The SEC is the most competitive conference in NCAA football, and the LSU Tigers have been part of it from the very beginning. Their most recent national championship — their fourth — came in 2019. But ask any purple-and-gold Tiger fan, and they’ll tell you their tailgating tradition has been tops in the nation for almost 100 years. They’ve got a good case.
There are many built-in factors that make tailgating at LSU an experience no college football fan should miss. Tiger fans are some of the most rabid in the NCAA, but they’re known for extending great Southern hospitality to visiting fans (at least before the game is played).
Virtually all of the area surrounding LSU is turned into a movable party on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons in the fall. Private tailgaters and local establishments work side by side for one of the most diverse and well-sourced tailgate experiences in the world of athletics.
Then there’s the food. Baton Rouge, LSU’s home base, is squarely in the middle of Louisiana, the center of Cajun and Creole cooking. Local classics like shrimp and grits, gumbo, jambalaya, and Muffuletta sandwiches are staples for tailgating at LSU. Along with standard but excellent grilled fare, you’ll likely find something you’ve never tried before near the grounds of Tiger Stadium.
Like most schools in the nation, tailgating at LSU ground to a halt in 2020 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s resumed in a limited capacity for LSU spring sports, but the school hasn’t officially announced whether football tailgating will get back to normal in 2021.
On the assumption it does, here are some of the things you need to know about how and where to tailgate at LSU, whether you’re hopping from tent to tent, checking out tailgate equipment rentals, or starting the party yourself.
Before Game Day at LSU
We always advise getting tickets well in advance of game day. LSU officially went all-digital with their tickets in 2020, so after you purchase them, you’ll get confirmation and links through your email. You’ll bring your smartphone to Tiger Stadium so that you can stride straight to your seats, contact-free.
If you’re without a smartphone, contact the LSU ticket office. It’s also open on game days 6 hours before kickoff time, should they have any seats still available.
Here’s LSU’s home schedule for 2021 — all games are on Saturdays:
- Sept. 11 – McNeese
- Sept. 18 – Central Michigan
- Oct. 2 – Auburn
- Oct. 16 – Florida
- Nov. 13 – Arkansas
- Nov. 20 – ULM
- Nov. 27 – Texas A&M
Pro-tip: LSU’s biggest rival — pretty much the entire SEC’s biggest rival, if not all NCAA football — is Alabama. The 2021 game between the Tigers and the Crimson Tide will be played in Tuscaloosa this year. But three of the Tigers’ next fiercest rivalries all play in Baton Rouge in 2021: Florida, Arkansas, and Texas A&M.
Travel and Accommodations
Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BTR) services one-stop flights to and from Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta, and Houston. If you’re coming in from somewhere else, your flight will stop in one of those cities first. Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) serves more locations, but if you fly through Crescent City, you’ll have to drive or hop a Greyhound to Tiger Stadium.
Tiger Stadium is around 3½ mile due south of downtown Baton Rouge, which has a full complement of hotels and motels. Here are 10 of the closest.
If you’re hosting your own tailgate, you’ll probably want to avoid the downtown hotels, since you’ll have beaucoup supplies to manage, unless you opt for tailgate equipment rental. Rent a car or van and stay at a motor inn, Airbnb, or another less vertical option for accommodations.
Getting to Tiger Stadium
Downtown hotel guests can hop aboard Touchdown Express on game day. It’s a public transit shuttle with various stops around town. Touchdown Express was out of operation in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but will hopefully be back up in 2021. Check for updates at the Capital Area Transit system site.
Another shuttle service has been run by Pastime Restaurant for more than 20 years. For $12, you get a ride to the stadium’s doorstep, plus a free beer at Pastime after the game.
Parking at Tiger Stadium
LSU instituted some parking policy changes in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 crisis, as well as a limited stadium capacity. Some parking lots were closed for the season. Every driver was required to obtain a parking pass, even those using free lots. It’s not clear whether this policy will remain in force in 2021 when it’s hoped that capacity will be back to pre-pandemic levels.
Here’s LSU’s parking map for 2020 — but keep monitoring the page for updates before the 2021 season.
How to Tailgate at LSU
Even for college football, in which tailgating is a must for every team in the U.S., the LSU tailgating experience is the stuff of legend.
For big-ticket games, like Alabama, some tailgaters actually leave their homes on Thursday night to find parking spots — if you pull up on Friday night expecting to find one, you’ll likely be disappointed. Keep in mind that many lots are reserved for tailgating and sell passes for parking during the pre-season. Scope out sites before you leave and have a backup plan ready.
The party starts the Friday night before the game. Tailgaters can start setting up shop after 5 p.m. on Friday evening, and festivities go on for the next 30 hours. We understand there’s a game at some point during this time, too, so watch for that.
If you’re not running your own tailgating gig, finding a spot to party near Tiger Stadium is pretty much just a matter of turning your head and possibly pointing at something. There are options at every spot. Some options that may seem a little crazy at any other college tailgate are just the order of the day at LSU.
Where to Tailgate at LSU
The Parade Grounds
The center of the LSU tailgating experience is right on the LSU campus. It’s an open green space that serves as the pre-game warmup spot for most LSU tailgaters. Every game day at noon, the Memorial Tower fires up the LSU Alma Mater, which unofficially begins the march to victory.
The hardcore tailgaters — the ones with recreational vehicles, massive barbecue setups, tailgate equipment rentals, and multiple sacks of crawfish — congregate at Touchdown Village. This area was built specifically for the RV population, but local bars and restaurants also have a presence in Touchdown Village on game day. Offerings are massive.
The Amphitheater is the place that LSU’s marching band warms up before the game, along with cheerleaders, flag dancers, and other pep personnel. It’s also where one of the most vital LSU traditions begins: The pre-game march down Victory Hill.
Two Native American ceremonial grounds are especially popular for tailgating families. The mounds were made for rolling down by excited kids and careless adults.
How to Tailgate at LSU: Tiger Traditions
Tailgating near Tiger Stadium is as wild and diverse as anywhere. Along with the general, unstructured revelry, there are a few traditions that Tiger Nation keeps up on Saturdays in the fall.
Victory Hill March
Everybody gets in on the pre-game march down Victory Hill: The Golden Band, Golden Girls, the LSU team, coaches, and staff, and whatever stragglers are in their path. Originating at the Greek Amphitheater 90 minutes before game time, the Victory Hill March is a must-do for the most die-hard Tiger fanatics.
Meet Mike the Tiger
Mike is the name of both the costumed LSU mascot and the actual, flesh-fur-and-blood tiger who lives in a specially designed habitat on North Stadium Drive. He’s the only live tiger that resides on a U.S. college campus and welcomes visitors every day between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
It’s considered a sign of good luck if Mike takes a swim before game time, but please don’t try talking him into it.
Tips and Rules for Tailgating at LSU
Tailgating policy at LSU is in a sort of holding pattern right now. The university canceled all tailgating activities in 2020 due to the coronavirus epidemic. LSU has allowed tailgating for 2021 spring sports with some limitations.
Although it’s expected that the 2021 football season will see tailgating return to LSU, there’s been no official announcement yet.
Some of the restrictions and tips to know about in case things do get back to normal include:
- 10’ x 10’ limit on tents and canopies
- Recommended use of battery-operated inverters rather than portable electric generators for tailgate equipment rentals and owned items
- Strong discouragement of glass containers
Food at LSU Tailgates
Baton Rouge is in the belly of Louisiana, which means it’s right in the heart of one of the nation’s best culinary traditions: Cajun cooking and the food of New Orleans. You’ll find plenty of it at nearly every stretch when tailgating at LSU.
Some of the staple items of Cajun cooking include:
- Deep-fried foods
- Muffuletta sandwiches
If these items aren’t already in your tailgating wheelhouse, spend some quality time on your favorite recipe website. Along with standard tailgating go-to’s like grills and pans, consider investing in cookware that’s commonly used for Cajun and New Orleans dishes: Gumbo and jambalaya pots, cast-iron biscuit pans, and sandwich presses for Muffulettas.
Restaurant Options Near Tiger Stadium
You won’t find too many sit-down eating establishments immediately surrounding Tiger Stadium. You’ll find a few clustered on Highland Road about a mile east, and a few fast-food options on Nicholson Road to the west.
Some of the top restaurants on or around Highland Road include The Chimes, an excellent Cajun and Creole restaurant with a ridiculously large list of beers on tap. Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux, off Highway 30 south of the stadium, is a family-friendly game-day destination that also features staple Louisiana foods. ESPN once named it the No. 1 sports bar in the country.
Bar Hopping in Baton Rouge
Most of the bars around Tiger Stadium are connected with restaurants, including The Chimes and Walk-On’s Bistreaux. Some others are more for the nighttime crowd, including those who’ve just wrapped up a day at the stadium.
Fred’s Bar & Grill on Bob Pettit Blvd. has a spacious patio and a great set-up for live music and DJs. Nearby Bogie’s, located just off-campus on East Boyd Drive, is single-mindedly devoted to LSU sports and students. Pluckers Wing Bar is a small Texas chicken-wing chain with two Baton Rouge locations, one of which is on Nicholson Drive near the stadium.
LSU Game Day Gear
With all the pageantry, revelry, and over-the-top costumes, tailgating at LSU demands at least some attention to appearances. Here are some of our favorite items, which can be found from tailgate equipment rental companies or purchased outright.
This chair-and-table set from Rawlings has two fold-out chairs with beverage holders and a lightweight table with two more beverage holders (in case you’re pulling double-duty).
Subject your automobile to the extremes of your LSU fanhood with this “Officially Licensed Everything” gift box for your car. It’s got a license plate frame, a badge, a decal, a magnet — basically everything except a purple-and-gold valet.
Finally, it wouldn’t be a tailgate party without a cornhole tossing game set. Save yourself the trouble of mooching someone else’s and bring your own.
Even though it’s still months away from kickoff, now is the time to act on these pieces of gear. You’re more likely to find sale prices for them in the summer months — when September arrives, those bargains will be gone until next year.
Tailgater Concierge is partnering with LSU to provide tailgate equipment rentals, food and beverages, games, TV, and other tailgating services at two games in 2021. We’ll provide everything you need for an unforgettable tailgating experience, whether it’s just you and a few friends, or you, a few friends, some of their friends, and a couple of passing strangers.
If you’re heading out to Los Angeles on 9/4 to catch the LSU vs UCLA game, be sure to check out: Tailgater Guide: UCLA!
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