Long before the snapping of the first ball of the season, you can have your team-color wardrobe ready and begin mapping out the menu for the tailgates.

Just mention the word "tailgate" and you can practically smell the grilled brats. Images of beer splashing into plastic cups may be dancing in your head. To help assist in creating a solid Georgia-based tailgates playbook, here are some suggestions of how to make the most out of the experience in several pigskin-loving towns.

Atlanta

Before even setting up in the parking lot, consider visiting the College Football Hall of Fame downtown. Interactive exhibits, like kicking a field goal or acting like a sportscaster, drop guests in the middle of the action. If you forget to wear appropriate game-day gear, comb through the gift shop before action starts.

No matter if you’re amping up for a professional game or a collegiate match-up, the iconic Varsity remains an obvious and endearing choice for tailgating take out, if you can stomach the crowds at the world’s largest drive-in restaurant, snag to-go boxes of chili dogs, onion rings, fries, and cheese steaks. If not, visit Antico Pizza Napoletana, one of the most acclaimed pie purveyors on the planet. The communal tables are perfect for groups and the BYOB policy fits right in on game day.

Athens

Tailgating in Athens gets serious. If the crowds are too big, head outside of downtown for a visit to Terrapin Beer Company. The brewers of Terrapin Rye Pale Ale and more offer tours of its facility Wednesdays through Sundays. On Saturdays, even when a big game drops, tours take place from 1:00–7:30 p.m. Visitors not only sample the wares in the indoor tasting room, but are treated to live music and more.

Favorite spots for to-go tailgating edibles include Amici with its pizza and chicken wings. Some grab a pie or a slice at Little Italy Pizzeria to take to their preferred tailgate destination. The town also plays host to its own Varsity. Although it’s much smaller than the original downtown Atlanta locale, you can find the same grease-laden fast food.

Statesboro

When filling your trunk with tailgate food in Statesboro, think about swinging by Vandy’s Bar-B-Q. Slip inside the cinder-block joint to grab a sackful of barbecue pork, chicken, fried dill pickles, or its popular Brunswick stew.

Making a tailgate pizza run might find you stopping into Holiday Pizza. If you have carnivores in the crew, opt for the Achilles (think: bacon, pepperoni, ground beef, and sausage).

Tailgates can involve enough pageantry and preparation to rival the football game itself. Long before the snapping of the first ball of the season, you can have your team-color wardrobe ready and begin mapping out the menu.

Jon Waterhouse

About the AuthorJon Waterhouse

Jon Waterhouse is an award-winning, Atlanta-based journalist specializing in entertainment, travel and lifestyle. His work has appeared in Esquire, BlackBook, Paste, Boy's Life, MTV.com, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and many other publications. He's also served as an online reporter for Elvis.com and Bonnaroo.com, and exclusive publicity writer for Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame act, Van Halen. In addition to writing, Waterhouse has the ability to produce exceptional audio/visual content, including audio slideshows. As the host, writer and producer of "The Pop Culture King Show," Waterhouse won a Georgia Association of Broadcasters Award for his work.