Where the rich and famous watch the soon to be rich
Visiting Los Angeles for college football fun at the University of Southern California, you’re guaranteed both the authentic game day experience and some of the swanky Hollywood extras, if you’re in the mood. Depending on where you’re from, navigating this fast-paced city can be an interesting and often stressful experience. Here is our handy guide for planning a great trip.
Where to stay
Certain areas adjacent to campus can be rough, so we recommend looking for hotel accommodations close to downtown Los Angeles. The JW Marriott at L.A. LIVE has a cosmopolitan flair that sets the perfect tone for a night or a weekend in the City of Angels, but if you’re looking for a step down in price without sacrificing the classy factor, check out the O Hotel. You will still get the sleek design and even a fitness center. There are definitely rooms closer to the stadium. Make reservations at the recently renovated Radisson Hotel if you’re looking for clean but no-frills accommodations.
Where to eat/drink
We say load up on the yummy grub before you step food in the stadium. Once inside, you might want to fight the zoo for the kettle corn, but save your appetite for post-game, bacon-wrapped sausages from the carts that show up outside. Around campus, you’ll find there are several great restaurants. Breakfast is a real treat at the Original Pantry. It’s your basic diner but hey, the food is always decent and it was opened by a former L.A. mayor. Catching a meal here certainly makes for a cool vacation story. If you’re in the mood for authentic Mexican food, La Barca is a crowd-pleaser offering giant burritos and margs in a kitschy space that you can’t help but love. Over at McKay’s, named after a famous University of Southern California coach, sink into a comfortable leather chair and enjoy a drink at this authentic football fans restaurant next to campus.
Game day tips
Traffic in L.A. is crazy even on a good day. If you’re driving, there are some places on the freeway where you can exit early to navigate to the stadium more quickly. Scroll to the bottom of this CBS article for the full scoop on directions. Once you’ve arrived, parking can be extremely limited during games, but finding a legitimate spot and paying the price is a better bet than hunting out a parking space in a not-so-safe part of town.Here is all the campus parking info you’ll need to know.
Tailgating is generally reserved for clubs and alumni associations, and there are other groups that offer reservation options. Our recommendation? Pack your own food and head to Exposition Park for a pre-game picnic. You can’t booze it here—officials are extremely strict about this—but it’s the perfect time to make friends with fellow football fans and soak up the SoCal rays.
Head to the stadium an hour or so before kickoff to settle into your seats before the university’s famous marching band take the field. It’s been featured in 10 major movies and the Fleetwood Mac song, “Tusk,” which is played a few times each game. Enjoy the music and the famous Song Leaders’ dance routines.
What to do
Courtesy of LA Philharmonic
Close to campus, you can get your prehistoric dinosaur on at the Natural History Museum or venture toward downtown for a peek through the glitz of music history past and present at the Grammy Museum. For some all-ages fun, hit the lanes at Lucky Strike, a Hollywood-style bowling alley that asks, in that L.A.-nice sort of way, that you kindly come dressed according to code.
The nearby Walt Disney Concert Hall was designed by world-famous architect Frank Gehry, and is home to the amazing L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra. Even if you’re not planning to catch a concert there, it’s worth a visit to experience the amazing design of the gleaming, deconstructed building. In addition to these recommendations, there are many other entertaining options depending on how much time you have and what’s on your must-see list.