The Tournament of Roses, as it’s officially known, is world renowned and for good reason. Its the best parade you’ll ever see, if you do it right.
My number one tip for enjoying the Rose Parade is to head east, and STAY AWAY from “TV Corner”. The cross streets of Orange Grove and Colorado is where the networks set-up; its crowded, impossible to get to, and unless you’re Cord and Tish, you won’t see much. The further east you go on the parade route the better viewing opportunities you’ll have, plus the crowd is a lot nicer.
Parade goers camp out the night before to secure a good spot along Colorado, and the scene can get a bit rowdy NYE, so much so that many businesses board up their windows and close for several days around New Years. Meaning you can’t just show up near TV Corner the morning of, and expect a good seat.
You can buy grand stand tickets all along the route starting at $60 and going up the closer you get to TV Corner. Beware they really pack you in, and definitely bring a stadium cushion. There are 2 advantages to the grand stand seats, the elevation gives you great views of the floats, and each has port-a-potty access. Very important when you’ve been drinking coffee all morning.
My favorite way to view the parade is to take the metro Gold Line to Lake Ave. and walk a few blocks east. Get there around 7:30AM and you can usually enjoy the parade behind a row of lawn chairs, or even front row depending on how far east you’re willing to walk. My secret bathroom spot is the Right Aid at Colorado and Catalina.
Just before the parade starts the route is buzzed by a B-2 bomber, then you know its on! It’ll take a bit for the floats to get to the eastern part of the route, but once they start coming, this parade is a well oiled machine, with no lag time, and the White Suits happily moving things right along. The whole thing generally is over about 10-10:30. That’s when I head to Conrads or Dupars on Lake Ave, both old school diners, with Conrads offering Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s.
The party doesn’t stop though, as Rose Bowl fans walk the route to get to tailgate parties surrounding the bowl.
For the next 3 days you can pay a small fee, which goes to support the parade, to get up close to the floats as they are parked along Sierra Madre Blvd. Its a great way to admire the artistry.
For a pre-parade sneak peak, walk or bike to the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Eve day and you’ll see the floats start to emerge from warehouses and tents to the applause of builders and sponsors. You might even catch a celebrity rider or two doing photo ops. Speaking of building, did you know you can volunteer to help build the floats?
One last tip, if you’re in the neighborhood of Glendale or Eagle Rock NYE, you might catch the Burbank float cruising down Colorado to join up with the other floats, sometime between 9PM and midnight.
Seriously, take the metro, its a lot of fun with the rival teams taking playful jabs. Besides, unless your Uber takes surface streets up through South Pasadena, you’ll be stuck on the freeway when the B-2 Bomber flies by.