Contrary to what you heard on CNN last night, the National Football League does a lot more on the field than it does in courtrooms. It’s all the glorious rushing, passing and tackling that warrant mention here. Thankfully, there are a lot of other folks out there concerned more about a team’s pass-rushing ability than a player’s police report. In fact, a number of high-end hotels, fine restaurants and attractions are using this season to celebrate all that’s right with the professional and collegiate game. Here’s our scouting report on places that are doing the best job of it now:
Georgia’s capital city isn’t quiet about its game plan — it wants to be the No. 1 destination in America for college football fans. With the successful Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, the city’s inclusion in the College Football Playoff rotation and the August opening of the sparkling College Football Hall of Fame and Fan Experience, Atlanta seems well on its way to earning the crown. “We’re not trying to edge anybody else out but we just love college football,” says College Football Hall of Fame president and CEO John Stephenson. “The more fans that want to come here, we’re going to welcome them.” Of course, to be considered a football mecca, Atlanta has to cater to NFL fans as well. That’s where places like Big Sky Buckhead come into play. The newish restaurant is the first eatery to roll out the scoutPro Data Ticker, a handy scrolling database of weekly fantasy football rankings and news from Competitive Sports Analysis, on its TVs. Come on down to the mountain lodge-inspired digs during the week for beer and burgers, but stay for an update on Joique Bell’s injury.
Arkansas Razorbacks head football coach Bret Bielema has created an offensive juggernaut in Fayetteville. Heck, enthusiasm surrounding the team has reached heights folks around the SEC haven’t seen in years. Even world-class hotels such as Pratt Place Inn and Barn can’t fight the fever any longer. During the Hogs’ home games this year, the Forbes Travel Guide Recommended property is offering a tailgating experience for guests in a field by the barn just a half-mile from the Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. There will be TVs, a dining area and a shuttle to and from the game. There will be complimentary Wi-Fi in the pasture, too. How else are fans going to get their pregame information on LSU’s secondary?
If you’re thinking sports in Sin City, boxing is probably what comes to mind. When you see all the fun that Lagasse’s Stadium, inside Four-Star The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino, is having this football season, that might change. Already an all-star because of its incredible atmosphere (stadium seating and more than 100 HDTVs), the place soars to new heights for Monday Night Football thanks to a menu specific to the teams playing each week. For instance, when Carolina battles Philadelphia on November 10, the kitchen will prepare Carolina-style pulled pork sandwiches with Panthers fans in mind and have Philly cheesesteak pizza for the Eagles faithful. But even if things get crowded at Lagasse’s as they often do, Vegas’ newest entertainment complex, The LINQ, has other options worth exploring on game day: Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas will offer all-you-can-eat wings during the action; Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar will give a free T-shirt to any brave soul who can down all 16 brews on tap during the course of the game; Tag Sports Bar has more than 300 bottled beers and, in typical Vegas fashion, a convenient sports betting station at the bar.
No matter how dire things look in the weekly standing, Chicago Bears fans will keep cheering. If anything, the ebbs and flows of Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall’s game are what bring the franchise’s supporters closer. That said, when you make your way to Forbes Travel Guide Recommended JW Marriott Chicago for its Beercation package (in-room selection of Lagunitas craft beer, tour of the brewery, signature mason jar) this fall or winter, don’t be shocked if you see animated folks in Bears gear roaming the lobby. Guess it doesn’t hurt that the hotel is the closest one to Soldier Field either. Oh, and don’t mind the autograph seekers lurking the hallways. Rumor has it that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints will stay at the hotel when they visit later this year.
The San Diego Chargers have been one of the most impressive teams at the start of this NFL season, so you’ll have to forgive any added excitement coming from that part of the world. Five-Star The Grand Del Mar isn’t even attempting to shield the glee that’s coming from its kitchen these days. While the cuisine at Five-Star Addison is revered, The Clubhouse Grill also scores points with guests for its winning take on casual breakfasts and lunches. When Philip Rivers fans (and those for other teams, we presume) come by Sundays or Mondays this season, they’ll be showered in tasty gridiron goodies such as spicy chicken wings and white shrimp quesadillas. Daily food and drink specials only make a play for The Clubhouse Grill that much smarter.