College football season culminates with the bowl games, and the Orange Bowl ranks among the top of the elite list. Football fans, students and alumni flock from across the country to ring in the new year in balmy Miami Gardens, Florida, where the top teams will be competing for the Orange Bowl trophy. To navigate the city and park close to Sun Life Stadium, it's a wise idea to reserve your Miami rental cars and take the whole family to experience the gridiron first hand.
The first-ever Orange Bowl
The original Orange Bowl took place in 1935, but the game is not without its evolution. The Orange Bowl along with Sugar Bowl and Sun Bowl are the second-oldest bowl games in the country behind the Rose Bowl, which was first played in 1902. To follow in the footsteps of showing off the state's sunny paradise compared to the harsh winters in northern places, leaders in Miami launched the Fiesta of the American Tropics, centered around New Year's Day. There was only one held, but the idea was revived with the Palm Festival, which was held twice until being renamed the Orange Bowl.
This championship game hosts the Atlantic Coast Conference champion unless they are in the BCS National Championship Game.
Sun Life Stadium
Each January the Orange Bowl is played at Sun Life Stadium, which is home to the Miami Dolphins and University of Miami Hurricanes. The 75,000-seat, open-air complex allows spectators to embrace the warm Florida temperatures even in the thick of winter. Since the building's opening, it has hosted five Super Bowls and two World Series and was the first stadium to bring in the NFL Pro Bowl after 30 years of the game being held in Hawaii. As a tribute to the best athletes in the world who have competed within its walls, the venue is fittingly located on Dan Marino Boulevard.
To get here, most visitors fly into Miami International Airport, located less than 16 miles away. Once you know you will be attending the game, it's recommended to purchase parking tickets in advance for $20, or you can buy them on the day of the game for $30 to park Florida rental cars.
Before kick-off, partake in a heap of fun game-day activities on the stadium grounds. In previous years, this has included sports memorabilia, interactive games, stage contests, food and beverages, some of Miami's hottest local talent and performances from the marching bands and cheerleaders. Topping it off is a performance from a headlining artist - past headliners include Lil Wayne, Jessica Simpson and Smash Mouth.
What to expect for game time
No matter which teams are competing, you'll feel Sun Life Stadium electrified with excitement. There are usually upward of 72,000 fans clad in their school colors as the teams kick off under the Florida sun. Witness the end zone touchdowns and turnovers of the four quarters. While thousands will be watching from TVs, you can say you were here.