The University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide is more than another college team. The reigning national champs are likely the signature football team of the entire NCAA. The history and legacy of Alabama football have shaped the course of the game for decades, and their fans are justifiably proud of it.

Tailgating at the University of Alabama is an all-encompassing experience that takes over all of Tuscaloosa when the Tide plays. You won’t have any trouble finding a great spot to park and party.

Here are some of our tips for traveling to Tuscaloosa and tailgating service at the University of Alabama.

Before Game Day

University of Alabama 2021 Home Schedule

The Crimson Tide’s Saturday home schedule in 2021 looks like this:

  • Sept. 11 – Mercer
  • Sept. 25 – Southern Miss
  • Oct. 2 – Ole Miss
  • Oct. 23 – Tennessee
  • Nov. 6 – LSU
  • Nov. 13 – New Mexico State
  • Nov. 20 – Arkansas

Rivalry Games:  Honestly, there isn’t a team in the South that doesn’t dream of taking down Alabama — usually without hope. Ole Miss, Tennessee, LSU, and Arkansas will be the ones with the best shot.

Getting Tickets

The Crimson Tide holds the whole state of Alabama in its thrall on game days — so take it for granted Bryant-Denny Stadium will be packed. It’s best to get tickets far in advance.

Even during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, the Crimson Tide’s season ticket renewal rates were 90%. There’s still a long waiting list for new season ticket holders. Thankfully, the University of Alabama also offers single-game tickets when they can, and getting them online is the way to go. Here’s Alabama’s online football ticket office.

Travel, Accommodations, and Transportation

Traveling to Tuscaloosa

Driving:  Long-distance drivers should plan to take I-20 or I-22 to get to the Tuscaloosa area. Interstate 359 and US Route 82 go right through town, and to get to the stadium, you’ll take an exit off one of them. Drivers coming from the north may take US Route 43.

Air Travel:  Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM), about 60 miles east, is the most logical airport to come through on your way to Tuscaloosa. It serves a handful of major U.S. cities, mainly in the South. From BHM, you’ll drive around an hour west on I-20 to Tuscaloosa.

Rail:  Amtrak’s Crescent route stops in Tuscaloosa on Greensboro Avenue, about a mile and a half from the stadium.

Nearby Hotels and Accommodations

There’s a cluster of hotels — Comfort Inn, Hilton, Marriott, Hotel Indigo — along US Route 43, about 1.5 miles west of Bryant-Denny Stadium. They’re the closest options for lodging, but there are plenty more along I-20 and I-58 that may be more accommodating if you’re bringing your own tailgating rig and supplies. Call to make sure. Find additional options at Hotel.com.

Getting to Bryant-Denny Stadium

The Bryant-Denny Stadium Shuttle is free for all on game day and picks up passengers at several parking lots that are distant from the stadium. Tuscaloosa Transit also runs constant bus service from downtown starting three hours before kickoff. Visit the Stadium’s transit page to get the details.

How to Tailgate at University of Alabama

Tailgating at the University of Alabama is more than a party — it’s a requirement. Fortunately, you’ll have no problem finding it. Here are some suggestions on how to get the party started.

Tailgating at Alabama

Where to Tailgate at University of Alabama

Tailgating at the University of Alabama takes place in virtually all the parking lots around the stadium. The University is behind tailgating so much that they’ve set up reserved tailgating. They even offer tips on non-reserved tailgating. Their official tailgating page will have information for the 2021 season shortly.

Season passes for reserved parking in Lot A are available for $200 each, which is kind of a bargain. Since the University closes all roads around campus three hours before kickoff, if you arrive late, you’ll have to scrounge for parking somewhere downtown.

Thankfully, it’s free to park on the street in Tuscaloosa on weekends. Make your way to the Tuscaloosa Intermodal Facility to park, and they’ll shuttle you to the game for free.

Here’s the University of Alabama’s parking map.

Tailgating at University of Alabama:  Traditions

The Quad is a must-see on game day, and it’s a place rich with history. It’s the site where the Tide played their first few seasons. Now, it serves as the primary on-campus tailgating stop, featuring tents and vendors galore. The party starts a few hours before game time and doesn’t stop until about 90 minutes after the game’s finished.

Don’t miss the Elephant Stomp. It starts on the steps of the Gorgas Library where Tide fans meet up with the Million Dollar Band for a pep rally and march to the stadium.

The Walk of Champions happens at the north end of Bryant-Denny Stadium about 2 hours and 15 minutes before game time. It’s when the players walk from their buses, through a sea of cheering Tide fans and rows of plaques and statues, and into the stadium. It’s a spine-chilling moment, so get there early.

Make some time to visit the Paul W. Bryant Museum, the shrine to ‘Bama football named after one of the most legendary coaches in sports (all sports). It’s got displays and artifacts that celebrate the great players and games in the history of the Tide.

Off-Campus Bars and Restaurants

There’s only one real option off the University grounds for a game day party:  The Strip. It’s the center of off-campus life for Alabama students and residents. After the Crimson Tide wins — especially national championships — it becomes a crowded and joyful sardine can of people. Here are some of the best hotspots on the Strip (and one-off).

Bars Near Bryant-Denny Stadium

The Strip is loaded with prime drinking establishments, and all of them turn the volume up on the game day. One of the most popular places is The Houndstooth, which calls itself “Alabama’s Favorite College Bar” and the best place to celebrate a Tide win.

Egans Bar is an age-old dive with a fierce following among ‘Bama fans because of its unfussy attitude and cheap drinks. Innisfree Irish Pub is a big student favorite:  A massive, 5,000-square foot celebration of all things Emerald Isle with a special menu for game day.

If you pub-hop on a game weekend and don’t mind a drop of the hard stuff, make sure you order at least one Yellowhammer. It’s a blend of orange and pineapple juice with amaretto, rum, and vodka that’s Tuscaloosa’s signature drink. Gallettes is especially famous for its Yellowhammers.

Here’s a Google map with bars closest to the stadium.

Restaurants Near Bryant-Denny Stadium

On the Strip, it’s kind of hard to miss Rama Jama’s, the best greasy-spoon in Tuscaloosa and a fervent Tide supporter. Those in good physical health may want to put it in jeopardy with Rama Jama’s National Champ BLT, with 17 slices of bacon. Buffalo Phil’s is a chicken-wing Mecca with a great variety of sauces and combinations, and a strong game day presence.

You’d be missing a vital part of Alabama culture if you didn’t get barbecue while you’re in town. Archibald’s & Woodrow’s BBQ on Greensboro offers immense platters of ribs, pork, chicken, and more and has been doing so for half a century. Away from the Strip and across the river, Dreamland Bar-B-Que has no-nonsense barbecue combinations and is especially famous for its banana pudding.

Here TripAdvisor’s suggestions for eateries near the University.

Alabama Tailgate Gear

With the new season fast approaching, it’s time to get some new Alabama Crimson Tide game day gear to rep at your tailgate.

Alabama Tailgate TentIf you want to rep Alabama with your pop-up tent, this is a great option from Logo Brands (also on sale as of 06/10!) that you can find on Amazon. Linked here. Or if you want to opt for a plain colored tent, and spruce up your tailgate with other Alabama items, check out our Best Tailgate Tents: 2021 guide.

Alabama Tailgate Chairs

These Logo Brand 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.

Alabama Tailgate Gear

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. Linked here.

 

For all things attire, Fanatics: Alabama Crimson Tide 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 Alabama: 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. Or your actual team’s ticket office.

Cornhole Games

If you’re thinking of upgrading some of your basic equipment, be sure to check out the following blogs:

Best Tailgate Tents of 2021

Best Tailgate Grills

Other Relevant Blogs

Tailgater Guide: Clemson

Tailgater Guide: University of Oklahoma

Wrap-Up!

Even Alabama’s fiercest rivals must acknowledge — through gritted teeth if they have to — how important the Crimson Tide is to the history of football. Tuscaloosa is steeped in that tradition and tailgating at the University of Alabama reflects it more enthusiastically than any other town in the country.

Did we miss anything in this guide? Let us know in the comments below! We love tailgaters helping fellow tailgaters.

Tailgate On!
Tailgater Concierge

 

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