – you’ve heard of player pianos?  They have player violins, player cellos, all kinds of mechanical instruments – they all work and are played for you.  In fact, it is considered one of the world’s finest collections (if not the finest) of mechanical instruments.  The museum also has antique furniture, antique watches,  has a steam locomotive and a 1912 Pullman private car.   The museum is free but to see the best sections you will need to book a free tour (you MUST make reservations in advance online for the tour).

Hope you have a great time on your trip and at the game!


Need Some Great Seats?

I am a licensed premium CLUB owner of two seats at the Rose Bowl.  Being a UCLA fan, I will not be attending the BCS game so I am making them available here. These seats are part of a brand new club section built in the past year as part of a 175 million dollar stadium renovation.

They are in the prestigious “E” section, come with a free full all-you-can-eat buffet, elevator/escalator access, with an uncrowded bar and uncrowded restrooms a few feet away.   The seats are padded and have 40% more room than the general Rose Bowl seats (many of which are benches without backs) and have what I consider to be a million dollar view.

UPDATE:  I just lowered the price by OVER $500 per ticket this morning.   They are now by far, the least expensive two seats together in the first row in my section.  I won’t be dropping the price again, I’ll just attend the game myself (nothing like watching the Rose Bowl game from some of the best seats in the house!).    I expect these tickets to sell soon at this price because they really are special seats.   My 2 Rose Bowl Game seats sold last year within 2 days after I priced them similarly so I believe these are not only a very good deal but will give you an experience you will remember for the rest of your life.

Your tickets will be available for pick up at the StubHub Will Call booth AT THE STADIUM on Game Day. This way, you will not have to worry about getting the tickets on time, or meeting a stranger to buy the tickets. Also, if there are any problems, the StubHub staff is there to take care of them for you.

What do you get with these seats?
What is the experience like?
Where are the seats?
See the actual tickets here
Buy the tickets