All year long we’ll be releasing our BroBible Travel Guides to your favorite travel locations. The guides are intended on being 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. There are many reasons to head to Oxford, Mississippi for a football game and most of them don’t have to do with the team. There’s a reason Ole Miss fans say "We may not win every game, but we never lose a party." The two biggest reasons are the girls and the Grove. The girls are the hottest in SEC country. I’m not sure why, but it’s the truth and people at Florida and Alabama will tell you that. The Grove is one of the best, if not the best, tailgate scenes in the country. It offers a truly unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else. To boot Ole Miss is normally rated as one of the top 25 party schools in the country. It’s also as true a taste of the south as you’ll get with any college football visit.
2. One positive of Ole Miss’ football team not being great is that you’re not taking away one of the great teams in the SEC from coming for an Ole Miss home game. Ole Miss is in the SEC West, so they play home games every other year against Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M, and Mississippi State. Mississippi State is Ole Miss’ biggest rival, but they’re usually not any good and the game is over Thanksgiving. (Plus the college kids may’ve gone home for the weekend, so it won’t be as fun). Right now the SEC is sticking with the “6-1-1” schedule system, t but Ole Miss doesn’t have a cross-division rival. Boil that all down and you should be making your trip for Alabama, LSU, or Texas A&M with the possibility of Florida, George, or South Carolina as the schedule rotates with Eastern Division foes. That’s a pretty good selection. As we said before, Ole Miss fans “never lose a party,” so you don’t have to worry about a loss killing your Saturday night buzz.
3. Oxford is the smallest SEC city and it shows. The town itself has a population of only about 20,000 and something like 17,000 are Ole Miss undergraduate and graduate students. A majority of people you’ll encounter over the course of the weekend are either students or there specifically for the game. The Square is the center of downtown and there really isn’t too much outside of that. The seems to account for about 1/5 of the town’s real estate, but you won’t travel too far away from that and the square
4. Because of the town’s size, hotels and houses are pretty tough. As you’d expect, the hotels in and around the square are super expensive (possibly $500 a night on game days) and get booked quickly. The two names you’d be looking at are The Inn at Ole Miss and Downtown Oxford Inn, but you probably won’t end up there. Names like the Holiday Inn Express, Comfort Inn, and Hampton Inn sound familiar and are more reasonably priced, but they’re 2+ miles away from the bars. My suggestion would be to rent an RV if your group is big enough. We did it and it worked out pretty well. There are a bunch of RV areas to park and then you’ll be able to get around for the most part by walking. Just do some research ahead of time on what RV parks are open to the public and get there early. We got there a little later than we wanted on Friday and ended up at the south edge of campus, so the walk to the bars was quite long.
5. Now to the Grove, which I’ve already told you is one of the best tailgating experience you’ll ever see. How many other tailgate areas have their own Wikipedia page? It’s a 10-acre park in the middle of campus that opens on Friday for people to start setting up their tailgates. The time has changed over the years from Friday at midnight to the afternoon to the morning, so make sure to check before you go to see what it is at that time. (That won’t stop people from cheating the timing to lock down space though.) There are three important rules that you’ll need to know ahead of time. The first is that you have to drink your beers and liquor out of cups because of some old ass laws prohibiting visible consuming alcohol. The second biggest rule is that open flames aren’t allowed so you won’t be seeing any grills. You’ll see a lot more prepared hors d'oeuvres, sandwiches, and trays of Zaxby’s and Chick-fil-A than you’d see at other tailgates. Finally, no cars are allowed so tents are crammed one next to the other because every inch of space is at a premium. That doesn’t mean you won’t have a good time! The party atmosphere starts as early as 4 a.m. for some and is always at a high level, even if the weather isn’t great. The girls are dressed up in heels and dresses even if the Grove is basically a mud pit after a few days of rain. (I witnessed that too.) As with most tailgates, bring a cooler and jump in if you don’t have one yourself. The people are definitely friendly.
6. Some schools have pregame traditions for their football team and Ole Miss’ is second to none Occurring since 1995, the players walk through the Grove two hours before kickoff on the way into the stadium on the Walk of Champions. Everyone lines up along the Walk of Champions to high five the players and coaches and wish them all luck. The Hotty Toddy chant can be heard throughout the entire walk. (It’s as silly as you’d expect, but the Rebels’ fans don’t care and sing it quite often.)
7. For once we’ll start the food section off with breakfast because one of the best meals in town is your early morning meal at Big Bad Breakfast. They’re famous for incorporating chili in all their breakfast entrees. The biscuits are so damn good great and you’ll do well with the house-cured bacon and hash browns as well. If you do end up there for lunch (they only serve breakfast and lunch), they also make a pretty darn good burger and really good fried chicken. The other must have in Oxford is a meal at Ajax Diner. They serve the traditional home cooked southern meals such as fried catfish filets and chicken and dumplings, but they have a few well known burgers like “The Deuce.” Personally I’d go with the pot roast or “The Big Easy,” which is a chicken fried steak sandwich with potatoes, gravy, and baked beans layered on top. Work in the broccoli and rice casserole too if you can find some extra space in your stomach. There are a couple other good burgers in town too with two places being featured on Burger Land. The skillet-fried dough burger at Phillips Grocery might be a little different than what you’re used to because of the flour being added to the burger meat (hence dough burger), but you certainly won’t be unhappy. You can also try the Lamar Burger at the Lamar Lounge where the simple process of adding a little char to the outside locks the juices inside.
8. Now that we’ve moved on from burgers, you can get some good barbecue at Handy Andy’s (although they have a burger that’s known around town too). Catfish and rotel (spicy home) fries are the thing at Taylor Grocery, although it takes a little bit of a drive to get there and you might have to wait for a table. You can also brown bag there which takes things to a whole different level. City Grocery is another place that you have to hit ad odd times to find a table since people book it well in advance. Grab the shrimp and grits if you ever get a table. Snack bar is a little fancier and requires a reservation months in advance for game day weekends. They serve splendid seafood (specifically oysters) and cocktails, although the meat plate is probably a must have as well. Boure is another favorite with their surf and turf and also their upscale Boure burger. (Had enough burgers yet?) If for some reason you want pizza (and as a northerner, I’d say you should be focused on the local cuisine which isn’t pizza), there’s always Old Venice Pizza Company. Last, but not least, is the late night food scene at the Chevron, although it’s referred to as “Chicken on a Stick.” (Yes, you heard me right. I’m talking about the gas station.) It’s amazing how many people gather there to grab what they can when the bars close. As you’d expect, people get chicken tenders on a stick and eat the fuck out of them. If that’s not your cup of tea, you can always walk down the road to the Sonic, which is open late.
9. The bar scene in Oxford starts and ends with the Library. Ok, that might be a little harsh, but that’s what it seems like because the town is so small. The Library hasn’t been open for that long but it’s usually listed as one of the best college bars in America. It’s three bars in one with the main area being 18+ because it’s a club and live music venue. The Library Sports Bar and the Library Patio are the other two portions and those are only for those old enough to drink. There are $20 covers on game weekend, but everyone ends up paying them even if they complain first. Once or twice a year they sell a limited number or put on competitions for the coveted Library card. If you are lucky enough to have a card then your entrance is free. It’s clearly the place to go if you want the best reflection of the Ole Miss bar scene and are looking for a fine coed to make acquaintances with.
10. Your alternatives aren’t far away since everything is centered around the square. You’ll find Funky’s next to the Library. It’s a little more low-key and actually calls itself a “pizza and daiquiri” bar. There’s a good chance you’ll catch a few student-athletes there if you go. Levee is a divey spot that’s big with the undergrads. You can also get your dive fix in the basement of Rib Cage. Rooster’s is a fratty bar that's always packed with a great crowd. There are also some places to catch music. The Lyric always has great concerts, so you should check their website before planning a trip to see if there is anyone you want to see. Frank and Marlee’s is a fun piano bar and piano bars are definitely a thing these days. Proud Larry's has local indie like bands playing which is always fun if you're into that. But most likely you’ll spend large portion of both weekend nights at the Library.