The San Francisco 49ers are ready to take on the 2021-22 NFL season. As one of the league’s most successful franchises of the last half-century, the Niners have strong hopes of returning to the playoffs this season.
The new season also means the return of tailgating at Levi’s Stadium, with some of the most passionate and creative pre-game partiers in the game. We’ll guide you through some of the logistics and point you toward the best tailgating service at Levi’s Stadium.
Before Game Day
San Francisco 49ers 2021-22 Home Schedule
Here are the teams the Niners will face in Santa Clara this season. All games are on Sundays, except where indicated.
- Aug. 14 (Sat.) – Kansas City
- Aug. 29 – Las Vegas
- Sept. 26 – Green Bay
- Oct. 3 – Seattle
- Oct. 24 – Indianapolis
- Nov. 7 – Arizona
- Nov. 15 (Mon.) – Los Angeles Rams
- Nov. 28 – Minnesota
- Dec. 19 – Atlanta
- Jan. 2 – Houston
Big Games: The 49ers’ games against NFC West rivals — the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, and LA Rams — will be huge, since all of them have legit playoff aspirations.
You can get single-game and season tickets at the 49ers’ online ticket office. You’ll also find a link for the NFL Ticket Exchange there. Snap up your tickets as soon as you can since Levi’s Stadium is sure to fill up quickly this year.
Travel, Accommodations, and Transportation
The 49ers play in Santa Clara, a city in the Silicon Valley about 45 miles south of San Francisco. Here’s how to get there and where to stay.
Traveling to Santa Clara
Driving: Santa Clara is accessible via Interstates 280, 680, and 880, as well as US Route 101, which you will probably use to get to Levi’s Stadium in the end. California State Route 237 will get you to the playing field as well.
Air Travel: Santa Clara is served by three major international airports within 40 miles. Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) is the closest, basically right next door. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is almost as easy to get to and from via Caltrain and takes flights in from everywhere. Oakland International Airport (OAK) is also an option. Wherever you choose, plan your transportation from the airport to Santa Clara in advance.
Rail: Santa Clara has two busy train stops. Great America Station, mere blocks from the stadium, hosts Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor line and the Altamont Corridor Express. Santa Clara Station, about six miles away, serves both those lines, as well as a couple of Caltrain stations.
Nearby Hotels and Accommodations
There are hotels all over the place in South Bay. The ones closest to Levi’s Stadium include Hyatt Regency, Marriott, Embassy Suites, Aloft, Element by Westin, Homewood Suites in San Jose North, and Radisson Hotel Sunnyvale. Check out some of TripAdvisor’s recommendations for Santa Clara hotels.
If you plan to host your own tailgate party, it may be easier for you to book an Airbnb residential reservation, since it will probably have enough space to accommodate your equipment plus a kitchen to make food.
Getting to Levi’s Stadium
The 49ers’ stadium is one of the easiest in the NFL to get to by public transit. Options include light rail, bus, the Altamont Corridor Express, the Capitol Corridor, Caltrain, shuttle service, and probably time machine. You can find out about all of the options on the 49ers’ public transportation page.
How to Tailgate at Levi’s Stadium
It’s game time — well, pre-game time. Here are some tips on tailgating at Levi’s Stadium.
Tailgating at Levi’s Stadium: Parking
All stadium parking lots open 3½ hours before kickoff.
Most of the parking lots closest to Levi’s Stadium are premium spots for those with season-long permits. There are a few general parking lots around the area. You’re strongly advised to buy single-game parking permits in advance of your visit — you can do so at the Levi’s Stadium parking page. Cash-only spots may be available on game day, but they may cost more than advance permits.
Here’s the 49ers’ parking map. Use it to find out what lots allow tailgating by clicking on the name of the lot on the right side of the page and scrolling down.
RV parking is allowed at Premium Green Lot 1 (no tailgating) and non-Premium Blue Lot 1 (yes to tailgating). Green Lot RVs are covered by their season-long permits. RVs headed toward the Blue Lot must buy single-game passes in advance; you can do so by calling 408-579-4449 or using the Levi’s Stadium mobile app.
Overnight parking is not allowed, so search for a nearby campground if you’re staying multiple days.
Where to Tailgate at Levi’s Stadium
Wander the stadium parking lots and you’ll find tailgating in full effect. Levi’s Stadium is one of the only NFL venues to allow open-flame grills on its grounds, so there’s always a hint of grilled seafood and sausage, as well as traditional San Francisco sourdough bread.
There’s a bit of a competitive aspect to 49ers tailgating. Before the game, secret “judges” roam the stadium parking lots looking for the best tailgating setup. The winner gets some free loot and their picture on the stadium jumbotron.
Some other tailgating hotspots include:
Red Zone Rally
The Pavilion at Great America hosts a pre-game party starting 3 hours before game time. It’s got quality food, beverages, and entertainment. You also get access to the theme park’s Flight Deck roller coaster — but ride it before you eat or drink!
Club 49 Tailgate
This tailgate happens on Patrick Henry Drive. Club 49 are seriously passionate Niners fans who have thrown legendary game-day parties for years. If you really want to get on their good side, bring along some food or beverages.
Tailgating at Levi’s Stadium: Rules
The stadium has a few rules for tailgating, which you can view on its parking page. The only big ones are that glass containers aren’t allowed and your tailgate party can’t obstruct vehicle or foot traffic.
Nearby Drinks, Food, and Attractions
If a trip to actual San Francisco isn’t in the cards, here are some local attractions in and around Santa Clara.
Bars Near Levi’s Stadium
There aren’t a lot of bars near the stadium — there’s a giant amusement park in the way. Your best sports bar bets include C&J’s in Santa Clara, Bogart’s in Sunnyvale, and Zone 8 or The Doghouse in San Jose. More traditional bars in the area include Mortar & Pestle, Sevens Bar & Grill, and Woof’s Bar.
Restaurants Near Levi’s Stadium
Santa Clara/San Jose restaurants that locals like the most include:
- The Fish Market
- Maggiano’s Little Italy
- Yard House
- Bill’s Cafe on the Alameda
- Smoking Pig BBQ Company
- Mio Vicino
- Orenchi Ramen
- Left Bank Santana Row
- John’s Bar & Grill
- Pizza Antica
Santa Clara Local Attractions
Here are some Silicon Valley attractions that might interest you when you’re not doing 49ers-related activities:
- California’s Great America
- Intel Corp and Museum
- Winchester Mystery House
- Mission Santa Clara de Asis
- K1 Speed Santa Clara
- Triton Museum of Art
- Edward Peterman Museum of Railroad History
- De Saisset Museum
Tailgating at Levi’s Stadium is a true fan testament to one of the NFL’s most legendary franchises. Get there early for maximum effect.