What is it that draws thousands of people to stand around on asphalt, sometimes in the bitter cold and rain? Is it the infectious enthusiasm of fans in team colors? The spectacle of hilarious costumes and outlandish vehicles? The warmth of a charcoal fire? The vast array of tables spread with every kind of food imaginable from the chilled to the grilled?
We've tailgated at college and pro football games, soccer matches, car races, and even in the parking lots of theme parks and ski resorts. You can tailgate anywhere you're allowed to park your car, grill food, and enjoy a drink with friends. Tailgating means different things to different people. For some, it's all about team spirit and getting amped up for the game. For others, it's pure party time, a chance to eat, drink, and be merry. In the end, it just might be the collective experience of everyone doing it together that makes tailgating so special.
No matter what it means to you, tailgating can be as simple or as fancy as you want it to be. Some folks bring a cooler of prepared food, some drinks, and team colors and call it a day. Others plan for days or weeks ahead of time, drive huge RVs to the game, set up big tents, or drag giant trailer smokers to the parking lot to serve the rabid fans. No matter how it takes shape for you, tailgating is a fantastic American pastime. Here's your ultimate guide to the gear, the recipes, and the planning tips that will make your next party in the parking lot the best ever.