All year long we’ll be releasing our BroBible Travel Guides to your favorite travel locations. The guides are intended to be a cheat sheet on food, drink, and fun that can be had in that town or city. Now that we’re into football season, we’ll focus on the best college football towns.
1 – Most SEC school alums will tell you Athens, Georgia is as good as any college town in SEC country. Athens is only the sixth-biggest of the SEC locations, but its enrollment is third behind only Florida and Texas A&M. This means the town is overrun by college kids, leading to arguably the best bar scene of any college town. The area just north of campus is filled with so many bars you’ll never be able to get through them all in a month, let alone a weekend. The girls are also top-notch, ranking up there with Ole Miss and Alabama for leader of the SEC pack. It’s also a great football experience since the team has finished in the AP Top 25 in 10 of the last 12 seasons, including five in the top 10. Add in some reasonably warm weather and you’ve got yourself a great Southern football weekend.
2 – The unfortunate thing about going to Athens is they play their biggest rival, Florida, in the game no longer officially known as the “The World’s Largest Cocktail Party” in Jacksonville. Being in the SEC East, Georgia alternates home games every year with Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. South Carolina is the best of those options these days as long as the ol’ Ball Coach keeps the Gamecocks successful. The SEC’s insistence on sticking with the “6-1-1” schedule system means that Auburn also alternates home games with Georgia, which means nothing in recent time unless Cam Newton was playing quarterback. If you’re lucky, that other games against an SEC West opponent will be against Alabama, LSU, or Texas A&M and you’ll have a quality game on your hand. They also play Georgia Tech every year, but that can’t get you excited. If you see Georgia beat up a cupcake while you’re in town, everyone will at least be in a good mood while out at the bars that night.
3 – There are plenty of hotels just a short walk from the north of campus. I’m sure you’ll be fine if you can get a room at the Best Western, Courtyard, Days Inn, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Hilton Garden Inn, or Travelodge. Don’t forget the standard disclaimer of booking well in advance for football weekends and being ready to pay dearly. Staying at the Country Inn & Suites, Hampton Inn, and Howard Johnson puts you about two miles away from where you want to be, which can be a pain getting downtown since cabs come with a long wait on football weekends. There’s also the relatively new Georgia Gameday Center, but those rental apartments aren’t cheap and usually fill up quickly for these weekends as well. We rented a house when we were in town and it worked out pretty well. The only catch is that you likely won’t find one that close to downtown, so you might have to walk a mile to get there or pray for a cab. It still might be worth it at the right price.
4 – Unlike its SEC brethren Tuscaloosa and Oxford, there’s no overblown designated tailgate space like the Quad or the Grove. Tailgating occurs all over the Georgia campus, mostly in North Campus and along the west of campus. The North Campus has restrictions like no kegs, generators, or televisions, so it’s not the ideal place to get your Saturday going. Your best bet is probably somewhere along S. Lumpkin St. There are various areas to set up your own shop along the road or you can just crash someone else’s tailgate and make friends. There’s plenty of good setups near the Georgia Center of Continuing Education, where we ended up. If you’re swinging through with your car, you can usually find places along Milledge Avenue to park for a fee and there’s some tailgating nearby, too.
5 – The fraternity and sorority houses always have something going on as well, especially when it comes to tailgating. Most are west of campus along Milledge Ave. If you belong (or belonged) to fraternity at some other university, you can link up with the local chapter. (Just don’t forget the handshake.) Most frats will have bands and parties on Friday night and then a pregame party on Saturday as well. Twenty-five percent of the student body is involved in Greek life, so parties will always be happening. The frat houses make the ones in the northeast look like New York City studios by comparison. The one we checked out when in town was newly renovated and had had a dining area that resembled a sports bar.