There are more than enough to drop your tent poles on a Saturday morning before a college football game, but where are the best places? Where can you get a cold beer, a nice breeze and a hefty amount of tradition in before kickoff?
5 Best Tailgating Spots in College Football:
and a couple underrated/overrated locales…
5. University of Wisconsin
Beer? Check. Brats? Check. Cheese? Check.
The Midwest in the fall is something special. It’s crisp, the leaves are changing, and hundreds of thousands of otherwise cordial Midwesterners fill massive stadiums to lose their minds. Madison is the idyllic college town and perfect for a football weekend. Badger fans don’t mess around with foodstuffs and hooch. These people live the tailgating lifestyle from their homes most of the year, but take their skills and livers to Camp Randall in the fall for bonding, partying, and football.
4. University of Washington
You’re surrounded by mountains and water on a gorgeous campus. Moreover, the locales are serving fresh seafood, local wine, and local craft beer aboard their boats. Yep, you can sailgate at Husky Stadium. The stadium is situated alongside Union Bay in Seattle and Husky fans can be found dropping anchor in the harbor before watching some football.
3. University of Tennessee
Did we mention sailgating? It’s also huge at the University of Tennessee. Vols pile aboard the vessels in the Tennessee River alongside Neyland Stadium to belt “Rocky Top” and maybe sip (chug) some of the Volunteer State’s famous whiskey. Or moonshine– these people love their moonshine. Tennessee football has been down in recent years, but that doesn’t stop 100,000 (plus) rabid fans from taking over Knoxville and making this one of the most iconic destinations in college football.
2. Ole Miss
You’ve probably heard of the legendary Grove on Ole Miss’ campus where Rebel families have held their opulent tailgates for decades. I’m here to tell you that the Grove is beyond deserving of its high praise. Picture acres of lush grass under canopies of old oak trees on a fall Saturday.
This is the opposite of NFL tailgating. You aren’t surrounded by asphalt next to a soulless stadium. The Grove is grass and history for as far as you can see. Tailgating real estate is precious and ends up being filled by southern folks dressed for a ball or gala. You’re bound to find some fine china or silver under a tailgate tent. I even saw a couple chandeliers. As they say at Ole Miss, “we may lose the game, but we’ve never lost a party.”
Eclectic. Rowdy. Hilarious. A little scary. The scene outside Tiger Stadium on a home Saturday is unlike anywhere else. The crazy Cajuns will fill your belly with gumbo, shrimp, and even alligator while toasting a Solo cup of hooch that might as well be gasoline. LSU games are typically played at night. This gives the fans a full day of alcohol consumption and eating to get revved up for a night at Death Valley.
I was in awe during my first visit. I witnessed grown adults behaving like drunken high schoolers. I saw every kind of meat imaginable on grills. It’s sensory overload. When the Tigers score, you catch a big whiff of a bourbon cloud lifting out of Death Valley. There’s nowhere like it on earth. This is college football.
Just look at this fan base. Gorgeous. Decked out in designer duds. Aloof. These people just look like a crew that would pay college guys thousands to build a winning football program. At SMU, they’ll be quick to tell you that they don’t “tailgate.” They “boulevard,” referring to the beautiful, tree-lined road where fans gather to sip champagne and watch their Mustangs try – and fail – to recover from the NCAA’s death penalty over 20 years ago.
Rest up, y’all. It’s almost tailgate time.