Located in the Bay Area, in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford University cranks out start-ups and revolutionary technology at a break-neck speed, but their success in academics also translates to the football field.
The Stanford University Cardinals have been to 29 bowl games since they began playing football, and they are one of the top teams in the State of California. As part of the Pacific Coast Conference (PAC-12), the Cardinals compete against big-name teams such as the USC Trojans, Oregon Ducks, and the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Though they are named the “Cardinals,” the school’s unofficial mascot is a tree, which is also the band’s mascot. The unique mascot has earned Stanford a few “Worst Mascot” accolades. The “Cardinal” is in reference to the school’s color and not the bird.
When the Cardinals play at home, Stanford Stadium is abuzz with activity. The stadium seats 50,000 people, but before it was rebuilt in the mid-aughts, the original stadium had almost 90,000 seats. The original stadium, built in 1921, was demolished after the 2005 season, and the new stadium is much more modern in appearance. Tickets to see the team are generally affordable, and RVs are welcome at several parking lots.
The Stanford Cardinals claim to offer one of the best deals in the Bay Area, and, once you see their ticket prices, you’ll know what they mean. Single-game tickets start at $35, and mini-plans, which include three games, start at $95. Though Stanford is best known for its football team, the school competes in many other sports, and tickets to non-football events tend to be more affordable.
Stanford University is located on California’s coast, and it’s near other Bay Area cities like San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland. If you want to visit Los Angeles, drive six hours south. San Franciso Bay is to the east of Stanford, and the Pacific Ocean is to the west. You can hop on U.S. Route 101 to travel north to San Francisco or south to Los Angeles. Head to the stadium early to avoid traffic and find a great parking spot.
Parking lots for regular vehicles and RVs tend to open five hours before the start of the game. Those who purchase an overnight parking pass for Lot 2 can park the Thursday afternoon before games, which is also the only lot that allows overnight parking. While there are five total lots that provide RV parking, only Lots 8 and 9 sell parking passes the day of the game, which are cash only; these spots are first-come-first-serve.
There are several ways to get to the stadium that don’t involve driving. Depending on where you’re coming from, you could ride on BART or Caltrain. Once you’re on campus, hop on the Marguerite Shuttle Service, which makes a loop around the campus and is free to ride. Plan your trip ahead of time to save yourself some stress.
Camping overnight is possible at Stanford Stadium, but there are some caveats. Out of the five lots that provide RV parking spaces, only Lot 2 offers overnight parking. Also, you’ll need to purchase the parking pass ahead of time since they’re not sold on game day. Alternatively, you could head to a nearby RV campground after the game to spend the night.
With views of the ocean and forest, camping overnight at a Stanford RV park is a great idea. There are plenty of places to stay for the night, and some of them are near the ocean, which can make for a relaxing stay.
Although the drive is curvy and smaller vehicles are needed, Portola Redwoods State Park gives travelers a sweat spot to relax in the outdoors in about 45 minutes of Cardinals Stadium. The Santa Cruz North/Costanoa KOA is one such place by the ocean, one with many opportunities for outdoor recreation. The KOA is equipped with electric sites, Wi-Fi, cable TV, and more.
The best way to get around the city or Stanford’s campus is to use the various public transportation options. If you would like to enjoy a ride along the way, bring your bike to the stadium, which you can leave with the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition while you attend the game. Inside the stadium, you can save yourself some energy by riding the elevator.
Lightweight clothing that can be layered is good during any season since temperatures here are often mild. Pack a light sweater and warm leggings to round out your travel wardrobe. The winter months may call for additional layers, but you are not likely to require a parka in Central California. To show your support for the Stanford Cardinals, pack your favorite Cardinal-colored apparel.
The beauty of tailgating is that you can do it your way, so bring whatever items you deem necessary. For starters, you may want to bring a grill, tent, table, chairs, a generator, and even a TV to watch pre-game activities with your fellow Cardinals fans. Whether you’re looking to simply tailgate or make an impression, your experience is in your hands.
The adrenaline and excitement surrounding a football game can sometimes lead to accidents, which is why you may want to pack a first-aid kit into your Airstream or Sprinter. With basic items on hand, small injuries can stay small for you and the littlest of Stanford University fans on game day. Remind the kids to stay close and watch out for other fans when playing during your tailgating activities.
Tailgating can work up an appetite, so be prepared to grill some burgers and hot dogs for your guests. You may want to consider preparing dips and finger foods the day before the game so you can focus on grilling. Before you light the charcoal, stop by the supermarket to stock up on groceries and other tailgating essentials.
While you could visit San Francisco for modern, trendy restaurants, you can also dine in Stanford with your Cardinals crew. Since it’s a college town, you’ll find plenty of restaurants that are walking distance from Stanford’s campus. Get your fill of local delights within five miles of the university and you'll have your pick of restaurants with food from all parts of the globe.
No matter how plentiful the tailgate parties are, sometimes you hear that all-too-familiar stomach grumbling signifying that you need to eat something. Luckily, Stanford Stadium offers its guests plenty of food options via its various concessions stands. To purchase Stanford University apparel and merchandise, head to the campus bookstore or look for a shop inside the stadium.
As is the case with other teams in the PAC-12, Stanford Stadium has a strict clear bag policy that prohibits non-clear bags, except for small clutch purses. If you don’t have a clear bag, you can use a clear food storage bag to store your items. Diaper bags are deemed as essential, so they are allowed inside the stadium, but they may be inspected.
Weather in the community of Stanford is mild, with the average summer high around 75 degrees. Winters are cool, and the average low for December, the coldest month of the year, barely drops to the mid-40s. When it comes to weather, it really is a paradise. However, forest fires do occasionally threaten the surrounding area in the summer, so keep tabs with local weather stations during your travels.
If you need medical assistance, head to one of the first-aid stations inside or outside the station. Ask a stadium staff member for help if you’re lost. For more serious injuries, call 911 or head to the nearest hospital. There are several hospitals within two miles of the stadium. Pharmacy services may be within walking distance of the stadium if you don't mind the trek of less than a mile.