5 Tailgates You Need To Go To — You'll Want To Add These Tailgates to Your Bucket List
Everyone loves a good college tailgate. While most tailgates are pretty much carbon copies of each other, not all tailgates are created equal. Here are five unique college tailgate experiences you need to add to your bucket list.
Madison, Wisconsin, is considered the greatest college town in the United States. On top of the great vibe of Madison, the Wisconsin Badgers have a long and storied football tradition that started all the way back in 1889. While the Badgers may not have been tailgating all the way back in the 1880s, they sure know how to have a good time.
What makes the Wisconsin tailgate stand out from the rest of the country is that the game-day experience revolves around house parties and sports bars rather than the traditional parking lot tailgate. Unlike most college stadiums, Camp Randall Stadium is located in the heart of Madison, so there really isn’t a lot of traditional tailgating space around the stadium. While the Wisconsin experience revolves heavily around house parties and sports bars, don’t think you won’t be included in the festivities. Wisconsin fans extend their Midwestern hospitality to all Badgers fans, and most front lawn and backyard tailgates are open to all. Get ready to slam beers, eat brats and devour cheese curds on game day!
The Badger Bash
If you’re looking for a more “traditional” college gameday tailgate, don’t fret — Wisconsin still has an incredible tailgate experience known as the Badger Bash. The Badger Bash is a free event hosted at Union Station across the street from Camp Randall that starts about two and a half hours before kickoff.
Thousands of fans attend the Badger Bash each game day and take full advantage of the gift shop, various vendors supplying beer and brats, and the marching band pregame show. At the bash you can expect to see a performance by the marching band and spirit squad, enjoy live music from local bands, and play fun games provided by sponsors, you may even run into some local celebrities.
Badgers Tailgating Attire
At a minimum, you’re going to want to wear Wisconsin colors (cardinal and white), but you should rock some school gear to really support your team. If you want to take your outfit to the next level, then join the thousands of Wisconsin students who tailgate in a pair of
red and white Game Bibs.
As anyone who has spent any time in the Midwest knows, Wisconsin gets very cold, so depending on the time of year, we highly advise layering up. Game Bibs make for a great additional outer layer and can add another level of warmth on particularly cold game days. We also recommend wearing a scarf, hat, and gloves for an extra layer of warmth. And on particularly cold game days, we advise bringing hand warmers, foot warmers, and a blanket.
Railgating the Cockaboose With the Gamecocks
For a unique tailgating experience, head down to Columbia, South Carolina, where the USC Gamecocks tailgate on cabooses. Outside the stadium, 22 decommissioned caboose cars are stationed on inactive railroad tracks, where Gamecocks fans can party it up. In South Carolina they don’t tailgate, they “railgate.” Each caboose has been renovated and turned into luxury condo units that offer one of the most fun tailgating experiences in the country. If you have the opportunity to attend a railgate party, not only should you accept it, but always bring something with you even if the host tells you not to. What makes the Gamecocks tailgate so special is their reputation for unsolicited Southern hospitality.
Gamecock Tailgate Traditions
Along with “railgating,” the Gamecocks have some long-held traditions that you won’t want to miss out on. About two and a half hours before kickoff, you can experience the Gamecock walk. Players and coaches begin their march to the stadium through the Gamecock Village, where fans can cheer them on. The other tradition to look out for is the USC marching band as they play “The Mighty Sound of the Southeast” throughout Gamecock Village.
Gamecocks Tailgate Attire
At a minimum you’re going to want to wear black and garnet to match the Gamecocks colors, but you probably should wear some school gear to really show off your Gamecocks pride! If you really want to stand out from the crowd and take your game-day look to the next level, pick up a pair of
black and garnet Game Bibs!
Sailgating at the University of Washington
For one of the most unique tailgating experiences in all of college football, head west to the University of Washington, where students, alumni and Huskies fans celebrate game day on Lake Washington. Since 1950, Husky Harbor Dock has housed around 150 boats and around 8,000 fans “sailgating” each home game. Husky Stadium is located right along Lake Washington, so rather than driving to the game, fans boat over.
Fans anchor at the harbor or set anchor on the lake and throw a traditional tailgate, except they’re on a boat. You can experience all of the normal game-day tailgating traditions, from drinking and grilling to partying, all from a boat. Before kickoff, a shuttle boat drives around picking people up and shuttling them to the dock for the game.
If you’re more of a land lover, then the Zone, Washington's very own premium hospitality experience, is probably more your speed. The Zone features pregame entertainment, food and drinks and is broken into two sections — the public section and the Zone Pass section.
The public section of the Zone opens up about three hours before kickoff, and you can purchase Coca-Cola products, beer, wine, and some food. If you want everything the Zone has to offer, you’re going to want to purchase a Zone Pass.
The Zone Pass gives diehard Huskies fans access to the premium section of the Zone. It opens three hours prior to kickoff and stays open through halftime. The private section has dedicated halftime bars, concession areas, shorter lines, and extended hours of operation. The premium side is also home to the Touchdown Tavern and a rotating cast of food trucks, so you can always find something new to eat each game day.
Huskies Game-Day Attire
When dressing for game day, always wear your team's colors, purple and gold, and rock some school swag to really show off your pride. We also recommend that you pack a raincoat because it rains frequently in Seattle. It can also get chilly, so we recommend layering up; you can always take a layer off if you get too hot.
Louisiana State University
Tailgating at Louisiana State University (LSU) is more of an experience than a tailgate. While most tailgates last an afternoon, an LSU tailgate is a weekend-long affair. According to LSU, more than ⅔ of fans tailgate for five or more hours before every home game and the celebration starts a full 24 hours before Saturday kickoff. The party starts on Friday night, and tailgaters start setting up shop at 5pm. The tailgate festivities often go on for a full 30 hours.
Food is important at all tailgates, but nothing compares to the smorgasbord of Cajun food tailgaters cook up each game day. You’re hard-pressed to find an LSU tailgate that doesn’t feature boudin, jambalaya, sauce piquante, crawfish, etouffee, and gumbo. Food is so central to Louisiana and the LSU Tigers that one of the most popular chants is “Hot boudin, cold couche-couche, come on Tigers, push, push, push!”
Where To Tailgate at LSU
Another thing that makes the LSU tailgate so special is that there are so many different places to tailgate on campus, and each provides you with a unique Louisiana experience.
The Parade Grounds are located right on campus and are the center of LSU’s tailgating experience. The Tigers hold their pregame warmup on the open greens, and every game day at noon, the Memorial Tower blasts the LSU Alma Mater, which marks the unofficial start of the March Down Victory Hill.
Touchdown Village is where the hardcore tailgaters party it up before the big game. The area was specifically built for RV owners, so you know they’re cooking up something great. Local bars and restaurants also have a presence in Touchdown Village, so it’s a great place to party. The village is known for it’s unbelievable Cajun food and booze and is unmatched by any tailgate.
The Greek Amphitheater is where you’ll find the marching band, cheerleaders, and flag dancers warming up before the big game. Aside from the live music, the Greek Amphitheater is a desirable location to tailgate because it’s where the March Down Victory Hill officially begins.
LSU Tailgating Tradition
The March Down Victory Hill
Arguably the most iconic pregame ceremony is the March Down Victory Hill. About 90 minutes before kickoff, the Golden Band, Golden Girls, LSU Tigers, coaches, and staff depart from the Greek Amphitheater. While I could describe it, words don’t do it justice. Checkout the embedded video below to experience the March Down Victory Hill yourself.
Meet Mike the Tiger
Mike the Tiger is not only the name of LSU’s costumed mascot, but he’s also a real life living, breathing tiger who lives in a specially designed habitat on North Stadium Drive. Mike is the only living tiger that calls a college campus home. It’s a time-honored tradition to take your kids to see Mike before the big game in hopes he goes swimming, which is considered a sign of good luck.
Tigers Game-Day Attire
Tailgating at LSU is like no other college tailgate — it’s a weekend-long experience. It’s really not adequate to just show up in purple and gold; instead, you want to step up your game-day look. With LSU tailgating superfans like the Unsupervised rocking ridiculous outfits, Game Bibs and so much LSU pride, you’d look out of place without a pair of
purple and gold Game Bibs on game day.
As students and alumni famously say, “We may not win every game, but we never lose a party.” Ole Miss might not be the Alabama of Football, but they certainly are the Alabama of Tailgates. Each home game, around 25,000 fans file into the Grove, a 10-acre wonderland of tents, bbq, booze, and tailgate parties. Ole Miss has the largest tailgate in the US, and while it might not be unique like a “sailgate,” it makes up for it in sheer size. If you love tailgating and love college football, make sure you experience the Grove.