There’s no better place to be on Saturday, 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 that you’re missing out! So, here’s everything you need to know about where and how to tailgate at the University of Kentucky.
Where to tailgate
This might seem like an easy question to answer—in the parking lots outside of the stadium, right? But there’s so much more to it.
Let me preface this by saying I would not recommend, especially for people who have season tickets or have friends and family that attend games. However, if you’re on your own with a small group, Tailgate Guys is the perfect option.
Tailgate Guys provides a ready-to-go tailgate experience. They are Kentucky’s designated tailgate partners and they do a tremendous job. They offer a variety of packages, which include coolers, alcohol, and food. They have a number of tents set up and they provide a table, chairs, signage, and even a TV. Most importantly, it’s just a short walk to the stadium.
Gluck Equine Center and Wildcat Refuge
The Gluck Equine Center is, well, the center of fun on gamedays. It’s juxtaposed to a little pond, so you can’t miss it, and it provides some of the best pop-up tailgating tents.
The Wildcat Refuge, on the other hand, is a more family-oriented tailgating spot. You don’t have to come with your high school or college buddies to enjoy gameday—bring the family! There’s inflatables set up, the spirit squad stops by, autograph signings go on, and, of course, face painting.
The regular parking lots
If you prefer to do things on your own, and for cheaper, there’s nothing wrong with parking in a lot by the stadium, setting up a tent and chairs, and bringing your own food and beverages. In fact, it’s probably better, but it does involve more work and planning.
Kentucky fans tailgate by their own cars or park and meet up with others at their cars. Traffic can be a bit messy, but you can set up your own tailgate however you wish to do so. Heck, the tailgate’s so much fun, some people choose not to go into the game, or never had tickets in the first place, and just watch the game on their TV as they hear 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 tailgate every Kentucky game in the RV lot. Luckily, I know some folks who drive an RV down to the games and we’re able to park away from the stadium and walk to their setup. My favorite part is you have a ton of space and if everybody brings something, it’s the cheapest and easiest way to go.
I’ll also note that it’s not uncommon to see some big names around the lot. Last season alone, I met Orlando Antigua, Kash Daniel, and Josh Ali’s father. 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 in the lot, you can stay the night before, save yourself the drive to Lexington, and be refreshed when you wake up on gameday.
Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Bowl. RIP. It’s no longer around, but it was the best place for college students to tailgate before it was shut down—for good reason, but sad nonetheless.
How to tailgate
Wear your favorite UK shirt or hoodie and prepare yourself for a good time. A lot of this has been mentioned already—bring a tent, tables, chairs, a TV, a grill, lots of food, and a good attitude. But there’s a lot of creative things you can do with tailgating.
If the Cats are getting ready to take on Florida, grab some gator and fire up the grill. Hamburgers and hot dogs are always a good choice, but what about barbecue? Indi’s wings? Penn Station sandwiches? There’s a variety of ways to go here.
Most people enjoy drinking beer at tailgates, but what about Fireball shots all around? Don’t forget a speaker, so you can turn up Grove Street Party as you excitedly wait for gametime. How about a generator to make everything go? Be sure to bring your cornhole boards—nothing wrong with a little friendly competition. Oh, and you have to stop by the CatWalk as the Cats get off the bus to head into the stadium and the BBN forms their path and cheers them on.
Finally, don't forget about Keeneland! Everybody knows the state of Kentucky loves its horse racing. Well, heading to Keeneland before 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 UK football all in one day? Sign me up!
Let me know in the comments what your favorite tailgating spots and traditions are!