The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the NFL’s signature franchises. Their championship tradition and intense connection with their fan base make Steelers Country the envy of most NFL teams (even if they won’t admit it).
Tailgating at Heinz Field is a unique urban experience, but it attracts Steelers fans from cities and areas of all different types. It’s an essential part of game day, even for fans of the visiting team.
In this guide, we’ll help you plan your game day and navigate tailgating service at Heinz Field.
Before Game Day
Pittsburgh Steelers 2021-22 Home Schedule
Here are the teams the Steelers are facing at Heinz Field this season. All games are on Sundays, except where noted.
- Aug. 21 (Sat.) – Detroit
- Sept. 19 – Las Vegas
- Sept. 26 – Cincinnati
- Oct. 10 – Denver
- Oct. 17 – Seattle
- Nov. 8 (Mon.) – Chicago
- Nov. 14 – Detroit
- Dec. 5 – Baltimore
- Dec. 19 – Tennessee
- Jan. 3 (Mon.) – Cleveland
Big Games: Baltimore and Cleveland are expected to vie for the AFC North title in 2021, so their late-season matchups with the Steelers are must-see games.
Single-game tickets are available at the Steelers’ online ticket office. Get your tickets early, as Heinz Field fills up fast every season. You can also get on the season ticket waiting list, which could pay off for you in about 20 years.
Travel, Accommodations, and Transportation
Pittsburgh, one of the most hardcore sports towns in the country, is in the southeast part of Pennsylvania at the junction of three rivers. Here are some tips on how to get there and where to stay.
Traveling to Pittsburgh
Driving: Interstates 79, 279, and 376 all lead to Pittsburgh, as does US Route 19.
Air Travel: Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) takes non-stop flights from most major US airports and pretty much all of the ones in the Midwest and on the East Coast.
Rail: Union Station in downtown Pittsburgh handles Amtrak’s Capitol Limited and Pennsylvanian lines.
Nearby Hotels and Accommodations
Heinz Field is conveniently located near downtown Pittsburgh, so you’ll have lots of choices for hotels. Those on the north side of the Allegheny River near the stadium include Hyatt Place, Residence Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and Springhill Suites.
If you plan to host your own tailgate, we strongly suggest avoiding downtown hotels and booking an Airbnb residential reservation. You’ll have ample room for your truck and equipment, plus a kitchen to work in the night before.
Getting to Heinz Field
All lines of Pittsburgh’s light rail system end (or begin, if you like) near Heinz Field. If you’re staying in a downtown hotel, it’s completely free. Elsewhere, it’s cheap.
You can also take a water shuttle or the Gateway Clipper across the river. All of these options are listed in Heinz Field’s colorful transportation guide.
How to Tailgate at Heinz Field
Tailgating at Heinz Field is a tradition that has passed through generations of Steelers fans. Here are some tips for how to do it.
Tailgating at Heinz Field: Parking
Setting up your rig can be tricky unless you know where to go. Here are the best places to park.
Let’s start by posting the stadium parking map — open it up and follow along.
Parking on the North Shore can be tight. Most of the spaces in parking lots around Heinz Field — including the Gold, Red, and Green lots — are pre-sold, many of them for the whole season.
The Gold lots right next to the stadium are mostly reserved for season-ticket holders with annual permits. Single-game ticket holders can try to buy a space in the Green or Red lots with SpotHero. It’s best to do so well before game day.
Tailgating is allowed in parking lots, but not garages. The lots typically open about five hours before kickoff. Get there as early as you can.
If you can’t buy parking passes in advance, some of the Blue lots on the eastern side of North Shore and the lots around Rivers Casino might be able to accommodate you. But you really should buy parking in advance if your heart is set on the North Shore.
Your best bet may be to park in a downtown garage and walk across the river to Heinz Field. It’s almost as convenient as North Shore parking and much less expensive. Use the ParkPGH mobile app to find downtown parking on game-day.
RV parking is not allowed on the stadium-controlled lots. You’ll find a few RV-friendly lots starting about five blocks from Heinz Field. Use the ParkPGH app.
Where to Tailgate at Heinz Field
All of the stadium parking lots (but not garages) are great places to tailgate. The Gold lots are where you’ll find the most dedicated Steelers fans, many of them long-time tailgate veterans. Team pride runs deep there.
The Red lot tailgating scene is also pretty active and a little more family-centric than tailgates in the outlying lots. The Green lots host some pretty lavish tailgating vehicles.
As for team-sponsored parties, Stage AE near the southeast corner of the stadium is the Official Tailgate Zone. You’ll find lots of food and beverages, contests, sports talk radio panels, live bands, and large-screen TVs to take in all of the action. The Official Tailgate Zone opens four hours before kickoff.
Tailgating at Heinz Field: Rules and Tips
Tailgating at the stadium lots is overseen by Alco Parking, who have a Code of Conduct on their Steelers parking page. Some of their rules include:
- No glass containers
- No tents
- No food or beverage sales
- No furniture other than folding chairs and tables
Check before game day to see if your parking lot allows grilling — most do, but some don’t. Open fires are not allowed in any lots.
Nearby Drinks, Food, and Attractions
Here are some recommendations for food, beverages, and entertainment away from Heinz Field.
Bars Near Heinz Field
McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon is large, roomy, next to all Pittsburgh sports complexes, and very generous with food and libations on game day. Bar Louie North Shore and Southern Tier Brewing Company are also close by.
Across the Allegheny in downtown, you’ll have many bars to choose from, including:
Check out some of Google Maps’ recommendations for bars near the stadium.
Restaurants Near Heinz Field
Get to North Shore Drive, between Heinz Field and PNC Park. You’ll find all these eating establishments around there:
- Tequilla Cowboy
- Hyde Park Steakhouse
- Jerome Bettis’ Grille 36
- The Foundry Table & Tap
- Little Red Corvette
- Rivertowne Brewing
You must also find time to visit one of the 37 Primanti Bros. restaurants in the area — it’s a local institution, and its signature meat-and-french-fry sandwiches are unbelievable. There’s one at Heinz Field.
You can also check out TripAdvisor’s recommendations for restaurants near Heinz Field.
Pittsburgh Local Attractions
Some of the best tourist attractions in the Pittsburgh area include:
- Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
- Duquesne Incline
- Strip District
- Bicycle Heaven
- Carnegie Museum of Natural History
- The Andy Warhol Museum
- Senator John Heinz History Center
- Point State Park
- Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
- Carnegie Science Center
Check out more ideas for things to do in Pittsburgh from TripAdvisor.
Tailgating at Heinz Field happens in a sturdy urban environment, but the tight Steelers community brings it a small-town feel. Come prepared to party with some of the NFL’s most passionate fans.