Home For Travelers "Best of" Lists America’s Top Cities For NFL Tailgating

America’s Top Cities For NFL Tailgating

Grilling three hotdogs on a portable grill with glowing charcoal briquettes and American football in the corner. The freshly mowed natural green turf provides space for the tailgate.

Every year more than 17 million spectators flock to stadiums around the country to cheer their favorite NFL teams on to victory…but that’s not all they do.

Tailgating has become a wildly popular tradition in many cities around the country. Stadium parking lots fill with carloads of fans, the smell of sausages fills the air and beers are poured and passed throughout the day. They offer a lively atmosphere and an energy that summons both camaraderie and friendly competition among those who participate.

With football season in full swing, we wanted to highlight the cities with the biggest tailgate where there’s as much fun happening off the field as there is inside the stadium’s gates.

Buffalo Bills | Orchard Park, NY

Buffalo Bills fans aren’t shy about their love for tailgating. Come rain, shine or snow, fans flood the stadium lots the very second they open, four hours before each game. The city’s famed Buffalo chicken wings feature heavily, as do “beef on weck” sandwiches (roast beef on kummelweck rolls). You won’t go hungry among the endless rows of cars surrounding New Era Field.

If you’ve brought your kids along for the game, the Buffalo Bills host a massive indoor tailgate as well. Located inside the ADPRO Sports Training Center, families can enjoy live entertainment, interactive games, prizes and a variety of concessions.

The stadium itself is located in Orchard Park, just a short drive from downtown Buffalo. Choose from vacation rentals in either city and you’ll have convenient access to New Era Field, so you can maximize your tailgating time. Make a weekend getaway out of your football pilgrimage to New York, though, and tour the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, check out Frank Lloyd Wright’s unique Martin House Complex, and stroll around the vibrant Elmwood Village.

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Green Bay Packers | Green Bay, WI

Lambeau Field stadium and sign in Green Bay, Wisconsin has some of the best tailgates in the NFL.

Lambeau Field stadium and sign in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Whether you’re able to enjoy a crisp, sunny day in Wisconsin or you’re huddled around a grill for warmth, Green Bay Packers tailgates are among the best. It’s to be expected though when the team is community-owned; Packers devotees can purchase shares in the team, upping the stakes of their team pride…and tailgates. Bratwurst and cheese are some of the most popular foods you’ll find Packers fans enjoying.

Lambeau Field’s east parking lot is home to the Tundra Tailgate Zone, which offers all of the game day excitement within climate controlled tents. Expect live music, former players signing autographs, food and more. The best part? No game ticket required.

Green Bay does have things to do besides take in a Packers game, though. Get yourself psyched up for the game by visiting the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame, with its interactive displays and historic team treasures. Other attractions worth checking out include the Neville Public Museum, the National Railroad Museum and the Heritage Hill State Historical Park. Rent a home in town that puts you in close proximity to Green Bay’s best attractions.

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Philadelphia Eagles | Philadelphia, PA

Arrive at Lincoln Financial Field and you’ll immediately be greeted by a sea of fans decked out in midnight green, silver and black. Tailgating is allowed in parking lots that surround the stadium and they open five hours before kick off. After devouring the requisite Philly cheesesteak, wander over to the Wells Fargo Center parking lot to see The Football Shuttle, a school bus that’s been re-designed just for tailgating.

Tack on an extra day to your vacation after the Eagles’ game to recover at your Philadelphia rental or spend time exploring America’s historic city. There are many must-see attractions here, including the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed. The Reading Terminal Market has something for everyone and the Philadelphia Museum of Art will amaze art-lovers.

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Cleveland Browns | Cleveland, OH

First Energy Stadium, home of the NFL Cleveland Browns.

First Energy Stadium, home of the NFL Cleveland Browns.

Despite the Browns’ record, the city’s fans take their tailgating seriously. The city comes together each week to cheer on its home team, and, as a result, the Cleveland Browns “Muni Lot” has become legendary for its enthusiastic tailgates. The parties take place across 16 acres of land with games, food and celebrations. Be on the lookout for a bus with a giant dog head on the front, affectionately known as the Tailgate Dawg.

One of the advantages to staying in a vacation home during your trip to Cleveland is access to a full kitchen. Stock up on hamburger patties and buns, beer and snacks the day before the game and organize everything at your rental before heading out. When packing for your weekend in Browns territory, make sure that all of your orange and brown apparel makes it into your suitcase. You don’t want to stand out as an opponent in a sea of Browns fans here.

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Houston Texans | Houston, Texas

The expression that “everything is bigger in Texas” certainly holds true for their tailgating scene. From brisket and burgers to deer and elk, you’ll find a variety of meat to enjoy at Texan tailgates. The lots open four hours before kickoff and parking is first-come, first-served. The local grocery store H-E-B sponsors the gameday tradition of naming the Tailgater of the Game, so make sure to prepare your finest barbecue and dips for a shot at bragging rights.

If you don’t need to be there four hours before the game starts, take the light rail train from Midtown to NRG Stadium. Trains run every 12 minutes and cost a nominal fee of $1.25 per ride. Just make sure to pack extra food and tailgate supplies so you can persuade someone with a parking spot to let you join.

Book a Houston rental in advance since the city is flooded with Texan fans that pour into NRG Stadium’s more than 72,000 seats each game. In addition to having the allure of NFL football games, the fall months are ideal for visiting Houston because temperatures drop slightly at this time of year. Expect to enjoy daytime highs in the low-80s, or pack a light jacket if you’re going to an evening game when temperatures might dip into the 50s.

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Pittsburgh Steelers | Pittsburgh, PA

Three people kayaking in the Allegheny River in front of Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Three people kayaking in the Allegheny River in front of Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Heinz Field holds over 65,000 people, many of whom arrive five hours before kickoff to tailgate. Closest to the stadium’s  gates, you’ll find the longtime fans who take tailgating to new levels with incredible spreads matched only by their team pride. Blue Lots 7F &7H are where you’ll find the best chefs. Some sell they cook up so bring cash and try a taste of traditional tailgating fare.

Tailgating at the Stage AE Tailgate requires a bit less effort than when you have your own parking spot, but it’s just as fun. This area by Heinz Field is family-friendly, offers indoor & outdoor viewing areas for NFL games, live music and fun tailgate games. If there’s one thing you can be sure of in Pittsburgh, it’s passion from the Steelers’ dedicated fans.

Choose from a variety of FlipKey rentals within walking distance to Heinz Field. This will give you time to get acquainted with the area before game day, and there are many nearby attractions worth visiting. Take the kids to the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, visit the Andy Warhol Museum or check out the Market Square Place while you’re in town.

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Kansas City Chiefs | Kansas City, MO

Attending a tailgate for a Kansas City Chiefs game is like going to a massive outdoor party – and one where you’ll likely make a few friends. Arrowhead Stadium is one of the largest NFL stadiums in the country so it’s not surprising that the tailgate scene is renowned. Purchase a single game parking pass in advance and you’ll save money and time on game day by avoiding long lines at the tollgates. Parking lots open five and a half hours before the game for visitors with Early Arrival Tailgate Passes and four hours ahead for everyone else.

Book a vacation rental in downtown Kansas City, and explore the area during your down time. There are several unique museums, such as the Arabia Steamboat Museum and the National World War I Museum and Memorial, that offer interesting exhibits and there’s no shortage of good food here. Be sure to save room for your fix of smoky, saucy Kansas City-style barbecue during your tailgate.

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Denver Broncos | Denver, CO

Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado is a popular spot for tailgating.

Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado is a popular spot for tailgating.

Don’t be shy at a Denver Broncos tailgate. The city is known for its friendly football fans, making it a fun experience even for out-of-towners. This welcoming atmosphere just might be related to Denver’s standing as the craft beer capital of America, where a cold brew is never far from reach.

Sports Authority Field at mile High has a place for everyone to tailgate no matter the mode of transportation. Fans arriving by car can purchase a parking space for $30 and choose a spot on a first-come, first-served basis. If you don’t have access to a car during your trip to Denver, don’t worry. The Mile High Mountain Village is open to all visitors with a ticket to the game. This area features food and drink specials, flat-screen TVs, appearances from football alumni and cheerleaders and so much more. It’s the perfect option for those that haven’t had time to shop for tailgating supplies.

Even if you don’t have a ticket to the game, you’ll have fun being in Denver on game day. Stay at a rental in the center of the city so you can walk from bar to bar throughout the day. Denver’s vibrant downtown comes alive when the Broncos take the field.

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