Top 10 Tailgating Spots in the Pac-12

This is it!  Our last edition in our weekly conference tailgating top 10.  Hope you have enjoyed them.  This time we turn to the Pac-12.   Let us know where you think your school should rank!

10.  California (Cal)

Cal fans on Tightwad Hill - courtesy of berkeleyside.com

Cal fans on Tightwad Hill – courtesy of berkeleyside.com

Tailgating at Cal is a lot of walking in a dense urban area and California Memorial Stadium is nestled right in the middle of Berkeley itself, so unfortunately there is minimal to no parking. Traffic is brutal as it gets closer to game time so most fans take the train in with their cooler of beer and tailgate at the stadium with the crowd of Blue and Gold. However, those that do find a good pregame party spot, do it well.  Lots of comfort food at the Cal tailgates; Pork sliders, ribs and grilled cheese along with some baked beans and cole slaw.  Goes well with the ice cold beer.  No ticket to the game?  No problem.  Instead of sitting in the bleachers at the stadium, some Golden Bears fans decide to make their way up to Charter Hill, also known as Tightwad Hill, to watch all the action.  The Hill is 100 feet above the east rim of the stadium, and offers up a surprisingly great view for spectators.  And lastly, these guys really despise the color red so don’t wear it or you’ll get the “take off the red shirt” chant.  Which leads me to one of Cal’s biggest traditions, the Axe Rally.  When Cal is in possession of the infamous Stanford Axe, they hosts an Axe Rally the night before the Cal/Stanford rivalry.

9.  Stanford

Fans tailgating at fanfest - courtesy of news.stanford.edu

Fans tailgating at fanfest – courtesy of news.stanford.edu

Palo Alto is a great place to be and the center of the Silicon Valley economy. It’s also the home of Stanford University football. What’s a better way to spend a warm, sunny Saturday in Palo Alto than to take in a home game? On a typical game day, the parking lot is filled with a sea of cardinal red, portable grills, food, bloody marys (or any other red alcoholic drink) and plenty of intense bag games. The tailgate scene is a crucial part of the game-day experience. If you are bringing the family, head to the Stanford Fan Fest which offers fans a place to eat and drink, and participate in interactive games. There you can see the players in the traditional football “Walk.” Stanford supporters line the pathway of Sam McDonald Road to Stanford Stadium to cheer on the players and coaches’. The best tradition at Stanford is the Stanford Axe; a trophy that symbolizes one of the best and oldest rivalries in college football—Cal vs. Stanford.   The axe has been the victim of numerous thefts and pranks during its existence, and is the wildest story of any famed rivalry trophy in college football.

8.  Utah

Utah fans tailgate prior to the Utah/BYU game. Courtesy of Chris Detrick/The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah fans tailgate prior to the Utah/BYU game. Courtesy of Chris Detrick/The Salt Lake Tribune

Another beautiful mountainous backdrop surrounds the Utah campus. A sea of crimson can be seen eating, drinking, and playing a few festive drinking games directly around Rice-Eccles Stadium. The parking lots closest to the stadium, are reserved for Utah Season Ticket holders. Most of the tailgaters now party in the parking lot next to the Hospital. Tailgating has been going on there for about ten years and you will see plenty of decorated RV’s, converted buses, and even tailgating teepees. Some fans have even started throwing tailgating parties in downtown Salt Lake, and then ride the train to the stadium. These parties can start as early as 7 am. Utah game day always begins with the Ute Walk. Hundreds of fans line the route down 500 South to Rice-Eccles Stadium to get an up-close look at the players and coaches. The Marching Band leads the team and the Spirit Team throws out T-shirts to the crowd. Utah has a nice setup, but if you want to go to the biggest and best tailgate of the year, wait for the annual Holy War against BYU…epic status.

7.  UCLA

UCLA MBA students tailgating at Rose Bowl - courtesy of mbablogs.anderson.ucla.edu

UCLA MBA students tailgating at Rose Bowl – courtesy of mbablogs.anderson.ucla.edu

The Bruins play their home football games at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena which has an advantage because you’re tailgating at a stadium where history runs deep. The stadium is located in a neighborhood so tailgating around the stadium is limited. Your best bet is to head to the stadium grounds and park on the Brookside golf course that surrounds the Rose Bowl. The back drop of the golf course and the mountainous view sets up for a very nice tailgating area. And yes you can bring barbecue grills and all the food you can cook! If you decide not to tailgate, there are plenty of great bars and restaurants in Old Town Pasadena located on Colorado Boulevard, just a short distance away from the game shuttle. Barney’s Beanery is a great place to eat and drink, with flat screen TVs to watch other games. For fans bringing the family, head to the UCLA Fan Zone. The UCLA Fan Zone caters to families, sports fans, alumni and students.

6.  Arizona

Arizona fans tailgating at the Mall - courtesy of ftw.usatoday.com

Arizona fans tailgating at the Mall – courtesy of ftw.usatoday.com

The mall is Arizona’s most beautiful and popular tailgating spot. Arizona reserves this tailgating and parking area for Arizona season ticket holders. So, if you are lucky and know someone in this mall area, take advantage. It definitely won’t disappoint. Breakfast burritos are a popular Southwestern menu item at the tailgates, as well as Jalapenos and peppers. No tailgate spot? If you are over 30 head to Trident Grill. Under 30, try out Bisonwitches on 4th. And you can’t forget to try a Mexican dog at El Guero Canero and top it off with a few carne asada tacos. The best in the country. If you are with the fam, head over to the Coca-Cola Fan Fiesta for pre-game fun. The Fan Fiesta offers live entertainment, food, drinks, interactive displays and a fun zone for the kids.  Fans and students alike line up along Cherry Avenue for the Wildcat Walk to shake hands with the players and wish them luck, alongside the UA Pep Band and cheerleaders.

5.  USC

USC Tailgating - courtesy of viterbivoices.usc.edu

USC Tailgating – courtesy of viterbivoices.usc.edu

At USC tailgates, location is key. The ideal spot is underneath the Traveler statue, that way you can see all the way down Trousdale Parkway, which is great for people watching the sea of cardinal and gold, but close enough to beat the rush of people to the Coliseum. The diverse fanbase cooks a wide array of foods; from brats, to jalapenos, to brisket. All paired with an expensive vodka or craft beer, none of that light beer stuff. Another good spot is next to Tommy Trojan making it an easy rendezvous point. The Trojan Marching Band performs as they walk down Trousdale which is definitely a must-see. And don’t forget to kick the flag posts as you make your way to the Coliseum which of course is one of the time-honored traditions. For a more family-friendly option check out Alumni Park which offers ample shaded seating, food, drink, TV’s, and other kids activities.

4.  Colorado

Ralphie secured in a playpen for fans to take photos - courtesy of Taylor Wilder/Emerald

Ralphie secured in a playpen for fans to take photos – courtesy of Taylor Wilder/Emerald

What better place to put on an outdoor tailgate party than the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Folsom Field sits more than a mile above sea level at 5,360 feet, so make sure you know your limitations and adjust for the elevation. So basically watch how much you are drinking and eat…eat all the amazing tailgating food, from breakfast burritos and bratwursts to buffalo style chicken wings, while taking in the view of the Flatirons rock formations. It’s simply breathtaking. Folsom Field is near the heart of Boulder and the surrounding neighborhood has plenty of pre and postgame options for food, drink, and entertainment. Buffalo fans can walk down to field level before the game to get a close view of Ralphie as she awaits her pre-game run with the team. CU turns its new indoor practice facility into a “fan zone” for each home game. Kids can play catch, cornhole, make signs to root on the Buffs, or get autographs from current CU athletes. Parents can enjoy concessions (including beer), big-screen TVs and catch a sneak peek into the new weight room.

3.  Arizona State

ASU tailgating scene courtesy of phoenixnewtimes.com

ASU tailgating scene – courtesy of phoenixnewtimes.com

The team may not be so hot, but the tailgating at Arizona State is, I mean you are in the desert after all. The Sun Devils appreciate everything hot, from their women to their food. Tailgate tents and jalapeno poppers are man’s best friend outside the stadium. Rula Bula is a no-frills Irish bar that packs in the pre and post gamers on Mill Avenue which is about 10 minutes from the stadium. Sun Devil fans gather about 2 hours before the game for the Devil Walk to cheer on the players and coaches as they make their way into Sun Devil Stadium along-side the Sun Devil Marching Band. The motto is to be there, be loud and cheer on your Sun Devil Football team as they arrive on game day. Then head on over to Sparky’s Touchdown Tailgate at Devils on College, which features entertainment, food and games. Tempe allows you to enjoy the college football experience but encourages you to get outside and explore the hiking and biking trails, the lakes and other sites throughout the city.

2.  Oregon

Oregon fans walk across Autzen's foot bridge en route to the stadium - Courtesy of Andrew Seng/Emerald

Oregon fans walk across Autzen’s foot bridge en route to the stadium – Courtesy of Andrew Seng/Emerald

Over the river and through the woods to Auzten Stadium! Duck fans enjoy the traditional walk from the Oregon campus through Alton Baker Park, over the Willamette River on the Autzen Bridge and follow the crowd to the stadium. Another scenic tailgating destination with mountains, coastal views, and plenty of adventure to work up an appetite. Speaking of, the food cooking up at the Oregon tailgates is as diverse as the scenery. From veggie burgers and barbecue, to chili, sausages and breakfast burritos. All paired with an assortment of the best craft beer in the country. The Cooler Restaurant & Bar and The O Bar & Grill are the closest sports bars to stadium and Sixth Street Grill in downtown Eugene is a popular pre and post-game hang out. The Moshofsky Center (The “Mo”), the Ducks’ indoor practice facility, turns into one of the largest indoor tailgate celebrations holding up to 5,000 fans before and after games.   The Mo offers food, music, beer, wine, TVs and the Oregon cheerleaders.

 1.  Washington

Members of the UW marching band perform on Big Dawg, parked at docks next to Husky Stadium. ©2011 Stuart Isett. All rights reserved.

Members of the UW marching band perform on Big Dawg, parked at docks next to Husky Stadium.
©2011 Stuart Isett. All rights reserved.

Annually voted the most scenic football stadium in the nation, the view from Husky Stadium is unmatched.  It overlooks Lake Washington and offers sweeping skylines of Downtown Seattle and Mt. Rainer. At Washington you can tailgate by land and by sea. The majority of tailgating occurs in the two enormous parking lots next to the stadium where tons of seafood is on the menu, from fried fish and crab to grilled salmon.   But when over 5,000 people come together for some serious “sterngating” out on the lake, that’s what makes University of Washington one of the most unique tailgating experiences in the country and number one on our list.   Members of Washington’s rowing team will even shuttle you from the dock to your boat. How’s that for great service? This is pretty much the Pacific Northwest’s version of tailgating paradise.

 

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