(Note: This post was for the Rose Parade that took place January 1, 2015. For tips on 2016's Rose Parade, please see our updated post here.)
OK, here’s the deal: If you’re not going to the Rose Parade and have no interest in seeing floats, avoid Pasadena at all costs on New Year's Day. People are going to be swarming the city. (If you live there, see a map of road closures below.)
For those of you who want to attend or have visitors who want to get in on the action, we've gathered info on the parade route, what to bring, how to see floats and everything else you could possibly want to know.
Most importantly: The 126th Rose Parade is themed “Inspiring Stories,” and the 5 1/2 mile route down Colorado Boulevard will begin 8 a.m. Thursday.
According to the Tournament of Roses' website:
The 5 1/2-mile Rose Parade route begins at the corner of Green Street and Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena. The parade travels north on Orange Grove at a leisurely 2 1/2-mile per hour pace and then turns east onto Colorado Boulevard, where the majority of the parade viewing takes place. Near the end of the route, the parade turns north onto Sierra Madre Boulevard and concludes at Villa Street.
Here's a citywide map that shows the route, street closures and more.
If you want to watch
Grandstand Rose Parade seating isn't cheap; tickets range in cost from $58 to $95 per person via Sharp Seating Company. (Purchase tickets here.) If those are sold out, you can also use StubHub to obtain the same ones.
But there are other ways to see the parade — for free. Hundreds of people camp out overnight to secure their front row spot on Colorado Boulevard. What are the rules? This is what Tournament of Roses has to say:
A position on the sidewalk may be maintained along the parade route beginning at noon Dec. 31, 2014. All persons and property, such as blankets, chairs and personal items, must remain on the curb until 11 p.m. At 11 p.m., parade spectators may move out to the blue “Honor Line” but not past it.
According to Betsy Malloy, a travel writer for About.com, you don't have to spend the night outside to see the parade. The farther east on Colorado you travel, the less crowded it should be, she writes:
Many parade veterans recommend watching from the street near Pasadena City College, between S. Hill Avenue and S. Allen Avenue on Colorado Boulevard. If that area is crowded, just walk east until you find a spot.
The closest Gold Line stop to City College is the Allen station. It’s about a 15 minute walk south from there on N. Allen Avenue to Colorado Boulevard. Time your trip to arrive at the parade route by 9:00 a.m. at the latest.
How to see floats up close before or after
Want to see floats get finishing touches Tuesday night? Info and tickets here.
You can also get up close and personal post parade. Tickets are only $10. The floral masterpieces are parked along Sierra Madre and Washington Boulevards. This map zeros in on public access areas:
Want to shuttle there? Info and tickets to post parade festivities here.
How to get there
Do yourself a favor and use Metro. The Tournament of Roses has everything you need to know about taking the train:
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) will operate its Red, Purple, Gold and Orange lines throughout the night of December 31 and morning of January 1. In addition to overnight service on those selected lines, Metro will run more trains and offer more frequent service on the Metro Gold Line to accommodate the large numbers of anticipated riders on January 1. Beginning at 5 a.m. and continuing through 9 p.m., trains will run as frequently as every 7-8 minutes to and from Pasadena. Exit at the Memorial Park, Lake, Allen or Del Mar stations; all are just a short walk from the parade route.
Metro will also provide regular bus service to areas near the Rose Parade, Rose Bowl Game and Post Parade areas. Buses will originate from locations throughout the county.
For additional information on the Metro transportation services, please call the Metro information line at (800) COMMUTE (266-6883) or visit www.metro.net. The hearing impaired line is (800) 252-9040.
Metrolink will provide special service on the San Bernardino and Antelope Valley Lines, specifically for individuals to enjoy the Rose Parade. Check www.metrolinktrains.com for schedule information or call (800) 371-5465 for more information.
If you want to drive...
Here's where to park
If you're looking to camp out overnight, street parking will be available as early as noon New Year's Eve on local streets. "No Parking" areas and red curb zones remain off-limits.
Various paid parking structures around the parade route will be open and available on a first come, first serve basis the day of the parade.
If you're looking for something more stable, reserved parking is available for cars, recreational vehicles and buses through the Sharp Seating Company. It is important to note that Rose Parade parking tickets are not included with Rose Parade seating tickets. Sharp Seating Company is also offering overnight RV parking in Brookside Park at the Rose Bowl Stadium prior to the day of the parade. Space is limited and reservations are not accepted.
Limos and buses can also contact Blanchard Parking for parking information at (626) 397- 4220.
Updated Note: You don't need temporary overnight parking permits between 2 and 6 a.m. December 23 to January 3 in Pasadena. Abide by various signs throughout the city for daytime parking.
But after January 3, remember:
What to bring
It's going to be a cold one. More on that later.
Portable heaters are not allowed (believe us, we asked) but you can bring a grill. Rules below:
Small, professionally manufactured barbecues elevated at least 1 foot off the ground are allowed on the parade route as long as they are 25 feet from buildings and other combustibles. A fire extinguisher must be readily available at all times.
What not to bring
The Tournament of Roses writes:
Prohibited items along the parade route include: Weapons, sticks, poles, drones, glass bottles and any items which may cause injury or interfere with the parade or spectators' enjoyment of the parade.
Additionally, the city of Pasadena says "any tent, sofa or box that can be used as stools or seats are prohibited on parade route." Also not allowed: Unoccupied chairs and bonfires.
How to stay warm — and where to get a cup of joe
Angelenos, we know you're not used to this weather. We want to help.
The National Weather Service is reporting a high of 57 degrees on New Year's Day so wearing the right gear is important. We suggest dressing in layers; everything from scarves, sweaters, jackets, tights and gloves are a good idea. (Read more about the weather here.)
Besides the right clothing, there is nothing like a hot cup of coffee to keep you warm. Here are a few coffee spots that will be open the day of the parade.
- Starbucks | Paseo Colorado, 408 East Colorado Boulevard Pasadena, CA. (626) 564-0914. Open from 4 a.m. New Year's Eve to 11 p.m. New Year's Day
- Copa Vida | 70 South Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105. (626) 213-3952. Open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. New Year's Day
- Sugar Fix | 63 South Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105. (626) 396- 9402. Open 24 hours New Year's Eve to 8 a.m. New Year's Day
Note: Intelligentsia on Colorado will not be open.
Reminder: Director of marketing and communications at Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau, Christine Susa, says portable heaters are not allowed on the premises. But these hand warmers should do the trick. (Also sold at Target.)
Where to take tourists
Looking for the best places to take out-of-towners in Pasadena? Here's what locals told us to do last year.
Now for those of you who have a burning question that we missed, don’t worry. There is a Rose Parade visitor hotline — and apparently they are giving away free tickets. Here’s how to contact them.