For college football fans, the game itself will always be the main event. But the tailgate party doesn’t have to be far behind. What are the best schools for tailgating? At any of the following schools, you’ll have tailgating experiences you will never forget.
1. Penn State
Tailgating at Penn State is such a big deal that there is actually a name for the tent city that shows up before games at the Beaver Stadium. It used to be called "Paternoville," and is now known as "Nittanyville." Fans may party for days before a game takes place. While you are hanging out there, you might even be lucky enough to catch an unexpected performance by the marching band.
2. South Carolina
If ambiance is what you are after, the University of South Carolina offers one of the most unique and exciting locations for tailgating. You’ll be able to party at the Cockaboose Railroad, where you can rent a decommissioned caboose. There are 22 of them in all, each of them converted into a luxury unit with a flatscreen TV and other incredible amenities.
Another distinctive tailgate experience is Harvard. Here you can skip the typical brats and burgers. Instead, you can enjoy fine cheeses and wines, most likely served with real dishware. But don’t let that fool you—Harvard fans aren’t delicate, and they know how to party hard.
4. University of Washington
Show up to support the Washington Huskies, and you can go beyond regular tailgating to instead try "sailgating!" This is exactly what it sounds like—tailgating in a boat. If you do not have a boat of your own, you can pay to go out on someone else’s. While you are on the water, you can indulge in delicious seafood.
The best time to show up for a tailgate party at UCLA is of course for the Rose Bowl. But if you cannot make it out for that, it is still worth it to try and catch at least one UCLA tailgating experience. The weather is gorgeous, and the party scene is intense.
6. Louisiana State University
For another tailgating experience that is distinctly regional in nature, you’ll want to party at LSU. Where else can you enjoy jambalaya while you are supporting your favorite college football team?
7. University of Texas at Austin
The Texas Memorial Stadium is the site of massive tailgating parties in support of the Longhorns—but it is not the only spot where you can head to party before Longhorns games. Also popular are Bevo Blvd. and Scholz Garden. One thing is sure—wherever you decide to head to tailgate, you’ll be able to eat plenty of Texas barbecue surrounded by die-hard Longhorns fans.
8. West Virginia University
You might not expect it, but West Virginia University is where some of the country’s craziest tailgating parties take place. So, if you want to party with fans that go absolutely wild, this is where to do it.
9. University of Wisconsin-Madison
When it comes to states that are absolutely obsessed with college football, few can match Wisconsin, where just about everyone you meet has some loyalty to the Badgers.
So, if possible, you are going to want to go to a tailgating party while you are in the area. Not only will you be surrounded by friendly, enthusiastic fans, but you’ll also get to indulge in some of the most delicious fried food on the planet, plus plenty of cheese and beer.
10. University of Tennessee
You wouldn’t think Tennessee of all places would be a location where sailgating would take off, would you? Nonetheless, it is a big deal here, thanks to the Tennessee River. Collectively, the fans that party on the river are known as the "Vol Navy."
11. West Point
There are three places you can tailgate for West Point games: the South Dock, Daly Field, and Buffalo Soldier Field. While the party itself is worth the trip, make sure you don’t miss out on a walking tour of the West Point Museum. And if you are looking for luxury, book the stadium’s Tailgate Suite.
12. Florida State
As with tailgating at UCLA, tailgating at Florida State is a great experience in part because of the warm, sunny weather. You’ll have a blast here partying here—just make sure you don’t forget to bring plenty of sunscreen and shade.
13. University of Oregon
Come to the University of Oregon to support the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium. Tailgating spots to check out include Mo Tailgate Center, East Stadium Lot and Essig Field. Don your green and yellow, and enjoy mingling with the Ducks’ friendly fans.
14. Notre Dame
It should come as no surprise that another top destination for tailgating is Notre Dame. While you’re partying, you’ll have a chance to take in the school’s pre-game traditions, like the march out by the Band of the Fighting Irish, the marching band’s concert, and the player walk.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your College Football Tailgate Experience
Now you know the best schools for college football tailgating! Here are a few quick tips to ensure you have a great time:
- Create a checklist before you go so you do not forget anything.
- Get your food ready before you go if possible.
- Set up a pop-up canopy tent for some much-needed shade and comfort. In some locations, a canopy tent can also protect you from rain.
- Bring a lot of water. It is easy to get dehydrated.
- Look up all the spots where you can tailgate. Each will have its own atmosphere, dining options, etc.
- Each venue does have rules, especially regarding covid. Check them before you plan and pack.
- Wear the school colors. You’ll be better received by other tailgaters. Whatever you do, don’t wear rival school colors on mistake!
- Always have a designated driver.
- Bring along some fun games.
That’s it! Enjoy the college football season!