No matter where watch the Rose Parade from, you'll see the finished products of countless hours of labor. Over a few days just before the parade, thousands of workers put those elaborate creations together by hand. It's a fascinating peek behind the scenes and all you have to do is get a Decorating Places ticket to get inside some of the warehouses where all the work goes on.
In fact, if you want to see the Rose Parade but don't want to fight the crowds, seeing the floats being decorated is part of our plan to see the Rose Bowl Parade the easy way.
Viewing is available over four days before the parade and hours vary, but it ends by 1:00 p.m. the day before the parade. The biggest, most elaborate floats may not be viewable, but watching the process is fun nevertheless. We visited the Rose Palace on Raymond Avenue on December 31 and found about 10 completed floats in the building. They were smaller to medium-sized ones, some very modest and others more detailed.
Viewing locations for the float decorating are at the Rosemont and Brookside Pavilions near Rose Bowl Stadium and in downtown Pasadena at the Rose Palace (835 S. Raymond Avenue). If they let you keep your tickets (which they did when we went), you could visit more than one of them, on more than one day.
You'll enter in small groups and you can stay as long as you like, but you'll likely be done in half an hour or less.
How to Get Float Decorating Tickets
Tickets cost less than an evening movie and children 5 years old and under get in free. You can buy tickets at any viewing location, order them online in advance.
If you park in the lots near the pavilions, it will cost a few dollars - see the public transportation options below.
Tips for Viewing the Rose Parade Float DecoratingTake advantage of our research and what we learned by going - it can make your visit more enjoyable.
- Lines to watch the float decorating get long - fast. We arrived at opening time and waited about 30 minutes, but by the time we were done an hour later, the wait to get in had grown to 90 minutes or more. To save spending too much time in line for a few minutes of viewing, your best bet would be to arrive about 30 minutes before opening time.
- By the day before the parade, the decorating will be done. You can see completed floats ready for the parade, but if you want to watch the decorators in action, go a day or two earlier.
- Some of the viewing locations only allow you on a catwalk above the floats and you may have to climb up and down a flight of stairs to see them. If you have mobility concerns, the Brookside Pavilion is accessible.
How to Get to the Viewing Locations
You can drive to the locations and traffic is manageable even on the day before the parade.
If you live in - or are staying in - another part of town, you can take the Metro Rail Gold Line to the Fillmore Station, which is about a block from the Rose Palace on Raymond Avenue. Use their trip planner to figure out how.
You can also take public transportation to the Rose Bowl Stadium, catching a bus from the Fillmore Station.