Get Outta Town! Ranking All 32 NFL Road Trips

Of all the perks of working in the National Football League, traveling is among my favorites. Over the past 16 years, I’ve been privileged to journey with the Patriots to more than 150 road games as part of my job responsibilities with what we now refer to as the team’s content production department.

This means that, with the exception of Los Angeles (I never got to see a game in St. Louis when the Rams organization was based there, either) I’ve been to every NFL destination – including the international ones – at least once, and, in many cases, on numerous occasions, for various lengths of time. And while I’ve yet to see a game at the Raiders’ glamorous new digs in Nevada, I have visited Las Vegas once before for pleasure.

When folks hear about this, they inevitably want to know which NFL road trip is my favorite. They wonder about the different stadiums, the great places to eat around the league, and some of the fun things I’ve been able to experience during my travels.

About a decade ago, I decided to quantify my response by compiling a top-to-bottom list. At the time, though, there were still four NFL cities I hadn’t yet visited. Since then, much has changed leaguewide. I’ve managed to check three of the remaining four off my list. We’ve also bid a fond farewell to beloved San Diego (one of the best places to spend a few days), said good riddance to Oakland (the absolute worst), and discarded poor old St. Louis for a second time in NFL history.

Yet, we’ve also welcomed some exciting newcomers in aforementioned LA and Vegas, as well as Mexico City, part of the growing number of the league’s international hosts. Meanwhile, several of the familiar places built and opened new stadiums. The time therefore seemed right to update my list and provide more comprehensive details.

My methodology considers these three primary factors:

  • Stadium quality (including facilities and unique amenities, proximity to the nearest metropolitan areas, and fans’ game-day experience),
  • Local attractiveness (number and variety of interesting things to do, historic/noteworthy sites to see, and can’t-miss places to eat and drink), and
  • Length of stay recommended (could you spend a week or more in these places, making it an all-out vacation destination; might a long weekend suffice, or is a day trip enough?)

At the beginning of each listing, you’ll find a quick reference guide that lets you know at a glance where the location previously ranked, how good the stadiums are (via traditional letter grades), how the areas rate (from below average to world class), and a suggested length of stay (from day trips to a week or more).

Bearing in mind that football fans aren’t a monolith, that their tastes range from the simple to the sophisticated and their budgets from strict to virtually unlimited, you’ll find recommendations for greasy-spoon diners as well as fancy-tablecloth restaurants; must-do tourist sites and under-the-radar alternatives; sports-themed outings and more culturally enriching offerings, almost all of which I’ve done myself unless otherwise noted.

Whether you’ve been to one or more NFL away games or none at all, I hope this ranking provides inspiration to plan your own road trip in the near future. Like a football depth chart, I’ve also broken the list up into three readable tiers: starters, backups, and third stringers. We’ll start with the latter and work our way up to the top.

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