Football season has arrived, and whether you’re cheering for the Dawgs or one of their rivals, all college football fans can agree on one thing: It’s officially the best time of the year. Football season means attending games, having watch parties, lots of fan gear and the long-time favorite tradition of tailgating.
Tailgating is a great time to meet with friends and fellow fans, have delicious food and drinks and get everyone pumped up for the game. There is no shortage of team spirit. If you want to make sure you’re having the best possible tailgate experience, keep reading our guide to the best tailgating spots and activities in the southeast.
University of Georgia
Photos via @ugaathletics and @georgiafootball
Following a season as National Champions, the Georgia Bulldogs are expected to have even more excitement, and fans, at the tailgates this year. Luckily, there’s plenty of space for tailgating in Athens. Myers Quad, North Campus, UGA Parking, and Milledge Avenue are some of the favorite on-campus spots for tailgating.
If you plan on staying overnight in Athens, check out The Rushmore from ATH | BNB in the desirable Five Points neighborhood. Combining the comfort of home with luxurious hotel accommodations, this bed and breakfast is the perfect place to rest before or after a Georgia game. Plus, it’s close to tons of restaurants and shops.
The Last Resort Grill is an Athens favorite, so be sure to check it out if you’re in town for a game. Described as southern cooking with a unique twist, The Last Resort Grill serves entrees like a Cornbread Crusted Trout, New South Tostada and Maple Smoked Tofu.
Stop by the Rooftop at Georgia Theater for a pre-game or post-game cocktail. The Georgia Theater is known most widely as a music venue, but if you visit the Rooftop you’ll also find food, drinks, quality coffee and more.
Heery’s Clothes Closet has been dressing Athens’ most fashionable citizens since 1959. If you need a cute outfit for your tailgate party, or just want to shop around, give them a visit. Not only do they sell adorable and trendy clothes, but they have a wide selection of Bulldogs accessories and clothing to get you ready for the game.
University of Tennessee
Photos via @vol_football
Tailgating in Knoxville is a city-wide event loved by Volunteer fans everywhere. Luckily, there are some options for tailgating close to campus so you can be ready to walk into Neyland Stadium at kickoff. For a family-friendly option, try the Volunteer Village, which has live bands, sports talk radio hosts, Volunteer alumni and the Tennessee spirit squad. If you want to party before or after the game, try the Vol Navy near the banks of the river and hosted by the various boats that arrive on game day.
There are plenty of hotels in Knoxville, but none as charming as the 28 room boutique hotel, The Oliver. Housed in a building from 1876, this hotel offers history and culture mixed with elegance and luxury. It also happens to be walking distance to many downtown spots and only one mile from Neyland Stadium.
The best way to recover from a Volunteer tailgate is with OliBea breakfast in one of the oldest parts of Knoxville, Old City. The Mexican-Southern menu is untraditional, but keeps patrons coming back for more. With a warm and welcoming environment, you won’t regret stopping by the morning before or after you cheer on the Vols.
If you can only make one stop for a drink, make it the Bearden Beer Market. It’s a beer garden, store and brewery all in one so you can sit and have a drink, then get some brews to-go before the tailgate. Not only does the Bearden Beer Market provide a unique experience, but they also specialize in unique hard-to-find beers.
The Pretty Pop Boutique in Knoxville is great for picking up a dinner outfit, getting ready for game day, or browsing for fun. Always up to date on the latest trends, this boutique will have you looking like the best dressed person at the tailgate.
University of Alabama
Photos via @alabamafbl and @univofalabama
When the Tide plays at home in Tuscaloosa, tailgating takes over the campus. Loyal fans from all over meet at The Quad to cheer on the University of Alabama football team. For a reserved spot at The Quad, you must contact the university’s tailgate service partner, Gameday Done Right. If you’re hoping to get lucky with a free spot, stay on the west side of The Quad where reservations are not required. Either way, you’re in for a treat with the Elephant Stomp, Walk of Champions and Paul W. Bryant Museum.
If you’re looking for a hotel that’s charming and convenient, stay at The Alamite hotel in Tuscaloosa. The Alamite shows off the past of the city, while looking into the future with sophisticated and local design elements. It’s the perfect place to relax on a game weekend, and is walking distance to Bryant-Denny Stadium for added convenience.
While you’re in Tuscaloosa cheering on the Tide, stop by the Sweet Home Food Bar for breakfast or dinner. They also have a special Saturday Game Day Brunch menu to get you ready for game day. Self-described as “New York Flair meets Southern Charm”, this restaurant is a favorite for Tuscaloosa locals.
Famous for their cups almost as much as their atmosphere, Gallettes is a favorite drinking spot for Tuscaloosa locals and students alike. They are one of the closest bars to Bryant-Denny Stadium and have been providing drinks and good times to Tide fans since 1976. Stop by and try one of their famous Yellow Hammers.
Lavish Tuscaloosa is one of the best places to stop for some game day shopping. Aside from their trendy clothes and adorable shoe selection, Lavish has a wide selection of game day pins and apparel for Alabama fans.
University of Mississippi
Photos via @olemiss
If you’re looking for the best place to tailgate at the University of Mississippi – better known as Ole Miss – look no further than The Grove. Considered a unique experience unlike any other tailgate, fans have been cheering for the Rebels at The Grove for years now. Not only will you have a designated space to eat, drink and cheer with all your fellow fans, but you’ll also get to experience the Walk of Champions.
If you’re visiting from out of town, check out the Graduate Oxford Hotel Ole Miss. Located only a mile from campus, this charming hotel is the perfect place to spend a game weekend.
When you’re not filling up on tailgate food, stop by Saint Leo in Oxford to try some of their wood-fired Italian cooking. Opened by California and New York native, Emily Blount, Saint Leo combines big city style with all the charm of a small town. They are committed to eating sustainably, locally and with the seasons, so your food is always fresh and delicious.
The Boure Restaurant is an Oxford-must. Stop by the balcony and try their famous Pickle Martini while you take in the beautiful Oxford view before you head to your tailgate or as a Sunday pick-me-up before you head home.
Need a last minute dinner outfit or some cute accessories for your tailgating look? Try out Cicada, named one of the best small boutiques by Vogue Magazine. Carrying brands like Ganni and Rag & Bone, you’re sure to look your absolute best when you step out of Cicada.
Photos via @auburntigers and @auburnfootball
Ready to head to Jordan-Hare Stadium and cheer on the Tigers? Good news! Auburn University basically becomes one giant tailgate on game day, so finding a spot isn’t that hard. On top of that, there are plenty of free parking spots surrounding the stadium that are great for tailgating. The Auburn Alumni Center is also open to everyone and has food, big-screen TVs, surprise guests and more. There’s also the Coca-Cola Tiger Fan Fest which includes DJs, inflatables, prizes and more for those of you looking for family-friendly options.
Centered in the heart of Auburn action, The Hotel at Auburn University is a great place to stay for a weekend cheering on the Tigers. It’s conveniently located minutes from Jordan-Hare Stadium, as well as other attractions so you don’t have to go far to get the full Auburn experience. The Hotel at Auburn University has over 235 luxurious rooms and numerous amenities, so book your stay now and get ready for game day.
If you want a historic experience and delicious meal all in one sitting, visit The Depot, located minutes away from the university. The Depot has been around since 1847, and was restored over 150 years later to bring you globally inspired cuisine and a delectable dining experience.
Before you head to your tailgate stop by SkyBar Café or head there after a Tiger victory for even more fun. With various stages and rooms, DJs, karaoke and more this bar lives up to its reputation as one of the SEC’s largest party bars.
Ellie Clothing is a great boutique located minutes from Jordan-Hare stadium. With weekly new arrivals, Ellie Clothing is always stocked with the latest trends, including adorable and unique game day apparel. Stop by for a cute pair of Tiger earrings or a War Eagle t-shirt to wear to your tailgate activities.
Louisiana State University
Photos via @lsu and @lsufootball
It’s been said that a tailgate at Louisiana State University is like no other. Everyone works together to create a diverse, well-sourced and friendly tailgate experience. The tricky part about tailgating at Tiger Stadium is that fans will search for parking spots far in advance to secure a space for their tailgate, so finding your own can be difficult. Luckily, there are spots around and on campus that are great for tailgating, and there’s never a shortage of parties you can join in on. Try the Parade Grounds, Touchdown Village or Greek Amphitheater and take part in LSU traditions like the Victory Hill march and meeting Mike the Tiger.
Spend the night at The Cook Hotel for luxury accommodations and spacious suites. Opened by LSU alumni in 2001, this charming hotel is known for its southern hospitality, elegant Louisiana-related decor and many amenities. Plus, it’s located only a mile from campus, making it convenient for traveling on game day.
If you’re searching for a unique dining experience while you’re visiting LSU, try Tsunami Baton Rouge. Located on top of the Shaw Center of the Arts, this open air terrace overlooks the Mississippi River. It’s not just a great spot for the ambiance though; their sushi is loved by many. Tsunami has fresh seafood, unique flavors and rolls made especially for fans of Creole food with ingredients such as alligator and crawfish.
Stop by The Chimes for a drink before or after the game. Open for over 25 years, this bar has become a tradition for LSU students and fans. The Chimes has an extensive beer and liquor list and is also a great spot to pick up some made from scratch food if you get hungry.
Rodeo Boutique, located minutes from Tiger Stadium, is a great place to stop for some last minute shopping. They carry cute, trendy clothes and accessories, including game day apparel for LSU fans.