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 http://www.visitgainesville.com/stay/hotels-motels-inns/
To find available rooms, check out the Alachua County Visitors Bureau’s Available Rooms page at http://www.visitgainesville.com/stay/special-event-accommodations/. Keep in mind that when booking the room, most 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 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.
- Use a park-and-ride. There are a number of shuttles coming to the stadium from the Oaks Mall area and other areas. See http://www.go-rts.com/other.php 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.
If you don’t have a ticket hookup, you’ll most likely need to buy scalped tickets. It was either 2007 or 2008 before that 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.
Where do I tailgate?
With us of course! We’re happy to tailgate with anyone that reads this site. You can either stumble upon us, or you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're currently located near the SW corner of Museum Rd & Gale Lemerand (formerly North South Drive).
If you don’t feel like hanging out with the GatorTailgating.com crew, you can tailgate at your parking space, or anywhere on campus. 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 Gainesville Police Department. This has cost the author $180 at the 2007 Troy game! Most people generally will bour 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
- 8 Seconds – Gainesville’s country-western bar. It’s usually pretty happening, and they play booty music mixed into the country. You’ll see a number of cowboy hats in this bar. Also note that this building is painted like a cow.
- There are a lot more bars around – Go to this link to see more of your options.
Mid-Town Gainesville on Gameday - Image courtesy of the Birmingham Gator Club
The author’s favorite restaurants in Gainesville are
- Satchels - Best Pizza in Gainesville - Great Atmosphere
- Las Margarita’s – Best Mexican Food in North Florida
- David’s BBQ – BBQ & Awesome hangover breakfast!
- Newberry Backyard BBQ – In Newberry – about 30 minutes west of Gainesville
- Hogan’s Hero’s – Undoubtedly the best subs in all of Gainesville
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.
For a list of more Alachua County attractions, go to http://www.visitgainesville.com