By Evan Scott Schwartz
September 09, 2014

When the Hawkeyes win on the gridiron, the University of Iowa band strikes up the school’s official victory song, which is an adaption of an old polka favorite called “In Heaven There Is No Beer.” The lyrics are fairly simple: “In Heaven, there is no beer/That’s why we drink it here.”

In Iowa City, there’s plenty of beer to go around.

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Iowa students are legendary partiers. Iowa has ranked as one of the top five party schools in the country for the past few years, and took the number one spot last year according to the Princeton Review. That makes Iowa City a premier destination for tailgating. Hit any bar in town during a home game weekend and you’ll likely hear dozens of Hawkeye faithful singing in unison, often joined by rogue members of the Iowa Marching Band blasting away on the brass.

On game day, fans descend on Melrose Avenue for pregame revelry outside Kinnick Stadium. A nearby street called Melrose Place (no, not the one you’re picturing) is frequently packed with partying Iowa students. The revelry on Melrose is so intense that the university and City Council have taken measures to curb it, which has led some Iowa tailgating stalwarts to take their business elsewhere.

One icon that’s moved on is the Magic Bus, which SI dubbed the “Best Traveling Tailgate Party in America” back in 1997. The Magic Bus was a fixture before Iowa home games: an old school bus retrofitted with a deck and spiral staircase that led to the roof, which was reserved for live music for each home game. The Magic Bus was evicted from Kinnick Stadium in 2010 but has migrated out to Backpocket Brewing in Coralville, where it is a spiritual totem of the parking lot insanity it used to provide. The Bus still cranks up now and then for events at Backpocket.

If you’re staying in Coralville, you can hop on the Hawkeye Express, a repurposed passenger train that shuttles fans to a station steps away from the stadium. The former Amtrak locomotive lets Iowa fans skip the hassle of driving and parking, and starts early in the morning so fans have hours of fun before an 11 a.m. CST kickoff.

There may not be much beer in heaven, but Iowa City is about as close as it gets to a tailgating paradise.

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