The Washington State Cougars are getting ready for the 2021 football season, its first full one under second-year head coach Nick Rolovich.
With the full-on return of tailgating at Washington State University after a season off, Cougar fans are eager to release all their pent-up celebration in one of the Pac-12’s most welcoming game-day atmospheres.
Here’s your guide to partying in Pullman and finding the best tailgating service at Washington State University.
Before Game Day
Cougars 2021 Home Schedule
Wazzu faces these teams at Martin Stadium in 2021. All games on Saturdays, except where indicated.
- Sept. 4 – Utah State
- Sept. 11 – Portland State
- Sept. 18 – USC
- Oct. 9 – Oregon State
- Oct. 16 – Stanford
- Oct. 23 – Brigham Young
- Nov. 19 (Fri.) – Arizona
Rivalry Games: The Pac-12 matchups against USC, Oregon State, Stanford, and Arizona will be pivotal in deciding the conference champions. The University of Washington is WSU’s most hated rival, but their season-ending Apple Cup game will be in Seattle this season.
Season tickets, mini-plans, and single-game tickets are all available at the Cougars’ online ticket office. You can also get season parking passes there. Get your tickets well ahead of game day, as Martin Stadium will fill up quickly.
Travel, Accommodations, and Transportation
Washington State is in Pullman, a small town about 75 miles south of Spokane. Here are some tips on how to get there and local accommodations.
Traveling to Pullman
Driving: WSU is one of the most off-the-beaten-path colleges in the NCAA. It’s near the junction of Washington State Routes 27 and 270. Long-distance drivers will most likely take Interstate 90 — about 80 miles away — and exit to US Route 95 or 195 to get to Pullman.
Air Travel: Pullman-Moscow Airport (PUW) takes non-stop flights from Seattle and Boise — that’s it. Spokane International Airport (GEG) is 78 miles north of Pullman and takes direct flights from a few domestic airports. Most of them are in the Western U.S., along with Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Atlanta, and Minneapolis.
Travelers from other areas will most likely fly through Seattle, Denver, or Chicago on their way to Spokane. You’ll have to take a shuttle, rental car or a bus from the airport to get to Martin Stadium.
Nearby Hotels and Accommodations
If you’re on the cheap, you might want to consider the independent Cougar Land Motel. You may find more options in Moscow, Idaho, less than 10 miles away (but you’ll be in enemy University of Idaho territory).
If you’re hosting a tailgate party at Martin Stadium, we strongly recommend booking a residential stay through Airbnb. That’s more likely to have room for your equipment and rig.
Getting to Martin Stadium
If you’re staying in “downtown” Pullman, you’re most likely no more than two miles from Martin Stadium, which we’d call walking distance. If walking is not possible, game-day public transit options can be found on Pullman’s city government page. The University also has park-and-ride lots (no tailgating).
How to Tailgate at Washington State University
We’ve noticed that remote, super-small towns that are home to big NCAA football schools tend to have the most intense game-day party atmospheres. That is certainly the case with tailgating at Washington State University.
Here are some guidelines and suggestions for enjoying Cougar tailgating.
Where to Tailgate at Washington State University
Make the most of your tailgate by popping by these hot spots:
Lots and garages closest to the stadium are reserved for season-long pass holders, and they’re quite expensive. But there are plenty of general parking lots in the vicinity, including a big one off Olympia Avenue to the south.
It’s strongly advised to buy day passes to general parking in advance of the game; you can do so by calling Transportation Services at 509-335-PARK (7275).
WSU is one of the RV-friendliest colleges in the nation. There are six areas reserved for RVs, most northeast of the stadium, one of them to the west. All accommodate overnight parking, although they don’t provide hookups.
Most RV lots open after 6 pm on Thursdays before the game, except for RV Lot 1 which opens at the same time on Friday. You must buy passes in advance for the RV lots, which are available at the Cougar Athletic Fund’s website. Do so soon; as of August 10, two lots are already sold out for the season.
Check out the parking map for WSU football.
The best spots for tailgating at Washington State University include:
Literally Any RV Lot
We can’t stress enough how great the RV tailgating experience at WSU is. We’re talking the intense wafting of grilled meats, the copious drinking of beverages both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, friendly rounds of football catch, and a welcoming feeling even to fans of the opposition (though it would help if you’re not a Washington Huskies fan).
Hollingbery Fieldhouse Tailgate
On game days, this food-centric tailgate just north of Martin Stadium becomes the best restaurant in Pullman. It’s full of food stands and trucks serving a surprisingly wide variety of cuisines. The tailgate starts three hours before cook-off… oops, make that “kickoff.”
One quick tip: Pullman gets a fair amount of snow in the colder months, including November and December. This may result in certain lots being closed due to weather. Keep on top of the situation and check WSU’s transportation page for updates.
Tailgating at Washington State University: Rules
The University has some modest guidelines and rules for tailgating, but they’re quickly summed up:
- No furniture in parking spaces or sidewalks, only under RV awnings
- Throw trash away in designated receptacles
- Keep fires within grills, put them out when you’re done
- Don’t dump used charcoal in trash cans or dumpsters
- Alcohol consumption or open containers in public prohibited
If you’d like to see all this information on a page with the WSU logo on it, click here.
Tailgating at Washington State University: Game-Day Traditions
If you’re heading down to Washington State University, don’t miss these traditions!
For some reason, Cougar fans are really into waving flags and banners. More so than other universities. If you happen to have a Cougar flag or one that’s crimson-and-grey-colored, whip it out and unfurl it like crazy.
Ringing the Victory Bell
The big bell outside Lewis Alumni Center is rung after every Washington State home victory. After losses, it stays silent but still looks good.
Off-Campus Drinks and Food
Pullman has a few hangouts for food and drinks after the game. Here are a few of the most popular.
Bars Near Martin Stadium
Valhalla Bar & Grill is Cougar-owned, Cougar-run, and closest to the heart of campus. It’s where many students hang out.
Other drinking establishments in Pullman are all found near the intersection of E. Main St. and N. Grand Ave. They include:
- Foundry Kitchen & Cocktails
- Paradise Creek Brewery
- Rico’s Public House
- Pauly’s Bar & Grill
- My Office Bar & Grill
Take a look at Google Maps’ recommendations for bars in Pullman.
Restaurants Near Martin Stadium
The Cougar Cottage (aka The Coug) has been serving no-frills comfort food since 1932. You’ll find it very active on Saturdays during the fall. Other eating establishments near WSU include:
- South Fork Public House
- The Black Cypress
- The Old European Restaurant
- Porch Light Pizza
- Birch & Barley
- Sella’s Calzone
- Red Bento
- Tokyo Seoul
A small, college-centric town, a century-old football tradition, and full-on RV invasions — you just can’t go wrong tailgating at Washington State University.