Football season is finally here, which means lots of great plays and games to look forward to. But not all of the excitement happens on the field because tailgating is an awesome way to get into the celebratory spirit and have a blast with family and friends. If you love delicious food, refreshing beer, and cheering on your favorite team from the stadium parking lot, here are the best NFL tailgating destinations worth traveling for.
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Kansas City, Missouri
NFL football is a big deal in Kansas City, and the local fans here love their tailgating parties. Come here to try Kansas City-style barbecue and meet some of the friendliest people you’ll find anywhere. Arrowhead Stadium is a huge NFL stadium, and the parking lots open about 3.5 hours before game time. The Kansas City Chiefs and Royals share parking lots, so there is plenty of space to enjoy grilling out and having a few drinks.
We also love tailgating in Pittsburgh because of all the fun things going on around Heinz Field. There are quite a few parking lots here that open about five hours before the games start. There’s a mobile tailgating unit that is a re-purposed ambulance here too! Longtime fans often secure the best tailgating spots, but there are still plenty of opportunities for newbies as well.
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Tailgating at Lambeau Field is always an epic experience. Receive a warm welcome from Packers fans no matter what team colors you are sporting. They’ll share local tailgating favorites such as brats and cheese curds — and maybe even a local brew. Excellent tailgating options surround Lambeau Field in the neighborhoods and in the entertainment-filled bars just east of the stadium. The Johnsonville Tailgate Village is a fun stop before heading into the stadium if you don’t have your own tailgate set-up. Generally, space used for tailgating is 6 feet behind your vehicle and you can grill out with charcoal or propane gas here.
Florida football fans love heading to Tampa to cheer on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. This stadium has a capacity of 66,000 people and has lots on the north and south ends for tailgating. Arrive up to 3.5 hours before the game starts to access those lots, or you can get inside the stadium gates about 1.5 hours before the game with a parking fee. Fans with extensive tailgating setups usually arrive early and fill up Lot #1, while Lots 2, 3, and 4 are often filled with more families and kids. Keep your tent setup fairly small and your music at a reasonable level so you don’t break any rules.
Houstonians definitely know how to tailgate and bring that famous Texas barbecue to the NRG Stadium lots, which open 4 hours before a football game. This is a good tailgating scene to come to if you love meat-heavy favorites like ribs and brisket. Tailgating packages are available that include early load-in passes, a reserved tailgating space, and up to 25 tailgating guest tickets. Parking is first come/first served and saving of spots are not permitted. The gates to NRG Stadium will open 2 hours prior to kickoff for the Houston Texans.
Cleveland Browns fans also love a good tailgating party at FirstEnergy Stadium, and football fans here often start getting together to celebrate as early as 7:00 am. The tailgating community here is also famous for a culinary delight known as beer-can chicken! The Muni Lot is the place to be for an awesome day of tailgating, food, and games.
Philadelphia is another Pennsylvania city that has a real passion for tailgating. There’s a football shuttle that’s a re-purposed school bus and a lot of activity going on around the Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles. Arrive before the game to find a spot that allows tailgating in the pink, blue, and yellow lots. If possible, try to savor a Philly cheesesteak during your tailgating adventure here.
Orchard Park, New York
The Buffalo, New York suburb of Orchard Park is home to the Buffalo Bills NFL team and New Era Field is definitely a fun place to visit during football season. Arrive four hours before the game and you can find some amazing foods being cooked, including buffalo chicken wings and a special variety of roast beef sandwiches. Kids will love visiting nearby ADPRO Sports Training Center for its games and concessions.
Broncos Stadium at Mile High in Denver is also a fun place to go tailgating. A couple of lots here are available on a first-come-first-served basis. Before a Denver Bronco game, many tailgaters start to arrive early to get the party started. With so many great breweries in town, it should come as no surprise that a Broncos tailgate is an ideal one to check out for craft beer lovers. In Denver, you’ll need one permit for each parking space for tailgating, which must take place directly in front of or behind your vehicle. It’s necessary to wrap up your tailgate party an hour before kickoff, and glass bottles and kegs are not allowed.
Even when the weather is chilly, it’s fun to tailgate a few hours before and after a game at Soldier Field. The top of Waldron Deck and all of the surface lots are good places for tailgating as long as you’ve bought a parking pass. Some of the tailgating parties get pretty rowdy, while others are family-friendly and packed with little football fans. Popular food picks at a Solider Field tailgating party include burgers, corn on the cob, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and jalapeño poppers. Alcohol is allowed in the tailgating lots, but don’t try to sneak it into the stadium.