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Tailgating in Gainesville - The Definitive Guide!

As the Mecca of the Gator Nation, hundreds of thousands of Gator Football faithful make multiple pilgrimages to Gainesville, Florida each year to participate in the annual season of tailgating and football.

This article contains the definitive guide to tailgating in Gainesville for out-of-towners and fans of opposing (and soon to be losing) teams.


Where can I stay? How early do I have to book my room?

There are somewhere around 40 hotels, motels, B&B’s, and other accommodations around the Gainesville, Alachua county area. Obviously, the nicer, closer to the stadium hotels fill up the quickest, but you can still find rooms up to a month before gameday - so book early! You can find a list of all Alachua County accommodations can be found at

To find available rooms, check out the Alachua County Visitors Bureau’s Available Rooms page at Keep in mind that when booking the room, some hotels will make you stay a minimum of two nights. If you do not see any rooms available on this site, give our local visitor’s bureau a call at (866) 778-5002. They will be happy to accommodate you.

Where do I park?

Traffic to campus starts getting heavy around 10am of game-day. We recommend getting you your tailgate earlier than that. There are a couple different options to park.

  • If you're planning to tailgate with us (and you're more then welcome to), read this about tips on where to park and what to bring. (
  • If you get to campus early enough (usually before 9am), you can park on campus. Find any available space on the grass (that’s not marked off with tape or cones) and pull in. You’ll see lots of other vehicles doing the same, so you won’t feel out of place.
  • You can drive up University Avenue (and the neighborhood to the north) and pay for parking at a house. It will cost between $10 and $30 depending on your proximity to the Swamp. A perk of parking at a house is that you can usually party with the crew hosting the parking. They (should) provide a keg, beer-pong, a TV, and other fun activities! Below is a map in highlighting the good parking areas for houses.

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  • Use a park-and-ride. There are a number of shuttles coming to the stadium from the Oaks Mall area and other areas. See for more information. Note that the we do not recommend this option. We recommend that you get your but out of bed early and get a parking spot to tailgate!

What about RV / Motorhome parking?

A lot of people bring their RV's to Gainesville for the game. Many have lots reserved with the University of Florida Transportation and Parking Department (352-392-8048). If you don't have any reserved lots, you can park next to the Hilton Hotel on 34th Street starting at 6PM on the Friday before the game. You will want to get there as early as possible, because this lot fills up quickly. 

There is also public RV parking available near the corner of Hull & Mowrey Road that is first come/first serve. This will also fill up quicky. For more information, contact the UF Transportation and Parking Dept at (352) 392-8048.

How do I get tickets? How can I buy scalped tickets?

Hopefully, you already have tickets. To get alumni side season tickets, you have to donate a lot of money to the university and then purchase the tickets. To get student tickets, you have to enter a student lottery to be eligible. Of course, if the game is not a sellout you can buy them from the University Atheletic Association

If you don’t have a ticket hookup, you’ll most likely need to buy scalped/extra tickets. Be aware though, that in 2006 the University of Florida finally legalized scalping. If you are here in Gainesville and finding yourself without Gator tickets, the truth is, for the right amount of money or skills you can get tickets on game-day. There are a few tricks of the trade you should be aware of.

Unless you’re looking for tickets in the alumni / bullgator lot in front of the O’dome you are dealing with people that paid under face value for the tickets. They buy bad seats for low prices. These guys are sleazy and they can talk most sellers into selling to them for very cheap. If you are dealing with a true scalper, low ball the heck out of them. Talk to them for a little while, but keep low balling. This will help later if you haven’t been able to get tickets yet.

If you can’t get tickets from the sleazy guys around campus, then wait. 10-15 minutes before kick-off start walking the alumni lot. It helps if you have an attractive girl that will come up to us. Have her play the “I don’t have that much money, please, please, please, I want to go so bad” Alumni are sympathetic, we were once gators and we know the magic of the swamp. This only failed for me once and it now works on me. I know what I paid for my tickets and I can’t make a nice person trying to see the game pay 2 or 3 times that. Note, there are people who can and don’t have feelings, but it not often.

If you are really low on cash the easiest way to get into the game is to wait for the game to start. At this point scalpers are running wild. They have run out of options. These guys rarely watch the games. Be on the lookout, they are trying to get rid of their tickets like mad men. 4-5 minutes into the 1st quarter you can offer them $20 and they will probably take it, unless they paid a lot more, which is doubtful. They are businessmen and at this point they are losing money, do them a favor and help them cut their losses.

One more thing: to get admittance with a student ticket, you need a University of Florida student ID (Gator 1 card). Don’t buy a student ticket unless you have a University of Florida student ID, or the seller is selling his/her ID with the ticket.

The Swamp

Where do I tailgate?

You can tailgate at your paid parking space, or anywhere on campus that paring is allowed. Be aware that you can drink at your tailgating spot on campus, but as soon as you take your ice-cold beer onto the street, you’ll likely be ticketed by the Police Department. This has cost the author $180 at the 2007 Troy game! Most people generally will pour their beverage into a cup, so it's not so obvious to the police. Usually, if you're not flaunting your alcohol, you won't be bothered.


Where do I drink? Where’s the party?

If you haven’t heard, Gainesville, Florida has been ranked the “best party school in the country” in 2008 by the Princeton Review. If you feel like partying the night before, or the night after a game, there are a number of options

  • Mid-Town – Gainesville’s mid-town bar district is directly across from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. You can find great establishments such as The Grog House, Balls (Gainesville’s ultimate dive bar!), Salty Dog Saloon, Gator City (formerly the Purple Porpoise), and the Swamp Restaurant (a tradition in this town)
  • Downtown – Gainesville’s downtown district is around University Avenue and Main Street. It’s about 1.5 miles to the east of the stadium. The author’s favorite drinking establishments are
    • Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub – Usually has live irish music Fridays and Saturdays. Get there by 9:30 if you want a seat
    • Stubbies – the most different types of beer in Gainesville. This is a really small bar. Get there early if you want a seat (9pm)
    • Market Street Pub – This establishment has two sides – One bar, and one club. A line will develop for this place around 10:30pm
    • Cowboys of Gainesville – Gainesville’s country-western bar. It’s usually pretty happening, and they play other hit music mixed into the country. You’ll see a number of cowboy hats in this bar.
    • There are a lot more bars around – Go to this link to see more of your options.

Mid Town in Gainesville
Mid-Town Gainesville on Gameday - Image courtesy of the Birmingham Gator Club

Favorite Restaurants

The author’s favorite restaurants in Gainesville are

What do I do the day after?

If you plan on staying the Sunday after, be sure to buy all of your beer the day before! In Alachua County, we have an ordinance that does not allow sales of beer before 1pm on Sunday!

The favorite activity is to go to the springs. In High Springs (about 30 minutes north of Gainesville) there are three springs all on the same road.

If you plan on drinking, go to Ginnie Springs. It’s the farthest one down, but it’s privately owned, and drinking is permitted. Your activity will be tubing down the Sante Fe River. This is a lot of fun. The river will be crowded with partiers, most of them students. Be sure to bring lots of beer (that you bought the night before), sunscreen, and a bit of water.

Florida Springs

For a list of more Alachua County attractions, go to

I have more questions. Who do I contact?

For tailgating questions, contact us at GatorTailgaing (, for hotel availability or area questions, contact our Visitor's Bureau at

About Mike Herchel

Mike's picture
Mike Herchel is one of the founders of Both a die-hard Gator fan and a tailgater, Mike finds a way to combine his passion of web development with beer.


Nice info about tailgating

Nice info about tailgating in Gainesville! Lots of great stuff around our area to check out!

 One question though - Which OSU beatdown was that celebration in midtown after? The basketball or football game? Im just wondering cause it seems like weve beat OSU down so many time over the past couple years  :)

Got Championships? We do!

TailGatorKing - First to show, and last to go!

Good question... I'm not

Good question... I'm not sure... they're soo many, they all just kind of run together! Cool

great article

great article

I enjoyed the article re How

I enjoyed the article re How to buy scalped tickets.  Here's a tip or two that I've learned when buying tix on game day.  Make a little sign, about one quarter of a poster board size.  Use day glow yellow--it catches more eyes.  Say:  I need 2 tix (or whatever #) {for that game}.  If you're looking for tix for future games, put your sign up as never hurts to get the word out A.S.A.P.  Always have a seating chart of the stadium you're going to...then you know what you're buying.  Most stadiums have a chart online.  Don't just stand in one place....move up and down the length of the stadium (at least)--you find more sellers and buyers.  If there are 2 of you, then check on both sides of the gridiron, and use your cellphone to keep each other posted. <><  One neat tradition that I like to do with family and friends when visiting G-ville on a home game day is to get up early and get a dozen of "Hot" Krispy Kremes and go watch the Gator Band practice the half-time show (usually 8 AM) on the west side of the multi-level parking lot which is on the NE side of the O'connell Center.  It is so Great and you'll get the good ole great Gator thrills & chills when listening to all those great tunes you heard as a student.  Peter Rock  UF '76

Peter James Rock

Great read, bringing my 11

Great read, bringing my 11 year old son down on 9/25 from Richmond KY for his first visit to The Swamp! Go Cats!

@JG - Be sure to stop by our

@JG - Be sure to stop by our tailgate! We love opposing fans, and you'll be sure to have a good time. We'll have our location and extra info posted on our site a day or so before the game. Email us for info also

First time visiting The

First time visiting The Swamp.....A little nervous but I'm sure we will have a great time....GO COCKS....

Relative to the rv parking at

Relative to the rv parking at Hull and Mowry. Can you arrive early Friday morning. Coming in for the LSU game and don't want to have to wait until 6pm to get the party started. In 2006 and 2008 I parked the rv behind the UF Hilton on SW 34th and had to wait to park.


What time should I get there

What time should I get there to park and tailgate since the LSU game starts at 7.

Looking forward to my first

Looking forward to my first vist to The Swamp. As the other poster said, I'm a little nervous. My husband has been a couple of times and says it's fine! GO COCKS!!!!

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