The Super Bowl has a long history in California. The first Super Bowl game was held here and the latest Super Bowl will be held here in a few days, along with 8 others in between. In 2015, Super Bowl XLIX became the most-watched American television program in history with an average audience of 114.4 million viewers. I’m proud to call California my home and I want to discover more of its fascinating history and culture. This passion for my state and the endless connections to the most loved game in the country led me to a Super Bowl Heritage road trip from San Diego to San Francisco.
This was our Super Bowl Heritage Road Trip itinerary. It includes some of the best historical Super Bowl stops in California. Follow along the road with me to Super Bowl discovery.
San Diego – Current Home of the Chargers
Hilton Garden Inn Old Town
Our trip began in San Diego. We stayed at the brand new Hilton Garden Inn Old Town for easy access to downtown, Qualcomm Stadium, and Balboa Park. It offers free parking, WiFi, beautiful rooms, onsite dining, and pool facilities. The Hilton Garden Inn is Old Town San Diego’s only completely new hotel in over 12 years. The exterior echoes the Spanish influence found throughout historic Old Town San Diego, but the inside is modern with lots of technology found around every corner.
Café Coyote – Winner of the Best Mexican Restaurant 14 years in a row, don’t miss Cafe Coyote when you’re in San Diego. Fresh tortillas are made all day and it’s in the heart of Old Town for a lively environment with a historic feel.
Casa Guadalajara – Live mariachi music, vibrant colors, delicious Mexican food and excellent service make Casa Guadalajara a favorite. I visited this restaurant for the first time five years ago and I return every time I visit San Diego. Order anything with their shredded beef and you’ll be happy.
Corvette Diner – This might be my favorite family restaurant in San Diego. We walked in to the restaurant and we’re greeted by 50’s waitresses in poodle skirts and bouffant hair-dos. Behind them, a shiny blue corvette and retro booths for dining. There was classic music, dancing, singing, balloon making, hair styling, birthday parties, and a games room. The place was alive with excitement and joy. The delicious Malts are my favorite and be prepared for huge portions. We’re considering a return trip to San Diego just to visit Corvette Diner again.
We enjoyed a tour of Qualcomm Stadium. It’s the current home of the NFL’s San Diego Chargers and the San Diego State University Aztecs college football team. The stadium has hosted three Super Bowl games: Super Bowl XXII in 1988, Super Bowl XXXII in 1998, and Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003. It has also hosted the 1978 and 1992 Major League Baseball All-Star Games, the 1996 and 1998 National League Division Series, the 1984 and 1998 National League Championship Series, and the 1984 and 1998 World Series. It is the only stadium ever to host both the Super Bowl and the World Series in the same year.
San Diego Hall of Champions
The San Diego Hall of Champions is the nation’s largest multi-sport museum with three levels of memorabilia and 68,000 square feet. It’s located in Balboa Park, which is filled with beautiful trails and museums. The rich history of the San Diego Chargers is featured as a part of the Hall of Champions’ football exhibit. Artifacts of note include one of Sid Gillman’s playbooks, a Lance Alworth game worn jersey, and a 1963 American Football League championship trophy.
Pasadena – Home to One of the Most Iconic Stadium in US History
With a prime location in Old Town Pasadena, you won’t mind paying for parking at Courtyard Los Angeles Pasadena. This hotel offers the typical high-quality of Marriott in one of the best locations in Pasadena. The rooms are modern with beautiful views of the mountains. They offer free WiFi and TVs, plus desks, microwaves, minifridges and coffeemakers. Unique shops and dining are within walking distance, including our favorite Pasadena restaurant – Café Santorini.
La Grande Orange – A child-friendly spot serving generous portions in a restored train station. Valet parking is offered free of charge until 3 pm and the menu is created daily.
Café Santorini – This Mediterranean cafe boasts a rooftop balcony and specializes in classic seafood, pizza & mezes. I’d suggest ordering multiple plates to share because you’ll want to try everything. Our favorites were the Toasted Walnut and Gorgonzola Salad as well as the Grilled Kefta Kebob. Café Santorini is my favorite restaurant in Pasadena.
Rose Bowl Stadium is a National Historic Landmark in the beautiful city of Pasadena, California. There have been five Super Bowls, two Summer Olympic Games, the 1994 FIFA World Cup Final, the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final, over 30 years of UCLA Bruins Football, BCS National Champions, 15 Heisman Trophy winners, and 99 Rose Bowl Games that have been played at Rose Bowl. I couldn’t do a Super Bowl heritage road trip without a stop at Rose Bowl Stadium.
Oakland/San Francisco – Home to Super Bowl 50
Inn at Temescal
The Inn at Temescal wasn’t my favorite location in Oakland, but the rooms are newly renovated, the price is right, and it offers easy access to the highways. With Super Bowl 50 events happening all over the city and surrounding areas, accommodations can be difficult to find. Don’t let the nearby construction fool you; this place is a good find inside.
Chop Bar – Chop Bar is a neighborhood favorite near Oakland’s Jack London Square, serving breakfast, weekend brunch, lunch, and dinner. Using the finest ingredients found in the Bay Area, they make affordable and nourishing food designed to be enjoyed by everyone. I’d suggest visiting for breakfast before heading over the Super Bowl City. Go around 9 am so you miss the morning traffic after you finish eating.
Super Bowl City – Once you’re inside Super Bowl City and you’ve found parking, you’re not going to want to leave. Save yourself the hassle and enjoy the food and drinks inside the city. There are lots of options.
Local Kitchen & Wine Merchant – If you can’t satisfy your food cravings at Super Bowl City, try Local Kitchen & Wine Merchant. Enjoy pizzas from their wood burning oven, seasonally inspired savory selections, and simple, healthy dishes created from fresh locally sourced ingredients. It’s a great spot for local wines as well.
Super Bowl City
Super Bowl City is a free to the public fan village for the Super Bowl. It showcases all that’s great about the Bay Area, including art, culture, food, and drink. It’s one of two main hubs of Super Bowl 50 activity in San Francisco and it’s the one that has the broadest array of activities.
New performances including music and dance happened every fifteen minutes and there are tons of photo opportunities. If you’re traveling with children, there’s a playground in the city and activities for all ages.
Stop by the Fan Energy Zone for the latest in interactive gaming, social media, and data visualizations. It’s filled with a series of interactive, motion capture games developed by Bay Area companies Britelite Immersive, Helios Interactive and Symmetry Labs. Fans can play, track performance, and share their virtual football experiences in real-time.
The app is called Road to 50, and with it you get event details, traffic information, Bay Area maps, and access to the Fan Mobile Pass that lets you check into activities at Super Bowl City and the NFL Experience.
Everyone warned us about driving and parking near Super Bowl City but it honestly wasn’t that bad. We arrived early and parked in one of the nearby parking structures for $7/hour. The commute across the bridge wasn’t difficult and with streets blocked off, it seems like there is only one way to go. Just follow the traffic and enjoy your visit.
Super Bowl 50 – If you’re one of the luck few who have a ticket to Super Bowl 50, enjoy the game you lucky duck! After walking on the fields and pretending to be players at Rose Bowl and Qualcomm and being immersed in the vibe at Super Bowl City, I feel like I’m there with you watching from the 50 yard line.
Our Super Bowl heritage road trip engaged us with California’s Super Bowl history and filled us with anticipation for Super Bowl 50. Bring on Super Bowl Sunday! We’re rooting for the Panthers since Charlotte was our previous home. Who’s your Super Bowl team?