Penn State Rose Bowl Travel Guide

Heading to the Los Angeles area for the Nittany Lions' Rose Bowl showdown with USC? An East Coaster who spent a dozen years in the area gives advice on what to see, do and eat.

For those going to the Rose Bowl and maybe in need of a few things to do on the not-as-touristy side, I put together a few ideas.

Also, this should also help out with your planning about the day of the game, the Rose Parade and … gulp … the traffic.

For those who do not know, I lived in Los Angeles for 12 years, and covered the Dodgers for five years and UCLA for six years, so I covered a ton of games at the Rose Bowl.

Everyone knows about Disneyland and Universal Studios, but there is much more to do, and when you have some local knowledge it should help a lot.

If you plan on going to the Parade and the Rose Bowl, it is a long, long, long day. People line the streets for the parade the night before. 


• As for the game, if you are driving, leave plenty of time. There are two ways in — and two ways out. You park on a golf course, so if it rains (never was an issue in all the games I covered there), the parking is limited.

If it is being sold after the game I strongly suggest finding one of the little vending carts outside of the stadium selling hotdogs wrapped in bacon with peppers and onions and a white sauce (heck, it may be mayo). They sell a bundle of them while alluding security.

• If your kids play Pokemon Go (or you do but do not want to admit it), Santa Monica Pier is your spot. Chances are you will be incredibly disappointed with trips to Hollywood or Santa Monica Pier, but the Pier has some of the best Pokemon around. 

There is also some shopping you can do at the Third Street Promenade. There are a lot of homeless near the beach in Santa Monica. I never had an issue and it never kept me from going, but I wanted to point it out.


I am big on food (but not on chain restaurants), so there are a bunch of very good places to eat. Keep in mind how big Los Angeles is, and living out there, having to travel 30 to 45 minutes to do something is not big deal. There are days it can take two hours to get from LAX to Pasadena.

Anyway, there are some fun and/or delicious places to go if you get a chance…

Griffth Observatory. It will provide a beautiful view of the L.A. Basin. On some nights, they open the telescopes and it is amazing. 

Los Angeles Zoo. It is built in Griffith Park, so it is hilly, but a fun place to go. 

• Right next to the zoo is the Gene Autry Museum of the West. It is not a big place, but if you like this stuff, it could be fun.

• Near the Zoo is a train graveyard, so to speak, called Travel Town. It is a fun place if you have young kids.

The Rose Garden at USC. Spent many afternoons having picnics there, and it is gorgeous. If you go, it is between USC's campus and the L.A. Coliseum. As an added bonus, there is a neat Museum of Natural History there as well.

This Disney Concert Hall is near USC, down the street from Staples Center and L.A. Live


If you want to get out and walk around a little bit, there are a few suggestions:

Runyon Canyon is where I used to take my dogs hiking. 

• For those staying in Pasadena, I suggest driving up the Angeles Crest Highway and pulling off at one of the stops and hiking a trail. There are a few different trails.

• The Hunington is a great library and so much more.

• For those visiting Santa Monica, walking along the beach there is nice, but if you want to see something "different" but still get an L.A. beach feel, head over to Venice Beach.

• When we went to the beach, this is the one we went to. Zuma Beach, which is on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and a bit north of Pepperdine in Malibu.

Horseback riding is cool.


For those wanting to take a longer day trip, there are a few options well worth it:

Hearst Castle

• I love zoos, but this is nothing like a zoo. It is awesome.

Santa Barbara has great outdoor shopping and food in a place that is basically on the beach.


I can list a bunch of places to go to, but instead I will list some of my favorites:

• Versailles

Love the fried pork chunks

Dr. Hogly Wogly

Used to get this catered for every Super Bowl ...brisket and macaroni salad are awesome

• Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles

There is one near LAX, one in Pasadena and another in Crenshaw ...My favorite was a chicken breast, waffle and grits

• Teru Sushi

This is one of the places credited with starting the sushi craze. Also saw the Saved By The Bell cast here a few times.

• Yang Chow

In Chinatown and home of slippery shrimp. My mouth is watering thinking about it.


You either love it or you don't, For me, double-double with a chocolate shake, please

• Hide Sushi

Right off the 405 (yes, the 405, not I-405 ... the highways are "The" followed by the number. ...The 101, The 110, The 210, etc.)

It is cash only, but oh, so worth it.


Yes, it is touristy, but it is also dang good. Expect a line.

• Gladstones

This is where UCLA takes its recruits for breakfast Sunday morning. Expensive? Yes. But the view is amazing and the food is very good.

• Killer Shrimp

Simple menu, simple taste, but devine.

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