With the 2021 football season just around the corner, fans of Vanderbilt Commodores football are gearing up for a reboot under new head coach, Clark Lea. But just as important? Tailgating at Vanderbilt University is back on track after a restricted 2020 season!
Plenty of things make the game-day experience at Vandy very special. The intense fan community at Vandyville always has a great party, win or lose. Then there’s the fact that Vanderbilt is in Nashville, Tennessee, which is pretty much in a constant party state.
Here’s your guide to game-day activities and tailgating service at Vanderbilt University.
Before Game Day
Commodores 2021 Home Schedule
Here are the teams coming to Vanderbilt Stadium this year. All games are on Saturday.
- Sept 4 – East Tennessee State
- Sept 18 – Stanford
- Sept 25 – Georgia
- Oct 2 – UConn
- Oct 23 – Mississippi State
- Oct 30 – Missouri
- Nov 13 – Kentucky
Rivalry Games: Georgia and Kentucky are the two biggest Vanderbilt rivals on their home schedule in 2021. The Commodores travel to Knoxville to face their strongest rivals, the Tennessee Volunteers, this year.
Vanderbilt’s Football Ticket Central has season ticket options, mini-plans, single-game tickets, and group ticket options, along with a variety of additional services for game day. Pick up your tickets as soon as you’ve firmed up your plans for the game.
Travel, Accommodations, and Transportation
Vanderbilt is in Nashville, one of the South’s great metropolises. Here’s information about how to get there and where to stay for tailgating at Vanderbilt University.
Traveling to Nashville
Driving: Seemingly all roads lead to Nashville. Interstates 24, 40, 65, and 440 all pass through or near the city. US Route 70S (a spur off Route 70) passes right by Vanderbilt Stadium, and US Routes 31 and 41 go through town, as well.
Air Travel: Nashville International Airport (BNA) is a major destination that serves flights from all the biggest American airports and many smaller ones. You’ll only have to book an additional connecting flight if you don’t live near a major airport or if it’s way cheaper to do so.
Nearby Hotels and Accommodations
Nashville has a huge number of hotels, so when you’re looking for one, your only considerations will be your budget and how close you need to be to Vanderbilt.
Hotels nearest to the stadium include Holiday Inn, Moxy, Marriott, and the high-end Kimpton. You’ll find many more near Music Row, just northeast of the university. Downtown rooms are pretty expensive, so you might want to consider cheaper options further out if you’re cash-strapped.
See TripAdvisor’s recommendations for hotels near Vanderbilt.
If you’re hosting your own tailgate at Vanderbilt, call the hotel before you book to make sure they have room for your rig and equipment. If it can’t, consider a motor inn or an Airbnb residential reservation.
Getting to Vanderbilt Stadium
With Nashville being a major urban city, Uber and Lyft may be your best bets for getting to the stadium if you’re not driving.
Nashville’s public transit system has a handful of routes that stop near Vanderbilt Stadium. The University provides golf-cart shuttle service between the corner of Jess Neely Drive/25th Avenue South and Gates 2 and 3, starting two hours before the game.
How to Tailgate at Vanderbilt University
There’s an intense tradition with tailgating at Vanderbilt University. Since it all happens within the city limits of a major urban area, that tradition’s a little different from other SEC schools. Here are some tips for getting the most out of it.
Where to Tailgate at Vanderbilt University
Let’s start with the parking situation, which is a little more challenging at Vanderbilt than at more spread-out campuses in smaller college towns.
There aren’t many on-campus parking spaces to begin with. Vanderbilt only publishes a parking map for basketball and baseball — there’s no map on their football parking page. Many campus lots are closed on football game days or only allow vehicles with certain “tags” to park. The parking lots at McGugin Center and Tennis Center are reserved for football season-long passes.
Many out-of-town drivers park at churches or business lots that charge football fans to park there. They’re relatively cheap, but obviously, they are not set up for tailgating. RV parking isn’t allowed on campus, though the University provides a limited number of RV spaces at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds, a little over 3 miles from the stadium.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no football tailgating at Vanderbilt University — far from it. It just means the festivities all happen on campus, especially at Vandyville and Commodore Lawn, which are practically adjacent.
Over 100 tents pop up on game day, with grills sizzling up iconic Southern food and beverages sensibly flowing. You’ll find several alumni tents and big-screen TVs to keep up with other college football games. Vandyville and Commodore Lawn open five hours before kickoff.
Tailgating at Vanderbilt University: Rules and Tips
The only real tailgating rules in Vandyville involve trying not to set things on fire. Open flame pits are prohibited. Grills need to be on level ground and away from tents or canopies. The University also maintains a certain distance between tents for “fire breaks.” Aside from that, tailgaters are expected to behave and consume responsibly.
Summer tends to be hot and humid in Nashville, so if the warm season extends into September, you’ll want to dress and hydrate accordingly. Try to avoid orange clothes, simply because that’s the primary color of the University of Tennessee. They’re Vandy’s biggest rivals.
Tailgating at Vanderbilt University: Traditions
There is an abundance of traditions that you can take advantage of when it comes to tailgating at Vanderbilt University. Here are some of the ones you won’t want to miss!
The team’s pre-game march starts 90 minutes before the game at McGugin Center and proceeds down Jess Neely Drive to the stadium. The Spirit of Gold Marching Band and Vandy’s spirit squad join piles of faithful Commodore fans to scream inspirational phrases at passing players and coaches. Arrive early!
The Admiral is the giant horn that blares every time the Commodores get in the end zone. It’s very loud and resonates across the Vanderbilt campus and even some surrounding streets. Just be mindful of it in case you’re walking near the game carrying expensive glassware.
Off-Campus Drinks and Food
Away from Vandyville, you’ll find more than enough options for consuming food and beverages. Here are some of the ones that are closest to the stadium.
Bars Near Vanderbilt Stadium
Nashville has bars. A lot of bars. Many with live music. The ones nearest Vanderbilt include The Local, Kung Fu Saloon (bring quarters for the video games), The Dogwood, The Dawg House, Bar Louie, and Tin Roof. We’d also like to give a shout-out to Winners Bar and its next-door neighbor, Losers Bar.
Check out Google Maps’ recommendations for bars near Vanderbilt.
Restaurants Near Vanderbilt Stadium
Eateries near Vanderbilt include:
You must also stop by one of Hattie B’s four area locations and get Nashville hot chicken. This is a requirement.
Check out Google Maps’ recommendations for restaurants near Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt University Gameday Gear
With the new season fast approaching, it’s time to get some new Vanderbilt gameday gear to rep at your tailgate.
The best way to support your team in the pregame is with a branded pop-up tent, here’s a great one from Logo Brands that you can find here on Amazon.
If you want to rep Vanderbilt before gameday, this is a great-looking ball cap! Linked here.
For all things attire Fanatics: Vanderbilt 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 Vanderbilt: 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:
Tailgating at Vanderbilt University is a special, big-city experience you can’t find in most other SEC college towns. With all the on- and off-campus options for game-day entertainment, Commodores fans and even their rivals will have the time of their lives.
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!