Tips, traditions and advice from a Florida alum on the best way to tailgate at a Gators game this college football season.
The Florida Gators are already dealing with a heavy deal of tumult heading into Week 1 against Michigan (10 suspensions!), which means the spirits imbibed during the tailgates will become even more important for those decked out in blue and orange. Stuart Rimland, class of 2012, breaks down how to navigate a weekend in Gainesville this season.
How to park: Depending on timing, the best place is the commuter lot on Gale Lemerand or off of Museum. Also, there is some street parking and some small parkings lots by Shands. It is a bit of a walk but not too bad. People leave Shands at all hours so parking opens up there sporadically, whereas if you are in areas where everyone is parking for the game, no spots generally open up.
How early to arrive: For afternoon games if I wanted to be safe on parking (generally I would aim for Shands) I would get there by 9 am. That was mainly for games where I wasn't doing a full on tailgate. Generally three hours before is a good idea if you need to just park. Tailgating wise, the earlier the better.
How to dress: Wear something comfortable and light. Hats are a must for the sun. If it might rain, don't wear cotton because it takes forever to dry. Sundresses seem to be what most women wear. Bring a poncho if you have one. Sunscreen and sunglasses are necessary too. For me anything with Gators on it works pretty well too. Its nice to be part of the sea of orange and blue.
Tips for visiting UF: Take a walk around main campus. Stop by the Gator statue on Gale Lemerand and Stadium and see if you can go in and see the trophies. Also walk next to the stadium on Gale Lemerand to see Tebow and Spurrier. Check out Midtown and Downtown. Even if you aren't into dive bars, Midtown insanity makes for great people-watching. Downtown is probably a better option if you are with the family. If you have time you can go by the bat house and see the bats at night.
Best things to eat at a tailgate: Corn on the grill. Best way to eat corn by far.
Best things to see around Gainesville: I was a fan of the Hippodrome Theater when I was there, so if you can see a show there go for it. Satchel's is great but get there at off hours or you will wait a long time.
Best things to bring along with you: If your seats are high up binoculars can be ga great way to catch some details you're missing. Some kind of cheap seat cushion if you are sitting in the student section can make a big difference. You won't be sitting much, but it helps for when you are. And water. Bring water.