Whether you’re cheering on the Maize and Blue, or you’re in town for a bit of friendly competition and Big House energy, you’re sure to have a great time tailgating in Ann Arbor. If you’ve never been before, it’s best to plan ahead. Here is a list of tailgating tips for visitors:
- Parking and Transportation: FootballRide is a shuttle service offered by the AAATA on Football Saturdays. Tickets are $1.50 each ($3 round trip) and they run every 20 minutes beginning two hours before games and for one hour after the game ends. There are a number of shuttle pick-up and ticket purchase locations, all of which are detailed on TheRide’s FootballRide page.
- Arrive Early: Be aware that most lots open at either 6:00 a.m. or 7:00 a.m. and they fill up fast. You cannot choose where you park in most lots. They place you as you come in — so plan a flexible set-up. Here is a comprehensive list of parking options and rules at U-M.
- Tailgating Hot Spots: The most well-known places to set up shop are at the Pioneer High School lot (diagonally across from the stadium), the U-M Golf Course, and AA Golf & Outing (both are right across the street from the stadium). Be prepared to pay between $40 – $50 dollars per vehicle for these prime pieces of real estate.
- Michigan Marching Band: They practice at Elbel Feild, and it's tradition for families, students and fans to go and watch them on Friday night before the game (4:45pm) or the day of the game (7:30am). The drum line does their traditional Step Show about 90 minutes before the game on the steps of Revelli Hall and shortly after, the entire band does the musical March to the Stadium down Hoover St., turning left on Greene and into the Big House.
- Stock Up with Local Brews: There are several stores that carry beers bottled and brewed here in Ann Arbor. Keep an eye out for Wolverine State Brewing Company, Arbor Brewing Company, Jolly Pumpkin and others. Most party stores in the area carry them, including Meijer, Whole Foods, and Busch's. Don't forget to stock up with plenty of water, too. And be aware of where you're allowed/not allowed to drink alcohol.
- Gear Up: If you're looking to dress the part, you can get U-M gear at a number of stores in the downtown area, including the M-Den and Underground Printing. Also, check ahead to see if the game is a designated Maize Out!
- No Bags Allowed: When it's time to head to Michigan Stadium, leave any bags behind, including purses, coolers, camera cases, and binocular cases. These are not allowed in the Big House. Other restrictions include seat cushions with storage slots and umbrellas. For complete details, check out this information about Safety at Michigan Stadium.
- Where to Eat: It's true, not everyone is a master of the grill. If you're arriving early, get donuts at Washtenaw Dairy. If you're looking for a meal before or after the game, many alums crowd to Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger or Zingerman's Deli for nostalgia-driven hunger, so plan ahead if you're going (there is usually a line, but many say that the wait is worth it). There's also BTB Burrito, HopCat, or the Original Cottage Inn (for pizza). Here's comprehensive list of restaurants where you can search by food type and location.
- Don't Have a Ticket? It's ok! You can still have a great time watching the game at many of Ann Arbor's sports bars and brewpubs. There's an insane beer selection at Ashley's Pub. The energy of friendly rivalry is often unmatched at Conor O'Neill's. There are many great places to choose from.
- Game Day Alternatives: It's true (gasp!), not everyone that comes to town on Game Day is here for the game. There are many families that bring sitters for children, or that come to tag along with football-loving relatives or friends for the weekend. The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is open on Saturdays (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.), as is the Ann Arbor Farmers Market (7 a.m. – 3 p.m.).
Did we miss anything? How do you like to spend Game Day in Ann Arbor? Send us a tweet — and be sure to tag #VisitAnnArbor. Go Blue!