Middle Tennessee State University football players in three-point stance.
Photo Credit: Andrew Saucier

Football and Family Fun in Murfreesboro

Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro ups the ante for tailgating parties and football fun. Find out where to pre-and post-game celebrate this football season.

There’s a whole lot more than school spirit and hometown pride in Murfreesboro and there’s plenty of both. From a socially-conscious coffee shop and a century-old downtown cafe to a craft brewery and taproom in a repurposed warehouse and artisan ice cream, when you roll into Murfreesboro for a football game, you can expect a fun fall Saturday that goes well beyond tailgating and the gridiron.

Murfreesboro, Tennessee, located in the geographic center of the state, about 35 miles southeast of Nashville, is the home of Middle Tennessee State University. And football season in Murfreesboro is often still warm enough to actually enjoy the game in an outdoor stadium, without parkas and gloves like the more northern college student bodies. Competing in Conference USA, MTSU’s regular season involves tough gridiron battles against schools located in some of America’s most fertile football recruiting grounds including Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida - not to mention Tennessee. The cool, crisp Tennessee fall afternoons make for perfect tailgating and game-watching days, and the game day atmosphere at MTSU is perfect for undergrads, alumni and families alike. So when you roll into Murfreesboro for a football game, come early and stay late. There’s so much going on - on and off campus - that makes a fall Saturday in Murfreesboro a great day.  

Fuel up at Just Love Coffee

Just Love Coffee is a think globally, act locally kind of place. With locations on Music Row in Nashville, Brentwood and a few other Middle Tennessee locations, you may recognize the original Just Love Coffee when you pull up. A portion of the profits from each franchise goes to local charities and a percentage of all online bag sales is donated by the parent company to various causes. So when you cozy up to a cup of hand-roasted coffee before the big game, you have bought in to a little social partnership hoping to do a little good in the world. 

Breakfast for lunch at the City Cafe

Welcome to Murfreesboro’s original meat-and-three. First opened in 1900, City Cafe has been the kind of spot locals love for generations and you can love it, too. Known around town to have the best biscuits and gravy anywhere, City Cafe is just as beloved for breakfast as it is for that Tennessee classic meat and three. And like any good cafe, breakfast is served even as the lunch menu becomes available. As a chilly morning becomes a pleasantly warm fall afternoon, do as the locals do and grab yourself some biscuits and gravy before kickoff. You will not be disappointed.

Feel the hype at the Raider Walk and Tailgate

Tailgating is, of course, a time-honored tradition that’s become as much a part of the college football experience as the game itself. And therefore, the experience should not be missed. Tailgating unfolds across the pleasant lawns between Peck Hall and Walnut Grove, within sight of Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium. And a few hours before kickoff, the Band of Blue comes down for a show. Most assuredly, you cannot miss them. The long, snaking line comes chanting and shouting into the lawn and begins a thrilling performance similar with every bit as much pageantry and energy as a halftime show. After an exciting rendition of the MTSU fight song, the football team makes the Raider Walk through the crowd, on their way to the stadium to warmup for the game.

Post-game celebrations at Mayday Brewery

Welcome to Murfreesboro’s brewery. Mayday Brewery’s taproom, located in a repurposed warehouse, serves up snifters, pints and 64 oz. take-home growlers that have been accurately self-styled “Jugs of Fun.” Among the tried-and-true brews available are the Boro Blonde, Evil Octopus, Inner Sanctum IPA, Velvet Hustle and many more that you’ll just have to stop in and learn all the colorful names for yourself. To bring the experience full circle, most Saturday nights, there is a lineup of live music. Keep an eye on their online schedule.

Sweet nightcap at Hattie Jane’s Creamery

The truth is, it’s almost never too cold to grab some ice cream. Right in downtown Murfreesboro is Hattie Jane’s Creamery, using seasonal and regional ingredients (like Hatcher Family Dairy milk and Muletown Roasted Coffee) to churn up some of the best ice cream in Middle Tennessee. And bonus, they’re located right next to Puckett’s, so it’s basically a two-for-one if you’re looking for an awesome local spot to grab some dinner.

Great eateries, exciting football and a charming downtown square will make your sports-filled trip a memorable one in Murfreesboro.

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