Where to tailgate for Iowa football games in Iowa City
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Lot 14 and Lot 49 do not offer public parking. An earlier version of this story listed them as public parking options. It has also been updated to reflect minor changes in prices and facilities.
There's a fine art to tailgating before a University of Iowa Hawkeyes game.
What food do you bring? How many drinks do you pack? Do you bring a tent? What about a stereo?
But one question rises above all else when it comes to tailgating: Where am I going to park?
Luckily, there are many places around Kinnick Stadium for those who haven't been able to land those tailgating spots in the coveted Kinnick parking lots.
Though there are countless homeowners around Kinnick who sell spots in their lawns or driveways on game day, here are several large spots, including privately-owned and university-owned lots, that Hawkeye fans can be sure to park and tailgate ahead of the next home game.
To make parking and getting around easier, the university is encouraging drivers to download the driving application Waze. For the first time, UI Athletics partnered with the driving application so fans can receive game-related street closures and real-time traffic updates throughout the day.
For university lots, depending on how many prepaid parking passes have been sold, some of the lots could fill up sooner than others. The UI Athletics Ticket Office sells parking passes in advance at a discounted rate of $20 per game while the day of game rate is $25.
To stay up to date on traffic and parking lot closures follow @theiowahawkeyes on Twitter. As for privately-owned lots, you’ll have to drive around and check.
Lot 48, aka Myrtle Avenue lot
Located in the 200 block of Myrtle Avenue, right next to University Preschool, Lot 48 is a rather large lot with well over 150 parking spots and a rather nice view of the Iowa River to the east. Don't worry about bothering preschool students on gamedays, preschool isn't in session on Saturday mornings. There's plenty of grass and trees nearby, so some natural shade is provided. There's also a trail that leads directly to Melrose Avenue. Google Maps estimates it's a 13-minute walk to Kinnick from here. On game day, the cost to park is $25; RVs are not allowed.
Finkbine Golf Course (Lot 65)
Less than a mile west of Kinnick Stadium is another large parking area: Finkbine Golf Course and Lot 65, aka Finkbine Commuter Lot. If you're driving in the 17000 block of Melrose Avenue, Finkbine's first lot will be obviously visible from the street since a strip of parking spots are located right off the road. Located on a golf course, there's obviously a lot of greenery around, but people may be playing golf, so don't be an idiot who runs onto the nearest green. It's not the biggest lot, but if you walk east on Melrose, it's only a mile to Kinnick. Lot 65, a much bigger lot with hundreds of spaces, is located in the northeast edge of the golf course — you'll just keep driving farther north on Finkbine Commuter Drive to get there. The best thing about Lot 65 is that it has two exits: northward to Hawkins Drive that leads to Second Street and the Coralville strip and southward back to Melrose Avenue. Also, Kinnick is just a 0.8-mile walk to Kinnick, according to Google Maps. On game day, the cost to park is $25; RVs are not allowed.
Lot 3, aka Main Library lot
Lot 3 may be across the Iowa River from Kinnick Stadium, but it's actually not that far from the game. It's under a mile walk, about 18 minutes, west on West Burlington Street to Kinnick. It's also a rather large lot just west of the University of Iowa Main Library on Front Street. Being along the Iowa River, it is a scenic space to tailgate and does attract a rather large crowd regularly. On game day, the cost to park is $25; RVs are not allowed.
Softball fields lot
Located just south of the intersection of Second Street and First Avenue in Coralville, the UI softball fields lot is open for tailgaters who don't mind hiking over to the stadium, or simply staying put at their own tailgate party. With over 200 parking spots, there's plenty of room for bigger RVs and campers out here. With the Mormon Trek Nature Trail starting at the southern edge of the lot, tailgaters can take the trail that will lead them all the way to Evashevski Drive, the road that's just north of Kinnick. The 1.3-mile walk will take roughly 26 minutes, but most of it is a beautiful nature walk. On game day, the cost to park is $25.
Lower Finkbine Lot
Located right off the Coralville strip — across from Sparti's Gyros at 61 Second St.— this space is a smaller paved lot with some space available on the grass too. There's nothing too spectacular about the spot except that it empties right onto the Second Street, which can lead drivers to Interstate Highway 80 pretty quickly. The walk isn't that bad, though. It's about a mile northwest of the stadium and should take about 20 minutes to walk there. On game day, the cost to park is $25.
Campus Recreation and Wellness Lot (Lot 11)
A more far-flung lot than most, Lot 11 is located just immediately south of the UI Campus Recreation and Wellness Center, 309 S. Madison St. It's big, has hundreds of spots, and is completely paved. Located just west of the Johnson County Courthouse, there's not much great scenery to look at besides the courthouse. It's not that bad of a walk, though. It's about 0.8 miles and should take roughly 16 minutes. The university charges an hourly rate of $1.20 to park at Lot 11; RVs are not allowed.
MacBride Road grass lot
A private lot that's on a large, grassy acreage of the property owner, this space is at the intersection of Melrose Avenue and MacBride Road. Though you do have to park on grass to use it, this isn't a space you need an off-terrain vehicle for. It's about as flat as a typical well-kept front lawn. Not the biggest lot in the world, dozens of cars can still park here comfortably with plenty of shady space from the property's trees. Also, because it is run by the property owner, it has a bit more of a relaxed vibe than the large lots with hundreds of spaces. Located about a mile west of Kinnick, it'll be probably a 20-minute walk to the stadium. Cost to park is $20.
First Mennonite Church
For those spiritually inclined, maybe the best place to tailgate is First Mennonite Church, 405 Myrtle Ave. Since it's on church property, this is definitely not a rowdy atmosphere, but a much more family-friendly location. Mostly grass parking, the church is built on a sloping hill covered in trees. Don't worry, you don't have to park slanted on a hill if you don't want to, but it's also a very shaded and beautiful place to park. Less than a mile southeast of Kinnick, it should take 11 minutes to walk to the football game. Cost is $20 to park.
Theodore Roosevelt Education Center
Tucked in the neighborhood just south of Kinnick Stadium, Theodore Roosevelt Education Center, or TREC, is another large, family-friendly option for those who don't necessarily need to park on pavement. There are parking spots available at its Greenwood Drive entrance that have numerous parking lot spaces. The school's other entrance on West Benton Street features a large open field that usually attracts larger families and groups with bigger trailers. It's not nearly as rowdy as some lots closer to the stadium. TREC, 611 Greenwood Drive, is less than a mile southeast of Kinnick. By walking through the small Brookland Park, it should only take about 14 minutes to walk to the stadium. Parking costs $25, and there will no longer be indoor bathroom facilities available but portable toilets will be on site.
Free university-owned lots with complimentary shuttle service
Hancher Auditorium Lot (Lot 55)
People may not think to football tailgate at a venue that regularly hosts concerts, dancers and Broadway shows, but Hancher's parking lot is optimal for two big reasons: it's free to park and you get free shuttle service to and from the stadium. Also, it has to be the most beautiful spot to tailgate in town not only because Hancher Auditorium itself is a gorgeous building but because it is nestled right along the Iowa River.
Hawkeye Commuter Lot (Lot 85)
This lot with hundreds of spaces may be over two miles away from Kinnick, but has some huge advantages for tailgaters. One, there are plenty of parking spots in the labyrinth of parking spaces and rows that is the Hawkeye Commuter Lot, which sits just north of the intersection of Hawkeye Drive and Hawkeye Park Road. Two, parking here is free. Three, there is free shuttle services to and from the stadium.
Hall of Fame Lot (Lot 71)
The Hall of Fame lot is another free parking option with complimentary Cambus shuttles running to and from the lot before, during and after the game as well.
For information on the Cambus shuttles go to https://footballgameday.hawkeyesports.com/cambus/.
For folks traveling in RVs, day of game parking is available in softball, Finkbine Golf Course and Lower Finkbine lots only and costs $80.
Day of game parking costs $25 per car at the entry or ramp to Lot 43 North and at Ramp 4.
Reach Zach Berg at 319-887-5412, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @ZacharyBerg.