Top 10 Tailgating Schools in the ACC

Each week we are highlighting the top tailgating schools in the major five conferences.   You’re up ACC!   Talk to us and let us know where you think your school should rank.

10.  Virginia

UVA tailgate party at Alumni Hall (Photo by Norm Shafer).

UVA tailgate party at Alumni Hall (Photo by Norm Shafer).

UVA refers to the campus as the “grounds,” and the best place to tailgate is “The Lawn.” It was originally part of Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village, and now home to about 47 fourth year undergrads. The Lawn residents open their doors early to start the Saturday game day festivities. We suggest grabbing a rolling cooler and heading to this area for the real Virginia game day experience. Or you can walk on over to “The Corner” on University Avenue and find plenty of restaurants and bars littered with students and fans to enjoy the game with. The family will enjoy Cavalier Countdown located at Alumni Hall. Here fans can eat and listen to live music.

9.  North Carolina

Old Well Walk photo courtesy of goheels.com

Old Well Walk photo – courtesy of goheels.com

UNC tailgating is considered low key by most, but Tar Heel fans will take their beautiful campus setting in Chapel Hill over crazy parking lot tailgates any day. Plus, it’s a great place to bring the whole family. Tar Heel Town, located in the center of campus, offers game day entertainment for all ages, including: food and drinks, interactive games, autograph signings, bell tower climb, and more. This is also a prime spot to catch the Old Well Walk, where the coaches and players march into the stadium. And you might make it on TV. The Countdown to Kickoff Show is also broadcast live from Tar Heel Town.

8.  Georgia Tech

GT fans Tailgating with Atlanta skyline (Becky Stein/special) photo courtesy of abernathycochran.com

GT fans Tailgating with Atlanta skyline (Becky Stein/special) photo courtesy of abernathycochran.com

Located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, Bobby Dodd Stadium features this awesome skyline as a backdrop during the Georgia Tech football games. There aren’t many areas right around the stadium to tailgate, however campus is just to the west and north where most students and alumni hang out looking to throw a good party. For a unique experience, head to The Varsity to tailgate and eat at one of America’s legendary food stands. Once you’ve had your burger and beer, head over to Yellow Jacket Alley to see the coaches and players up close as they march into the stadium behind The Ramblin’ Wreck, the iconic,1930 Model A Ford that has led the Yellow Jackets onto the field for every home game since 1961.

7.  Boston College

BC fans courtesy of thetab.com

BC fans courtesy of thetab.com

Space is at a premium at Boston College (as one would expect in a big city) and it’s not the most tailgater friendly campus due to the strict tailgating policies. However, I have heard you can board the MTBA (or the T if you are from the area) with a rolling cooler full of beer and make your way to Shea Field.  Kinda Cool…But Boston College is on our list because the fans are great, some of the friendliest I’ve ever met, and the campus is 6 miles from the city of Boston where you can literally find anything from award winning clam chowder and beer to the historic freedom trail. This is a weekend tailgating experience and one we definitely recommend.

6.  Miami

Miami tailgaters at Sun Life Stadium photo courtesy of hurricanesports.com

Miami tailgaters at Sun Life Stadium – photo courtesy of hurricanesports.com

Tailgating at the “U” is limited to the parking lots around Sun Life Stadium. Not everybody at the tailgate actually makes it to the game. Some say if you make it in the stadium, you weren’t tailgating hard enough. Even though the school might not pack out the stands, the tailgates do get pretty wild. When the games start early, everyone starts drinking at sunrise. Breakfast usually consists of kegs, eggs, and, of course, mimosas, light on the OJ. Cane fans say few teams can match their intensity. The U invented swagger – and they own it.

5.  NC State

Wolfpack faithful at the grill courtesy of waltermagazine.com

Wolfpack faithful and their North Carolina BBQ – courtesy of waltermagazine.com

The Wolfpack faithful create a real country feel on game days. You don’t meet a stranger at an NC State tailgate and “Let’s go Wolf-pack is the standard greeting. Tailgating begins nearly five hours before the game as fans fire up the grill with some traditional North Carolina BBQ and yes the vinegar sauce. They are decked out in their best red Wolfpack attire playing corn hole and other games.   Two hours before kickoff, fans line the walkways in front of the Murphy Football Center, forming a path for the coaches and team in the Walk of Champions.

4.  Virginia Tech

Game day turkey legs - photo courtesy of stack.com

Game day turkey legs – photo courtesy of stack.com

Hokies fans are as good at tailgating as any other school in the ACC and with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop why go anywhere else? One of the major traditions of Lane Stadium and the entire game day experience is the massive presence of turkey legs. Fans consume these before, during and after football games. Is it in good taste considering the mascot? Who knows, but fans love ‘em! These tough and rowdy fans enjoy loud music, more specifically “Enter Sandman” by Metallica that can be heard at almost every tailgate, great barbeque and lots of maroon and orange. It’s quite the atmosphere outside of Lane Stadium.

3.  Louisville

Card March - Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Card March – Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Pregame traditions can sometimes be about a lot more than just food. Cardinal fans do enjoy the normal tailgate fare, but they really can’t wait to take part in the Card March and witness Coach Petrino and his football team, make their grand entrance through Streetfest at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Also, don’t forget to get your picture taken with “The Thinker” statue that sits in front of Grawemeyer Hall. It’s the first large-scale bronze cast of The Thinker completed in 1904. And what trip would be complete without making it to downtown Louisville’s historic “whiskey row” and drinking a mint julep at some of the best bourbon bars in the country.

2.  Clemson

Tiger Walk through tailgate - photo courtesy of fansided.com

Tiger Walk through tailgate – photo courtesy of fansided.com

 This small college town set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains attracts thousands of fans and alumni across the south. Fans tailgate early and often. Reserved parking is located all around the stadium and you’ll see the typical tailgate: tents, beer, large televisions and satellites, grills and music and one of the largest Tiger Walks in the country. Looking for a local waterhole, check out favorites the Esso Tap and Tiger Town Tavern. At Clemson, the RV’s start rolling in early in the week and things begin to crank up Friday afternoon, and Saturdays become a sea of orange making it rowdy in Death Valley.

 1.  Florida State

Friday night pep rally at Tallahassee’s Downtown Getdown – photo courtesy of seminoles.com

Seminoles take their tailgating very seriously. The showdown begins on Friday night with the “Downtown Get-down”.  This nighttime pep rally features the FSU cheerleaders, food, drinks and local bands performing for a sea of Garnet and Gold. On game day, you’ll find fans tailgating all around Doak Campbell stadium as soon as the lots open, grilling, drinking, and playing corn hole. You can grab drinks at Madison Social in the new Collegetown area, and there’s a pretty big RV society that exists at FSU. RV owners bust out the charcoal and liquor bottles early on Saturday morning. One of the longest standing traditions at FSU is the beating the Spirit Drum. Fans can take turns on the drum that beats continuously for 24 hours prior to the biggest game of the season.

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