25 Best Colleges for Tailgating (Slideshow)
Bulldog tailgates mainly made it on this list for the quality food you’ll find in the tailgating lot. Elaborate spreads are accessible in a warm, welcoming environment that makes tailgating for the whole family enjoyable. There are a few restrictions as to where you can cook, so be sure to check the lot out before you commit.
We have one thing to say about the University of Michigan’s tailgating experience: #GoBlue! Ok, we have a little more to say about it than that. The party starts when the lot opens at 7 a.m. and continues on until the beginning of the game, when dedicated fans head in for some quality field watching time. Roughly 90 minutes before the show, fans are invited in to watch the traditional drumline stepshow to get them psyched for the game. In the tailgating area, you’ll find a spacious lot where tailgaters can spread out to get their pre-game party on. On the way to the stadium, some fans hang out at the local Quickie Burger, which also serves breakfast all day for those who need a boost to last through the game. There are also plenty of surrounding spots to pick up a bite to eat if you don’t want to cook at the game.
Razorback fans know a thing or two about how to properly tailgate a game. Tailgating setup can be stressful, but when you are a pro like any Razorback fan is, you can set yourself up in style. After all, the campus caters to organized tailgaters by offering fans a chance to reserve a spot in their Victory Village lot. Fans can rent everything from a simple space to a huge tent that includes four tables and 20 chairs. All you have to do is show up. They even offer a catering service so your game-day meals can be supplied as well if you don't want to cook yourself.
Look at the stands at the University of Virginia's home game and all you’ll see is a sea of orange and blue. Students, known as Wahoos, gather around the grounds for a spirited tailgate full of fun, and palpable school pride. Hanging out on the Lawn is great for laid-back tailgating. Then there is Rugby Road, a row of fraternity homes once dubbed by Playboy Magazine as the site of "the best party in America." The party has been tamed, but the wild spirit still exists.
Sun Devil fans are not shy about their school pride. At the game itself, there is a section dubbed "the inferno,” where fans go to bleed gold and cheer loud. The party starts five hours prior to kick-off and tailgaters are welcome to grill (propane tanks only on the roof) and guzzle beer and wine. Near the school, tailgaters can take the party to any number of the surrounding bars for a rowdy, football-loving’ good time.
Back in the glory days, Northwestern’s ability to tailgate was unrivaled — so much so that the school had to put a cap on the partying. Since then the tailgates have gotten tamer, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still a blast. In fact, the school even has a Northwestern University Tailgating Society, which ensures that the good times keep rolling.
The University of Kansas’ atmosphere is alive with Hawk pride, and tailgates here involve a whole town of celebration. While the fun stays family-friendly for the most part, the students and alumni know how to cut loose for a good time. Hospitality on the Hill, a tailgating organization that provides rentals and catering, is a guaranteed way to make KU tailgate a success!
What could be more hardcore than cooking and eating your rival's mascot? Florida State University’s Seminoles fans always host an alligator roast to celebrate their football team. Plus there are a ton of tents and grills fired up for a good time in the surrounding lots.
When an Ohio State University game is going on, the whole town pitches in to celebrate, especially when facing their arch-nemesis, the University of Michigan Wolverines. Despite the fact that Buckeye fans’ tradition of getting drunk and jumping into the Mirror Lake is totally frowned upon (not to mention dangerous), the spirit of their tailgate goes far beyond that. Surrounded by college-friendly bars and fully loaded tailgate lots, a Buckeye tailgate is full of fun for all.
This tailgate is all about the party all the time. With a great atmosphere, Bulldogs fans can start setting up as early as 7 a.m. and proceed to grill and party until the start of the game in their spacious tailgating lots. Plus, Bulldog fans who are of age can hang at any of the surrounding game-day friendly bars around this college town to keep the party going.
At Oklahoma State University, there is no shortage of fun, especially when homecoming time rolls around. Not only is Oklahoma chock-full of enthusiastic school spirit, its traditions are carried out with pride when it comes to tailgating; you’ll catch both alumni and current students belting out "The Waving Song” and indulging in a tented tailgating good time.
Texas A&M University is one of the schools to envy when it comes to a killer tailgate. The celebration begins many hours before kickoff, thanks to the "Midnight Yell" on Kyle Field. But Texas A&M has other rich traditions unlike any other school to make way for game day, including the giant maroon tailgating buses arrayed around campus and the Corps of Cadets March-In about an hour-and-a-half before kickoff..
A University of Tennessee tailgate is sure to have one thing: diehard fans. Their allegiance to the school and tailgating doesn’t disappear after they graduate from college. Even parents of former students return after their kids have long since left the school’s hallways. The Neyland Stadium is right on the Tennessee River, hence the "Vol Navy’s" creation back in 1962 so sea-loving tailgaters could party right on the water. Did we mention that there are waterslides? Waterslides, seriously! Plus, Tennessee fans know a thing or two about delicious tailgating tradition. In addition to elaborate Southern cooking spreads, they also enjoy a classic cocktail known as what one fan called “the Knoxville Ice Pick.” It is widely held hereabouts that you don’t know tailgate cocktails until you’ve tried this one.
The Badgers know how to kick off a game; their pre-game parties include the entire town for a public display of fun and food. The Badger Bash Tailgate and Pro-Game Concert Party include fun for the kids as well as plenty of beer and brats for adults roughly three hours before the game. There are cheerleaders, dance teams, and of course mascot Bucky the Badger. Other organized celebrations like Badgerville (an open-to-the-public tailgate that features a ton of local fare) and plenty of surrounding bars for viewing and brews are available to everyone who wants to really get pumped before the game.
Tailgating at this university takes dedication. Fans line up in their campers days before the actual kickoff. Auburn University’s school tradition of the pre-game walk with the players to the stadium, called the Tiger Walk, is one in which students and alumni proudly participate. Before the walk, fans enjoy a myriad of delicious foods and drinks in their Tiger gear, including iconic Southern barbecued pulled pork. Should the team win, Toomer’s Corner (a fanzone hotspot) will be TP-ed, so bring extra toilet paper.
Auburn Alumni Association
Three words: Omaha Steak Dogs. This iconic food makes a frequent appearance at tailgates and totally blows average franks out of the water. With an alarming amount of food and pimped out tents, the party is pretty profound in the tailgate area. But it doesn't stop there; post-game celebrations continue at the Historic Haymarket, where fans can either drown their sorrows from a loss or keep their post-victory adrenaline rush going.
With the fight song "MSU Shadows" ringing from Beaumont Tower over the crowd, Spartan fans get pumped for a day of serious tailgating. Their lots are wide, spacious, and totally packed with people looking to party and have a great time, and they are surrounded by bars to keep the post-game party going,.
With close to 100,000 fans swarming the games and mulling around "Nittanyville" (formerly Paternoville), the tent city students set up before game day to get the best seats in the student section, there is no denying that this is a top place to tailgate. The crowd is rowdy, but the spirit is strong and there are tons of traditional foods to enjoy other than just your average tailgate fare. Penn State “stickies” (sticky buns laced with caramelized sugar) from the Ye Olde College Diner are a game-day must.
The band leads the way to Slayter Center to get the Boilermakers amped up for the game, while the lot overflows with spirited fans. The mindset at Purdue? It is all about the tailgate party; don your black and gold for some good old working-class fun. Or, if you are feeling really spirited, join the Purdue "Breakfast Club." Surrounding bars open their doors to students around the campus early in the morning for a costume party (yes, people take this sriously and super dress up) that lasts all day.
Partying around a place called “The Swamp” might sound like a bad idea, but if you’re a Gator, you know that this is where the party is at. A Gator tailgate just may be the biggest such affair you’ll ever go to, with dozens of out-of-towners filling up tents and RVs for a good time. Gator fans are always decked out in extravagant tailgate garb and fry up amazing Southern food for a celebration the whole town can enjoy.
Gamecock fans literally take the party to the streets. With a stadium located off campus, game days mean rowdy fans chowing down on bacon-wrapped hot dogs and washing them down with apple-pie moonshine. But the coolest part of the University of South Carolina’s tailgate scene? It has to be the "Cockabooses.” They are repurposed, South Carolina-themed cabooses on an abandoned railroad track that are fully loaded with all the things on your tailgate wishlist.
Reserve your spot early if you are a Bison fan: things are about to get intense. With a killer marching band, an intense spread of food, and a whole lot of diehard fans, tailgating in North Dakota is an experience. The coolest part about a North Dakota State tailgate has to be their” traditions. For one, at the game, you can play a real life game of “Where’s Waldo?” by finding the one kid at the game who is dressed up like that elusive character. Deer sausage, as it is affectionately called, is a must for the menu. And Icehole (mint schnapps) is a staple. You shouldn’t have to ask about it though, because according to real fans if you need an explanation, “stay far away.”
Hours before kickoff, fans flood the Trousdale to set up for a wild day. Be sure to follow the band as it plays around campus and partake in the game-day tradition of kicking the flagpole at the edge of campus for good luck. The USC tailgate is only majorly amped up for UCLA games, where you’ll find plenty of UCLA teddy bears dragged around campus or hung up in trees.
To have a tailgate experience like you’ve never had before, you have to visit The Grove at Ole Miss. Prepare for sensory overload: in addition to the miles of tented, Rebel-Nation-loving fans in red, white, and blue garb, there are folk hanging chandeliers and donning bow ties and pearls. This is one very serious party time. All of this is just a precursor to the Walk of Champions, where players walk to the stadium through The Grove full of fans on the way to victory. The spirit and pride Ole Miss fans have fills the stands and overflows outside the game for post-parties that rage on and on.
LSU fans won our hearts by offering one of the most gourmet tailgating experiences you could have. Channeling that true Baton Rouge spirit, tailgates are overflowing with alligators and pigs on the pit, boiled crawfish, and steaming gumbo. The LSU band marches down the hill to the stadium, inciting an atmosphere of pure fun. Tailgate setups are so elaborate, you feel like a living room has moved onto the lot, which is good because you should get comfortable — the party doesn’t stop all day or all night.