The Top 14 Tailgating Schools in the Country


Ladies and gentlemen, as you know, it is the greatest time of the year. The leaves are falling off the trees, decorating your delectable LawnStarter-groomed lawn, but most importantly, college football has finally returned. Which means, of course, the return of tailgating. Who do you root for? Hopefully, it’s one of these 14 colleges, the top tailgating schools in the country:

14. Colorado

Never mind that the Colorado Buffaloes haven’t had a winning season since 2005. This beautiful mountain-town college proves that you don’t need to dominate the football field to excel at what really matters: tailgating. Boulder provides a picturesque backdrop of lush green grass, numerous bike trails, and of course, the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Students flood the streets, bars, and restaurants on game day, and eventually descend upon the stadium in time to watch Ralphie Run (Yes, a buffalo takes a lap around the stadium at halftime, it’s crazy.) 

13. Ohio State

Ohio State, a legitimate sports powerhouse, famous for its massive block parties hits the list at number 13 for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, it’s fun to watch winning teams, and despite getting dominated by Virginia Tech yesterday, Ohio State dominates year after year. Fans here are super proud of their Buckeyes, and it’s inspiring to know that people in Ohio have at least something to be proud of. Jokes aside, this Big Ten powerhouse will be a tailgating arena unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.

12. Florida

Welcome to the swamp. Gainesville is basically one small town completely comprised of one giant college, consisting of rabbid sports fans that still pray to their Tim Tebow statue every game day. That’s not to say tailgating in Gainesville doesn’t have a certain charm, though. It certainly does. Unlike the rest of the state, this is one campus filled with meticulously kept Florida lawns, a unique college culture, and swarms of blue and orange clothing surrounding beer pong tables. It’s certainly a sight to see.

11. West Virginia

For the past few years, West Virginia has been hard at work defending its titles as one of America’s top party schools. For this very reason, the tailgating scene at WVU is legendary. This Morgantown, WV University is wild, and it’s known to be adorned with the bright lights of flaming couches and other objects.

10. Washington

“Boat-gating”: ’nuff said.

Here at Washington, the typical revelry–energetic music, drinks, and delicious cookouts–are served on a boat, on a beautiful lake. Though this scene lacks our favored picturesque green lawns, for its creativity, we’re obliged to rank this long standing Huskies’ tradition at number 10.

9. Virginia Tech

WDJB7 describes it as “a sense of community for some, and an annual tradition for others.” It is exactly for this communal sense that Virginia Tech lands at #9 on our list of top tailgating schools. Fans wake up at the crack of dawn to devour delicious food and drinks and root for the continuity of the 2nd longest Bowl Game streak in America

8.University of Iowa

Iowa City is a college town, straight up. It’s got no shortage of bars and great restaurants, and its college football culture is electric. On game day, you’ll find the streets inundated with black and gold. Iowa is consistently ranked in the nation’s top party schools, and they take pride specifically in their tailgating scene.

7. Mizzou

The University of Missouri, while holding the positive flare that any SEC school exerts, lacks a central theme or location to their tailgating. That said, the school is still fervent about their sports, and therefor managed to pull a #7 ranking on our top tailgating schools. 

6.University of Wisconsin

Wisconsin is home to one of the biggest and most unique tailgating cultures in college football. It’s a tradition marked by copious amounts of brats and beer, the Badger Bash, and 8 am two-story beer bongs at every house in the Regent Neighborhood. Hey, maybe you’ll even make it to the game and get to Jump Around! One thing is certain: Badgers know how to party.

5. LSU

Nothing beats Louisiana cooking. Besides that, LSU’s tailgating is oddly legendary and is commonly noted as one of the greatest tailgating cultures in America (chronicled in this New York Times article very well). Confidence seems to be the defining factor of an LSU tailgate, as all Tigers fans are loud, boisterous, and proud. They even made this cute little video after the Wisconsin game this past weekend:

4. University of Texas-Austin

Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes the tailgate rituals. Whether diving into a plate of delicious BBQ, quenching your thirst with a Lonestar beer (or one of Austin’s many better craft beers), or getting lost in the sea of passionate Longhorns fans, your tailgating activities at UT will be an exhilarating experience. If you really want a unique experience, you’ll be sure to peep the bedlam that is ‘Dirty 6th Street’ after the game. 

3. Tennessee

As in Washington, Tennessee take the unique tailgating approach of “Sailgating,” but with the addition of SEC sports fervor and better food. Clearly, in Tennessee, we see one of the greatest tailgating cultures in existence.  

2. Alabama

Alabama has a powerhouse of a football program, and it shows year after year. The team is so easy to hate as an outsider because they are so excellent, and they win all. the. time. Because of this, their tailgating culture is remarkably confident and extraordinary, in that it really is all about the game. Also, like other SEC schools, game day is a fashionable affair–fraternity members are expected to wear blazers and ties. Many schools simply relish in the joys of drinking, eating, and reveling with friends and family (which is awesome), but this school does all of the above and then dominates on the field. Being in that environment is incomparable, so we’ve ranked Alabama as our #2 tailgating scene. 

1. Ole Miss

It’s no mystery why Ole Miss is hitting our list as the top tailgating scene in the USA. It is home to the “Holy Grail” of tailgating sites, The Grove. There’s nothing quite like a tailgate at The Grove, where well-dressed students, alum, families, and children all get together in this beautiful space to cook delicious food and sing Hot Toddy chants before walking through the “Walk of Champions” arc. This place is beautiful.

Notable Mentions: Auburn, Clemson, USC, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Florida State


Alex Birkett

Alex Birkett is marketer and writer. Aside from mowing lawns, he loves snowboarding, eating sushi, and lifting heavy weights. He moved to Austin, TX after graduating from the University of Wisconsin.