Fall in New Orleans means a few things to locals. First, it’s finally cooling down, so it’s time to dine outdoors, drink outdoors, and take advantage of parks and local gardens. Next, it’s officially Saints and Pelicans season. Whether you’re visiting New Orleans to attend a game, or you’re just in town on a day that the Saints happen to be playing, you’re bound to see black and gold attire across the city and hear a few “Who Dat!” chants. Or if basketball is more your style, deck out in navy and red, and flock up.
This guide to the perfect New Orleans game day includes everything you need to know about tailgating and the best places to eat, drink, stay, and park near the Caesars Superdome and Smoothie King Center.
Remember when tailgating meant simply lowering the back of your station wagon or pickup truck, setting up a small portable TV and pulling out an ice chest filled with beer and fried chicken? We’ve come a long way since those days.
Today, tailgating is an art perfected by those who take their fandom seriously. Pickup trucks and station wagons are still out there, but, these days, it's more common to see people hanging out around camper-type vehicles, dressed in all variety of Saints wear, and grilling on the latest innovations while the game plays on hi-res screens.
For those who want a taste of the NOLA tailgate experience before you take your seat at the game, Champions Square is ideal. This 60,000-square-foot outdoor plaza right outside the Superdome and across from the Smoothie King Center can accommodate as many as 8,000 fans.
During home games, you can view the action on large-screen TVs, get your fill of great food and beverages from some of New Orleans' most renowned restaurants and caterers, and enjoy convenient bathroom access. There are even live, pre-game concerts. There are two clubs right off Champions Square with food and drink specials in a more relaxed atmosphere.
You’ll find a number of parking lots along Loyola Avenue, South Rampart Street, and several side streets in the vicinity of the Superdome. The general rule of thumb for finding a space is “first-come, first served,” which means you better start looking for a place to set up early. If you are parking a vehicle, we suggest you get there the afternoon or night before the game and be prepared to pay a "Special Event" rate. Keep in mind that covered lots do not allow grilling.
Most parking lots do not take
reservations in advance for standard-size vehicles, but reservations may be required for buses, campers, and RVs (anything that takes up more than one parking space.) At some lots, payment must be made in advance.
While there is a garage adjacent to the Superdome, there are also lots of paid places to park within walking distance of both stadiums, each with an app to let you extend your parking time should you need it. If you don’t have access to a car, New Orleans has many other ways to get around without one, which you can find here.
If you’re coming in specifically for a game or a concert – or if you’re looking for a place to hang out before or after, there are lots of nearby hotels that are just as unique as New Orleans sports fans.
Connecting to the Superdome and the Smoothie King Center, Hyatt is the closest hotel you can get to the action.
Located in a beautifully renovated Creole townhouse, the Selina Catahoula offers guests an authentic New Orleans experience.
This trendy, laid-back hotel is close to the action and features a pool and rooftop bar.
One of the newer hotels in New Orleans, Virgin features “chambers” instead of rooms and has an eclectic atmosphere.
Elegance and class are the names of the game at Le Pavillon, located just down Poydras Street.
A Hilton Tapestry Collection hotel, the Troubadour gives off a sleek boutique feel.
Even without tickets or a proper tailgate set-up, you can join in the NOLA gameday festivities at one of the city’s many sports bars. Whether you’re looking for a place to spend the game with fellow fans or a fun spot for pre- or post-game drinks, there’s a lively spot in nearly every neighborhood in the city, including these bars near the Smoothie King Center and Superdome.
Lucy’s is a favorite hangout among the locals, especially for a post-win celebration. Watch the action from a giant projection on the building across the street.
A game-day favorite that’s close to the Dome, with tons of space and televisions for game-watching.
Barcadia has plenty of TVs for gameday viewing, as well as your classic bar games to keep you busy during halftime.
Located where the Arts/Warehouse District meets Downtown, this chill local spot famous for its large patio space and lively local crowd.
Open until midnight on the weekends, Pluck is your go-to place for wine, beer, and snacky things. Plus, they have a full-service menu. Charcuterie, anyone?
Ace Hotel’s rooftop garden, Alto is a great spot to sip on some cocktails while enjoying panoramic views of the city.
Stop in for cocktails and conversation at the Baroness on Baronne.
Part club, part bar, Vintage Rock Club is located just steps away from the arena and often hosts pre-parties to games and concerts in the area.
Part wine pub, part full-service restaurant, Copper Vine serves great food with a side of ambiance. Stop in for lunch, brunch, happy hour, or dinner.
With 10 different vendors, plus a bar, there’s an option for everyone at Pythian Market. Enjoy everything from Vietnamese, Caribbean, tacos, sushi, burgers and pizza, to lattes, smoothies, and cocktails.
Known for their pastries and brunch, Willa Jean is comfort food done right.
A perfect stop for the kiddos, Reginelli’s is a family-friendly restaurant serving up more than just pizza, but we must say, the pizza is pretty delicious.
Located just a short ride away from the arena, Central City BBQ is great for ribs, wings, potato salad, and other barbecue favorites in a laid-back atmosphere.
Just opened in 2021, Commons Club is the trendy new restaurant inside Virgin Hotels New Orleans. Make a reservation for brunch or dinner, or just stop in for cocktails.