If you’re in L.A. for new years, you’ve got to go the Rose Parade, officially named The Tournament of Roses. It’s the best parade you’ll ever see, and runs like a well oiled machine; no lag time, no waiting around, and top notch marching bands. Originally founded to entice people to move to the west coast, I say it still serves its original purpose.
Beware the night before, people camp out on Colorado Blvd, stake out their spots, and party all night. But that doesn’t mean you have to camp out to attend the parade. My number one suggestion for the Rose Parade is to stay away from the “TV Corner”, Colorado Blvd and Orange Grove. Go further down the route, east on Colorado Blvd and you’ll have a much more pleasant experience.
You can buy stadium seating for around $70-$100, but they really pack you in, and definitely bring a stadium cushion. The only advantage to stadium seats that I can see is the bathroom access. My favorite way to experience the parade is to take the Metro Gold Line to Lake Ave., walk a few blocks further east and you can pretty much walk right up to the route. If you get there early, say 6-7AM you can get front row access, but show up just before the start, 8AM and you’ll only have one or two rows of folks in front of you. Just before the start of the parade a stealth bomber buzzes the parade route, and thats how you know its on!
Keep in mind, the start of the parade is back at the TV corner, and performances will take place there for the cameras, but if you’re down the eastern end, once the floats start coming its a pretty solid stream of parade, and over right at 10AM. That’s when I head to Conrad’s on Lake for a hearty diner breakfast. Lake Ave south is chock full of restaurants, although most folks begin their trek along the parade route to the Rose Bowl for tailgating pregame.
Many people do not know you can visit the floats post parade as they all park on Sierra Madre Blvd for the next 3 days, for a small fee you can take your time and see the artistry that goes into the floats up close. You can also volunteer to work on the floats prior to the parade. But my favorite insider tip is to do a bike ride to the Rose Bowl on December 31st and watch as the floats emerge from their tents and warehouses to applause from the builders and sponsors. Sometimes you’ll even spot the celebrity riders doing photo ops pre-parade. If you’re in the neighborhood of Glendale or Eagle Rock New Years Eve you might even spot the Burbank float making its way up Colorado Blvd to meet up with the other floats. It’s our own little mini-parade usually around 10PM.