When it comes to American sports, football is king. Of the top 100 most-watched television broadcasts in 2022, 86% were either professional or college football, according to Nielsen ratings. With marching bands, game day traditions and historic rivalries, the pageantry of the college game is what attracts many fans. “It’s the feeling on game day and what it’s like walking into not just the stadiums, but the parking lots with the tailgating that you see,” says Matt Hayes, a national college football columnist for the blog Saturday Down South. “The way people are so invested in the school because it’s their school. Both the people who went there and the people who grew up around there love them, so I think just the investment in the team makes all these places so rare and so unique.”
Woven into the fabric of college football is tailgating, the time-honored tradition of showing up early to eat and drink before cheering your team on. Every school has its own way of doing things, but some do it bigger than others. Here are 20 college campuses with vibrant tailgating scenes.