Many may have participated in a great all-day tailgate at State U or considered tailgating at all 32 NFL stadiums. However, pound-for-pound the back-to-back tailgate may be the ultimate. This double-dipper entails one day on campus at a premier institution of higher tailgating and the next in the parking lot of the nearby professional football team. This opportunity best awaits those near a college town and NFL city within 85 miles of each other requiring travel time of a little over an hour or less. Checking the calendar and Google maps we bring you the top five places to double-dip.
LSU-New Orleans Saints – In tailgating, time is of the essence. The more time to enjoy the event the better. Most of LSU games at Death Valley are at night giving tailgaters ample time to get into the flow. In Baton Rouge, the food will go way beyond an outdoor version of burger-world. This being Cajun country, the savory pleasure of crawfish and etouffe along with some tasty BBQ right off the spit will wet any appetite. About 85 miles down Route I-10 South, New Orleans awaits you. The Superdome is where the Saints play but the tailgate begins at the French Quarters, which is as open and carefree as Las Vegas. And although there is no gambling, the food is better if you relish alligator sausage and jambalaya.
Oct. 22 – LSU vs. Auburn | Oct. 23 – New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts
Washington-Seattle Seahawks – Much like at Saints’ games, Husky tailgates may not take place in a parking lot or the grounds surrounding the stadium. Much of the pre-game activity has fans floating on boats in Lake Washington, the body of water excavated by glaciers adjacent to the city of Seattle and the UDub campus. The local salmon will surely be on your plate as you make your way to shore. Navigating by water would take longer but land lovers will find CenturyLink Field (formerly Qwest Field) where the Seahawks play in downtown Seattle just six miles away down I-5 South. Perhaps the downtown environs hurt the tailgate effort as fans may be content to spend time at the plentiful restaurants and coffeehouses. Also, the food inside the stadium such as garlic fries and Asian influenced menu of rice bowls and grilled teriyaki meat induce many inside to munch on the concessions considered among the best in the NFL. However, the North Lot as the endorsed area for tailgating is the best spot for Seahawk supporters.
Oct. 29 – Washington vs. Arizona | Oct. 30 – Seattle Seahawks vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Army-New York Jets – The tailgate at Army games could be considered old school. The original concept of the tailgate was much simpler and stayed in-tune with the East Coast academia crowd who started it. The first tailgaters likely drove a Ford Country Squire station wagon filled with picnic baskets just to grab some decent food rather than depend on the sparse concessions at the game. However, communing with the wine and cheese crowd at West Point on the banks of the Hudson River enjoying the spectacular colorful fall foliage is a bucket-list tailgate. Just 45 miles down the Palisades Parkway, the blue-blood aesthetic makes room for the blue-collar man in East Rutherford, New Jersey at MetLife Stadium. The New York Giants share the stadium but the Gang Green fans outdo the Big Blue tailgate. The rowdier fan base chants of J.E.T.S. drown out the buzz of the nearby New Jersey Turnpike traffic. The diverse population of the New York metro area is evident with food selections from across the globe including among many; Indian, Caribbean and Italian.
Nov. 12-Army vs. Rutgers | Nov.13- New York Jets vs. New England Patriots
Florida-Jacksonville Jaguars – Gator fans have a well-deserved reputation for establishing Florida as what could be called Tailgate U. Along with the fans from its SEC rival Georgia Bulldogs, the two throw the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party at a neutral site in Jacksonville. However, back on the Gainesville campus is the true tailgate. Food and drinks in the standard blue plastic cups as well as beautiful co-eds align the streets leading up to the Swamp. In 2006, I witnessed all this and the Tebow phenomenon. That’s when the freshman quarterback from a nearby Jacksonville high school had almost 94,000 calling his name to replace the senior Chris Leak who that season would eventually lead the Gators to the national championship. Some 73 miles away in J’ville, the name that the locals call the largest mass metropolis in the continental United States is also a welcoming place where opposing fans won’t have to fear reprisal for supporting their team. However, the stadium is situated in a nearby neighborhood where makeshift plots of land are coveted for the resting place of tents and coolers.
Nov. 26 – Florida vs. Florida State | Nov. 27 – Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans
Michigan-Detroit Lions – This is the reverse double-dipper as the weekend tailgating begins in the NFL city. And for the first time in a long time the Lions annual Thanksgiving game may not be a turkey with the emerging Lions hosting the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. No matter the team record, the faithful come to support the Lions with tailgates full of food and fun games. Although, parking lot space is at a premium until recently, one spot was taken by the “Booty Lounge” bus – a tricked out traveling gentlemen’s club. That was until local authorities shut it down. But many avoided the adult entertainment by finding surrounding warehouse lots where tailgaters could grill and chill for free. Leaving the Lions Honolulu blue and a few deep fried turkey carcuses behind by heading west on I-86 about 45 miles later, the maize-and-blue tinged tailgating on the Ann Arbor campus of Michigan will boggle the mind. This is still the mid-west so brats abound, but the number of people surrounding Michigan Stadium also known as the Big House that can seat almost 115,000 will astound.
Nov. 24 (Thanksgiving) Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers | Nov. 26 – Michigan vs. Ohio State