While baseball might be America’s favorite pastime, no sport draws crowds like football. Good food and amenities contribute to a great atmosphere at the field, but local traditions and fan support are the X factors that make attending a game special. To determine the best cities for football, WalletHub evaluated NFL and college teams, team performance, ticket price, fan friendliness, and stadium accessibility to come up with the ranking, from which we've selected our favorites. Whether you’re looking for a top-notch tailgating, a high-tech stadium, or just good ol' no-fuss football, these fifteen cities are top spots for pigskin fans.—Abbey Chase
Green Bay, Wisconsin
No team in the NFL is as rabidly adored by its fans as the Green and Gold, whose more than 360,000 stockholders ensure packed stands at every game at Lambeau Field, conveniently located in the heart of downtown. Its 80,735-capacity stadium is the home of many memorable wins over the Chicago Bears, the Packers’ fierce rival for nearly 100 years; the iconic Ice Bowl game in 1967; and the infamous “Lambeau Leap” into the stands after touchdowns. Braving the Wisconsin winter is not for the faint of heart, but don a cheesehead hat and you’ll soon be caught up in the Green Bay spirit.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Wisconsin Travel Guide
With seven playoff appearances in the last ten seasons and six total Super Bowls wins, the Pittsburgh Steelers perennially reward hometown fans. The once-industrial mainstay of the Eastern seaboard now boasts a refreshingly modern skyline along the banks of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, and Heinz Field, located at the meeting point of the two rivers, includes visible steel infrastructure on the stadium exterior in homage to Pittsburgh’s industrial history. Fans of the Steelers and the University of Pittsburgh Panthers, who also call Heinz Field home, must visit the memorabilia collection in the Great Hall before leaving the stadium.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Pittsburgh Travel Guide
The ball flies a little faster at Denver’s Sports Authority Field at Mile High, thanks to its elevation of exactly one mile above sea level. Perhaps that’s why the Broncos have never been shut out at home in their fifty-five-year history. With sweeping views of the Rockies to the west and an unobstructed view of downtown to the east, the Broncos’ 76,125-capacity home turf is the perfect place to watch a game and snap a picture of the skyline. Notable players including John Elway, Terrell Davis, and now Peyton Manning have made the Broncos an ever-popular team among residents.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Denver Travel Guide
San Francisco, California
Until 2014, San Francisco was home to the legendary Candlestick Park, which served as the stadium for both the 49ers and the Giants, leading to many dual-function design irregularities. The both loved and hated facility was demolished, and the 49ers moved into the new Levi’s Stadium in 2014. Known as the Field of Jeans, Levi’s Stadium is one of the most eco-friendly arenas in the NFL with good views from every seat. Fans looking to avoid the thirty-eight-mile trek to stadium in Santa Clara—no other team plays farther from its home city—can turn to two iconic collegiate teams in the area, Stanford and Berkeley.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s San Francisco Travel Guide
As the most valuable team in the league and the second most valuable sports team in the world, the Cowboys have long enjoyed admiration around the country, only recently supplanted by the Broncos as the most popular team in the U.S. Their $1.15 billion AT&T Stadium (in Arlington) is one of the most technologically advanced, architecturally stunning arenas in the NFL, with 300 arches spanning the length of the field. An eccentric owner and a penchant for controversy ensure the Cowboys are always an entertaining team, win or lose.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Dallas-Fort Worth Travel Guide
Boston is said to be the birthplace of American football, with the “Boston game” that combined elements of rugby and soccer and became popular at prep schools in the 1850s. The Tom Brady-led New England Patriots lend Boston its modern-day football credentials as one of the most successful teams in the NFL in the last fifteen years. One of the unique traditions at Gillette Stadium is the End Zone Militia, a group of men clad in Revolutionary War apparel who fire blanks from flintlock muskets after every Patriots touchdown. Additionally, the University of Massachusetts plays its home games at Gillette Stadium.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Boston Travel Guide
Nicknamed “The Jungle” in honor of the Cincinnati Bengals, Paul Brown Stadium is one of the most fan- and football-friendly fields in the league. Fans of the Bengals are ever hopeful, as they are one of thirteen NFL teams to never win a Super Bowl. But Paul Brown Stadium has played host to a number of NCAA football games while the city waits for its first title. With season ticket prices coming in at $35 a game, Bengals’ tickets are some of the most competitive in the league.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Cincinnati Travel Guide
Minneapolis has recently experienced a cultural renaissance. Unfortunately, the Minnesota Vikings are still waiting for their rebirth. The Vikings were the last team to win the Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy in 1969 (awarded to NFL champions until it was replaced with the Lombardi Trophy) and are rumored to have lost the trophy; they have gone 0-4 in Super Bowls ever since. Still, Vikings games are some of the most entertaining to attend, thanks to their unique fight song and signature “Helga hats.” In 2016, the team moved to its new home at U.S. Bank Stadium in Downtown East.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Minneapolis-St. Paul Travel Guide
Back-to-back Super Bowl appearances in 2014 and 2015 have certainly helped the Seahawks’ popularity among residents of the Emerald City, known for their exceptionally loud vocal support. Seahawks fans have earned the nickname “12th Man” for their unabashed support of their home team, and the deafening noise in CenturyLink Field has been known to cause numerous false starts; the team has even retired the No. 12 jersey as a tribute to its home crowd. Located along the shores of Elliot Bay, CenturyLink Field affords fantastic views of downtown from many of its 67,000 seats.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Seattle Travel Guide
After moving from Baltimore to Indianapolis in 1984, the Colts have experienced both hugely successful periods—thanks in large part to Peyton Manning—and bitterly disappointing runs. Now with Andrew Luck at the helm, the Colts have sustained their success of the last fifteen years and continue to draw fans to their downtown stadium. Decked out in Indiana Limestone, Lucas Oil Stadium was designed to complement its neighboring structures downtown and features a retractable roof and moveable window on the north end of the stadium, through which fans can see the skyline. The stadium has also hosted the NCAA Men’s Final Four, the Big Ten Football Championships, and the NFL Draft Combine.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Indianapolis Travel Guide
Cross the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and you’ll find yourself in the heart of “Raider Nation,” a highly eccentric and even more dedicated fanbase known to turn out for Raiders games in elaborate outfits. After a very brief stint at Candlestick Park, the Raiders moved to the O.co Coliseum in 1966 and again in 1995 after playing in Los Angeles for twelve years. Now the only stadium in the country that is still home to an NFL and an MLB team, the Coliseum has its fair share of problems, but the fans’ diehard support makes it one of the most engaging and raucous atmospheres in football.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s The Bay Area Travel Guide
Named for the bird in the famous poem by Edgar Allan Poe (a Baltimore resident), the Ravens were given their moniker in an extensive, fan-based poll that took place when the team (formerly the Cleveland Browns) moved to the city in 1996. M&T Bank Stadium, located across the street from the historic Camden Yards, seats just over 71,000 people and glows with purple LED lights during the postseason. Fans who attend a game at here will immediately notice one of its more unusual features: a band. Baltimore’s Marching Ravens are one of only two marching bands in the NFL and have played for three different Baltimore teams in their sixty-eight-year history.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Baltimore Travel Guide
Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City Chiefs fans take two things very seriously: their football and their barbecue. You’ll know you’re at a Chiefs’ tailgate from the mouth-watering aroma spilling out from the parking lots around Arrowhead Stadium, now boasting enhanced amenities thanks to a $375 million renovation in 2010. Though the Chiefs have only made sporadic postseason appearances in the last twenty years, Kansas City denizens can still be relied on to turn out in droves to cheer on their team and have earned the reputation of being some of the friendliest fans in the NFL. Be prepared for the loud chant inside the field at the end of the national anthem.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Kansas City Travel Guide
Buffalo, New York
A game at Ralph Wilson Stadium is something only the truly brave should undertake. Bills’ fans are widely considered the most disorderly in the league, the Stadium needs an upgrade, and the weather is rarely pleasant. But few cities love their teams as much as Buffalonians, whose dedication frequently manifests in shirtless displays in freezing temperatures, love the Bills. You won’t find any modern, high-end amenities new stadiums offer here. Instead, partake in the no-fuss revelry, head out to Hammer Lot, and find Ken “Pinto Ron” Johnson, who has hosted a tailgate with a grill on the hood of his 1980 Ford Pinto at every home for twenty-one years.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Niagara Falls and Western New York Travel Guide
New Orleans, Louisiana
The Saints have not been a historically successful team, compiling a lifetime record of 331-418-5, but their emotional victory in Super Bowl XLIV in 2009 was the ultimate feel-good sports moment, symbolically helping rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Located just southwest of the French Quarter, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome has repeatedly hosted the Super Bowl, the NCAA Men’s Final Four, and the Sugar Bowl. Its “Who Dat?” chant is one of the most well known in football, yelled 73,000 strong at packed Saints home games.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s New Orleans Travel Guide