One of the best aspects of the college football experience is the tailgating. What makes it even more interesting is that many college football stadiums don’t allow alcohol sales inside. That means you have to get your fill before the game in the parties and the pre-drink. There are a lot of places that could land a spot on the list of the best college football tailgating spots in America.
While you can eat a lot of meat and drink a lot of alcohol at a lot of tailgates, and you can stuff yourself and have a great time with friends at just about any tailgate, we’ve devised a list of the best places overall to tailgate. If you’re planning to make the road trip to take in the full college football experience, here are the best places to do it. Prepare to wear your favourite jersey, eat, drink and support your team.
What are the best college football tailgating spots in the country?
Location: Seattle, WA
The unique part of tailgating at the Montlake Cut in Seattle, next to Husky Stadium for a Washington football game, is that you get to tailgate by boat. For a day game, the view from the upper deck looking east out to the waters of Lake Washington is one of the most stunning and beautiful images in the sport. It is probably the most aesthetically pleasing of all the best college football tailgating spots.
It is true that the University of Tennessee also has a water-travel tailgate, with the Volunteer Navy carrying fans across the Tennessee River to Neyland Stadium. However, that is a traditional Southern barbecue tailgate. The Seattle tailgate has a lot more salmon and some Pacific Northwest twists you won’t find elsewhere in the country. This is a signature tailgating experience, and that’s why it makes the short list. It doesn’t hurt that compared to a decade ago, when Washington went 0-12, the Huskies now have a really good team. This also amps up the excitement on game days.
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
The Tiger Stadium tailgate is the best food tailgate in America. You get the full Cajun cooking experience with gumbo and jambalaya and andouille sausage, plus local seafood. Every tailgating crew of chefs takes great personal pride in the quality of food served. However, the Cajuns in Baton Rouge take this to another level by working magic with a kind of food you won’t find in other parts of America.
You will remember an LSU tailgate precisely because you will remember the food in ways that don’t apply to most other programs. The food alone makes “Death Valley” one of the best college football tailgating spots out there.
Ole Miss Rebels
Location: Oxford, MI
This is, according to many, the most legendary party scene among tailgates. The Grove is the heart of the Ole Miss tailgate. It brings together school spirit, chants, songs, the best alcohol-drinking environment in the SEC, and the classic foodie elements of a tailgate. You get a sense that you are participating in a tradition which you know will endure for many decades to come. This is the tailgate to go to with drinking buddies. It is a tailgate you want to go to if you want to experience the representative Southern tailgate. This is because it is an event which taps into central dimensions of Southern culture. The Grove is a laboratory of culture, a theater for people watching, including the girls of the University of Mississippi. There is a taste of life in both the present moment, but also in the past tense.
Sing, “Hotty Toddy, gosh almighty, who the hell are we? Flim flam, bim bam, Ole Miss, by damn!”. Your life will never be the same.
Location: Madison, WI
This is the best Midwestern tailgate because you will get the full bratwurst experience in Wisconsin. The University of Illinois is not a big football school. Therefore, the energy and appeal of a tailgate in Champaign are not that great. The attractiveness of a tailgate in Madison for Badger football, though, is a scene and a cultural happening. You will get the bratwurst and cheese with sauerkraut. Get your fill of the Polish sausage or Polska kielbasa. You will get the grilled sausages in addition to the other meats which are part of a typical tailgate.
Few things go better with a cold beer than a bratwurst. Also, Wisconsin has been one of the better Big Ten programs in college football over the past 25 years. Furthermore, those two ingredients make a Badger tailgate hard to pass up.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Location: South Bend, IN
The Irish are college football royalty. Being at Notre Dame on a game day – especially for an afternoon game in the middle of autumn – is simply one of the most incredible goosebump-producing experiences any college football fan can have. This is not about the food or the drink or the girls or the waterfront or the party scene. It is about tradition and history and allowing the magic of a place to sweep over you.
This is about the golden dome and Touchdown Jesus and the marching band and waking up the echoes and seeing the leprechaun. The history of the home of the nation’s most famous and storied program is enough to make it one of the best college football tailgating spots.