NCAA bowl games: Iowa is heading to San Diego's Holiday Bowl; here's how to get there

Escape the cold and head to San Diego this holiday season, because the Iowa Hawkeyes have officially been selected to make their fourth appearance in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27. They will be up against No. 22 USC.

The last time the Hawkeyes played in the Holiday Bowl was in 1991 against the BYU Cougars, resulting in a tie of 13-13.

Kickoff is at 5 p.m. PST at the San Diego County Credit Union Stadium. If you can’t make the trip to San Diego, the game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.

But for those who are escaping the Midwest winter, here is everything you need to know:

Bowl packages

Check out the Holiday Bowl’s website at to purchase tickets and learn more about the Bowl’s history.

Limited travel packages and tickets to follow the Hawkeyes to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl are available at the University of Iowa athletics website, You can also call (800) 424-2957 for more information.

Stadium parking information is also available on the Holiday Bowl’s website.

► More:How to get tickets to the Holiday Bowl game vs. USC


Google Maps puts the drive to San Diego from Iowa City at 27 hours via I-80 W, I-70 W, and I-15 S.

As of Sunday afternoon, roundtrip tickets on Expedia from the Des Moines International Airport to San Diego International Airport (SAN) from Dec. 26 to Dec. 28 start at $680, with at least one stop.

From Chicago O’Hare International Airport to San Diego, roundtrip tickets start at about $600. There are few nonstop flights, but you’ll most likely be looking at one layover.

And from Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport to San Diego, roundtrip tickets start at $450. Like Chicago, there are few nonstop options, but one layover is likely.


There are many lodging options in San Diego, from hotels to Airbnbs.

If you prefer a hotel, the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina has rates available starting at $79 per night. The Crowne Plaza San Diego in Mission Valley’s current rate starts at $80 per night, and the Hilton San Diego Bayfront rates start at $95.45 per night.

A quick search on Airbnb shows rates in San Diego for two adults, dates Dec. 26 to Dec. 28, starting at $35 a night, although that price might be booked soon. There are many other available low-cost rates, ranging from about $50 per night to $80 per night.

These rates don’t include additional fees.

Things to do

San Diego is California’s second-largest city, and eighth-largest in the United States. That means the city is jam-packed with fun things to do for all ages.

At 3 p.m. on Dec. 26, there will be the Port Of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade in Downtown San Diego, which is America’s Largest Balloon Parade featuring marching bands, entertainment, and more.

Right before the parade, the 25th annual Holiday Bowl National Funding 5k Run and Walk will take place downtown on San Diego’s harbor front. It starts on the corner of Harbor Drive and Ash St. at 2:45 p.m. and finishes near Ruocco Park.

You can check out downtown's historic Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, Coronado, La Jolla, Del Mar, and more.

In San Diego’s East County, there is the 600,000 acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park where residents and tourists can camp, hike, fish, and simply enjoy the outdoors.

There are also at least 19 beaches along the Pacific Ocean coast; some popular destinations include La Jolla Beach and Reefs, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, and more.

In December, the average temperature for San Diego is about 66 degrees Fahrenheit.

The City of San Diego says the city is often referred to as “The Smithsonian of the West,” with 17 museums in Balboa Park alone. The San Diego Zoo is also a widely popular zoo to check out.

And if you are a food and drink junkie, you’re in luck: Thrillist claims San Diego is one of the best cities for foodies with diverse options that combine Mediterranean food and authentic Mexican ingredients.

San Diego also has a large craft beer culture with over 140 breweries, such as Karl Strauss Brewing, Ballast Point and Stone Brewing Co.

Finally, if you plan to go out after the game, the City of San Diego recommends checking out the Gaslamp Quarter, the heart of its nightlife; bars, restaurants, and clubs are lined up on its 16 blocks.

There, you’ll find celebrity DJs, jazz clubs, and live music such as burlesque.

There are many options, and Iowans are bound to have a good time.