For decades, people of all ages have packed their cars, trucks, school buses, ambulances, trailers and headed down to their favorite spot in Cleveland to join the majority of the city on football Sunday. It’s a great experience and one in which you don’t even need to attend the game to have the time of your life. Many folks come down just to party and celebrate.
It’s a time to flaunt your cooking skills, brag about your throwing arm, blindly shotgun a beer, “Boogie Woogie, Woogie” to the Electric Slide, and make friends in line at the porta-potties.
Tailgating is a huge part of the football tradition in Cleveland, Ohio, and if you’ve been to a Browns home game, you’d know that Cleveland does it right.
Cleveland’s tailgating scene has changed over the years. What once used to be a simple gathering is now a whole production. But the best part? There really isn’t a wrong way to do it. You don’t have to be a pro, you just need to learn and adapt, have fun, don’t make enemies, go with the flow, and no matter where you park there’s always going to be something going on.
WHAT TO EXPECT
If this is your first time, you’ll witness shaggy dog ears drilled into the side of a pickup truck as it passes a van that has a huge helmet welded to the hood, a football is flying over your head and in the background, you will hear the famous “Here We Go Brownies” chant. The smell of brisket fills the air, a pot of chili that’s been cooking since the night before is being served in styrofoam cups. Someone you’ve never met offers you a breakfast sandwich, while someone else tosses you a beer; we’re all family here.
The Cleveland Browns Drumline just passed by, the sounds of the bass echoing off the surrounding buildings sending the beat through your body as 50/50 tickets are being sold by a FirstEnergy employee. On the other end of the lot, a single guy is selling non-NFL gear for a great price. There’s orange face paint, homemade cookies shaped like dawg bones, original costumes and authentic jerseys. It’s Sunday morning, and you’ve never been more excited to be a Browns fan.
If you want something cheap, laid back, and you don’t mind a little walk, there are plenty of $10-$15 lots with tailgaters. All you need is a cooler of your favorite beverages, a few hot dogs, an old grill, some folding chairs, your lucky Browns hat, and you’re good to go. You don’t need a crowd to have a good time, you be you.
If you’re looking for a nonstop party, chaos, and nose to tail vehicles decked out in orange, white and brown, then the Muni Lot (North Coast Municipal Parking Lot) is for you. $25 + per occupied vehicle gets you in at 7 a.m. However, the line for this epic place usually starts before the sun has had its first cup of coffee. Out-of-towners will most likely flock there because it’s huge and so well known. If you woke up late and the lot is full, park somewhere else and just walk through on your way to the stadium, you won’t be disappointed.
If you like the excitement but want nothing over the top, there are spots closer to the stadium, but the parking will be a little bit more pricey. However, it saves you the walk to and from your car, especially on those cold December days. I run with Top Dawg Tailgate, which is located right above The Pitt and under the blue bridge on Summit where the Stadium looks over us from across the way. For $25, you get all the food and drink your heart could desire. Menus change per game depending on the opponent. There’s flip cup, DJ’s, a fire pit, and much more. We even have The Possum Guy hanging out with us and we always welcome the opposing team fans because it’s all in good fun.
There are tons of tailgates all around, and if you don’t feel like cooking, cleaning, or bringing your own beverages, look for places like this that does all the work for you! Eventually, you’ll find your place. No matter what you decide, I guarantee you will have a great time because the atmosphere is always electric. Bring someone who’s never been before, share the moment with them like my husband did with me and his father did with him. The Cleveland tailgating scene is one of a kind, and it’s can’t miss on Sunday mornings.
Can I get a DAWG CHECK?!