The Top 10 Tailgates in College Football
Few places have the ability to capture the hearts of opposing fans on game days, but the few that do are always places that land on must-visit lists for college football fanatics.
There are a lot of fun tailgate spots nationwide, but these 10 are the cream of the crop on Saturdays in the fall.
The list is heavy with southern hospitality, but that is to be expected. The SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 are well represented, as the big four conferences host some of the best pregame parties in college football.
As you prepare the list of must-see places this fall, these are the top 10 tailgate spots in college football that have to make the docket.
The Grove: Ole Miss Rebels
Location: Oxford, Miss.
When talking college football tailgating, it would be a travesty not to mention Ole Miss and the Grove.
The Rebels may not be the best team on game day, but the fans sure know how to launch a party. The Grove is packed with people, food and tents on game day, and leading up to kickoff, some of the best experiences are had by fans of the Rebels and whoever happens to be playing in Oxford that night.
The experience has become so famous that Parade Magazine highlighted the tailgating experience this past fall.
The Grove is the culmination of all things good about college football tailgating. You won’t meet someone who isn’t a friend on the Grove.
Death Valley Jambalaya: LSU Tigers
Location: Baton Rouge, La.
Looking for a good time on Saturday? Look no further than Baton Rouge, La., where the LSU Tigers call home.
Before, during and after kickoff, the Bayou Bengals faithful are living up to their reputation as party animals outside of the stadium. To be honest, at times, they move the tailgate inside the stadium with liquor and food in tow.
The Tigers have a reputation as having rowdy and sometimes aggressive fans, but I would contend that if you join in the fun, the Bayou Bengals faithful don’t care who you root for—unless it’s Alabama.
World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party: Georgia vs. Florida
Location: Jacksonville, Fla.
The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party may only happen once a year, but it is by far one of the best tailgating events in the country.
Mix two of the loudest fanbases in the country in Gators and Bulldogs fans, add in cocktails and great food, and a wild party ensues on an annual basis. If this happened more than one weekend, the fans wouldn’t last past the first month.
If you have a tailgating bucket list and this cocktail party isn’t on it, either you've been there already or you don’t know college football.
Jump Around: Wisconsin
Location: Madison, Wis.
Wisconsin is one of the most unique tailgating experiences in all of Big Ten football. The Wisconsin students don’t only get rowdy when “Jump Around” hits the PA system—they party down before the game.
With rumors of such delicacies like the Bratburger—a burger that consists of brats—and endless flows of beer and cheese plates, the Wisconsin experience is one of the best in college football.
Another staple at a Wisconsin tailgate—good beer.
Wisconsin does it right on game day.
Nittanyville: Penn State Nittany Lions
Location: University Park, Pa.
One of the better traditions in college football is the tent city that appears before games outside of Happy Valley on the Penn State campus. Hundreds of students line up their tents outside of the student entry gate to ensure that they receive the best possible seat to the coming day's game.
Penn State is a unique community with friendly people and a homey feel to the tailgating experience. It is not the rowdiest scene in college football, but the Penn State experience is one of the cooler traditions in the sport.
The student tent section was once known as Paternoville but has since been renamed Nittanyville in light of the recent NCAA sanctions.
Camper City: Auburn Tigers
Location: Auburn, Ala.
Days prior to game day at Auburn, campers begin to line the streets that lead into town. The Tigers have a loyal fanbase that is known for starting the Tiger Walk tradition in the 1960s and making even their instate rivals comfortable on campus prior to kickoff.
Auburn has a unique way of welcoming all visitors to the Plains—no matter their game-day affiliation.
With the campers that line the streets for days and the southern hospitality in Auburn, the only way for an opposing fan to have a bad time is seeing his or her team losing the game.
Even then, spirits will be lifted by the guy passing along a rib as you walk by, saying, “Thanks for coming."
Eyes of Texas: Texas Longhorns
Location: Austin, Texas
The eyes of Texas are upon you when you land in Austin, Texas, for game day. The Longhorns have a reputation as one of the best nightlife college towns in America, but they also throw a heck of a tailgate party on Saturday.
There is even a semi-private tailgate party known as the Longhorn Tailgaters. They have sponsors like Coors Light, Tito’s Vodka and other local businesses.
The Longhorns fans will always have good food cooking and beer flowing at the tailgate spots, but be prepared if you get turned away from the buffet line. They aren’t big fans of Sooners, so if that’s your affiliation, you may be out of luck.
Fans of Troy: USC Trojans
Location: Los Angeles, Calif.
The tailgating in Los Angeles may not get a lot of love traditionally, but the men and women of Troy know how to throw a party.
Los Angeles is a melting pot of people, and USC brings that multicultural twist to life at the tailgate. Great food and fun people are always willing to greet and share the tasty fare with any passerby.
Who knows what may happen while experiencing tailgating at USC—Will Ferrell and other celebrities have been known to pass through and make stops with other Trojans fans.
Vol Navy: Tennessee Volunteers
Location: Knoxville, Tenn.
One of the most unique experiences that any school can boast is the Tennessee Navy that floats in for game days. The University of Tennessee plays in Neyland Stadium, which sits beside the Tennessee River.
There are only two schools in college football that can boast such a unique tradition as boat pull-up tailgating—Tennessee and Washington.
At Tennessee, fans come from all around the Southeast and dock alongside the river bank and prepare for kickoff. Boats of all shapes and sizes partake in the festivities.
Add to the unique river tradition great food and lively fans, and Tennessee has one of the top 10 tailgating experiences in the country.
Boatgating: Washington Huskies
Location: Seattle, Wash.
The Washington Huskies share the unique "boatgating" tradition with Tennessee as one of only two schools that has boaters approach the stadium by water and tailgate there.
The Huskies have a steady following and boast a tailgating tradition that spans at least 50 years.
What also sets apart the Huskies faithful are the microbrews that they bring with them to the docks of Husky Harbor. You have to love the beer selection of the Seattle crowd.
Fresh seafood and friendly fans await anyone who makes the trek to Seattle for a college football game. This is truly one of the best tailgating spots in all of college football.