Obviously, we love football season for the sport, but what makes it really special are the tailgating festivities that surround the games. Every college football game day begins with a pre-game of some kind, and the biggest and best of them really are the most spectacular parties. At the best college tailgates fans, current students, alumni, and their families gather together to party, eat, drink, watch football, and enjoy the pre- and post-game festivities.
On game day, parking lots are filled with dressed up fans, college marching bands, a sea of tents, and thousands of smoking grills. Everybody’s incredibly proud and excited to be supporting their team, and they really do make a tasty day out of the whole event. Classic tailgate fare such as Buffalo wings, barbecued ribs, brisket, and chili is present at almost every party, but the most amazing tailgates (the ones featured on this list), also serve and enjoy more niche, specialty food such as the seafood gumbo seen at Louisiana State University and the spicy jerk chicken that’s a key feature of Howard University tailgates. There’s more to a tailgate than just supporting your football team: A spectacular feast, plenty of drinks, and wonderful old-school traditions are what really make these amazing game days.
For the fourth year running, The Daily Meal has taken on the challenge of identifying the 25 very best colleges for tailgating. To create this year’s rankings we created a public poll, which asked our readers to vote for their favorite college tailgate, share details about the atmosphere and spaces, and fill us in on the time-honored traditions, unique experiences, and, of course, the classic dishes. For the second year in a row, several Division II schools received such strong support that they have been included in the list, and this year we’ve also had two new entries: the University of Washington (no one can resist an amazing seafood-filled sailgate) and East Carolina University (the home of North Carolina barbecue is always going to host a great party feast).
If you’re thinking about attending several college football games this year, here are the top 25 that you definitely shouldn’t miss.