Some of my fondest memories are of tailgating with my family when I was in junior high and high school. Football fandom has inspired its own unique culture, and every city is different in terms of tradition, food, and activities. If you're looking for a good party, though, these 10 cities are best for tailgating excitement.
1- Green Bay, Wisconsin
The Packers have been playing since 1919, and are one of the only small-town teams still in existence. Their impressive winning streaks and their devout fan base secures their place in the list of top tailgating towns, despite the fact that Wisconsin doesn't boast the best weather during football season. Plus, the Packers are the only community-owned team in the nation, so fans take special ownership of wins and losses.
2- Dallas, Texas
The brand new Cowboys stadium has renewed interest in tailgating among Dallasites, but it has been a popular autumn pastime for years. Tailgating parties for the Cowboys are always a lot of fun, with plenty of emphasis placed on games. You'll always find a game of cornhole going on in each of the lots.
3- Houston, Texas
Texas weather is perfect for tailgating, so there's no surprise that two Texas football teams made the list. Houstonians are fiercely proud of the Texans, and far more people tailgate than actually attend the game. In Houston, tailgating parties are found not only downtown, but also in neighborhoods and parking lots around the city.
4- Kansas City, Missouri
Speaking of Texas, the Chiefs were actually the original Texans (based in Dallas), and you'll find that tailgating is alive and well in Kansas City. The long held tradition of slow-cooked barbecue is perhaps responsible for the popularity of tailgating, but that's only the start. Arrowhead Stadium is considered the loudest in the nation, which speaks volumes about its fan base.
5- Nashville, Tennessee
Barbecue is also a popular staple of tailgating in Nashville. Titans games start hours before kick-off with parties in the stadium lot as well as in the parking lots of surrounding businesses. In Nashville, tailgate parties are very communal, with revelers sharing drinks, food, recipes, and games with their neighbors.
6- Oakland, California
Tailgating is extremely popular in Oakland. Fans come from all over to participate in Raider Nation parties, some even coming from out of town or out of state, taking advantage of the proximity of the stadium to the airport. Costumes, face paint, and rowdiness are all frequent sights at these parties, so prepare for things to get a little out of control.
7- Seattle, Washington
Most of the best tailgating towns are down south, where the weather and the food conspire to create an atmosphere ideal for outdoor revelry. The Seahawks are a notable exception, however, as their fans give Kansas City a run for their money in terms of the loudest fan base. The only challenge is finding a place to tailgate, as the North Lot at the stadium is usually sold out.
8- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
As one of the winningest teams in football history, the Steelers have an extensive fan base that continues to sell out home games year after year. This automatically translates into an energetic tailgating culture that involves not only traditional tailgating, but also more relaxed versions in bars, parking lots, homes, and other areas around the city (and even around the country). And in Pittsburgh, tailgating fans often stay long after games to celebrate victories or mourn losses.
9- Chicago, Illinois
Chicago offers perhaps one of the most beautiful tailgating spots in the entire United States, and Bears fans take ample advantage of this fact. The grass is one of the most popular places to set up tents, canopies, grills, fryers, and other gear, especially since parking passes in stadium lots are extremely difficult to come by. Just remember that, because of the popularity of tailgating, you'll need to get there early to claim a spot.
10- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Tailgating in Philly might not be as comfortable as in cities farther south, but Eagles fans don't let the chill in the air stop them from having a good time. Parties can be found at and around the stadium, including in nearby Roosevelt Park.