So what makes up a great road trip for a Syracuse Orange football fan? SU tailgating guru TexanMark (who you may already know from Syracusefan.com) gives us his impressions and ranking of the five road trips this year. Mark thinks this is one of the best years he's ever seen for 'Cuse road trips. With so many quality options, we need to rank them... as one usually does on the internet. Hey, at least there aren't
42 44 slow loading, ad-infested slides to click through.
(the remainder of this post is authored by Mark)
Factors TexanMark Considered:
- Non-Football Related Activities (touristy stuff)
- Weather (will I freeze my butt off?)
- Ease and Cost of Travel and Lodging (Varied Choices and Reasonable Costs)
- Parking Ease + Tailgate Atmosphere (Game Day Cash Lots which have Tailgating)
- Desirability of Rival (Excitement of a win over them)
- Winnability of Rival (Chance of a win this season)
- Stadium Amenities and Atmosphere (On campus is a plus)
Having a great chance to win is a huge factor. These trips are expensive and sometimes are time consuming. So I want a memorable trip and hate flying home after a loss. Additionally, I don't want to spend $200 a night for a cheesy, $60 basic motel room and I want numerous flights that are reasonable. I don't want to freeze my butt off (Sorry BC at Thanksgiving). The final thing is: Are there other things to do besides football. I rated items that I think are important to most 'Cuse fans. Travel ease and cost is the big "X Factor" here as everyone has a different origination and price-point. I looked at it primarily from an air travel perspective." Finally, I didn't rate cost of tickets. If you have not bought a ticket yet I would recommend going through SU at this point. You will pay the rack rate but at least you will sit with other fans and players' parents and family. For me the USF trip is my no. 1 trip this fall. But how?
I put all seven items into my top secret Gonculator and gonculated the scores:
|Fun Stuff/Food non-Game day||1||2||4||2||5|
|Travel Ease/Costs (air,motel)||1||3||5||3||2|
|Desirability of Rival (SU big win factor)||5||4||1||2||3|
|Winnibility of Rival||1||2||5||4||3|
|GRAND TOTAL (Lower is Better)||16 (1st)||17 (2nd)||25 (5th)||19 (3rd)||24 (4th)|
USF just edged out Virginia and Louisville as the top road trips this fall.The full breakdown:
1. USF Bulls: Saturday, October 10
Why USF? It is Florida, duh! Almost every Yankee wants to visit Florida. Travel costs should be down during the (tourist) off-season. There are lots of non-stop flights into the Tampa Airports (TPA and PIE). The three-day weekend is plus as you get a chance to see Aunt Mary in New Port Richey. You might stay a few extra days and fly in/out of Orlando (MCO) and visit the theme parks (Don't forget Busch Gardens in Tampa). Crowds are down at USF games (low-to-mid 20Ks) which hurts the atmosphere, but parking is a breeze at an amenity-laden NFL stadium. Finally it is a game I expect we'll win. Biggest negative is the game is off campus and it will feel like an old Big East game at a dead pro field.
A few tips: Park on the south side of the stadium (Lot7P or 8). Consider staying over in the St Pete Beach-Treasure Island Area. I like this area better than Clearwater Beach due to less traffic, better motel rates and beaches just as nice if not better. There are many decent independent motels in the Treasure Island area and awesome beach restaurants looking for customers . Allow about 30-45 mins travel time to the stadium/airport from St Pete Beach/Treasure Island.
2. Virginia Cavaliers: Saturday, October 17
UVA came in a close second. The reasons: Awesome weather expected, beautiful campus and stadium and a very winnable game. Travel is kind of a wild card here. Consider not flying into Charlottesville (CHO) and look at Dulles (IAD) or Richmond (RIC). Motels are generally pricey but there are still some cheap options. I figure you will rent a car so travel didn't take a huge hit as Richmond and Washington-Dulles are viable options. It will be an awesome time to check out the wineries, drive the Shenandoah, visit Washington D.C. or go to Luray Caverns, Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens. Close-in parking is problematic. Free parking (near Basketball Arena and University "U-Hall" Hall) is a shuttle ride or long walk (one mile) away -- but the walk is nice in good weather.
Other gameday parking options according include St. Thomas Aquinas Church on Alderman Road, and Wesley Memorial Methodist on Emmett Street, which both have big parking lots. St. Mark's Lutheran (corner of Ivy and Alderman) also sell spaces but their lot is much smaller.
3. Louisville Cardinals: Saturday, November 7
Louisville came in a close third. Louisville is my favorite up-and-coming road trip. The city of Louisville is a very underrated trip. It gets high marks for live racing at Churchill Downs, 4th Street Live, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and several museums in town. Louisville has a decent sized airport (SDF) but also has a huge amount of motel rooms. This keeps pricing reasonable especially if you look in the suburbs. The stadium will be full and loud. It is very close to the main campus but not the same vibe as seeing the Carrier Dome next to the quad. Parking looks easy but get there early for best choices. The Kentucky Exposition Center is normally a great choice. Parking is $8.
Be advised a huge Livestock show is going on this weekend and your best bet to park will be Lots F + G. Other game day cash lots are located west, south and east of the stadium. Weather is the wild card here. I hope for a classic fall day near 55-65 but a rainy mess in the 30s or 40s is possible.
4. NC State Wolfpack: Saturday, November 21
NC State suffers from being in a dull location (Fairgrounds) in a rather dull but rapidly growing area (Raleigh-Durham). Don't worry, Raleigh, you are still exciting enough to host half of Upstate New York as new residents. At least you politely smile when we tell you: "Up North we did it this way" and "Hofmann Coneys are way better than BrightLeaf Hot Dogs." The weather score would have been tops if the game was held a month earlier. If the game was in September it would have received a better touristy score as the beaches of the Outer Banks would be a viable diversion. So NC State, you aren't as bad as we have you here.
On the plus side: Lodging is reasonable, RDU is a big airport and tailgating/parking is also pretty good. Syracuse fans should check out the Backyard Bistro (300 yards south of the stadium) which is owned by Syracuse Area natives and features some CNY food favorites. For tailgating look for the area by the huge Water Tower. These are the Vet School Lots and are located off Blue Ridge Rd. For just parking and limited tailgating (no porta potties provided) I loved the ease of parking at the corporate buildings on Westchase Blvd. Once again, weather is the wild card here and anything from the 40s and rain to mid-60s is possible.
5. Florida State Seminoles: Saturday, October 31
Bringing up the rear in a strong field is FSU. FSU is located in Tallahassee, Fla. This is main reason why it receives low scores. Tallahassee isn't close to much. Flying into TLH is expensive and the airport is small. If you rent a car, I would seriously look at JAX, MCO, TPA and ATL and drive the 2.5 to 4 hours. It is an SEC like game day environment with $60 motel rooms going for $200+, expensive parking and nothing else to do that isn't football related. Well, there are a few things. If the weather is warm (likely) check out the beaches (Panama City east towards St. George Island). Another underrated attraction is to visit Wakulla Springs (10 miles south of FSU). The boat tour and lodge are awesome.
This isn't a good trip for those with kids as it is on Halloween. For others it will be awesome to see all the costumes in the student section. Finally this is probably the least winnable game on our schedule. Most Orange fans still remember the game in 2013. It wasn't fun, and was downright scary.