Now that bowl season is getting to the good part, there aren’t a lot of bad bowl destinations to be found. New Orleans, Los Angeles and even Arizona are fun, warm breaks from bad winter weather, especially for northern schools.
But man, there sure are some stinkers along the way. I’m not going to rank these by actual bowl game—in some cases, the amenities and gift packages that accompany a bowl can (almost) make up for its suspect location.
Rather, I’m just looking at these by city. I’m basing my rankings on these criteria: If somebody said, “Congratulations, your next game will be in ________!”
Would I be stoked?
1. Nassau, Bahamas (Bahamas Bowl)
Uh, yes please.
2. Honolulu (Aloha Bowl)
Look, I understand that lots of college kids get to go to Hawaii these days. Heck, the basketball team went twice in like a month last season. But that doesn’t make it less cool!
3. San Diego (Poinsettia Bowl, Holiday Bowl)
4. Boca Raton (Boca Raton Bowl)
5. New Orleans (Sugar Bowl)
Hey! The Sooners didn’t do too bad. New Orleans is a super fun party city, and the French Quarter has one of the best walkable bar-and-music scenes in America.
6. Miami (Orange Bowl, Miami Beach Bowl)
7. Pasadena (Rose Bowl)
8. Nashville (Music City Bowl)
This might be too high on the list for some, but Nashville has another great, walkable bar-and-music scene just blocks away from its football stadium. Yeah, most of the music is country, but there’s also good blues and jazz (and great food) to be found here.
9. New York City (Pinstripe Bowl)
Yeah, it’s held in the Bronx, but they can’t keep the players there all week, right?
10. Las Vegas (Las Vegas Bowl)
Technically it’s held in the suburb of Whitney, but I can only assume the players get to kick it in Vegas for the week, which isn’t so bad.
11. Santa Clara (Foster Farms Bowl)
It’s not really San Fran, or it would be higher.
12. Tampa (Outback Bowl)
Aaaaand the dramatic dropoff begins...
13. Shreveport (Independence Bowl)
Unless you’re there to gamble, not the best. Somehow I doubt the football players get to do much gambling.
14. Glendale (Fiesta Bowl)
Knocked down a few pegs for not actually being Phoenix. The stadium is cool, the weather is warm, but it’s not a very happenin’ place.
15. Tempe (Cactus Bowl)
16. St. Petersburg (St. Petersburg Bowl)
I know we’re not judging based on stadium, but my gosh, have you seen Tropicana Field? Not even the Rays want to play there.
17. Memphis (Liberty Bowl)
I just assumed the Independence Bowl and Liberty Bowl were held in Philly or something. Nope, that would make too much sense!
18. San Antonio (Alamo Bowl)
I can only imagine teams from other states walking up to the Alamo like, “So that’s what we’re supposed to remember, huh?”
19. Albuquerque (New Mexico Bowl)
20. Dallas (Heart of Dallas Bowl)
21. Fort Worth (Armed Forces)
22. Arlington (Cotton Bowl)
I mean really, these three are more or less the same place. Arlington is probably getting some bonus points as my hometown, but since it’s between two reasonably cool places, I figure that bumps it up a bit.
23. Orlando (Cure Bowl, Russell Athletic Bowl, Citrus Bowl)
Unless you are under eight, the appeal of the city of Orlando is decidedly limited. Also the Russell Athletic Bowl can go to hell.
24. Houston (Texas Bowl)
So Houston named its NFL team the Texans and its bowl game the Texas Bowl. And they wonder why Dallas thinks it’s better.
25. Charlotte (Belk Bowl)
26. Annapolis (Military Bowl)
27. Atlanta (Celebration Bowl)
Sure, it’s a great Donald Glover show, but a bowl destination? I don’t think the players are hitting up Magic City no matter how much they want to.
28. Birmingham (Birmingham Bowl)
29. Tucson (Arizona Bowl)
30. Montgomery (Camellia Bowl)
31. Mobile (Dollar General Bowl)
Maybe I’m just totally wrong about the three Alabama cities here—but I kinda doubt it.
32. Jacksonville (TaxSlayer Bowl)
I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say a good thing about Jacksonville.
33. Boise (Famous Idaho Potato Bowl)
Nothing against Boise, per se—I hear it’s pretty cool for, you know, a city in Idaho. But as a bowl city? Ugh.
34. El Paso (Sun Bowl)
Sure, why don’t we just put a bowl game in Ciudad Juarez while we’re at it, too.
35. Detroit (Quick Lane Bowl)
One of the common refrains of bowl game defenders is that they reward students, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds, by letting them go places and see things they never could have before.
Or, they can go to Detroit to feel better about wherever they’re from!
So what do you think, Sooners fans? Anything I got totally wrong? Obviously I have not actually been to every city on this list. Am I sleeping hard on Jacksonville? Post a comment and let me know.