The Travefy offices are practically in the shadow of the University of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium, so we’re a little partial to college football around here. Though a bit biased, we feel like the Lincoln game day atmosphere is like no other (more on that later), but there are plenty of colleges that have developed tailgating traditions that are true to the region’s identity, and stand out from the crowd. Read on for the top college tailgating destinations.
The Grove at Ole Miss
It may seem a bit confident to refer to your tailgating space as “God’s County”, but if there’s anywhere that’s going to come close, it’s The Grove at Ole Miss. Filled with thousands of people in their Sunday best, everything in The Grove is focused on creating a game day atmosphere like no other. There’s no such thing as halfway – even the porta potties are dressed up for game day, and referred to as “Hotty Toddy Potties”. Two hours before the game, even fans who don’t have tickets to the game have the chance to feel the electricity of a stadium atmosphere, when the team walks through The Grove on The Walk of Champions.
Cockabooses at the University of South Carolina
While RVs with impressive satellite hookups may dot the landscape at most college tailgates, South Carolina embraces a slightly more eclectic shelter for their tailgating needs – redesigned rail cars dubbed “cockabooses”, after their mascot, the Gamecock. Like many American cities, Columbia boomed thanks to the railroad, and the railroad continues to factor into Columbia’s economy to this day. USC’s tailgating tradition pays homage to that fact, and Carolina fans can purchase re-purposed cabooses located in the shadow of the stadium, and deck them out to fit all their tailgating needs. The University of South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium is set in a primarily industrial district, meaning that tailgates are the place to be on game day – no splitting time between campus or a bar scene. Tailgates at USC start early, and usually pick back up after the game is over, going into late hours of the evening.
The Vol Navy at the University of Tennessee
Tennessee may not seem like the most likely candidate for a “sailgating” scene, however, Neyland Stadium’s spot on the banks of the Tennessee River make it the perfect spot for members of the Vol Navy to prep for gameday. Keeping with the theme of “off the beaten RV,” roughly 200 Vol Navy boats outfitted with TVs, hot tubs, slides, and, of course, plenty of UT Orange dock outside of the stadium.
The Bars at University of Nebraska
Truly a lazy man’s tailgating scene, the unique location of University of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium in the heart of downtown Lincoln means there’s less room for the create-your-own party variety of parking lot tailgates and more focus on hitting up the bars before the game. Alumni and students alike flood the downtown bar scene, and many of the downtown bars have been around long enough that even the oldest of alumni can have the opportunity to revisit an old college haunt. An alumni band wanders the streets playing the fight song, “Hail Varsity” (how well depends on how long they’ve been out), and people on the streets all join in on chants of “Go big Red.”
The Midnight Yell at Texas A&M
Game prep at Texas A&M beats even the earliest risers of the tailgating community – their tailgate traditions begin the night prior to the game. At midnight before each home game, a group of fans that rival the crowd at some college stadiums (25,000) gather to go over the old army yells, sing the fight song, and tell fables of how they’re going to beat the next day’s opponent. Finally, the lights go out at Kyle Field, and everyone who brought a date gets a kiss, and those who are dateless flick a lighter – to make it easier to find other dateless fans in the dark. Slightly unique, this tradition travels with the Aggies wherever they go – for each away game, they designate a spot in the game’s city to keep on a Midnight Yell the night before a game.