6 Winning Tailgate Experiences With The Locals

Kick off your next football game a little early at one of the country’s best tailgates

A good tailgate is fun for everyone—even if you don’t like sports.


You don’t have to love sports to appreciate what’s arguably the best part of being a football fan: tailgating. What’s not to like? Start with good ol’ fashioned fanaticism, add messy finger food and an abundance of drinks, throw in a shared appreciation of quirky tailgate traditions and you’re in for a great time. Whether you’re an NFL or college football fanatic, here are some of the best tailgate games and spots around the country.

Dock your boat

At the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, a good number of Volunteers fans “boatgate” on game day. Neyland Stadium flanks the Tennessee River, where more than 200 boats of all sizes dock south of the stadium before kickoff in an area dubbed the Vol Navy. Some fans dock their boats, step on shore and head straight to the game; others are content to watch it on TV while relaxing on board.

Hop on board

Columbia, South Carolina’s tailgating scene is one of the country’s most distinctive—fans eat, drink and relax in one of 22 luxury train cars, called Cockabooses, all in a line near Williams-Brice Stadium. “Cockaboose Row” started back in 1990 when a local businessman and his partner bought the garnet-colored cabooses from Illinois Central Railroad—in part to compensate for their less-than-victorious football team. If you can’t squeeze into one of these cabooses, no worries. You’ll find plenty of replica cars within walking distance.

Bring your napkins

Head over to Kansas City, Missouri, for a more traditional parking lot tailgating experience—but arrive early. Passionate Chiefs fans get going about 48 hours before kickoff. The die-hards are there all day, even after the final whistle. Stuff your pockets with napkins; every few feet in the parking lot, barbecue pits serve up some of the best tailgate food you’ll find—Kansas City’s signature smoke-kissed barbecue slathered in tangy tomato sauce.

Take the Lambeau leap

Green Bay’s historic Lambeau Field, is sacred ground for Wisconsin football fanatics. On game day, as early as four hours before kickoff, fans huddle in the east parking lot around the Tundra Tailgate Zone. Under climate-controlled tents, you can enjoy live bands, get alumni autographs, purchase food and drinks and pick up a bunch of freebies. Best part is that you don’t even need a game ticket to enjoy the experience. The Tailgate Zone is open to anyone.

Enjoy the block party

On Sundays, Seattle, Washington’s Utah Avenue is transformed into Hawk Alley Tailgate. This narrow street southwest of CenturyLink Field in the SoDo District is one of several places where Seattle’s twelfth man can hang out and enjoy tailgate games with other fans. Look for the blue-and-green-painted Hawk One, a 40-foot RV that houses team memorabilia—the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor is worth checking out.

Step in their shoes

Live entertainment is part of the Buffalo Bills tailgating experience, too. At the Billevard on Abbott Road in Buffalo, New York, enjoy a beer garden, games, photo opportunities and plenty of food trucks. Check out the Virtual Reality Experience for a sense of what it’s like to get ready in the locker room and run out of the tunnel to the 50-yard line. Let’s go, Bills!

Ready to travel? Find hotels in Knoxville, Columbia, Kansas City, Green Bay, Seattle, Buffalo.



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