Nestled snugly on the banks of the Olentangy River, the stately Ohio Stadium is one of the most recognizable landmarks in college athletics. It was built in 1922 for $1.3M and refurbished in 2001 for close to $200M. Because of its horseshoe shape, it’s also known as ‘The Shoe.’

Since the opening game against Ohio Wesleyan, more than 36 million fans have been inside this stadium for a Buckeye game day. Yes, you read that right. The stadium has a capacity of ~103K, and they do a great job of filling it almost every game day. Can you imagine what the tailgating at Ohio State is like? It’s epic.

Ohio State has one of the most loyal fan bases around and has even established a huge fan base of folks who didn’t even attend the University. Because of its double-deck horseshoe design, Ohio State is both intimate and intimidating. The closeness of the seating provides a definite home-field advantage for the Buckeyes, at the same time allowing almost all 100K fans an unobstructed view of the game.

Quick thing to note – because of the design of this stadium – it gets LOUD. There are 100K people in incredible proximity. Something to note if you’re bringing the little ones along – it could be worth getting some earplugs or headphones for them.

There’s a reason over 30M fans have attended a Buckeye game if you’re a college football fan, it’s a stadium that must be on the bucket list. Not only to see the stadium, and experience the game atmosphere but for the incredible pre-game and tailgating experience that happens before the game as well.

If you’re heading out to Columbus, Ohio this fall, be sure to read along for everything you’ll need for a successful gameday experience!

Before Gameday

If you’ve decided to make the trip to Columbus, there are a few things you want to take care of ahead of time to ensure you have a flawless weekend. First things first, game tickets.

Game Tickets

Even though Ohio State’s stadium has a massive capacity, if you want a good seat, it’s still smart to lock those tickets in early. You can find options via Ohio State’s Ticket Office here. If you’re a fan of the away team and want to sit with your fellow fans, I’d go through your ticket office directly.

If you’ve waited until the last minute, you can always find tickets on StubHub or Vivid Seats – just be prepared to pay some service fees.

Tailgating in Columbus, Ohio

Accommodations / Travel / Transportation

Before booking travel and accommodations, one thing to think about is what your game day plans are. Are you hosting a tailgate for your friends and family? Joining a friend’s tailgate? Or are you doing the bar-hopping scene?

The reason I note this – if you’re looking to host a tailgate, I’d suggest you rent a car and look into an Airbnb or VRBO instead of a hotel room. It’s going to be tough to host a party using rideshare and a hotel minibar.

If you aren’t hosting a tailgate – Columbus is not the smallest city, but you could easily utilize ride-share, public transportation, and walking to get around for the weekend if you don’t want to deal with getting a rental car.

Here’s a great summary of hotel options around Ohio State by Buckeye Sports Bulletin. We’re big fans of the Marriot and Graduate Columbus.

Tailgating at Ohio State

Be ready for an early morning! Ohio State fans know how to tailgate, and they get started at the crack of dawn. For example – I was able to tailgate there a few years back at the USC vs Ohio State game. Kick-off was scheduled for 8:00 pm. My family was targeting a certain tailgate lot that we knew was a fun time. We got there at 7:00 am and were the last car to get into the lot. We got there 13 hours before kick-off and we barely made it in!

One of the great parts of tailgating at Ohio State – you can tailgate almost anywhere. There are so many fans converging on The Shoe on game days, if you pick a random spot and pop up a tent, you’re likely to be surrounded by other fans shortly.

Ohio State Tailgate Services

If traveling from out of town, or want to host friends, families, and colleagues, Contact Us for Tailgate Service options!

Bring Extras

Quick tip for tailgating at Ohio State – if you’re tailgating, bring extras of everything. These tailgaters are so nice and love to share their traditional tailgate punches and recipes. Be sure to be friendly to your neighbors, and you’ll get to try some great tailgate food and try some awesome (and sometimes dangerous) tailgate beverages.

Alternative Pre-Game Activities at Ohio State

St John Arena

If you’re a fan of the team’s bands, be sure to stop by the St. John Arena two hours before kick-off to catch a concert and pep rally. The event is free and typically draws upwards of 10K fans, so if you want a good spot, maybe try and get there 2.5 hours ahead of time.

River Jam

A great alternative if you’re traveling with a smaller group is to go to the River Jam Tailgate Party. It’s hosted by the local radio station WNCI 97.9. It’s a free event and has live music, entertainment, and food and drinks for purchase.

Bar Hopping on High Street

If you’re looking to explore some of the local bars and restaurants some more, you can easily bar hop your way to The Shoe on gameday on High Street. There are a ton of breweries, bars, and restaurants you can pop in and out of. This also makes for a fun night the Friday before game day!

Bar Hopping on High Street

Ohio State Buckeye Gameday Gear

If you want to rep your Ohio State Buckeyes – here are some great tailgate gear and attire our team has found. A lot of sites are having great deals on tailgate gear this Spring, so we’d encourage you to buy sooner rather than later. These deals will start to go away as we get closer to the fall and they know everyone will be refreshing their equipment.

Ohio State Tailgate TentOhio State Tailgate Gear

If you’re looking for a team-branded tent, we always like Logo Brands. Right now, this one is on sale via Amazon. Linked here. Or for the more simple design to the right, you can find it here (also on sale, and a bit more affordable).


Ohio State Buckeyes Grill Set

For the grill master in your group – these are a great way to rep your team all summer! They’d make for a great Father’s Day gift, too. As of March 2022, they’re on sale for 25% off. Linked here.


Ohio State Tailgate ChairsThese Rawlings tailgate chairs are great – and are only $25 each. 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.


Ohio State FootballIt’s always fun having a variety of entertainment options at your tailgate party – a football is a super simple addition to your tailgate packing list and is always a winner with your guests. You can find this one on Amazon here.

Ohio State Cornhole Set

The ultimate tailgate party game – that is also a ton of fun to have around the house – is cornhole! If you have this at your tailgate, it will be used the entire time either by your friends or family, or your neighbors. Here’s one that gets solid reviews on Amazon, linked here. Our team has used cornhole sets from this brand before and has liked them. However, if you have little ones around make sure they don’t run on top of the boards – they aren’t sturdy enough for that!

Wrap Up!

If you have any other suggestions for tailgating at Ohio State, be sure to leave them in the comments below for other fans to see! Or if you have any questions, throw them down there too so our community can help.

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