“It’s Football Time In Tennessee!” – How Our Family Does Game Day In Knoxville

Fall means turning leaves, cooler weather, and my favorite… University of Tennessee home football games. I love tailgating and meeting up with people that I may not have seen since last season. I love the pageantry and the traditions that I have been watching my whole life – as a kid growing up in Knoxville, as a student at UT, and as a parent that now takes my own kids.

Knoxville turns into a sea of orange and white stretching all across town. From the Vol Navy docked on the river by Neyland Stadium to the waves of people rolling along the “The Strip” (Cumberland Ave), you will hear the ringing sounds of “Rocky Top” and “Go Vols!” everywhere. (And the correct pronunciation is VAWLS in case you were wondering.)

I will you tell how my family does a Tennessee Vols game day — from where to park, how to avoid the worst of the crowds, the best places to go tailgate, how to watch the marching band, and where to grab food pre- game. IF you are from out of town or just daunted by the thought of being downtown with all those people, this blog is for you.

There is a ton of activities you can do before the game even starts, many of them free to boot. All of it makes a truly fun day out that is unique to our awesome hometown. It’s all here in my “Local’s Survival Guide To A Vols Game Day!”

Heads up- There are potential affiliate links below. See our full disclosure policy to find out why we don’t accept freebies or sponsored visits and what our affiliate links mean for you cost-wise (hint- nothing).

Smoky the dog running through the orange and white checkerboard end zone of Neyland Stadium at a UT Vols home football game
So much pageantry, tradition, fun, and festivity in one fantastic day- I love going to a UT home football game.

Can I Bring Kids To A UT Game?

The atmosphere on Game Day is plenty family-friendly. The kids love going downtown and experiencing all the hoopla that happens around a home game so we almost always go, even if we don’t have tickets for the game itself.

Just some of the kid-friendly activities include:

  • Exploring the Farmer’s Market downtown with all the people
  • Watching the UT band march through campus before the game
  • Admiring the decked out boats in the Vol Navy
  • Singing “Rocky Top” a billion times with the rest of the Vol Nation.

The night games and big rivalry games can be a little more fired up than a day game against a cupcake, night games because some people have too much time at their tailgate sucking down their whiskey and cokes, and rivalry games because, you know, rivalry. I have been at a ton of big games over the years with kids (including the famous Ole Miss game), and while the kids have occasionally learned a new word, it has been fine.

For more on the best family- friendly game day activities in Knoxville, check out 6 Fun Things To Do With The Kids On Game Day.

Basic Orientation Map For Knoxville

Map of downtown Knoxville marking he location of Neyland Sadium, downtown, Old City, North Knoxville, South Knoxville, and Alcoa Highway
Map of Knoxville, TN showing the main areas talked about in this blog. Map courtesy of OpenStreetMaps with my own additions.

Navigating Game Day Traffic In Knoxville

First things first. Most people arrive to downtown Knoxville or UT’s campus via the interstate, either I-40 or I-75, and then head to their preferred parking spot (more on that below).

If you are flying into Knoxville, you can catch a taxi, Uber, or Lyft from the airport to campus. The airport is about 30 min from downtown on Alcoa Highway (see map above).

Arriving Early Is The Key To Everything!!!

Imagine bringing 100,000 people into a confined space, add in some serious tailgating, and you can see why traffic can be brutal. Exits will back up along the shoulder of the interstate and “The Strip” is nearly non-navigable before game time. (The Strip is what locals call Cumberland Ave that runs through UT’s campus. See map above.)

Plan on arriving early to avoid whining kids while you sit at red lights for an eternity swearing you will never do this again. You’ll find plenty to occupy everyone for hours before kickoff and nothing kills the fun like being stuck in traffic.

How Early Do You Mean By “Arrive Early”?

We like to arrive at least 3 hours before the kick-off, so if it is a noon game we try to arrive by 9am. The later the kickoff, the earlier people arrive for tailgating. For a 3:30pm game, aim to arrive before 11am. For a 7pm game, we try to arrive around 1-2pm.

Crowds of people tailgating before a University of Tennessee home football game
Tailgating on a Tennessee Vols game day. Taken just after sunrise before the Florida game. Just kidding, it is at least 9 am.

Avoid Traffic Entirely By Staying Downtown

If you want to avoid the hassle of parking and traffic altogether, then get a hotel room for the weekend in downtown Knoxville. That way you can park the car Friday and not have to worry about it again until Sunday. Fabulous, right?

You’ll find lots to do in downtown to occupy your weekend, from terrific food, a super cool underground bowling alley, sunset paddles on the Tennessee River, and a general festival- like atmosphere as everyone goes all out for the 6 or 7 home game weekends a year.

Any of the hotels near Gay Street and Market Square are pretty good and I have stayed in almost all of them. I would stay here versus the ones nearer to UT’s campus as it is not a far walk to the stadium, there is more to do, and parking is easier.

Head to our blog Where To Stay On Game Day to get exhaustive details about each hotel and vacation rental near Neyland Stadium. Or check prices & availability now on hotels.com, booking.com, IHG.com, and VRBO. Whichever platform works best for you.

Where We Park On A Tennessee Vols Game Day

Forget parking on campus right by Neyland Stadium

Campus and its immediate surroundings turn into a hotbed of budding entrepreneurship on Game Day with everyone running a small business selling parking spots in front of their business, in their driveways, and even on their lawn.

UT gives all of the parking spots on campus to large donors with season parking passes so you can forget about trying to find parking in a campus lot unless you have one of these magical passes.

Students will have taken most of the very, very, VERY limited free street parking unless you arrive very early in the morning (i.e. sunrise or night before), you drive around for awhile, and you get extremely lucky. As in “go buy lottery tickets right now” lucky.

Private paid parking lots and garages near campus and downtown Knoxville increase their rates threefold on Game Day. Also, traffic getting to the places closest to the stadium can be hard on my emotional well being as well as my wallet. So I generally skip those places. So where does one go then, you ask?

Parking Is Free In Downtown Knoxville And Easy To Get To

The State Street Garage Is Our Number 1 Choice

We avoid the hassle of trying to park super near campus and park in downtown Knoxville. The State Street Garage is always free on weekends (even on Game Day) as well as on weekdays after 6 pm. It is our first choice when parking for UT football games.

It is relatively easy to get to the State Street garage from the interstate, thus minimizing the battle with traffic, and we don’t usually have trouble finding an open spot on a game day if we get there at least a couple of hours before kick-off. (This is getting more difficult as hotels have started reserving spots on the lower levels for valet parking but so far so good for me.)

You’ll find a pedestrian walkway on the 3rd level of the State Street Garage that takes you straight to Gay Street, putting you in the middle of everything downtown. From here, it is a 1.1 mile walk to the Neyland Stadium and only takes us 20-30 minutes. 

There is a $10 KAT shuttle (with return) that takes you to the game from Krutch Park next to Market Square if you don’t want to walk. Shuttles start running 3 hours before game time and they start picking up in the 4th quarter, going until an hour after the game ends.

We like parking downtown because we can get something to eat before heading to the game and we can explore the Farmer’s Market as well. (More on that below.)

For more on all of the available parking options in downtown and on campus (besides the State Street Garage), plus more about the KAT Football Shuttles, read our detailed blog about the subject- “The Best Place To Park Near Neyland Stadium For A University Of Tennessee Football Game

What To Do Before A Tennessee Vols Game Day – Free And Fun Activities

1) Start In Downtown Knoxville

The Farmer’s Market In Market Square Is A Great Place To Start Your Day

One of the reasons I like to park downtown at least a few hours before the game is that the kids and I get to walk through the Farmer’s Market on Market Street as part of our pregame festivities. There is a lot to see and eat, and the orange-clad crowd is always in a festive mood.

We usually buy breakfast or lunch from one of the food trucks and take our time poking through the produce, meats, crafts, and clothing. We have even brought a cooler in the back of the car to store our newly purchased produce in while we go to the game.

The kids enjoy looking at the huge variety of stuff for sale in the Farmer’s Market (produce, sauces, soaps, candles, jewelry, clothing, pickled everything) and I am always impressed by the ingenuity and craftsmanship of my fellow East Tennesseans. Makes me want to go out and knit something. (If I knew how to do such a thing.)

We usually get food from one of the food trucks or stalls around the Farmer’s Market – there are biscuits, sandwiches, BBQ, pastries, etc. all to be found. Good Golly Tamale often has a push cart at the market and we like to pick up delicious, individually wrapped tamales to take with us and eat just before we go into the game.

If the weather is too cold/ too hot or no one is interested in the food from the Farmer’s Market (a rarity), then we eat at one of the many places around Market Square or over on Gay Street.

Perpetual restaurant favorites are Soccer Taco, Tomato Head, Not Watsons, Tupelo Honey, Petro’s Chilli and Chips, Chivo Taqueria, and Downtown Grill & Brewery.

For pre and post game frozen treats, Cruze Farm Ice Cream on Gay Street slays as my teen would say (or did say, it’s probably changed now 🤷.)

If you are looking for a great cup of coffee, try one of the specialty food trucks in the Farmer’s Market, Coffee and Chocolate on Union Street, or K Brew in the Embassy Suites on Gay Street.

For tons of restaurant recommendations in downtown Knoxville, check out Best Restaurants In Downtown.

If you happen to be staying in South Knoxville, we have you covered there too- Where To Eat In South Knoxville Near The Urban Wilderness.

2) Walk To UT’s Campus From Downtown

Walk 1 Mile From Downtown Knoxville To Neyland Stadium

After we explore the Farmer’s Market to our hearts content and everyone has had enough food to last them at least until game time, we start our mile walk to the stadium.

*If you don’t feel like walking, you can take the Game Day Shuttle from Krutch Park. (There are also Game Day shuttles that leave from Barley’s Restaurant in the Old City and the Civic Coliseum) Read more about the shuttles on our Game Day parking blog.

From Market Square, we walk down Clinch Street to the World’s Fair Park via the pedestrian bridge over Henley Street. This deposits you right at the foot of the Sunsphere. If you have never been up, make the short detour up to the 4th floor Observatory to take in the bird’s eye view of Game Day. It is a great view and a historic structure.

*The Sunsphere costs $5 ages 13 and up, $1 for kids 12 and under with a paying adult. Check the website for hours and to buy tickets ahead of time if you want.

From the Sunsphere, we walk along the man made lake in the World’s Fair Park until we get to the bridge across it. On the other side of the bridge near the RR tracks, you will see the signs for the Second Creek Greenway. (See map below.)

The Second Creek Greenway goes over Cumberland Avenue on a pedestrian bridge, then crosses the RR tracks before continuing along Second Creek.

When you reach the intersection with Neyland Greenway, head over a bridge to your right crossing Second Creek. You are now at the Tickle Engineering Building which sits adjacent to Neyland Stadium.

Where you go once you get to the stadium totally depends on where your tickets are. If you look at your e- ticket, it will tell you what gate to enter through and then start walking around the stadium until you see it. *Remember to download your tickets to your phone before the game. Cell service is something awful around the stadium!

It isn’t really as hard as my directions make it sound. Just follow the majority of the crowd and you will get to Neyland Stadium.

3) Pick A Couple Of Pre-game Activities

Depending on the age of the kids that are coming with me to the game and what the weather is like, we may do several different things before we head into the game.

*Or not head into the game. Sometimes we just walk around enjoying all the hoopla and then head back to Downtown Grill & Brewery to watch the game or go back home to watch.

This is a list of the pregame activities and traditions we enjoy right now and it has changed as the kids have grown up. When they were really young, we basically went to the Vol Village and watched the marching band and that was it.

Now that they are older and more mobile, we still make a point to watch the band march through campus but we will often walk over to look at the Vol Navy too. Plus, the kids often have friends tailgating they want to see, so we do more walking around to different tailgates.

For a more complete list of all the kid-friendly activities you can find on UT’s campus before a football game, see our blog about it- “ 6 Fun Things To With Kids On A Vols Game Day

Go See The Vol Navy Outside Neyland Stadium

Once we get to the end of the Second Creek Greenway by Neyland Stadium, we usually connect onto the Neyland Greenway. You have to cross Neyland Drive to get to the Neyland Greenway but it will take along the docks for the Vol Navy, anchored just a short walk away from the stadium.

The Vol Navy is a fairly unique tradition as there aren’t a lot of football stadiums right next to the water. It is a delightful hodgpodge of large, multi-million dollar yachts, family pontoon boats, and even some old jon boats tied to the end of the line. The kids and I like to pick which one is the most decked out in orange (see what I did there?!).

You can walk to Calhoun’s (0.5 miles away) on the Neyland Greenway, which we do sometimes as it is a nice walk with benches as well as some informational signs about the history of Knoxville.

We don’t often plan on eating at Calhoun’s however, even though it is one of our favorite restaurants, because it gets packed on game day. But if you go early or are willing to wait a bit, it’s a great time and good food.

Tailgating On Campus At The University Of Tennessee

After admiring the mega (and not so mega) yachts of the Vol Navy, we usually start making our way around campus, checking in at various friend’s or relative’s tailgates.

Being from the area, we always have 1 or 2 (or 10) people that we stop in to say “Go Vawls” (that’s local speak for “Hi”). Even if we don’t have someone specific to see, we like to walk around the tailgates and generally soak up the atmosphere of fluorescent orange, BBQ, and “Rocky Top.”

If you want to walk around and ogle other people’s tailgates, that’s fun too and some people really go all out. The best tailgates near Neyland Stadium are on the top of the G10 garage next to the stadium, in any of the parking lots immediately surrounding the stadium, and around the parking lot behind the Clarence Brown Theatre, which is located just west of the Vol Village (see map below).


The Vol Village is a public tailgate that UT sets up for fans. There are food trucks and kids activities, a DJ or live band usually, and a massive TV screen so you can watch ESPN Game Day. We often head here if we don’t have a tailgate to go to or if we have young kids that want to get their face painted.

Map of routes of the Vol Walk on Philip Fulmer Drive, the marching band route along VolunteerBlvd, the shuttle pick up and drop off in front of Walter Life Science Building, and the Vol Village location on Volunteer Boulevard.
Map of Game Day Activities Around Neyland Stadium in Knoxville
Watch UT’s Marching Band Parade Through Campus On Their Way To Neyland Stadium

The University’s Pride of the Southland Marching Band will make its way from the Haslam Music Building on Volunteer Boulevard over to Neyland Stadium about an hour and 40 minutes hours before the game. (Check your UT Athletics app for times of pre-game activities for your specific game in case there are changes.)

I would aim for being in place about 15 minutes before the march starts (so about 2 hours before kickoff), particularly in the most popular spots closest to the stadium. See map above for the route.

The entire band (plus the cheerleaders, the dance team, the color guard, and Smokey the Mascot) will march through campus playing awesome music — hint, it’s mostly “Rocky Top” on repeat– until they get to the plaza in front of Gate 21.

There, the whole ensemble stops to perform the “Salute to the Hill,” a 3 song set that ends with…. “Rocky Top.” (Are you sensing a theme yet?)

Watching this parade is really fun for the kids as it is loud and colorful. And it is one of my very favorite traditions as well, so we always make a point to see it.

We like to watch the band from the pedestrian bridge over Philip Fulmer Way, next to the Student Union. From here, you can see the band march by and also perform the “Salute To The Hill” below you.

But really anywhere along the route is fun to watch the band as long as the kids get a front-row seat.

University of Tennessee Marching Band before the game
Finding A Public Bathroom On UT’s Campus Before A Football Game

(this can be like a treasure hunt to find a good one without a huge line)

The best bathrooms, outside of the ubiquitous port-a-potties, are in the Student Union. The bathrooms are just inside the entrance from the pedestrian bridge to the building and the lines can be super long, especially as it gets closer to game time, so we sometimes look for the bathrooms on the other floors.

Other good choices are the port-a potties near the Vol Village and inside Hodges Library. Otherwise, look for any of the big parking lots and garages and you will usually find a porta- potty or 2. Lines can be long everywhere though, especially about an hour before kickoff when everyone starts packing up the tailgates.

*Pro Tip- If you think you might need a bathroom soon, start looking now. If you wait until it is absolutely necessary you will find yourself in an unimaginably long line for a port-a-potty that smells like the Hulk had food poisoning. It’s the Murphy’s Law of tailgating.

The University keeps a list of public bathrooms and port-a-potties open on Game Day.

If You Need Food Before Going Into Neyland Stadium

I try to make sure everyone has eaten a lot before the game because food is inexpensive once you get into the stadium

Besides getting something to eat in downtown Knoxville before we walk over to Neyland Stadium, I also try to bring granola bars in my bag to munch on while we are walking around checking out the pre-game activities mentioned above.

Or we bring some to-go food from the Farmer’s Market to eat near the stadium. Or we chow down at the tailgates we stop by at because all tailgates everywhere always have enough food to feed the entire football team should they happen to stop by before the game. It’s a rule.

But In Case You Didn’t Bring Enough Food Or You Have Teenagers So There Is Never Ever Enough Food — Try These Places Near Neyland Stadium

The Vol Village

If for some reason, we need more snacks before we head into the game, we head to the food tents at the Vol Village (across Volunteer Boulevard from Circle Park and the Torchbearer).

The Vol Village is sort of a public tailgate the University sets up for fans. Besides the food tents, you’ll find a big screen showing ESPN’s Gameday or another football games playing. Plus, there is often a live band playing and tents giving away free stuff. It is a fun place to walk around.

Dead End BBQ usually has a tent set it and their stuff is delicious. There is also usually a tent with Mexican as well. These places are popular so the lines can get long but the food is great and way better than in the stadium.

If you want food the fastest, then look for a small table with nearly no line opposite Dead End BBQ and you can find people selling cheeseburgers for $10. The burgers are pre-cooked and wrapped in foil. The price seems a bit much I know, but they are tasty and fast. And frankly, everything around the stadium is expensive.

To find a place to actually sit and eat your food, look for the benches and tables set up around the Vol Village.

Or if you go around the back of McClung Tower (the taller building) and the Humanities building (the shorter building), you will find more tables and a little less crowded atmosphere. It is a nice place to spread out and enjoy a little breather before you dive back into the masses. And there is a small grassy area if you brought a football to throw.

Student Union

There are a lot of fast food restaurants in the Student Union building. This is usually a last resort for us though as there are tons of fans looking to fill up before being subject to the crazy expensive stadium food. It gets so busy in here.

The lines can be long at the places in the Student Union but they do have a Starbucks which is usually the reason we are in there at all. That and the real bathrooms with flushing toilets.

The Strip

There are restaurants and fast food places along The Strip (Cumberland Avenue) but this place is a madhouse before games so we usually skip it unless we make plans to meet people somewhere.

There is massive construction on the Strip for at least the next several years and some of our favorite restaurants have been demolished so it’s probably a no go for us for awhile. Unless we are meeting at Sunspot. Then I will be there. That place is amazing.

Game Time! Tips For Making The Most Of Your Time In Neyland Stadium

Go Early Into Neyland Stadium For The Pregame Traditions

If we are going into the game, we make sure to go a little early because we all get hyped to see the team run through the “T” and to hear the national anthem (usually there is plane flying over head and fireworks at the end). It’s all over the top and all awesome.

Gates open 2 hours before kickoff.

If you want to see the pregame stuff, I would be at your gate no later than 45 min before kickoff. That gives you plenty of time to use the restroom and find your seats.

If you wait until just after kick-off, you can usually breeze right through with minimal waiting. Getting to our seats in time for the running through the “T,” probably means we hit the longest lines at the gate but we feel it is worth it.

What You Can’t Bring In Neyland Stadium

UT’s Game Day Information has some good information about game day activities as well as the rules for prohibited items in the stadium- bags, food or drink, etc.

Read these pretty carefully if you aren’t already familiar with them as many of the gate security people take the prohibited items as seriously as TSA does a 7oz bottle in your carry-on.

Neyland Stadium Bag Policy

If you want to carry something into the stadium, it needs to be in a clear bag no bigger than 12 X 12 X 6 inches. There is no wiggle room about this.

* Pro Tip- You are allowed to bring in 1, factory- sealed water bottle per person into the game. Definitely do this as water is like $8 a bottle in the stadium. You can refill the water bottles at the water fountains inside the stadium. The fountains are few and far between but they are there.

The team getting ready to run through the “T.” No matter how old I get, this never gets old.

What We Do After The Volunteers Win — I Mean After The Game

We walk back to downtown Knoxville from Neyland Stadium and laugh at everyone sitting in traffic. (No, not really. Been there, done that, and I sympathize). We sing along with the crowd serenading everyone in a 20 mile radius with an off-key but enthusiastic rendition of “Rocky Top” as we walk.

If you do park on campus or pay to park on the Strip or somewhere close to the stadium, you will either need to leave early in the 4th quarter to beat the traffic or take your time and mosey out of the stadium.

The good news is that the Knoxville Police Department has been doing this a long time so they are pretty good at getting huge numbers of people out of the area as quickly as possible. But it still takes awhile.

Ice Cream At Cruze Farm On Gay Street

If you are walking back to the downtown parking garages, I recommend stopping somewhere to get a bite to eat. The traffic is terrible getting out of town so you are just as well off waiting for at least an hour or two before heading home.

We may celebrate the win with ice cream at Cruze Farm Ice Cream on Gay Street or dinner at any one of the restaurants in Market Square or elsewhere on Gay Street. By the time we get in the car, traffic is back to normal and we have tired but full and happy kiddos.

Cruze Farm ice cream after the game

If you need more ideas of places to eat after the game, check out our list of the Best Restaurants in downtown Knoxville.

General Advice For The Volunteer Game Day Newbies

What To Wear For A Vols Game Day In Knoxville


The general rule is orange. And more orange. And then add some orange earrings or an orange UT hat.

As long as it isn’t Florida orange (which is more of reddish orange and not nearly as stylish as UT’s fluorescent orange) or heaven forbid, Texas’s burnt orange, you can’t really go wrong here.

You will see people in everything from hunting vests to cocktail dresses so anything goes here as long as you are obeying basic rules of propriety. Meaning you need to have pants on but shirts, however, are optional if you are a college guy and have something Vols- related painted on your chest.

Go For Comfort At A UT Football Game

After decades of doing this, I will always pass on the super cute in favor of the super comfortable. Jeans or shorts, a Vols T- shirt, and tennis shoes (or Chacos when it’s hot) are my Game Day uniform.

Game Day can be a long day. There is always a lot of walking so well worn comfort keeps me having fun instead of treating new blisters. Also, worrying about flashing someone as I clamber to my seat in a crowded stadium in a cute sundress is no fun for me.

The kids are a different story though. When they were younger, I put them in little football player outfits and little cheerleader outfits just like every other lifelong UT fan that found themselves with new people to play dress up with.

Now that the kids are older, they pick their own outfits, which as many teenage parents can tell you, may take the entire week beforehand to get juuust right. And no, they do not need your advice.

Neyland Stadium Can Be An Icebox Or A Sauna

The stadium gets incredibly hot during afternoon games in the early part of the season so wear sweat-friendly clothing. And bring a baseball hat or sunglasses. Depending on where you are sitting, it can feel like the sun has a personal vendetta against your eyes.

The home team side gets shade first (the west side) so try to pick your seats wisely in September. The west side is centered around sections U & T when you are looking at the stadium map.

Conversely, the stadium can also get incredibly cold during night games at the end of the season, especially for those on the top deck exposed to the wind coming off the Tennessee River. Hats, gloves, and scarves are your friends in November. 

You can even stuff a small blanket in your clear plastic bag to bring into the stadium. Kids love this.

I don’t know why the scheduling gods often have us playing noon games in September and 7 pm games in November but them there’s the breaks of being a football fan. Be prepared.

Aerial view of Neyland Stadium in Knoxville by the Tennessee River
Neyland Stadium by the Tennessee River in Knoxville. The west side of the stadium is towards the bottom of the picture. Image courtesy of Neomrbungle/ Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0


Do Not Wait Until You Get To Your Gate To Access Your Tickets From Your App

This is new advice since 2022 as UT has moved to digital tickets. Everything is now on your Tennessee Athletics app which is connected to your Ticketmaster account.

Your tickets and parking passes will be on the app and no one will take paper tickets anymore so don’t be conned into buying them. The gate people will scan your phone as you enter.

***The WiFi and cell service at Neyland Stadium and anywhere close to it is iffy at best. Save your tickets to your wallet and/ or screenshot them before you leave your house or you might be stuck outside the stadium with your phone up in the air searching for a signal.

The new Tennessee Athletics app is handy for keeping up with pregame activity times and any changes to the schedule. We haven’t had a problem scanning tickets either and it went fairly fast. But I saved them to my phone and screenshot them as well, as an emergency backup.

I have seen people at the gate unable to access their account because of the lack of service near the stadium and they couldn’t get in. You then have to go to the Customer Service ticket window and get them to look up your account and print you out some tickets. It is time- consuming to do this so make sure you save your tickets offline ahead of time.

The university is in the process of upgrading the WiFi at the stadium and enhancing cell service. It was better in the 2023 season than in previous years so let’s all hope it continues to improve. But I still would not count on being able to use data on your cell phone.

*And if you are trying to meet up with someone at the game, have a spot pre-planned in case you can’t get through to them at the game.

Learn To Love “Rocky Top”


The song “Rocky Top” will be faintly (or not so faintly) heard everywhere, all day long. You need to be okay with this. Teach your kids the words so they can join in. We love it and sing it often (And loudly. And mostly off-key).

Alcohol Rules On The University Of Tennessee Campus Before A Football Game

UT’s campus is technically a dry campus but many, many, MANY people will be drinking alcoholic beverages around you as you walk about before the game. If your drink is in a plastic cup or a koozie, the police will typically turn a blind eye unless you give them a reason not to.

They do now sell alcohol in the stadium but it is a second mortgage payment for a large beer and the lines are crazy long. (JK about the mortgage payment, is is only $15 for a large Bud Light. And no, I am not joking about that.)

Get a Clear Plastic Bag To Take Into The Stadium

The “clear bag ” policy has no wiggle room. Sorta clear grocery bags don’t cut it. Know the rules before you go as there is no “left luggage” at the stadium for the backpack you tried to bring in. Or the cute clutch a gate person decides is just a little too big. Get yourself a clear tote bag.

On the plus side, a whole cottage industry has now sprung up for people to bedazzle clear plastic bags with orange sparkly stuff. Some of them are remarkable in their inventiveness and amount of glitter. 

A clear plastic fanny pack and a clear plastic tote bag filled with orange pompoms and orange sunglasses.
I picked up this clear plastic shoulder bag and the most awesome clear fanny pack as freebies from the Farm Bureau tent in the Vol Village. I also got the orange pom poms and the orange sunglasses in the Vol Village as well.

Do Babies Need Tickets To UT Football Games?

All humans need a ticket for the game. They don’t care that your newborn is clearly not going to be sitting in its ticketed seat.

Final Thoughts

I hope my Tennessee Vols Game Day Survival Guide helps you have a blast at one of my favorite events of the year. Whether you are here for your first or your fortieth game, it’s always a blast on Rocky Top. And don’t forget your orange!

Go Vols! – Amanda

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