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October 13, 2011

Six College Football Tailgates Worth a Trip

The aftermath (Flickr)

Thankfully football has become more than just a game. There's the mascot, the choosing of the gameday outfit, and most importantly the tailgate...the all day (sometimes days) celebration of 22 men in tight pants chasing the ole pigskin. If you like football, drinking, and food, pack up the cooler and put the rubber to the road, all you need is a pack of brats and a truck load of optimism. Of course, everyone does it a little different, and everyone thinks their way is the best, just ask any diehard wearing full body paint perched on the back of an F150. Here are our six college football tailgates worth traveling for.

University of Mississippi (Ole Miss)
Oxford, Mississippi
There is no doubt that these Rebels know how to tailgate; their unofficial motto is, "We may not win the game, but we never lose the party!" Named "The Holy Grail of Tailgating Sites" by Sporting News and featured by the New York Times, Boston Globe, and ESPN, the ten-acre plot called "The Grove" is a sea of red, white, and blue on game day.  Under the tents (that have sometimes been set-up as early as 2 p.m. the day before) a visitor will find all things southern: fried chicken, mashed potatoes, fine china, chandeliers, and football fans in their Sunday (err, Saturday) best.  But before you visit, make sure to learn the Hotty Toddy cheer, so when someone yells "are you ready?" you know the appropriate way to answer.

Louisiana State University (LSU)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Tiger Stadium, aka "Death Valley," is legendary for the crowd noise created by the fans (the rumble is said to register on a seismograph), but do not think this electrifying experience only exists within the 92,500-seat stadium. Eighty miles northwest of New Orleans, these fans know how to party and, of course, eat. But it's not about the hotdogs and hamburgers here. Drop by on a Saturday morning and you'll follow your nose to gumbo, crawfish, spicy alligator, Cajun sausages, grilled duck, po'boys, and a beignet (deep-fried dough with some sort of sweet topping) for dessert.  Did we mention LSU usually has night games? So you have all day long to indulge; and all night long to forget.

Auburn University
Auburn, Alabama
You might need to train for this tailgate. Fans here start the party at 7 a.m.—7 a.m. on Thursday morning that is...and they're not leaving after the game is over either. Don't get too swirly or you'll miss the thousands and thousands of fans that line Donahue Drive before the game to cheer the team on as they do their Tiger Walk to Jordan-Hare Stadium. Afterwards converge at Toomer's Corner, where two massive oak trees take the brunt of the school spirit through a tradition known as "rolling the corner." Stringing toilet paper from the trees is thought to have started back before games were televised. Toomer's Drug had the only telegraph in the city, therefore being the first to receive the outcome of away games. If it was a win, they would throw the ticker tape from the telegraph onto nearby power lines. In the 1990s the lines were moved underground, and the tradition took a different shape. Today it's done to celebrate just about anything good that happens on campus.

Pennsylvania State University (Penn State)
University Park, Pennsylvania
So many fans come to Happy Valley just to tailgate that law enforcement had to ban drinking during the game OUTSIDE of the you know without a doubt this place provides a good party. More than 100,000 fans pack into State College, making it the third largest Pennsylvania city on game days. The Nittany Lions even have Paternoville, in honor of Coach Joe Paterno, where students camp out in front of Beaver Stadium, sometimes a week before the game, to secure a front-row seat. And watch out for those fans that go Full Monty; you don't want to bump into them on an unusually hot Saturday (or cold one for that matter). This is coming from a school that apparently likes to get naked. The annual Mifflin Streak is a tradition where students (generally seniors) run unclothed down Mifflin Road the night before finals begin. Of course, each year injuries and run-ins with the police threaten a good time.

University of Texas
Austin, Texas
In Texas, they do all things big, and you can bet that translates to football and tailgates. The old saying "Football is a religion in Texas," doesn't become more real than when you find yourself flooded in a sea of orange in the parking lot of Texas Memorial Stadium. The Longhorns have one of the most winning-est football programs of all time, so that doesn't hurt the Longhorn-lovin', orange-blooded, Sooner-hatin' Texas enthusiasm. Nearly that same amount of enthusiasm is shown for their grillin' skills as well, it's a pregame Weber showdown before a mass exodus into the stadium for a group chant with pinkies and pointer fingers raised for "hook 'em horns."

University of Washington
Seattle, Washington
It has been said that the best place to tailgate is wherever you are that weekend, but landlocked Bible-belters might consider cheering on your team waterside as a unique experience. Thousands of Huskies fans tether their boats together on Lake Washington (just a few blocks from the stadium) and start well before and stay well after the game for food, drinks, and boat-hopping. If you happen to not secure a ticket into the Dawg Pack, then you are sure to find someone at the massive floating party that has a TV large enough to catch the plays.


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Georgia-Florida and the Worlds Largest Cocktail Party is something not to be missed - fans stream into St. Simon's Island during the week before going to Jacksonville for the game on Saturday, Even the parties leading up to the game are legendary!

The rivalry hasn't been as good the last few years, but the tailgating and partying are second to none!

Virginia Tech is a awesome place for tailgating!! Va Tech is a beautiful school with gorgeous surroundings. Plus great fans and food on game day.

Alabama tailgating is great if you are into Carnivals and travelling circuses. They sell funnel cakes and $5 tee shirts on every corner and most of the attendees have not surpassed High School Education.

clemson was voted no 1 tailgating experience in the nation this year. Go TIgers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can comment on Mississippi , Auburn, and Georgia(I am an alumnus of UGA). Way overrated, boring town, and very backwards! The author forgot to mention all the servants, yes servants catering to all the white people-just plain weird.

Auburn- nothing special, boring town, no real tradition other than rolling trees with toilet paper.

UGA-The great thing about Athens is you can usually walk just about anywhere, and there are some great spots on campus to hang out, have a meal, and kick back before the game. The town is also cool, great music scene, and very excellent and inexpensive restaurants.

It's great to see that PSU still sits on this list! They just never will go away. Tailgating is family! Tailgating is old & new friendships!

Where is the parking lot at the University of Texas referred to in this article? There isn't a parking lot within a mile of the stadium.

Six Letters.....MIZZOU!

Seriously, WACKJOB PETER or Wacko Pete or whatever your name was, are you stuck "Back in the Future?" Women know as much about football as most men, more than many. My mother taught me to watch football on TV, listen to the Astros on the transistor radio, and fix a hearty Southern meal all at the same time, while you were just a twinkle in your mama's eye. But the "chick" reference is cute, if not old fashioned, since it went out the window about the time I graduated from UT Austin. Please, get a grip, most men around here just watch little cars wreck into each other around a track, not winning in fantasy football, like I do.

SDSU Rocks

Penn St. is joke, running naked is now considered a sex offense, haven't we heard enough of Paternoville!! fyi they don't call it that any more, your facts are as accurate as your list. Howcould Tenn not be here and I'm from the N. East!

You have not tail gated until you hit the campus of Notre Dame


My University's team could beat your team. My University has the best tailgating, hands down.

Such crap. this is obviously a biased article. I have been to Austin for game day and it is nothing like the tailgaiting at Texas A&M. Not even close. Rude people who have no affiliation with the university except for the t-shirt they wear. In College Station, fans from any visiting team, even the t-sips from Austin are welcomed and invited in to party with fellow Texans. When we tailgate at Texas A&M, we don't just fill a single parking lot, like in Austin. We cover a tenth of our campus with tailgates.

Alabama Crimson Tide... tradition like no other...titles and championships like no ya'll know we can tailgate like no other!!!! Roll Tide Roll enough said!!!!!!!

"Thankfully football has become more than just a game. There's the mascot, the choosing of the gameday outfit, and most importantly the tailgate"

This opening line is a dead giveaway that a chick wrote this article. I bet you don't even know how a team gets a first down. Thankfully? Like the game isn't enough? The sooner America gets these silly chicks out of football, the better.

Who gives two craps about a mascot?!?!?!?!? That's pure chick talking there.

Isn't it funny how there are ZERO males that want to get all involved in (extremely boring) chick sports. But the chicks are flooding male sports. It dilutes the sport having such topical, superficial chicks involved with the game.

Maybe she should actually attend tailgates before she writes an article...

Best tailgating? Ol Miss is not a tailgate party, it is more of a feast with very friendly fans. Even the opponents' fans are welcome to tailgate. Texas is a great tailgate...but behind them in the state is Texas Tech where fans are greated with bar b cue, tex mex food and the nicest fans anywhere (unless you are wearing burnt orange). Worst tailgate for a major conference is University of Missouri with only a few grilling and obnoxious yet extremely rude fans...would rather bring my own bag of big macs than tailgate with the missouri faithful.

There are some cool aspects to gameday in Austin, but tailgating isn't really one of 'em. Scholz beer garden is fun. 6th street is a good time, but a bit of a jaunt to & from the stadium. DKR is alright...spacious, impressive in size & has a friendly staff, but a little bit blah (no foliage or brick, just concrete and sun). Most tailgating DOES take place in parking garages which, frankly, just isn't a great place to tailgate.
Sooner games in Norman are average or slightly above average for tailgating, I think.
Husker tailgates in Licoln were well above average.
Cowboy games in Stillwater have some decent aspects (Eskimo Joes' & Peanuts Hot Sausage), but it takes place on a smaller scale so it just feels less exciting.

Those are my honest opinions about the places I've seen a game.

WVU!!! You people are insane to leave West Virginia University off of this list. You don't know what a party is until you've come to Morgantown on game day.

Washington may not have the biggest tailgate parties, but they are defintiely the most unique - hands down!! How many campuses are located in an attractive urban setting on the water of a major lake?? Hundreds of Husky fans descend on Montlake with their yachts, boats, canoes, jet skis, you name it and tie-up just steps from the gates to the stadium.... Flat-screens, mimosas, bloodies, BBQ Salmon, Chickens, Dogs, Fried Calamari and Oysters, clam chowder and boat loads of alchoholic drinks! Last thing.. the views from the stadium and rafters is unmatched... Olympic Mtns on the West, Cascade mountains on the East, Mt Rainier in the background and Lake Washington glistening in the forefront. Anyone and everyone should at least make one trip up to Seattle for this experience... you won't regret it!!!! Woof woof!!

Georgia / Fla. (St Simons Island, Sea Island, Amelia Island, Jacksonville,Fla - all experience "The World's Largest Cocktail Party" ) hands down. "TDM", "Jim", & "JC" know what they're talking about -in particular, "TDM" .
I grew up on St Simons Island, and I can attest that this one massive party that typically (w/ UGA diehards) gets started the Mon. before the game. By Thurs., the party is in full throttle mode. If you doubt my words, maybe it's time you booked a weekend vacation to St Simons Island, for Ga/Fla. weekend. You will see this isn't boasting.

Without a doubt, Pennsylvania State University & the SHAME it has thrust upon ITSELF........SELF-INFLICTED, LONG - TERM SCARS & can NO longer be even discussed as being even a li'l 'WORTHY' of such significance as being a great, tailgating place.......that so-called title LEFT the BLDG when Paterno & his cronies IGNORED the horrific acts inflicted under their noses by child molestor, Jerry Sandusky.

PSU (a three-letter acronym that truly fits their newfound IDENTITY) is an EMBARRASSMENT to all that college football stands for and actually is.


This is clearly an uneducated attempt... Ask a knowledgeable SEC alum (or fan) and regardless of their personal ties, they will admit (begrudgingly, in many cases...) that GA/FLA in Jacksonville is the king of tailgates. There's a beach party consuming a mile strip of beach for the ENTIRE week leading up to the game, for God's sake....and that's JUST the UGA fans (and their friends that didn't get into Georgia...normally attending Bama, UT, USC, Auburn...). On game day, the parties converge @ the Landing in Jacksonville, where the UF faithful had primarily congregated on the days before.

I mean...what other tailgate entails overrunning (or even upheaval) of 2, perhaps 3, upscale island communities (St. Simons and Sea Island...even Amelia Island, with families and other non-students)? And this is JUST the UGA faithful...and it's no surprise that Florida's support base infests Jacksonville by Tuesday. Saturday witnesses the literal SHUTDOWN of

Yes, this is a bit of an outlier, since a "neutral" site hosts the game...but when the subject is "tailgating," it's impossible to leave this one off the list! And an OUTLIER this certainly is...considering that this is not only the biggest and most epic tailgate EVERY year...but "The World's Largest Cocktail Party" is JUST of our countries greatest annual parties!

Finally, this game holds significance greater than...or at least comparable to...any other rivalry. Now that there's little argument over football talent's greatest concentration being in the can be sure that the two states contributing the most of this talent are Florida and Georgia.......regardless of the success of Alabama or LSU. Look at their top recruits and you'll find many who went to h.s. in FLA or GA. Texas might be the celebrity of h.s. football, but they produce no greater talent...esp. per capita. With all due respect to Texas/Oklahoma, Alabama/Auburn, and other big games.... GA/FLA is a literal "Border War" that matches the significance of any other...and meanwhile it holds host to the greatest tailgate in America (if not party, in general).

p.s. While this game is watched/attended by many people who attend (or attended) other colleges, and by many athlete deciding whether they'll attend either of these schools.....unlike other rivalries, none of the fans or players from either team are there because they were declined by their first choice!

I have been to MOST BIG XII stadiums for games, and I would say texas is number 2 or 3 at best behind the scenes in other places, like Norman and ksu and now even osu has turned it up. I have been to 4 ut home games, and it's the sames scattered downtown scene...disjointed and urban...not really that collegal.

Sadly haters will be haters! People who have absolutely zero significance in the world have a statement on a comment section hating Texas. Apparently, they have never been there...go to Colorado haters and maybe you will be silented.

Baylor University Waco, Texas


Best Tailgating in The BIG 12

Researcher needs to check Florida/Georgia at Jacksonville for a tailgate party..........2nd to non

Uh, have you ever been to Blacksburg, Virginia and seen the tailgating at a Hokies game? Appears not. You want to really see and be part of something spectacular; tailgate with the Hokies!

Only one UT, Neyland Stadium against the Smoky Mountains, VOL Navy on the River, the food, Pride of the Southland Marching Band bringing in the crowds playing ROCKY TOP. Even JoePa didn't want to come back after he lost his first game there under the lights. BIG ORANGE BABY!!

C'mon...Texas Longhorns!! Obviously the researcher never went to a game in Austin...I was a season ticket holder for two years and was sorely disappointed in the lack of can you tailgate in a Mercedes? C'mon...the Orange Bloods are too stuck up to tail gate properly...go to T-Town!! Tuscaloosa!! ROLL TIDE! Tailgaters arrive on Tuesday before Saturday set up the RV park...if you wait until Saturday to find a spot...forget a bout it!! SEC has the best far...I've been to Auburn, MISS State and Georgia...great places!! Without a doubt...tailgating on the Quad in watch the Tide Roll is the best!!

IOWA baby!! The best tailgate in the midwest handsdown

You're all nuts. There is only one true hotspots for tailgating. Penn State (though that remains to be seen for future years)! They are the only football school with a STADIUM in the middle of nowhere... which means that they have miles and miles of fields on which to tailgate. All other schools are in the middle of small cities, and more importantly, their stadiums are surrounded by parking lots and other buildings. Your tailgate cannot possibly count when there is only 50 cars in a square mile.
Case in point, go to the top of Beaver Stadium after a night game and snap a picture in every direction. It might be 11 or midnight, but the tailgate still stretches to the horizon. Googlemap it on satellite view. See all those open fields around the stadium? Compare that to the parking lots of the other schools. Can't touch it.
You can talk about the raging fans, and you'd probably win that fight. Penn State alumni who make up 75% of the stadium sit most of the time, and only yell when the game is close or for a touchdown. The rest of the time, the roar is just the student section. But the nicest fans? Nebraska, hands down. They'll bring you beers win or lose. (Insert cliche on Midwestern hospitality)

THE SWAMP!!! Enough Said...

Washington has got to be the best experience ever.

WVU !!!!!!

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Anybody who put Texas on the list obviously has never actually been to Austin. The tailgating scene stinks compared to SEC and Big Ten schools. It's hot, it's corporate, it has no energy except when A&M is in town, and the apathetic fans care more about chatting with friends than actually supporting the team.

Texas A&M by far blows away U of Texas as a game day experience.

The student side alone is 40,000 and there are about 25,000 that never even make it into the stadium because of the b-b-q and parties going on outside the stadium.

Auburn fan here, so I'm biased. But some other places I've enjoyed on gameday that were not on this list are Wisconsin and Tennessee. Florida State is pretty good also. Heck, its college football and you're tailgating - its going to be at least good pretty much anywhere!

I don't think Penn St. is on this list anymore.

Obviously, these people only think BCS.
You have not experience Southern Hospitality until you have experienced a Ragin Cajun Tailgating Party.
University of Louisiana in Lafayette, LA.


You should try the home of tailgating and head to the University of Wisconsin. And that is coming from a Minnesota alum.

Remember.....all lists of best and worst are subjective. It's just somebody's opinion, so don't get all upset and take them too seriously.

Texas? Hahaha, what a joke!

Tuscaloosa, Alabama is the best that I have seen. Tailgating at the Air Force academy with snow on the ground was pretty cool too. Pretty much any SEC tailgate will do. Southern hospitality, friendly people, and top notch barbecue.

Mike the man - wrong ! the worlds largest cocktail party is the Georgia/Florida game - not Florida games in general.

UCONN? I hope that is a joke. I've been to multiple UCONN games and it does not belong in your list.

i have a group of buddies and we've picked a different game each season to fly to for the past 10-12 years.

So far we've visited:
Notre Dame
Penn St
U Texas
U of Miami
S Carolina

The tailgating was probably best at Notre Dame and Oregon. The 'tail chasing' was best at S Carolina and Oregon. Plenty of scenery in Eugene. Best stadium experience was Michigan. Coolest ritual and history - Notre Dame, hands down. Seeing the Four Horsemen plaques and statues with Knute Rockne stuff... wow. We had a blast everywhere, but Miami was the least interesting. And Texas was a bit blah.

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