The University of Mississippi — universally called Ole Miss by everyone except resumé writers — has one of the most intense game weekend traditions of any school in the SEC or anywhere else. The Rebels may have gone a long time without a national or conference championship but tailgating at University of Mississippi is equal to none. It’s a unique experience because of one very special, revered plot of land in the middle of campus: The Grove.
We’ve put together this outline of how to prepare and get the most out of tailgating service at University of Mississippi.
Before Game Day
Rebels 2022 Home Schedule
Here are Ole Miss’s home games on Saturdays in 2021:
- Sept. 3 – Troy
- Sept. 10 – Central Arkansas
- sept. 24 – Tulsa
- Oct. 1 – Kentucky
- Oct. 15 – Auburn
- Nov. 12 – Alabama
- Nov. 24 – Mississippi State
Rivalry Games: Ole Miss’s biggest foes on their 2022 home schedule are Auburn, Alabama, and Mississippi State.
If you’re not a season ticket holder, it’s best to get tickets to University of Mississippi football as long in advance as you can manage. Single-game tickets are available online or by phone at 1-888-REB-TKTS. If you can’t get tickets before game day, the ticket office at Vaught-Hemingway opens three hours before kickoff (if any are available).
Here’s more information about single-game tickets for Ole Miss games.
Travel, Accommodations, and Transportation
Traveling to Oxford
Driving: US Route 278 is the main highway going through Oxford, and the University of Mississippi is less than a mile north. Mississippi Highway 7 cuts through the eastern part of town. The closest interstate roads are I-55 to the west and I-22 to the east.
Air Travel: The closest airport to the University of Mississippi is Memphis International (MEM), about 77 miles from Oxford. They serve several U.S. cities directly.
Nearby Hotels and Accommodations
The Inn at Ole Miss is right on the University campus and is predictably lively during football weekends; however, they currently have a waiting list for rooms during the 2022 season. If you’re not already on it, you may be out of luck at least this year.
But no matter — several hotels and motels serve visitors to Oxford, including a Courtyard, Hampton Inn, Quality Inn, and the upscale Chancellor’s House Hotel. Here’s a list of hotels closest to the stadium.
Getting to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
Gameday shuttle service is provided free of charge near Jackson Avenue Center at Paris-Yates Chapel. It starts 5 hours before kickoff and ends 2 hours after the game’s over. Seating and parking are limited, so try to plan accordingly.
Many hotels in Oxford also offer shuttle services on game day; check with the one you book. Oxford-University Transit (OUT) is a campus-run bus service.
Parking at Ole Miss is a little tricky. But the University has partnered with the mobile app Clutch! for parking at designated lots around Vaught-Montgomery Stadium. Here’s a map for parking around the University.
The University of Mississippi sells season passes for RV parking at the South Campus Recreation Center, about a mile and a half from the stadium. The Ole Miss Athletics Foundation also sells passes for RV parking with some electrical hookups the Rec Center doesn’t have.
How to Tailgate at University of Mississippi
Tailgating at the University of Mississippi is a particular point of pride with the locals — their unofficial motto is “We may not win the game, but we’ll always win the party.” They live up to that claim and then some. Here are some tips and suggestions for making the most of your time before the game.
Where to Tailgate at University of Mississippi
Everything about University of Mississippi tailgating revolves around The Grove, once called “the Holy Grail of tailgating sites” by Sporting News. It’s 10 acres of University-sanctioned tailgating right in the middle of campus. Tailgating at The Grove is a tradition that goes back to the 1950s, and it’s easily one of the most hallowed game day party traditions in the South — if not exactly the most serious.
Many fans and vendors start arriving at The Grove around noon on Fridays before the game, but nobody’s allowed to “stake their claim” until 7:30 pm. Soon the entire area is flooded — and we do mean overrun — by tents and food from all over the South. It’s a very family-friendly scene: Ole Miss alum Eli Manning spent many weekends at a tent set up by his dad Archie (another Ole Miss alumni).
Trust us on this one: Whether you’re staying nearby or parked at an RV campground, you’re going to The Grove at some point during the game weekend. It represents everything that’s right about college football tailgating.
Tailgating at University of Mississippi: Rules
Vehicles are not allowed at The Grove anymore, ever since a rainstorm caused a severe, messy headache back in the 1990s. So, you’ll be making a pilgrimage on foot (or by shuttle).
One of the most-known (and oft-lampooned) rules for tailgating at the University of Mississippi is that all alcohol must be consumed in either a red or blue plastic cup — every last drop, whether it’s beer, wine, or something stronger.
Some other rules of tailgating at the University of Mississippi:
- Tents can be no bigger than 12’ by 20’
- No tents with stakes are allowed
- Portable generators must have ratings of 60 decibels or less
- No open flames or propane allowed
Here are some more rules for tailgating at The Grove.
Tailgating at University of Mississippi: Traditions
The Grove is essentially one big tradition in itself. It’s also where the Walk of Champions takes place two hours before game time, as players walk past adoring fans, exchange high-fives, and purposefully walk to the stadium. You’ll also hear the “Hotty Toddy” call-and-response cheer, so brush up on the lyrics.
Beyond The Grove, most off-campus bar, restaurant, and game day action happens about a mile east of Ole Miss in downtown Oxford. Here are some of the more notable hotspots.
Bars Near Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
The Library Sports Bar is, arguably, the center of Oxford nightlife. It’s more like three bars in one, including patio seating, a music stage, and a virtual warehouse of TVs. Funky’s is a daiquiri bar that also serves pizza if you’ve somehow arrived in a more tropical state of mind.
The Levee is especially popular with Ole Miss students, and The Blind Pig Pub attracts a lot of locals with its welcoming vibe. And the upstairs bar at City Grocery (see below) invites a cross-section of Oxford’s population with its relaxed atmosphere.
Here’s a Google list of the bars closest to Vaught-Hemingway.
Restaurants Near Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
Boure is a classy but casual restaurant at Courthouse Square, with plenty of burgers, sandwiches, and Creole entrees on the menu. A few steps away from Boure is the upscale City Grocery, an award-winning restaurant with a more elegant take on Southern cuisine.
For fans looking for less swanky but still delicious Oxford food, Ajax Diner is a colorful and popular spot for American comfort food that promises to deliver “gravy… lots of gravy.” The South Depot Taco Shop and Newk’s Eatery are also good for quality, unfussy meals. Here are some of TripAdvisor’s other recommended restaurants in the area.
Ole Miss Gameday Gear
With the new season fast approaching, it’s time to get some new Ole Miss game day gear to rep at your tailgate.
If you want to rep Ole Miss with your pop-up tent, this is a great option from Logo Brands 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 Ole Miss items, check out our Best Tailgate Tents: 2022 guide.
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.
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: Ole Miss 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 Ole Miss: 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.
Tailgating at the University of Mississippi does not mess around. Everyone who visits The Grove, whether Rebel fan or foe, comes back a changed person. If you’re a football fan with a bucket list, put Ole Miss right on it.
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