The first full weekend of September means one thing to football fans: The NFL regular season finally kicks off. Most everyone has a favorite pro team, which may or may not have avid fans, wild tailgating and sensational weather. Our editors blitzed through squad after squad and city after city to come up with the three best places to catch an NFL game this season.
Six days out of the week, there’s not much to do in Green Bay, but when Sunday rolls around, the town is all about football. Cheeseheads converge on Lambeau Field to cheer on Aaron Rodgers and the beloved Green Bay Packers whether it’s sunny and 50 Fahrenheit or a bone-chilling 10-degree day in early December. Win or lose, the “Frozen Tundra” has been sold out since 1960, and it’s not uncommon for season ticketholders to will their seats to unborn family members. Packers fans are relentless, tailgating even when there’s a foot of snow on the ground. It may be because the fans actually own the team—it’s the only non-profit, community-owned major league professional sports team in the U.S.
Next Home Game: Washington Redskins, September 15, 1PM Eastern
Check in Here: Hyatt on Main sits across the Fox River and just blocks from Lambeau Field, and makes for a great home base in Titletown. Book the “Explore Package” and you’ll snag two tickets to the Packers Hall of Fame along with local eats—think Wisconsin cheddar and Titletown Brewing Company craft beer.
You’re either a citizen of Steeler Nation or you hate the fans with a fiery passion. Either way, Pittsburgh Steelers games explode with energy. Heinz Field, which is perched on the shores of the Ohio River in the North Shore neighborhood, can get pretty chilly during the latter part of football season, but the energy from those fans keeps Ben Roethlisberger and Co. plenty warm. And Steelers’ tailgates are some of the best in the country with the “Steelers Polka” blasting from stereos, classic Polish fare (plenty of pierogies and kielbasa) warming up the air and the Terrible Towel at the ready to wipe up any spilled Yuengling.
Next Home Game: Tennessee Titans, September 8, 1PM Eastern
Check in Here: One of the newest hotels in the Steel City, Fairmont Pittsburgh is a short 20-minute walk from Heinz Field—and face it, you probably wouldn’t be parking any closer. The sleek hotel is centrally located, offering views of PNC Park (where the postseason-bound Pittsburgh Pirates play) and the city’s skyline.
It’s the world’s largest domed stadium—and one of the newest in the league—because everything is bigger in Texas, right? Alongside the massive stadium, “America’s Team” draws a Texas-sized tailgate where blue margaritas flow like water. Cowboys fans love to complain about the rocky team, but they remain loyal. Dallas’ warm climate means a hot start to the season and a mild winter, but weather doesn’t really matter when you’re saddled up inside Cowboys Stadium. If the temperature and Tex-Mex don’t woo you, watching the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders root for DeMarco Murray’s touchdown runs should do the job.
Next Home Game: New York Giants, September 8, 8:30PM Eastern
Check in Here: While you may think you’re checking in to a hotel when you walk into the swanky Cowboys Stadium, you should book a room at Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek to rest your head. The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel sits in Dallas’ ritzy Turtle Creek neighborhood and is home to the Four-Star Mansion Restaurant.
Photo Courtesy of iStock-David Sucsy