With the 2021 season approaching, the South Carolina Gamecocks are looking to reassert themselves in the SEC under first-year head coach, Shane Beamer. But no matter how the team does on the field, South Carolina fans will be turning out in force
Tailgating at University of South Carolina is back on track after a year off, and Gamecocks fans couldn’t be more excited. Their tailgate tradition is consistently ranked by sports media and bloggers as one of the very best in the NCAA.
In this guide, we’ll prep you for your game day experience in Columbia and direct you to the best tailgate service at the University of South Carolina.
Here are the teams that South Carolina will face at home this season. All games are on Saturdays.
● Sept. 4 – Eastern Illinois
● Sept. 25 – Kentucky
● Oct. 2 – Troy
● Oct. 16 – Vanderbilt
● Nov. 6 – Florida
● Nov. 20 – Auburn
● Nov. 27 – Clemson
Rivalry Games: The Clemson Tigers are the Gamecocks’ biggest intrastate rivals. Their Nov. 27 game promises to be unhinged — especially the tailgating part.
South Carolina’s online ticket office has season plans, mini-plans, and single-game tickets. Get your seats as far in advance as possible. You can also pick up season parking permits from the website.
Columbia is South Carolina’s state capital, right in the middle of the state. Here are some of your travel options and suggestions for accommodations.
Driving: Columbia is accessible to three interstate highways: 20, 26, and 77. The University is also close to US Routes 321 and 378.
Air Travel: Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) takes in nonstop flights from 11 U.S. cities, including major hubs like New York, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), just a little under 100 miles to the north, is the 11th busiest airport in the nation and takes in flights from many more cities. You can take a shuttle from Charlotte to the campus.
Rail: Amtrak’s Silver Star train stops at the station in Columbia, about a mile-and-a-half from the South Carolina campus.
Columbia’s a college town and the state capital, so there’s no shortage of hotel options. The ones closest to the University are The Graduate, Courtyard, Home2 Suites, and Hilton. You’ll find many others closer to the South Carolina State House.
Check out TripAdvisor’s recommendations for hotels near the University.
If you’re planning on hosting your own tailgate party, call ahead to make sure your hotel can accommodate your rig and equipment. You may prefer to book an Airbnb reservation; it might have more space for everything you have. Alternatively, you can check into options for tailgate equipment rentals.
The Williams-Brice Stadium site “strongly” suggests taking a taxi, as the city’s one bus route to the stadium tends to get over-stressed on game days. They also offer a shuttle service from the Colonial Life Arena parking lot to Williams-Brice, starting three hours before kickoff. It’s $3 for the public and free for students.
Tailgating at University of South Carolina isn’t just a favorite activity for Gamecocks fans — it’s the envy of the entire tailgate community. Here are some tips on how to enjoy it.
Season ticket holders have a big parking advantage at the University of South Carolina. The lots closest to the stadium, especially near Gamecock Park and on the fairgrounds are mainly reserved for members of the Gamecock Club.
The parking lot near the Armory is first-come, first-served. Parking lots open five hours before kickoff, except for the premium spaces near Gamecock Park, which open an hour earlier.
Check out the game-day parking map for more detail.
RV tailgating is allowed at the Carolina Fair Park fairgrounds. Many spots are taken up by full-season Gamecock Club members, but there are usually a few spots open for single-game permits. The fairground lots open five hours before kickoff and close two hours after the game’s over.
Some of the premier tailgating spots and activities at the University include:
Put this destination on your schedule, no matter what. Located on the grounds of the former farmer’s market, Gamecock Park is one of the most vibrant tailgating scenes in college football. The university’s gone all out to make Gamecock Park hospitable to tailgaters, with shaded tent spots, electricity, even cable TV outlets. Get there early.
The Cockaboose Railroad consists of 22 decommission cabooses situated on tracks near the stadium. They’ve been renovated into condos and essentially serve as luxury tailgating units on game day. If you’re lucky enough to score an invitation to party at the Cockaboose Railroad, do not turn it down — it’s perhaps the most unique tailgating concept in the NCAA.
Get to Williams-Brice as early as you can — at least three hours before kickoff, preferably four or more. Partially because there’s just so much to do at a South Carolina tailgate, and you want to give yourself as much time as possible to experience it. You’ll also want to miss as much of the traffic jam as you can.
If you’re invited to a USC tailgate party, bring something. Even if your host tells you they don’t need anything, bring something. Unsolicited hospitality is a big reason for South Carolina’s great tailgating reputation, so take it upon yourself to bring sandwiches, pimento cheese, fried chicken, biscuits, or something to drink.
There are plenty of traditions for tailgating at the University of South Carolina. Here are some of the ones you won’t want to miss!
Two-and-a-half hours before kickoff, the Gamecocks players and coaches begin their determined march to the stadium. Starting at Gamecock Village and progressing across Bluff Road, the path is lined on both sides by South Carolina fans searching for that perfect blend of encouragement and hysteria.
The simply ginormous South Carolina marching band — “the Mighty Sound of the Southeast” — plays in Gamecock Village and in various sites around the stadium before the game.
If for some reason you wander away from the South Carolina campus on game day, here are some great local places to get fed and/or hydrated.
There aren’t a ton of bars in the immediate vicinity, but there are a few quality spots. The Cock n’ Bull is a comfortable sports bar that’s closest to the stadium. You’ll also like the vibe at Foxfield Bar and Grille. The no-frills, high-octane State Street Pub is great for local music fans, and Bourbon has great whiskey and Louisiana cuisine.
Check out some of Google Maps’ recommendations for bars in Columbia.
University Hill and surrounding areas have a lot of diverse options for food, including:
● The Whig, a self-described dive bar with comfort food
● Colas, a casual joint for seafood and steaks
Check out TripAdvisor’s recommendations for restaurants near the University.
With the new season fast approaching, it’s time to get some new South Carolina gameday gear to rep at your tailgate.
The ultimate way to support your team while tailgating is with a tailgate tent, here’s one from Rivalry and that you can find it here on Amazon.
If you want to rep South Carolina before gameday, this is a great-looking ball cap! Linked here.
For all things attire Fanatics: South Carolina 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 section South Carolina: Tailgate & Party 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:
If you keep a bucket list, tailgating at The University of South Carolina needs to be on it. So many unique aspects and little details make it a one-of-a-kind game-day experience.
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!