It’s fall, the leaves are turning, and there’s orange everywhere- orange and blue, that is. It’s Football season, and while there are some big changes happening around Scott Stadium (like the new alcohol policy) there are some things that never change. Drinks may be available inside, student fashion might be evolving, and Bronco might be coaching a winning team, but rain, shine, loss, or win, Wahoos will always tailgate. Here’s how to make your tailgate the best one in the lot.

The Spread

It’s not a tailgate without snacks, and it’s not a UVA tailgate without a few key Charlottesville dishes. Here’s what we see the most of: 

  1. Brats, Burgers and Dogs – Popping open the grill a few hours before the game and tossing a football around is a tried and true way to tailgate. 
  2. Wayside Chicken – Undeniably some of the best fried chicken around. 
  3. Bellair Market – This gas station boutique market has been a Charlottesville staple for years. They’ve recently franchised out from their Ivy shop, so you can pick up a host of Crozets and Farmingtons no matter how you’re entering town. 
  4. Bodo’s Bagels  – Now that Spudnuts has left us, Bodos is the uniform choice for brunch tailgates.
  5. Catering from Foods of All Nations – The classic grocery store will put together an excellent catering spread for you, plus you can stock up on extras, craft beers, and wines, making this the best of the one-stop shops. 
  6. Cheese Plates – Any party is better with a cheese plate, and a tailgate is no exception. Get yours from Feast on West Main or assemble it from Foods of all Nations when you pick up your catering… 
  7. Ham Biscuits featuring Virginia Ham – Did you go to a UVA game if you didn’t eat a ham biscuit? Also, find these at Foods. 
  8. Virginia Peanuts – A favorite of the classic crowd, you’ll see our state’s famous peanuts on many orange tablecloths. 
  9. And of course, turkey – for the annual Virginia Tech Game.

The Libations

Are you a wine tailgater, a beer tailgater, or a liquor tailgater? Pre-mixed themed cocktail of the game, or light brews in orange koozies? Every fan has his or her own preference, and every tailgate has its own spirit. (See the difference between the Wahoo Limo parked in West Lot by the superfan owner of Chile’s Peach Orchard, and the simple family tailgates in South Lot.) If we learned  anything from the Boy Scouts, it’s to always be prepared, so if you’re not sure what you’ll want to have on offer, it’s best to have everything- and the best place to get everything is Beer Run, if you’re coming from in town. Coming down 29? Stop in the Rio shopping center, hit Wine Warehouse, Kroger and the Rio ABC in one swoop. 

(Pro Tip: Shopping in town? Buy liquor the day before the game or earlier. The ABC stores get absolutely mobbed, especially the Barracks ABC.)

The Table

Tailgates mean decorations. The best tailgates are on-theme but not overly themed; you don’t need a life-sized cav man (there’s already one wandering around) but some tasteful elements will go a long way. Head to the Virginia Shop at Barracks for gameday linens, order up some official cornhole boards, and grab some orange and blue glitter confetti to complete the look!

The Fashion 

“Guys in Ties, Girls in Pearls” might be fading among a good deal of the crowd, but you’ll still see die-hards dressed to their wahoo nines. If you’re going all out for the perfect tailgate, you might as well match. For a masculine look, pair a Vineyard Vines UVA bowtie (available at Mincer’s) with some pastel orange pants and a button down (branded, of course- check out the Bookstore for ideas.) For a feminine outfit, the best thing to do is check out Finch on the Corner for the latest in tailgate fashion. Or, take a leaf out of our book, and get a warm + fuzzy gameday onesie from Tipsy Elves for the whole crew.

What makes your tailgate perfect? Show us your gameday successes on instagram@thecharlottesvilleguide