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Free seating at the Parade

Level Contributor
303 posts
29 reviews
Free seating at the Parade

I'll be in the Pasadena area for New Years and would love to see the Rose Bowl Parade. As someone who spent a few years watching the Macy Parade in NY I was surprised to see it would cost $400 for my husband and I to bring our son and his gf to watch. Is it really necessary, to buy seats??? Would love feedback from anyone regarding the freebies. Is the entire parade route packed 10 deep? Its going to take a little arm twisting to get hubby and son to go.

6 replies to this topic
Dublin, California
Level Contributor
24,096 posts
49 reviews
1. Re: Free seating at the Parade

If you want a seat, then yes, you'll have to pay for it. But you can just stand on the side of the parade route for free. Or, if you get there early enough (say, the night before), you can set out your own chairs.

Santa Monica...
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for Santa Monica
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262 reviews
2. Re: Free seating at the Parade

The ground is free and lots of folks choose it! Enjoy.

Thousand Oaks...
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for Israel
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14,245 posts
26 reviews
3. Re: Free seating at the Parade

The Rose Parade has evolved slightly and now has those silly pre-parade musical numbers designed for the cameras and those watching at home. They are held in front of the stands.

Also, a few floats have special effects designed into them such as flames, water features, animals doing tricks, and the like. These are alos done in front of the stands and on camera.

Marching bands are at their best in front of the stands and the cameras. They have a number of miles to walk and perform.

Finally, some floats tend to break down and need to be towed. The further down the parade route you are the greater the chance for this to happen. It kind of ruins the effect.

So... $$ for a great seat and experience or no $ to finding a spot further along the route knowing all that I describe.

Dr. Z

Los Angeles...
Level Contributor
1,834 posts
4 reviews
4. Re: Free seating at the Parade

I been to the Rose Parade every year for the past 7 years. Never bought a seat. I stand and move around.

What to know. The parade route is 5miles long. Lots of people along the route, but thins out after each mile. There is almost no place to stand in the first mile which is the camera are it is almost all bleacher seats.

The 2nd mile is where most people without seats go and stand. Thats the busiest. Around Old Pasadena towards the City Hall area and into the Playhouse District up to maybe Hills Street.

The 3rd mile from LAke Ave to Allen St. (PAsadena City College can get busy at those streets because a METro rail station is not far and tens of thousands of people use it. While busy it thins out in spots and after the 1st hour of the parade, people leave or go find food that you can get a decent view in places if you move around between those two major streets.

The last two miles are similar to mile 3. Slightly less people, but people are tired at this point. but it thins out a lot more and after the first hour, youll get good views.

If taking pictures is important, then get one of those selfie sticks. so it can take photos above peoples heads.

If you want a good view, you have to get there super early like 6am/7am.

I usually go to Allen Station metro station around 830am-9am which is around the 3mile. It takes the people about 40 minutes from start of parade to get there so I am there when it arrives but also about 5 rows standing deep. But as I say after the first hour, it thins out as people leave or go find food/bathrooms. And slowly move closer and closer to the front.

Santa Monica...
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for Santa Monica
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22,731 posts
262 reviews
5. Re: Free seating at the Parade

Also note you don't need transportation and seating, you can just purchase stadium seating on it's own, use public transit to and from. Metro Gold line covers Pasadena, and can be accessed at Union Station, a hub for purple, silver and red lines (Expo line ends at a different station, requires the red line or purple line to Union Station).

Here are prices for seating:


Pasadena, California
Destination Expert
for Pasadena
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7,097 posts
53 reviews
6. Re: Free seating at the Parade

Back to your original question: No, you do not need to spend money on seats to see the Rose Parade. Hundreds of thousands of locals watch it from the sidewalk every year. Its...a parade, you know. And one that is over 5 miles long.

The area nearest the beginning of the parade, where the cameras are, is packed with grandstands, thronged with viewers, and with limited sidewalks-- so avoid that area for casual viewing "like a local".

From experience, locations east of Lake Avenue are pretty easy to find spots for viewing.

I don't know where you are coming from that morning. Can you tell us? Will you be near a light-rail station?

Because the easiest way to get to the parade area is via light-rail, to avoid the morning traffic into Pasadena. Gold Line stations Lake and Allen are your best bets for finding good spots on the sidewalk. But relatives regularly drive in from other parts of LA, and seem to find it a tolerable experience.

We usually watch from a block or two east of Lake Avenue, and find that being on the sidewalk by @ 7:30 allows us to get a really good viewing position, right behind the all-night campers in their folding chairs.

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