Clemson Football Season Preview: Visiting Clemson

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Inside we look at places to stay, eat, drink, and tailgate in Clemson if you're in town for a visit.

So you're coming to Clemson for the first time? Well hopefully this small guide here will be able to help you out on your stay, whether you're an opposing fan, or a neutral just checking out a game. Inside are places to eat, bars to drink at, places to stay, tailgating and parking info, etc.

So lets say you're coming into town for a game and you need a place to stay. You have multiple options in Clemson, Seneca, Anderson, Easley, and Greenville.

Places to Stay

The best bet is to stay with someone that you know, but, if not, then these suggestions should help out.

  • Martin Inn Clemson. A pretty nice hotel attached to a conference center and the campus golf course, the Walker Course. I believe it is the more expensive option and it is usually hard to get a room there. It gets booked way in advance for game weekends by alumni and boosters.
  • Chain hotels in Clemson: Hampton Inn, Hotel Tillman, Comfort Inn, University Inn and Conference Center, Hotel Inn Express and a Days Inn, etc. Seneca, Easley and Anderson all have decent chain hotel options. Staying in Greenville, about 45 minutes to an hour away,  gives you some great options for places to eat and hangout on a Friday night. Seneca is probably the easiest to get back to after the game, because not much traffic heads west on 123.
  • I would suggest to look around at those hotels for different prices. Generally, the prices are raised for football weekends, at least at the Clemson hotels. The extra distance in driving from the other towns might be worth the money you will be able to save.

Places to Eat

This is my favorite part to write about. Clemson has a wide range of options, from typical fast food, to seafood, to BBQ, to Mexican, etc. It all depends what you're in the mood for so here are some suggestions. If I'm feeling something less unique I usually go downtown where the options are Moe's, Chipotle, Groucho's, Firehouse, Jimmy John's, etc. 123/76 have the generic options like Zaxby's, Cookout, Taco Bell, and more fast food. I'm going to highlight some of the eateries that are unique to Clemson.

  • The Esso Club. This is probably one of the more famous places to eat in Clemson and it is Brent Musberger's favorite. Its actually an old gas station that has been turned into a restaurant. Since its so famous, it can get pretty packed on Friday nights when they bring out the live band. It's a good place to just go, hang out, and have a few beers. I typically go on Friday afternoons for lunch. Their special is the Meat and 3 combo aka a meat and your choice of 3 sides. It's across the street from LittleJohn Coliseum on Highway 93/Old Greenville Highway and there is additional parking just down the road at the Parking Spot.
  • Mac's Drive-In. Another Clemson staple. The original Mac passed away but this restaurant still carries his name, awesome food, and love for Clemson. There's actually a story about Mac being investigated by the NCAA back in the day for giving free food to athletes but he countered by saying he gave free meals to any student that didn't have the money to pay. It's a small building with a ton of character. There is only bar seating on the inside, but the walls are plastered with Clemson memorabilia. There are a couple of tables outside. My favorite thing to get from here is the Grilled Cheeseburger which is a grilled cheese sandwich with a burger in the middle. Mac's is located on SC 28/Pendleton Road right across from University Baptist Church. Cash Only
  • Smoking Pig. Located at the corner of LaFrance Road and Highway 76 in Pendleton. This BBQ joint has some good brisket and pulled pork paired with absolutely phenomenal sides. The only drawback is the wait which can vary from 5 minutes to an hour, it just depends on when you go. I would suggest that the earlier the better because this place is worth the wait. I would recommend the banana pudding and sweet potato crunch as your sides but you really can't go wrong. Open Thursday-Saturday
  • Paw's Diner. This is some good ol' southern home cookin' on Highway 123, just across the bridge in Seneca. The staff is great and the food is on point. I've heard their breakfast is great but I've only been there for lunch. It's all traditional southern food like fried chicken, green beans, cole slaw, etc.
  • Sardi's Den. On Highway 93 across form BiLo heading away from campus. Their best known for their ribs, which I can say from experience are pretty good.
  • Pot Belly Deli. PBD has some phenomenal sandwiches for brunch on Sunday when you're about to head out of town. I usually go with the bacon, egg, and cheese or the Philly cheese steak.. Once again, the wait can be a bit of an issue, especially when the church crowd goes out to eat. I highly recommend going here.
  • Super Taco. This small place on Highway 93 has some of the best Mexican food in the area. One of my professors spent a few years in Mexico City and has said this is one of the best places they've eaten. It's mostly a lunch joint. Bonus, they have huge portions.
  • Todaro's Pizza. Right in the middle of downtown this place is great for a couple of big, hot slices of pizza after a late Friday night downtown. It's cheap, near the bars, and stays open late. What else could you ask for?
  • Mac's Drive-In, PBD, and Smoking Pig are my top 3.

Places to Drink

Now we look at Clemson's night life. Just a heads up, the bars close at midnight on Saturday night because of blue laws.

  • TD's. The bar that is closest to campus and the first one you see so it is usually more cramped on the inside. They often have a live band or karaoke. Fridays are $16 for a dozen wings and a pitcher of Yuengling.
  • Wingin' It and Loose Change. Both are typical college bars with sports always on.
  • Tiger Town Tavern aka Triple T's. TTT is a lot more laid back and relaxed than some of the other bars. It has both an inside and outside sitting area.
  • Nick's. More of an eclectic bar that provides you with a break from the hustle and bustle of game days. I've heard it described as a "hipster bar", which seems accurate.
  • Friar's Tavern. People go here only on game days because they don't card much, their jet fuel gets you hammered awfully fast, and that is really it. Honestly there is no reason to go here.
  • Backstreets is another typical college bar. It has more of a laid back type of atmosphere, similar to TTTs. Usually it has some of the cheapest pitchers. Underneath is a private bar called Overtime. Anyone with a membership can get 4 guests in. This is where most people go when the other bars close at midnight on Saturdays.
  • I would pick TTT, TD's and possibly Wingin' It to go bar hopping.


    General Tailgating Info and Tips
  • Here is a handy link to the AD's site with some info and maps.
  • There is free general parking at Kite Hill (the two on the bottom right), behind Clemson House (top middle), Campus Beach (far left),and handicapped parking at the Hendrix Center. There's also a free gravel let by the Brooks Center that may be more accessible than others depending on where you're coming from.
  • I recommend the lot behind Clemson house. Head towards Campus on Highway 93, take a right onto N. Palmetto Blvd, a right onto Lee Street, and a right onto Daniel Drive. When my family has visited they have parked here without any problems.
  • All tailgating lots open at least four hours before kickoff (noon games) but usually at least 6 (3 o'clock games)
  • Clemson fans are generally great people to be around and will invite you in to their tailgate if you bring some food and drinks with you.
  • Most of the tailgating is concentrated around the stadium and the intramural lots. You can see everything from just a table and a few chairs, to a grill, massive tent, yard games and multiple TVs. Like most southern schools game days are an awesome experience and tailgating at Clemson is on par with all SEC schools. (LSU is an exception because Cajuns are crazy.)
  • Downtown and the tailgating lots are generally about a 5-10 minute walk from each other so you can easily go back and forth between them.
  • 90 minutes before kickoff the band has a pep rally in the old amphitheater, its just up Fort Hill Street, and marches down to and around the stadium, Then after that is Tiger Walk, when the players walk from the buses, through the West End Zone tailgating lot into the stadium.

I hope you have a great stay in Tiger Town, South Carolina. Take some time to walk around campus and take in the sights and sounds of game day. Make sure you get into the stadium early enough to see the team run down the hill because it is one of college football's unique traditions. If anybody tells you otherwise then they don't know what they're talking about. If you have any questions or comments feel free to share them.

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