Everything about traveling to the Tournament of Roses Parade

It’s a new year, and was time for a new adventure. So, I packed my bags and headed of to the Tournament of Roses Parade!


First Float of the 2020 Tournament of Roses Parade


Since I founded the company nearly 20 years ago, I’ve been to a lot of events. What struck me was throughout the entire Sports Traveler Rose Parade Tour, I felt consistently happy and impressed. The warm weather, the beautiful scenery of Southern California, and the Parade Day itself made for an event to remember forever.


Marina del Rey - The True California


I started off by welcoming our guests to the Hotel MdR Doubletree in Marina Del Rey, California hotel I handpicked because I love this little beachfront community. Nestled between the mountains and the sea, just south of the famous Venice Beach, and right next to the famous marina filled with all the big boats and yachts you can only dream of, this area is the True California.


The harbor in Marina Del Rey California.



Pool area of Hotel MdR Marina del Rey


The Hotel MdR has that 'California Cool' vibe that you feel the minute you enter the lobby. The pool sits in the center courtyard and has comfy cabanas and loungers next to beautiful landscaped palm trees and plants. The restaurant, Barbianca, a fantastic place to eat, features Northern Italian cuisine and has an outdoor patio that overlooks the pool. The hotel offers rental bikes that you can reserve in advance or you can easily find a Jump Bike or Lime scooter on the street to rent. If you aren’t into pedaling or scooting, use The Free Ride, a fleet of 5-passenger electric shuttles that are free – just tip the driver. This service can take you to the beach, shopping, Fisherman’s Village, and Venice Pier.


Starting the trip off with the LA City Tour - 


For the guests that did the 4-night Tournament of Roses Parade package, we spent our first day touring the city of Los Angeles. Our local tour leader was Chris, a historian and sightseeing guide. Chris is so entertaining and wise well beyond his years about history and Hollywood lore. He researches and writes his own tours specifically for his groups and that makes all the difference.


Santa Monica Pier during the 2020 Rose Bowl Weekend Tour


After eating lunch at the Farmers Market and touring Hollywood, the Walk of Fame, the Hollywood sign, Beverly Hills, and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, we dipped our toes in the sand by Santa Monica Pier. From this point, some of our guests broke off from the group to shop and explore more of Santa Monica. Being only 10 minutes from our hotel makes this a great point for guests to do some solo exploring. The rest of the group headed through Venice and around the big marina back to our hotel. We arrived about 3:30pm, which gave us time to rest and still make it out watch an incredible sunset over the boats in the marina.


When you stay in a beautiful seaside town like Marina del Rey, I think it’s important to give guests downtime to explore everything the area as to offer. Chris pointed out shopping areas close to our hotel and several guests headed there right after we returned back. That evening, some guests made reservations to dine by the waterfront, some stayed in and dined at hotel overlooking the beautiful pool, and some went to Venice. The options were endless to find fun things to do.


Behind the Scenes: Pre-Parade Float Decorating Barn Tour -


Both our 3-night Tournament of Roses Parade Package and and 4-night Rose Parade packages include the New Year’s Eve Float Decorating Tour. Heading there took us along one of the most beautiful drives in all of Southern California. From the sea, through the mountains and back into the valley where Pasadena is located was a tremendous start to today’s adventure.


Volunteers decorating 2020 Tournament of Roses Parade Floats



Grand Marshall Cars for the 2020 Rose Parade


The barns were packed with the Grand Marshall’s fleet of antique cars and many of the floats still under construction. The volunteers were busy on ladders with baskets full of flowers ready to attach to the floats, stopping often to talk to our guests about what they were using and what the final design would look like. They seemed very relaxed considering the amount of work that still needed to be completed.



Float Decorating before the 2020 Rose Parade


We were back at the hotel at 1:30pm, and had the rest of the day free to do some additional exploring. The New Year’s Eve fireworks would start at 9:00pm, so after a brief rest, I jumped on a Jump bike, a rental service by Uber, and headed out to explore the marina and beyond. I ran into our guests everywhere I went - at the beach, strolling along the Promenade, and even at a wood-fire pizza café on the main street. It was another gorgeous sunset and the fireworks seemed to be at the perfect time, considering our very early wakeup time for the next morning.


What to expect on Rose Parade Day - 


When my alarm went off at 3:30am, I didn’t even feel tired. I was so excited for what I was going to see! I joined our guests for a quick Grab and Go breakfast in the lobby, then headed out at 5am to Pasadena. The drive isn’t that long, but parking takes a long time to get settled. We were at our seats by 7:30am and the parade started at 8am.


2020 Rose Parade Float



Womens Rights 2020 Tournament of Roses Parade Float


It is surprising to see how close we sit to the floats on the Parade Route. Our seats have the sun on our backs and there are only 10-12 rows in each section. The floats were spectacular and intricately designed. There are several unexpected performances and fun moments scattered throughout the parade also. My favorite this year was the dance troupe from Costa Rica, with their traditional costumes and dance steps.


Dancers from Costa Rica performing at the 2020 Tournament of Roses Parade


I would describe the mood of the crowd attending the Tournament of Roses Parade as “Pure Joy”. Everyone had it. It’s simply beautiful to look at gorgeous flowers and designs with the backdrop of sunshine and mountaintops.


The Post Parade at the Float Showcase - 


After the parade, there was a lot of traffic as our bus headed to the Float Showcase. Here we were able to walk and view every float that was in the parade, up close. I was able to find my favorite floats this year and take lots more pictures. We stayed at the Float Showcase for about 2 and 1/2 half hours, plenty of time to see everything and we were back at the hotel by 4pm. There was one more sunset to see and pack, before heading home.


2020 Post Parade Float Showcase



Crowds at the 2020 Rose Parade Showcase of Floats


Leaving LA was a bit sad for me. I loved every minute of the trip and our guests were a fantastic group of people to host. I really look forward to going back in 2021. I hope you will consider joining me!


Want to experience the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl in one tour? Check out our 2021 Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Tour Packages! It's the best of both events happening in Pasadena, plus the 2021 Rose Bowl is a CFP Semi-Final game!