Pasadena offers plenty of options while waiting for the big game


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Pasadena offers plenty of options while waiting for the big game

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Michael Owen Baker
The RAGU Pasta Sauce “Simmered in Tradition” float is the most recent winner of the Rose Parade’s National Trophy for best depiction of life in the U.S.A., past, present or future. This year’s parade is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. Jan. 1, but some streets around the parade will be closed — even to foot traffic — by 6:30 a.m. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)

You’re going to be busy if you’re traveling to Pasadena to see the Dogs play the Sooners.

Beginning at 8 a.m., Jan. 1, you’re going to want to see the Rose Parade, a momentous display of pomp, brass and botanicals, but you’d better get up early because some streets around the parade will be closed — even to foot traffic — by 6:30 a.m.

After the parade, you and 90,000 of your friends will be catching the football game at 2 p.m. (5 p.m. Eastern Time.) Pre-game festivities begin at 1 p.m. In between you might want to get a feel for this home of Caltech, numerous television shows and a legendary Little Old Lady with a lead foot.

Here’s how to do it:

The Rose Parade

The 5.5-mile Rose Parade attracts nearly 1 million spectators, who are encouraged to take public transit to the neighborhood (such as the Metro Gold Line from downtown Los Angeles, and thence Pasadena Transit) to get around street closures.

Die-hard fans camp out on the sidewalk the night before the parade to secure good vantage points, but there are ways to enjoy life’s rich pageant without buying an expensive grandstand seat or getting up early. Consult or this helpful guide from Tripsavvy.

Carmela Ice Cream Co.

You will be hungry after a day of clapping for marching bands. Carmela Ice Cream is known for lucullen flavors (including lavender and cardamom) and ice cream-making classes; 2495 E. Washington Blvd., 626-797-1405

Euro Pane Bakery

If ice cream isn’t enough, try a croque monsieur or a delicate pastry at the Euro Pane Bakery; 950 E. Colorado Blvd.

Descanso Garden

After the excitement of the game, seek tranquility at Pasadena’s Descanso botanical garden, bedecked this time of year with holiday lights; 1418 Descanso Drive;, 818-949-4200

‘Big Bang Theory’

Fans of “The Big Bang Theory” know that the city of Pasadena plays a big role in the show. The view from Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment shows the distinctive dome of Pasadena City Hall, and other Pasadena sights are part of the action.

The clever folks at have come up with a tour of “Big Bang” landmarks, including what might have been the model for Stuart’s comic store and the Whistle Stop, Sheldon’s go-to source for model train supplies.

(True nerds will have planned ahead to combine a “Big Bang” tour with a stop at NASA’s nearby storied Jet Propulsion Laboratory ( A tour of the space probes and other artifacts at this facility does, however, require a minimum of three weeks’ notice.)

Pasadena Museum of California Art

Among the exhibits currently on display at this unique museum is “Hollywood in Havana,” a collection of posters from Cuba extolling American movies; 490 E. Union St., 626-568-3665,

Norton Simon Museum

Close at hand for parade watchers (though it is closed on Jan. 1) is another alternative, the Norton Simon Museum, which features $100 million in art collected by industrialist Simon. The museum hosts performances and other events and also includes a restful sculpture garden. 411 W. Colorado Blvd.; 626-449-6840, 

Float viewing

After the Rose Parade, on Jan. 1-2, you will have an opportunity (for $15) to view the floats up close and admire the handiwork that goes into their construction;

Eaton Canyon

Near town is Eaton Canyon, a 190-acre nature preserve with waterfalls, hiking and equestrian trails, open daily from sunrise to sunset. 1750 N. Altadena Drive;

The White Horse

Since cheering is thirsty work, stop in at the White Horse ( for single-malt Scotch and exalted pub food; 41 S. De Lacey Ave.; 626-583-9013

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