At Clemson, we get spoiled by having one of the best game day atmospheres in America. Our tailgating has been ranked #1 in the South by Southern Living, our best tradition has been referred to as "the most exciting 25 seconds in college football", and we have a great, large stadium full of passionate, loud fans. However, if you're looking to see the Tigers play on the road this year, you'll find that not all game days are made equally. My rankings are mostly based on traditional college game day activities, stadium atmosphere, and fan base interaction. Also, if anyone has more experience with these places and disagrees with my rankings and statements, please mention this in the comment section
1) South Carolina, November 28 (Columbia, SC): I'll definitely get criticized for this one, but sometimes Clemson fans are too quick to criticize Columbia. It is a different set up than Clemson, but it can actually be a fun trip. My biggest complaint is the distance from the campus, hotels, bars, etc. from the stadium. Your best bet with Williams Brice is to either ride with someone who has a parking spot, procure one yourself, or find one of the pay lots that are set up in the vicinity of the stadium. As different as we like to think we are, most Gamecock and Tiger fans are cut from the same cloth. While both sides have our troublemakers, if you go into the pregame festivities with a friendly attitude, you should be alright, save for a little playful trash talk. Similar to how season ticket holders at Clemson have season parking passes, Gamecock fans have the same. The fair ground is a popular spot for tailgaters regardless of age. I'd recommend going here if you know someone with a spot set up. If you have some friends in high places, you might enjoy the Cockabooses, which are privately owned tailgating train cabooses that line the stadium. From what I have seen of these, they can be a good time.
What you have to remember is that Columbia is a city rather than a college town, so crime is higher, but it isn't the war zone that some claim it to be. If you avoid sketchy areas and lock valuables like tailgating equipment in your car, you should be fine. I would definitely recommend not leaving any removable or breakable Clemson car decorations on your car (such as magnets, flags, tiger tails, etc.) because someone may take it or damage it.
Inside the stadium, the crowd is pretty wild. With this being a rivalry game, I would suggest either getting your tickets in the Clemson sections or having a large group of both Clemson and South Carolina fans with you. I say this particularly if it is a night game because the combination of all day drinking plus an intense rivalry is bound for some knuckleheads to want to harass a lone Clemson fan in a section. Overall, if you're a person with thick skin when it comes to trash talk, you can have a great time at this game.
2) NC State, October 31 (Raleigh, NC): The layout for NC State reminds me in a way of Columbia, because the campus is a good little distance away from the stadium. Fortunately, with both Carter-Finley Stadium and PNC Arena (home of NC State basketball and the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes) being located together, parking is plentiful. The Wolfpack faithful are a passionate group who tend to take their football more seriously then their Research Triangle brethren. This is an old ACC rivalry that for the most part is friendly, but like every fan base, you may deal with some obnoxious drunks. Similarly to Williams-Brice, the grounds for the North Carolina State Fair are by Carter-Finley, but unfortunately the fair will be ending the week before our game with the Pack.
3) Louisville, September 17 (Louisville, KY): I had trouble deciding whether to but Louisville or NC State 2nd, but the fact that we have a Thursday game at Louisville bumps this trip down a peg. Papa John's Cardinal Stadium (yes, it's really called that) is not unlike Carter-Finley and Williams-Brice in the sense that it is a college stadium in a big town. Most of your tailgating will be done on asphalt in parking lots, but Card fans seem to know how to have fun. Being old Big East vets, they know how to still have a rocking atmosphere on a Thursday night.
The stadium is also down the road from Churchill Downs, which will have some races that day, if you care to watch (and maybe bet) on some ponies. Papa John's Cardinal Stadium also serves beer, so plan your money and pregame tailgating accordingly.
4) Miami, October 24 (Miami Gardens, FL): For one of the most storied programs in NCAA history, Miami's game day is very underwhelming. The struggling 'Canes averaged 47,551 fans per game in Sun Life Stadium, but anyone who has watched those games knows that the actual number of fans in the seats had to be less. Sun Life Stadium is a cool 20.7 miles from the Coral Gables campus, which hurts student attendance and the collegiate feel. With the struggles the Canes have experienced, don't expect a wild crowd. Tailgating is standard, NFL style tailgating. Miami would benefit greatly from a smaller on campus stadium, but as of now, this is what we have. They also have a very NFL like fan base, so don't expect a lot of cordial-ness.
Miami itself would be a great trip if you have the resources, but when it comes to football game days, it falls short. It also serves alcohol in the stadium, with sections 425-431 being alcohol free. If you have children or don't care to be around the few, drunk Miami fans that are there, I'd shoot for those sections
5) Syracuse, November 14 (Syracuse, NY): The last time we went to play at the Carrier Dome, we were told how our players weren't ready to play in a dome with no air conditioning and how the noise would be too much. We then went on to romp the Orange and frustrate their coach enough to make him yell a certain four letter word at Dabo. It was very #softnosed of Scott Schafer. The Carrier Dome is one of the best venues in college basketball, but lackluster 'Cuse football teams keep it from having quite the same impact in football. Fortunately it is an indoor stadium, because a November game in New York does not sound appealing outdoors. Like with Louisville, they serve beer, and 'Cuse fans might need it again this season.