Whether you’re rooting 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 – as arrival can be overwhelming for those that don’t. Here is a list of ‘tailgating tips’ for visitors:
1. Parking and Transportation: ‘FootballRide’ is a shuttle service offered by the AATA on Football Saturdays. Tickets are $1.50 each way/$3 round trip, and they run every 20 minutes before and after games. There are a number of shuttle pick-up and ticket purchase locations, all of which are detailed on TheRide’s FootballRide page.
2. Arrive Early: Be aware that most lots open at either 6:00 am or 7:00am, and they fill up fast. You cannot chose 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 of M.
3. Tailgating Hot Spots: The most well-known places to set up shop are at the Pioneer High School lot (kitty-corner to the stadium), the U of 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 peices of real-estate.
4. 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 an hour an a half 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.’
5. There’s an App for that! Seriously. The MGoBlue2 mobile app, available for Android and iOS, allows you to see team stats, and scores, and keep up with audio and video during game. Even if you’re from the visiting team, it’s a great way to stay on top of what’s going on while you’re in town. You can hear pre-game coverage on local radio station WWJ (950 AM).
6. 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 larger stores like 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).
7. Gear Up: If you’re looking to dress the part, you can get U of M gear at a number of stores in the downtown area, including the M-Den, Elmo’s Main Street T-shirts, Moe’s Sports Shop and Underground Printing. For those on visiting teams looking for last minute party favors, you may have luck at Dick’s Sporting Goods or Dunham’s Sports, with locations nearby. There’s also a Champs Sports located in the Briarwood Mall.
8. 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, Amer’s Mediterranean Deli, or the Original Cottage Inn (for pizza). Here’s comprehensive list of restaurants where you can search by food type, location & price range.
9. 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 brew-pubs. There’s an insane beer selection at Ashley’s Pub. The energy of friendly rivalry is often unmatched at Conor O’Neill’s. Due to its game day atmosphere, The Arena is another ‘go-to’ game-watching spot. There are many great places to choose from.
10. 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 (10am – 5pm), as is the Ann Arbor Farmers Market (7am – 3pm). You can also get out of dodge by heading to Chelsea’s charming Main Street for a visit to theChelsea Teddy bear Factory or for a sweet treat from Glee Cake & Pastry.