Since 1922, the National Historic Landmark has served as the stage for some of the most iconic moments in sports, from two Olympic gold medal matches to Brandi Chastain’s game-winning penalty kick at the 1999 Women’s World Cup. Generations of sports legends and A-list musicians alike have taken to the field, including Jackie Robinson. Before he became an MLB trailblazer, he set the record for the longest kickoff in stadium history as UCLA’s quarterback in 1938. And then there’s “the granddaddy of them all”: the Rose Bowl Game, so named for being the country’s oldest college football postseason matchup.
Whether you’re a sports fan or just want to explore one of the West Coast’s most iconic stadiums, here’s a look at how history has shaped the modern-day Rose Bowl experience.
Nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, with palm trees in its front yard and snow-capped peaks as a backdrop, Pasadena’s 90,000-seat Rose Bowl Stadium was built for football. On New Year’s Day 1923, the USC Trojans squared off against the Penn State Nittany Lions, bringing a win for the Golden State as the Rose Bowl Stadium celebrated its official dedication. It’s hosted every Rose Bowl Game since, with the exception of 1942 and 2021, as part of the Tournament of Roses, America’s New Year Celebration. (Learn about how to experience the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl.)
The stadium’s legacy, however, has become so much greater than one game. It’s welcomed fans for five Super Bowls and now serves as the home field for the UCLA Bruins.
Some of the biggest international soccer championship games have also taken place down on the field: the 1994 Men’s World Cup, the aforementioned 1999 Women’s World Cup, and 1984 Olympic gold medal match, which set a new attendance record for the sport in the United States. When the Summer Olympics return to Los Angeles in 2028, the stadium will once again host world-class soccer teams competing for the gold.
Offered the last Friday of every month, two-hour guided tours let you do more than cheer on your favorite teams. Visitors can go behind the scenes of spots including the working press boxes, locker rooms, and even the gridiron. You’ll also take a walk down memory lane in the original 1922 locker room, now an exhibit showcasing major moments in stadium history.
On your way out, snap a photo with a bronzed likeness of Robinson, who’s wearing a uniform from his football-playing days at Pasadena City College. There’s also a statue of a triumphant Chastain on her knees, depicting the moment after her historic goal that made front-page news around the world.
Michael Jackson may have set a new standard for Super Bowl halftime entertainment there in 1993, but he’s far from the only superstar to rock the Rose Bowl stage. Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, BTS, U2, and The Rolling Stones are just some of the musical acts who have drawn sold-out crowds over the years, and concerts continue to be regularly scheduled on the historic stage.
If music’s not your jam, the stadium also hosts annual special events such as April’s Rose Bowl Wine Festival that invites guests to sip on, you guessed it, Rosé. The long-standing AmericaFest also returns every Fourth of July with tailgating and festivities ranging from motocross stunt shows to live music and a patriotic fireworks display.
Rain or shine, you can also join 20,000 shoppers the second Sunday of every month at the Rose Bowl Flea Market, one of the largest on the West Coast. Arrive early for the best bargains and selections from 2,500 vendors selling antiques, collectibles, vintage threads, and local art. And who knows—maybe you’ll catch a celebrity sighting at this 50-year-old event that’s been called the “flea market of the stars.”