20 Football Teams with the Best Tailgates (and Legendary Food)
Here's where to be—and what to eat—when you're ready for some football. Fire up the grill, then cheer on these pro and college teams.
Enjoy America’s best tailgate food (Buffalo wings, obviously!) in the city where it all began. You don’t have to brave Buffalo’s bitterly cold weather to tear into a pile of sloppy, saucy wings—ADPRO Sports Training Center is an indoor tailgating facility.
P.S. Take inspiration from the chicken wings to make dips, sandwiches and other snacks coated in Buffalo sauce.
University of Mississippi
Tailgating in a parking lot? Please. Ole Miss fans tailgate in The Grove, which is 10 acres of shady oak trees, gorgeous tents and an endless stream of whiskey. This isn’t your average pre-party, either. The university spends $750,000 on tailgating each season, and some people hire interior designers for their tents (!) and have professional chefs cater the game day hors d’oeuvres.
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Ask any Packers fan near Lambeau Field and they’ll swear Green Bay invented tailgating. While the real origin of the tradition is up in the air, the Frozen Tundra is definitely the spot to be on Sunday. Hit the Tundra Tailgate Zone for cheese curds or bratwurst hot off the grill.
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Any team that visits Tiger Stadium should expected to get roasted. LSU tailgaters have a tradition of grilling up their opponent’s mascot on game day. (That means barbecued alligator when University of Florida is in town!) The school is so passionate about its food, they even have a cheer about it: “Hot boudin, cold couche-couche, come on Tigers…Push, push, push!”
New England Patriots
If you’ve ever thought, I’d really love a hot cup of clam chowder while I’m watching the game today, you’re in luck. At Gillette Stadium, not only is there plenty of that famous New England chowder (or should we say chowdah), there’s also live music and fresh seafood amidst a sea of navy and white Tom Brady jerseys.
State College, Pennsylvania
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! (And the Nittany Lions, of course.) But the ice cream from Penn State’s Creamery really is the star of the pre-game party. Try a scoop of their new flavor this season, called “White Out,” which is a buttery popcorn base mixed with white chocolate chips.
As the saying goes, “da Bears are da best.” Apparently that applies to tailgating, too, which is obvious when you open up any game day grill in the Windy City. The fans are known for mouthwatering steaks, Chicago-style hot dogs and grilled Krispy Kreme burgers (like a regular burger but with donuts instead of buns).
The Ohio State University
If you aren’t diving into a pile of buckeyes, are you even at an Ohio State tailgate? We’re talking about the delicious dessert that Ohio fans make every Saturday. Buckeyes are like Reese’s but better: balls of peanut butter dipped in chocolate to look like an actual buckeye nut.
Forget what’s happening on the field—this Ohio city gave birth to the popular beer-can chicken, which has since become a staple on tailgate menus across the country. It’s a whole chicken that’s stuffed with a beer can and grilled to golden juicy perfection. Yum!
University of Alabama
Sure, you could crack open a beer. But if you’re at an Alabama tailgate, sip a Yellowhammer instead. Named after the state bird, the Crimson Tide drink of choice is vodka, rum, amaretto, orange juice and pineapple juice. It’s best enjoyed with a side of Southern barbecue, while wearing houndstooth and singing “Yea, Alabama.”
Everything’s bigger in Texas, including their game day celebrations. Check out the tailgate scene at NRG Stadium, where pro pitmasters are grilling up drool-worthy barbecue, friends are playing pick-up football in the parking lots and Texans superfans are competing for the coveted Tailgater of the Year award.
North Dakota State
Fargo, North Dakota
Leave it to North Dakota to have some quirky tailgating traditions. Instead of bratwurst, you’ll be munching on deer sausage. Instead of cornhole, you’ll be playing “Where’s Waldo,” a game where everyone tries to find the one fan dressed as the character. And instead of beer, you’ll be drinking an Icehole, which is a glass of frosty mint schnapps.
Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City, Missouri
The first rule of any Kansas City tailgate: there better be bacon. It’s as much a staple at Arrowhead Stadium as the beer, and you can find it at almost any tent, whether you’re chowing down on bacon-wrapped hot dogs or chicken-fried bacon. Don’t miss the great chili cook-off, which happens once a year!
University of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
USC fans know that the only thing better than a tailgate is a tailgate on a train. Meet the South Carolina Cockaboose, a line of 22 converted train cars just a short walk from Williams-Brice Stadium. Each car is available for rent whenever the Gamecocks are in town, and feature TVs, rooftop bars and cushy interiors.
In Philly, the early bird gets the worm—or rather, they get the fluffiest soft pretzels, gooiest cheesesteaks and dibs on the first game of “Shotgun Shotgun,” the fan-invented drinking game played at every tailgate. The festivities begin at 6 a.m. on football Sundays as trucks, RVs and buses line up to get the best spot on the lot.
University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa
It’s no secret that the legendary tailgates at the University of Iowa are golden. Join the 100,000 fans who gather outside Kinnick Stadium to enjoy the world’s largest turkey legs with music from the marching band and chants of “I-O-W-A!” Don’t forget to make a stop at the Magic Bus, the can’t-miss party spot run by the school’s rugby club.
When tickets for tailgating sell out faster than tickets for the actual game, you know it’s bound to be a party. Eat your fill of the state’s famous fried crab cakes, then get the purple party started over at the Fan Bus in super-spirited Lot O. Bonus points for whoever can do the best Ray Lewis-inspired pregame dance. Ca-caw!
University of Tennessee
Forget tailgating—in Knoxville, it’s all about sail-gating. Boasting some of the most hardcore fans in the SEC, the University of Tennessee gets ready for game day with the Vol Navy, a procession of 250 boats and floats that gather on the river outside the stadium every Saturday. Hop on board, where you’ll find fully-stocked bars, flat-screen TVs and bright orange everything.
On Sundays, the only thing higher than the Mile High City itself is the spirit of Broncos fans. While there’s plenty to do in any of the lots—which open as early as 6 hours before kickoff—highlights include the colorful caravans of converted school buses (some even have “rooftop” patios!) and the endless supply of craft beer.
Texas Christian University
Forth Worth, Texas
TCU fans come out in droves for every home game at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Stroll down Frog Alley before kickoff to have your jersey autographed by the players, get pumped up with the spirit band as they blare the fight song, and snack on Texas-sized stuffed jalapenos.