Purdue University has one of the most robust football traditions in college football. Boilermaker legends from Len Dawson to Drew Brees have helped the college in West Lafayette, Indiana, to keep a high profile on the NCAA stage.
Tailgating at Purdue is almost as cherished a tradition. The relatively small campus comes together for game-day celebrations and activities that rival the best in the Big 10. Here’s your guide to tailgating at Purdue University.
Before Game Day
Boilermakers 2021 Home Schedule
Purdue faces these teams at Ross-Ade Stadium in 2021. All games are on Saturdays.
- Sept. 4th – Oregon State
- Sept. 25th – Illinois
- Oct. 2nd – Minnesota
- Oct. 23rd – Wisconsin
- Nov. 6th – Michigan State
- Nov. 27th – Indiana
Rivalry Games: The Old Oaken Bucket Game is Purdue’s annual trophy game against the Indiana Hoosiers (take a wild guess what the trophy looks like). Illinois is the other big rival Purdue faces at home this year. Look for powerhouse Notre Dame to visit Ross-Ade Stadium in 2022.
The Purdue ticket office offers season tickets, flex plans, individual game seats, group tickets, and parking passes. Make sure to get your tickets squared away as soon as you can since Ross-Ade Stadium is always liable to fill up to the brim on game day.
Travel, Accommodations, and Transportation
West Lafayette is west of Lafayette, Indiana (we checked!). It’s in the northwest quadrant of the state, about 78 miles from Indianapolis. Here are some tips on getting there and where to stay.
Traveling to West Lafayette, Indiana
Driving: Interstate 65 is the main highway going through the Lafayette area. If you’re coming from the south, you’ll take I-65 and branch off to US Route 52 to get to Purdue. From the north, you’ll exit onto IN-43. IN-26 (which is IL-9 in Illinois) also goes through town.
Air Travel: West Lafayette is within a few hours’ driving distances of three airports: Indianapolis International (IND), Fort Wayne International (FWA), and Chicago’s O’Hare (ORD). Chicago handles direct flights from more cities, but Indianapolis handles a decent number, too.
Rail: There’s an Amtrak station in Lafayette, just across the Wabash from Purdue. The Cardinal train passes through three times a week, so you’ll have to plan your trip accordingly if you’re taking Amtrak.
Nearby Hotels and Accommodations
The hotels closest to Purdue include the Union Club Hotel, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, and the budget Campus Inn. There’s also a huge cluster of brand-name chain hotels around I-65 by South Street. For more suggestions, check out TripAdvisor’s recommendations for hotels near Purdue.
If you’re hosting your own tailgate, ensure that the hotel you’re staying at has the space for storing your equipment. If not, find a motor inn or Airbnb residential rental that does. Alternatively, you can opt to explore tailgate rental equipment if you’re just heading in for a single game.
Getting to Ross-Ade Stadium
Purdue offers complimentary shuttle service to Ross-Ade on game days at various parking lots around the university. CityBus’s 1B route goes through Purdue, and the transit service also provides four-campus loops that serve the University. If your hotel doesn’t offer free shuttles to the stadium, have a Lyft or Uber take you there.
How to Tailgate at Purdue
Especially when rivals like Indiana and Notre Dame come to West Lafayette, tailgating at Purdue is a high-spirited, fan-friendly affair. Here are some of our tips for making the day a success.
Where to Tailgate at Purdue
Most of the parking lots around Purdue University are reserved for season-long permit holders. There are a few cash lots near IM Gold and the Northwest Athletic Complex. Tailgating is allowed at all lots (but not garages), which open 8 hours before kickoff (but never earlier than 7 a.m.).
RV drivers have four lots reserved for them; two are for members of the John Purdue Club and two are for the general public. You can park your big rig in these lots starting at 6 p.m. Friday night.
One of the general public lots, RV2 ($60 a day), is for both season-pass holders and game-day arrivals; RV4 ($40) is strictly for day-of-game parking. Shuttle service is provided at all RV lots, except for RV1, since it’s right next to the stadium.
Here’s some additional information about parking near Ross-Ade Stadium.
Campus Tailgating Events
On-campus, the spot Purdue students flock to for tailgating is called “The Acres.” It’s where most of the fraternity and sorority houses are located, so you can expect a little mayhem. The Purdue Intramural Fields and Airport Fields are also prime tailgating spots a little further from the stadium.
For family-friendly tailgating, hit Boilermaker Crossing at the Sally & Bob Weist Plaza. It’s got plenty of attractions that the kids will love (many of them are even inflatable). You may also get the chance to meet Purdue athletic legends and grab something to eat or drink.
Tailgating at Purdue: Rules and Tips
Some of the rules about tailgating at Purdue University include:
- No saving spaces — parking is first-come, first-served
- Tailgating is allowed only within your spot
- Plastic containers only (no glass allowed)
- Propane grills are okay — charcoal grills and deep fryers prohibited
- No kegs
- “Recreational fires” allowed, but only under strict guidelines
Here’s a complete list of Purdue’s parking and tailgating policies.
One tip about the weather: West Lafayette is sometimes susceptible to high winds. University officials may need to restrict or shut down tailgating if winds are blowing at a high speed. Keep an eye on the weather reports and check on the likelihood of wind advisories.
Tailgating at Purdue: Traditions
Some of the game-day customs at Purdue you won’t want to miss include:
Boilermaker faithful gather in Mackey Arena before the game for a massive pep rally. Purdue players and coaches even stop by to “read the room” and get pumped up themselves. The Purdue Marching Band and spirit squad attend.
Purdue players and coaches march to the stadium, beginning near the R lot on the north side and going down John R. Wooden Drive. They pass by some of the area tailgating lots, which tends to cause a bit of a stir.
Thrill on the Hill
The marching band plays a concert in the amphitheater at Slayter Center about an hour or two before game time. They then march to the stadium themselves with fans in tow.
Off-Campus Drinks and Food
Bars Near Ross-Ade Stadium
There are plenty of excellent drinking establishments near Purdue University and more on the other side of the Wabash River, too.
Harry’s Chocolate Shop is a local landmark (and, obviously, no longer a chocolate shop) that’s likely to be well-populated on game day. It’s loaded with history and should definitely be on your itinerary. Boiler Up Bar is a relatively new place that was opened to cater to Purdue students and alumni, offering locally distilled whiskey and bourbon, as well as craft cocktails.
Restaurants Near Ross-Ade Stadium
Make sure to stop by Triple XXX Family Restaurant, a Lafayette landmark. It’s a drive-in restaurant that uses prime chop steak for their burgers, including several named after famous Boilermaker players (like Drew Brees).
Purdue Gameday Gear
With the new season fast approaching, it’s time to get some new Purdue gameday gear to rep at your tailgate.
These Rawlings tailgate chairs are great. There are quite a few ‘fancier’ chairs out there, but these are all you need for a tailgate party. For the most part, you’re hardly even sitting. You can find them here.
If you want to rep Purdue before gameday, this is a great-looking ball cap! Linked here.
For all things attire Fanatics: Purdue University is a great place to start. They have something for every member of the family. Be sure to only buy when they have promotions running, which is quite often!
Fanatics also has a fun Purdue University: Tailgate & Party section that has cute decorations, car decals, and tailgate games. Outside of cornhole (bags) games, I’d stick to Amazon for your bigger tailgate items like tents, tables, chairs, etc.
If you’re thinking of upgrading some of your basic equipment, be sure to check out the following blogs:
Tailgating at Purdue is a scene full of Boilermaker pride, Midwestern friendliness, and laid-back socializing — until the game starts, that is. Be prepared for a weekend you won’t forget.
If you’re traveling with Purdue to any of their away games, be sure to check out our other Tailgater Guides!
Please note: Tailgater Concierge is a participant in the Amazon and Fanatics Affiliate Programs and may receive commissions on purchases. Tailgater Concierge only recommends products that we find valuable for our tailgating community! Thanks!