It’s hard to top a Super Bowl championship, but the 2021-22 Tampa Bay Buccaneers aim to do just that. With the seemingly ageless Tom Brady leading a star-studded roster into battle at Raymond James Stadium, it’ll be wise not to bet against the Bucs in their quest for a second straight Lombardi Trophy.
Even before Brady got to town, tailgating at Raymond James Stadium was the stuff of legends. Fans have populated the grass parking lots in the unbeatable Florida climate for decades, celebrating with the best Southern food and drink recipes prepared by top super-chefs.
In this guide, we’ll steer you through some of the logistics of game day in Tampa and hook you up with the best tailgating at Raymond James Stadium.
Before Game Day
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2021-22 Home Schedule
The Bucs play these teams this season at Raymond James Stadium. Games are on Sundays, except where noted.
- Aug 14 (Sat.) – Cincinnati
- Aug 21 (Sat.) – Tennessee
- Sept 9 (Thurs.) – Dallas
- Sept 19 – Atlanta
- Oct 10 – Miami
- Oct 24 – Chicago
- Nov 22 (Mon.) – New York Giants
- Dec 12 – Buffalo
- Dec 19 – New Orleans
- Jan 9 – Carolina
Big Games: The Bucs’ division rivals — Atlanta, New Orleans, and Carolina — always come to play. The December matchup against Buffalo could be a preview of Super Bowl LVI.
Single-game and group tickets are available at the Buccaneers’ online ticket office. You can also get on a waiting list for season tickets in the future. Get your seats as soon as you possibly can — the Bucs’ are a marquee team for the foreseeable future.
Travel, Accommodations, and Transportation
Tampa Bay sits about halfway down the Florida peninsula on its west coast. Here are some tips for getting to the area and where to stay.
Traveling to Tampa
Driving: Interstates 4, 75, and 275 all lead to the Tampa Bay area. US Route 92 goes past the stadium.
Air Travel: The Tampa area has two airports. Tampa International Airport (TPA) takes in flights from all major U.S. airports and is basically in the same neighborhood as Raymond James Stadium. St. Pete-Clearwater International (PIE) across the bay takes in a lot of nonstop flights from many East Coast and Midwest U.S. cities.
Rail: Tampa Union Station serves Amtrak’s Silver Star line.
Nearby Hotels and Accommodations
The two accommodations nearest to the stadium are Country Inn Suites and Econo Lodge, both of which are budget options. There are other hotels to the south near the airport, including AC Hotel, Hilton, Fairfield Inn, Residence Inn, Extended Stay America, and Renaissance. There are still more if you look nearer the bay. Just check out a list of TripAdvisor’s recommendations for hotels near the stadium.
If you’re hosting your own tailgate, check to make sure your hotel or motel has room for your rig and equipment. You might prefer to get a residential rental through Airbnb, since all your gear will fit and you’ll have a kitchen for food prep.
Getting to Raymond James Stadium
HART is the Tampa public transit system. They provide four bus routes that drop passengers off at the north end of Raymond James Stadium. If you’re not conveniently located near a bus stop, Uber or Lyft can help you out.
How to Tailgate at Raymond James Stadium
Tailgating at Raymond James Stadium is what makes game day in Tampa so special. Here are a few pointers on how to make the most of it.
Tailgating at Raymond James Stadium: Parking
Your best bet for parking at Ray Jay is getting a season-long parking pass. All lots around the stadium except two are reserved for vehicles with season passes, including Stadium Club and luxury suite occupants. The Bucs make season parking passes easy to buy on their parking page, which also has a straightforward parking map.
There are two lots set aside for day-of-game parking, one in off-site Al Lopez Park. You must use a credit card to buy day-of-game parking — no cash. Lots open four hours before kickoff.
RVs and other oversized vehicles park in Publix Lot 14, in the southeast corner of the stadium-controlled property. Overnight parking is not allowed, but there are several RV campgrounds in the area if you need to stay multiple days.
You can also make off-site parking arrangements before the game with ParkWhiz.
Where to Tailgate at Raymond James Stadium
Tailgating is allowed in all stadium-controlled lots at the stadium, as well as a few lots in the surrounding area. That means you have a lot more options for prime game-day parties than most other NFL stadiums.
Bucs fans bring everything to the table for tailgating at Raymond James Stadium. Food-wise, you’ll find everything from sliders and shish kabobs to shrimp boils and chili. Drink-wise, you’ll find open bars and the occasional beer. There’s also a clear distinction between family-friendly tailgates and those with more, let’s say, adult-oriented fare.
What the Buc?
Make sure you look for the What the Buc? tailgate. It’s one of the best-known, longest-running organized tailgates in the NFL. In fact, it’s in the Tailgating Hall Of Fame, which we’ve just discovered exists.
What the Buc? is the home base of Chef Red, who regularly prepares a massive line-up of incredible dishes. The proceeds raised at What the Buc? tailgates are donated to charity, so you’ll be contributing to a great cause with every pulled pork sandwich you consume.
Tailgating at Raymond James Stadium: Rules
The Bucs have a few rules for tailgating in stadium lots on game day, including:
- One parking space per pass
- No kegs or large vessels
- No extra-loud speakers
- No tents larger than 10’ x 10’
- No firearms
- Try to keep profanity to a minimum
You can find more information on the stadium’s policy page.
Nearby Drinks, Food, and Attractions
When the tailgate’s over and you need to seek food, drinks, and amusement away from the stadium, here are some of the top local destinations to visit.
Bars Near Raymond James Stadium
Restaurants Near Raymond James Stadium
There are quite a few eating options south of the stadium around Columbus Drive and Boy Scout Blvd., including:
- Kona Grill
- Del Frisco’s Grille
- Thai Prime
- Texas de Brazil
- Cooper’s Hawk
- Taqueria Emanuel Mexican Restaurant
- La Teresita
- Arco Iris
- The WingHouse of Tampa
Have a look at some of TripAdvisor’s recommendations for restaurants near the stadium.
Tampa Local Attractions
If you’re staying a few days in Tampa, you’ll have quite a few options for entertainment and cultural enhancement besides football. Some local destinations include:
- Big Cat Rescue (as seen on Tiger King)
- Tampa Riverwalk
- Florida Aquarium
- Busch Gardens
- Lettuce Lake Regional Park
The pirate ship is reloaded, and a new NFL season is on the horizon. Tailgating at Raymond James Stadium will help you get ready to cheer the Buccaneers to their third championship.