Get Your Cold One Here: Top Ten NFL Football Stadiums
|THE RED SEA: Tampa Bay fans create a sea of red and white in the stands (Wikipedia Commons)|
Baseball may be America's pastime, but in many ways, football is its passion. After all, there's a reason why people tailgate for hours before games, and why the Super Bowl is the year's most-watched televised event. From September to February, from Seattle to Miami, investment bankers, electricians, housewives, and young kids are united in their undying love for the game. A few stadiums have stood their ground for decades. They've witnessed so much history you can feel the players' and coaches' ghosts swirling around you. Others are modern and loaded with amenities. With 31 total NFL stadiums in the United States, it's hard to pick just ten. But we've put together our list of the country's all-around best stadiums, so start planning your next tailgate event in one of these citiesor better yet, get tickets to a game.
10. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans Saints
The Mercedes-Benz Superdome isn't considered the most beautiful or best-equipped football stadium, but the home of the New Orleans Saints is a must-see simply because of its hallowed place in American history. A relic of the 1970s when dome stadiums were en vogue, the Superdome is one of the largest domes in the world. It has hosted six Super Bowls—and is slated for Super Bowl XLVII in February 2013—and its size allowed 10,000 people to take shelter in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans's Cajun food, jazz funerals, and authentic blues music set this destination apart. The French Quarter is the city's cultural center and teems with bars, restaurants, and music. Everything from the architecture to the food blends Spanish, Creole, American, and French influences. If you can't see it all, some must-do sites include Louisiana's Civil War Museum, the New Orleans Botanical Gardens, and Snug Harbor, a club where jazz greats Ellis Marsalis and Charmaine Neville frequently perform. In October, the city hosts the New Orleans Film Festival and the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival. But, festival or not, you'll always find a party in New Orleans.
New Orleans Travel Guide
9. Candlestick Park, San Francisco 49ers
Candlestick Park, which has also formerly been named 3Com and Monster Park, was built in 1960 for San Francisco's baseball team, the Giants. It was enlarged and fully enclosed 11 years later for the football team, the 49ers. Because it was intended for baseball, Candlestick Park has a few quirks, including some obstructed views. Nevertheless, it's a fan favorite thanks in part to the team's storied past. Once lead by Hall of Famer quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young, the team doesn't dominate the way it used to, but you can still feel the presence of those football greats. San Francisco, the capital of the "Left Coast," is known for being avant-garde. But there's a lot of history there, too. Take a cruise to Alcatraz Island, where Al Capone was once incarcerated, and explore America's most famous jail. Enjoy seafood and more at Fisherman's Wharf or get a taste of China in one of the country's biggest and most bustling Chinatowns. It you prefer scenic countrysides to city life, no problem. Take the Napa Valley Wine Train and explore gorgeous California Wine Country.
San Francisco Travel Guide
8. Cowboys Stadium, Dallas Cowboys
Houston’s Reliant Stadium was originally in our top picks of places to watch Texas football, but since Dallas completed its $1.2 billion (yes, billion) Cowboys Stadium in 2009, there’s a new contender on the field. Situated in Arlington, Cowboys Stadium took inspiration from its kin down in Houston, but kicked it up a notch to become the world’s largest domed stadium. With a column-free interior and a 60-yard-long HDTV, you’ll never miss a play, or the world-famous Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, no matter where you’re sitting. Beyond the field awaits Dallas’s staggeringly large urban metropolis. It’s one of the biggest, shiniest cities in the country. Explore the nightlife in hip neighborhoods like Deep Ellum, satisfy your JFK conspiracy theories at Dealey Plaza, and find great shows and galleries in the Dallas Arts District.
Dallas Travel Guide
7. Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia Eagles
Woe unto those who dare enter Lincoln Financial Field in an opposing team's jersey. Eagles fans are notoriously brash, and the stadium itself encourages the rabblerousing atmosphere with its many standing areas. Many fans don't even bother going to their seats, even though they offer great views of the field; the giant concourse provides fans with almost any amenity possible. If you make it out of "the Linc" in one piece, there's a lot to do in this historic city. It was in Philadelphia that the Declaration of Independence was drafted by the Founding Fathers. Visit the 255-year-old Liberty Bell, which weighs in at an intimidating 2,080 pounds. For something more modern, check out South Street, where hipsters and businessmen peacefully coexist amidst a plethora of restaurants, shops, and bars. Pick up wooden furniture and fresh farm products from Lancaster County (otherwise known as Amish country) at The Reading Terminal Market. Here you can also learn to cook like the best chefs in the area, who often come to the market to perform cooking demonstrations. Obviously no trip to Philly is complete without an authentic cheesesteak from either Pat's or Geno'syou be the judge as to which is better.
Philadelphia Travel Guide
6. Gillette Stadium, New England Patriots
Okay, okay, the New England Patriots have had a goodmake that greatdecade, including three wins in five Super Bowl Championships since 2002 and several other nearly perfect seasons. Fine. But few remember that for years, Pats fans endured a mediocre team and an even more mediocre Foxboro Stadium. Gillette Stadium was completed in 2002 after owner Bob Kraft threatened to leave Massachusetts and head to Connecticut. The outdoor facility exposes hapless opponents to the frigid New England winter, and fans delight in its arched bridge to the upper levels and the lighthouse at the stadium's entrance. Two massive HDTV screens above both end zones ensure no one will miss a play. Foxborough is about half an hour southwest of Boston, and, with a car, it's an easy trip into the city where you can shop at Newbury Street, Quincy Market, or Copley Plaza. Boston is replete with traditional Irish Pubs like the Purple Shamrock, but you can also tear it up at posh clubs like Tequila Rain. If city life isn't for you (and the New England winter hasn't set in yet) then head south to Cape Cod for great beaches and adorable town centers. If you really want to explore New Englandand fall is a great time to do it, with apple and pumpkin picking, spectacular foliage, and great hiking and biking trailsRhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire are all just a few hours drive away.
Boston Travel Guide
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication