Take Metro to the Tournament of Roses and Rose Bowl game

Click above to view a larger map.

The annual parade begins at 8 a.m. on Monday and the game between Oregon and Wisconsin at 2:10 p.m. at the Rose Bowl.

Both the parade and the game are easy to reach via Metro’s Gold Line light rail that runs between Pasadena and Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, where there are transfers to the Red and Purple Line subway, Metrolink commuter rail, Amtrak and many Metro bus lines.

The Gold Line will be running longer trains at six- to eight-minute intervals for much of the day on Monday. In addition, all of Metro’s trains will be running all night on Dec. 31-Jan. 1 and Jan. 1-2.

Here is the page on transportation on the Tournament of Roses’ website.

The Tournament of Roses parade route.

Getting to and from the parade

Four Gold Line stations are a five- to 10-minute walk to the parade route on Colorado Boulevard: Del Mar, Memorial Park, Lake and Allen. Walk north from the Del Mar station (toward the mountains) and south from Memorial Park, Lake and Allen (away from the mountains). The parade begins at Orange Grove and Del Mar and usually takes at least an hour to reach Lake.

There are plenty of places to stand and watch the parade along the route. Many curbside spots will be occupied by those staying overnight on the parade route but there are still plenty of good views on sidewalks and especially the streets crossing Colorado on the eastern portion of the route.

For those who want to see the floats line up on Orange Grove Boulevard on Sunday night, use the Fillmore or Del Mar stations. From Fillmore, walk north on Raymond and then west on California. From Del Mar station, walk west on Del Mar. It’s about a 15-minute walk to Orange Grove, where the floats will begin lining up Sunday evening.

Orange Grove Boulevard will be closed to traffic, so you can walk around. The area is lit by huge floodlights.

Getting to and from the game

Take the Gold Line to the Memorial Park station. From there, please follow the signs for the five-minute walk to the parking lot at the Parsons office complex, where free buses shuttles will be running between downtown Pasadena and the Rose Bowl.

Metro fares

A single ride on any Metro bus or train costs $1.50. There are no transfers. A day pass costs $5 and can be used for unlimited rides on Metro buses and trains for a single calendar day.

Tickets for Metro Rail can be purchased from the ticket vending machines at Metro Rail stations; the machines accept cash and credit cards. To help with the crowds, Metro staff will set up portable ticket carts at the following stations: Union Station (Gold Line & Red/Purple Line), Del Mar (Gold Line), Memorial Park (Gold Line), Lake (Gold Line), Allen (Gold Line), Sierra Madre Villa (Gold Line) and North Hollywood (Red Line).

If you live in the L.A. area, this might be a good time to invest $2 in a TAP card, the reloadable plastic cards that can be used to pay fares. TAP cards can be purchased from ticket vending machines. Hint: Load your TAP with a day pass or stored value to avoid waiting in lines to buy tickets in Pasadena.

Metrolink is also running service on two lines to and from Union Station on its San Bernardino and Antelope Valley lines. Details and schedule here.


There is parking at Union Station for $6 a day. There is also other parking in the Union Station area at a variety of parking lots. There is also parking available at some Metro Rail stations — identified with a ‘P’ on the map at the top of this post — along with nearby street parking near some stations.

After the parade and game

The Gold Line will be crowded and there will likely be waits to board the train. My advice: don’t be in a rush to leave Pasadena — let the crowds thin a bit. There are plenty of restaurants open in the area, as well as parks: Memorial Park and Central Park in downtown Pasadena are nice places to spend some time.

A few frank words about driving to Pasadena on Monday

Street parking in residential neighborhoods anywhere near the parade route is very limited. Many major thoroughfares in the Pasadena area — including Orange Grove Boulevard and Colorado Bouelvard — will be closed to traffic.

After the parade ends, a massive traffic jam will envelop most of the Pasadena area as motorists and private buses try to leave Pasadena while another wave of motorists and private buses are driving into Pasadena for the game. I speak from experience: I live adjacent to the parade route.

A few inattentive motorists will almost certainly collide, compounding matters.

As for driving to the game, parking at the Rose Bowl is also limited — the stadium sits in a canyon northeast of downtown Pasadena — and parking costs $40 per vehicle. Streets to and from the stadium are narrow. Traffic exiting the stadium area after the game is notoriously wicked.

5 replies

  1. Give Metro a mixed review for its train operation, at least from a post-parade point of view. On the positive, the Gold Line ran three double-sets of cars on each train and they had plenty of people at the Memorial Park station for crowd control. On the negative, the trains ran at 9-minute intervals, which meant that people had to wait for one or two trains before being able to board. Perhaps that was all the train cars available but if not, that’s too long for effective movement of very large crowds.

  2. I rode the Gold Line late-morning 2-Jan-2012, from Sierra Madre Villa, west. I was intending to get to LAX, but got motion sickness on the train and had to get off at Highland Park and rest, before aborting and returning to Sierra Madre Villa. Why are your pilots repeatedly nailing the brakes during the ride, then jarring/braking at the stops? Can’t they give a smooth drive? My wife got sick too; said she’s ridden Washington D.C. trains and never felt as poor a ride as the Gold Line.

  3. It would be great if someone could video/document the experience/lines at both Del Mar and Memorial Park and how long the lines are and how long it takes to be able to board the trains and when the lines thin out and how they handle PAX boarding beyond the Pasadena Area and if it is so crowded you can’t breath and if gold line trains are running often enough at the conclusion of the parade.

    Leaving the area, even by mass transit sounds like a very negative experience, but I don’t really know that until someone documents it. Thanks in advance to whoever may do this.

  4. How early can I catch the blue line on Monday to get to gold line to go to Rose parade?
    Thank you.

  5. Thanks for the frank advice. We have altered our plans coming from Idaho and will be using the Trains to and from the event. Thanks a million for saving us the time (and money)!