There is no better place to be on Saturdays, or Caturdays for that matter, in the fall. This is especially true since Mark Stoops took over and transformed Kentucky into a national brand.
Kentucky has one of the best tailgating atmospheres in the SEC and if you haven’t been, just know you’re missing out! So here’s everything you need to know about where and how to get involved at the University of Kentucky.
Where to make the tailgate
This may seem like an easy question to answer: in the parking lots outside the stadium, right? But there is much more.
Let me start by saying that I wouldn’t recommend it, especially for people who have season tickets or have friends and family that attend the games. However, if you are alone with a small group, Tailgate Guys is the perfect option.
Tailgate Guys offers an out-of-the-box tailgate experience. They are the designated partners of Kentucky and they do a tremendous job. They offer a variety of packages, including coolers, alcohol, and food. They have several tents set up and provide a table, chairs, signage, and even a television. Most importantly, it’s only a short walk to the stadium.
Gluck Equine Center and Wildcat Shelter
The Gluck Equine Center is, well, the hub of fun on game days. It’s juxtaposed with a small pond, so you can’t miss it, and it offers some of the best pop-up tents around.
The Wildcat Refuge, on the other hand, is a more family-oriented place. You don’t have to bring your friends from high school or college to enjoy game day—bring the family! There are inflatables set up, the spirit squad stops, the autograph signings continue, and of course, faces are painted.
regular parking lots
If you prefer to do things on your own and for less money, there’s nothing wrong with parking in a lot near the stadium, setting up a tent and chairs, and bringing your own food and drinks. In fact, it’s probably better, but it takes more work and planning.
Kentucky fans pull up to their own cars or park and meet others in their cars. Traffic can be a bit tricky, but you can set up your own tailgate however you like. Heck, tailgate is so much fun, some people choose not to go to the game, or never had tickets in the first place, and just watch the game on their TV while listening to the cheers coming from inside Kroger Field.
the RV lot
I have to admit I’m biased here because this is my personal favorite. I’m behind all the Kentucky games on the RV lot. Fortunately, I know a few people who drive an RV to games and we can park far away from the stadium and walk to their facility. My favorite part is that you have a ton of space and if everyone brings something it’s the cheapest and easiest way to do it.
I’ll also point out that it’s not uncommon to see some big names on the lot. Just last season, I met Orlando Antigua, Kash Daniel and Josh Ali’s dad. Just set up a tent, some chairs, the TV (or two) and get the grill ready to go.
The best part is, if you’re lucky enough to have an RV and a spot on the lot, you can stay the night before, save yourself the trip to Lexington, and freshen up when you wake up on game day.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Bowl. RIP. It doesn’t exist anymore, but it was the best place for college students to hang out before it closed, for good reason, but sad nonetheless.
Throw on your favorite UK t-shirt or hoodie and get ready to have some fun. Much of this has already been mentioned: bring a tent, tables, chairs, a TV, a grill, lots of food, and a good attitude. But there are lots of creative things you can do with tailgating.
If the Cats are getting ready to take on Florida, grab an alligator and fire up the grill. Burgers and hotdogs are always a good option, but what about barbecue? Indian’s wings? Penn Station sandwiches? There are a variety of ways to go here.
Most people enjoy drinking beer at tailgates, but what about Fireball shots everywhere? Don’t forget a speaker, so you can light up Grove Street Party while you eagerly await game time. How about a generator to get everything running? Be sure to bring your cornhole boards, there’s nothing wrong with a little friendly competition. Oh, and you have to stop by CatWalk as the Cats get off the bus to head to the stadium and the BBN make their way and cheer them on.
Finally, don’t forget Keeneland! Everyone knows that the state of Kentucky loves horse racing. Well, going to Keeneland before the games is one of the most fun experiences a Wildcat fan can have. Keeneland has some world class Thoroughbreds and is one of the most beautiful race tracks in the country. Good horse racing and some British football in one day? Sign me up!
Let me know in the comments what your favorite tailgating places and traditions are!