Turkey Legs to Go is FanHouse's complete travel guide for all of the 2008-2009 college bowl games. Here, we cover the Rose Bowl, which pits USC against Penn State.
Overview/Matchup:How insane is it that Joe Paterno just got a freaking three year extension? Almost as insane as it is that Pete Carroll hasn't found anyone to challenge him in the PAC-10 in quite some time. USC's offense is a touch lacking but this is a special defensive unit that is going to give the Nittany Lions some serious issues. The biggest bonus to this game is that a single loss throughout the season ended up costing each team a shot at a national title ... unless they can really do something special and destroy their opponent hear, it's probably all but over in 2008. Still, two great teams in what should be one of the best bowl matchups of the season.
Hotels: If you're traveling to the Rose Bowl, there's one important decision to make before you start planning. Stay in Los Angeles where there's more to do? Or stay in Pasadena closer to the stadium? We've written this guide with those questions in mind, offering hotel suggestions and restaurant tips in either area. Assuming money's not a problem, and you want to enjoy some luxury accommodation in the city of Angels, try the Omni Los Angeles Hotel. Sure, there are nicer places in the Beverly Hills area, but that's really farther from Pasadena than you want to be.
Plus, the Omni has some of the best service of any hotel in the city. If you'd rather stay in Pasadena proper, try The Westin Hotel Pasadena or the Vagabond Inn Executive Pasadena. The Westin is definitely the nicest hotel in Pasadena and its surprisingly reasonable prices make it the best all-around value for bowl travelers. If budget is an issue, try the Vagabond. The hotel is close to the stadium and has rooms for less than US$100 per night.
Restaurants: If you're staying in downtown L.A., you should plan on a meal at Patina. The restaurant is one of L.A.'s finest and serves up artfully prepared California cuisine. Within Pasadena proper, there are a number of great restaurants, but we were particularly impressed by Ventanas Restaurant & Bar. Found within The Westin Hotel Pasadena, Ventanas serves up high-quality California cuisine in a casual atmosphere. Try the oak-grilled steaks. If you're in L.A. and need an affordable, but delicious meal, dim sum might be the ticket. Empress Pavilion is an enormous dim sum eatery reminiscent of those in Hong Kong. The food is excellent and reasonably priced, but there a frequently lines on the weekend so get there early.
Nightlife: When it comes to nightlife, there are plenty of places around the valley to strut your stuff. Most of the L.A. and Pasadena bars aren't really the rowdy, sports-bar, "my team just won the Rose Bowl" kind of places. Nevertheless some of them may be worth checking out. If you feel like getting dolled up Nacional and Dragonfly are both worth visits. If none of the movie-star martini places do it for you, just ask a local where to go to celebrate.