With the addition of future Hall of Famer Russell Wilson to their ranks, the Denver Broncos have become a serious contender for what was already one of the toughest divisions in football – the AFC West. And in a division also including Derek Carr, Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert, the action on the field is bound to be explosive. But it’s not just the games that intrigue us heading into 2022 – for our money this division also lends itself to some of the best football trips you can choose. So we decided to take you around all four AFC West cities to give you a little flavour of what they each have to offer.
Our journey through the AFC West starts in the Mile High City – which really does have something for everyone. Let’s start with its spectacular backdrop – mountains including Pikes Peak, Mount Evans and Longs Peak surround the city and it’s not a long drive in any direction to some amazing hiking trails. You can also head over to Colorado Springs to get a closer look at Pikes Peak (i.e. ride up it!), check out Royal Gorge and Garden of the Gods and even see an Air Force football game. Speaking of college football, Boulder is home to the Colorado Buffaloes and Fort Collins plays host to Colorado State. Both these towns also happen to be great places to visit – not least for the ample selection of brew pubs!
Denver itself is home to some great museums (the Museum of Art, Contemporary Art Museum, the Baseball Museum, the Molly Brown House Museum, the Air and Space Museum) and also has one of America’s best zoos. Its nightlife is expansive with bars and restaurants for every taste. And then there’s the sports – along with the Broncos (more about them in a sec) you’ve got the other three major sports represented with NBA (Nuggets), NHL (Avalanche) and MLB (Rockies).
As for the NFL game day, it’s fantastic. The Broncos’ stadium itself is in easy distance of downtown hotels (you can jump on the light rail or, if feeling energetic, take a leisurely walk to it) and it produces a lovely loud atmosphere from its orange and blue-clad fanbase. Tailgating is plentiful on the periphery and the elevation and chilly mountain air just add to the experience.
2021 AFC West position: 4th
Kansas City (Chiefs)
Look, we’re not going to beat around the bush. We love barbecue. And there’s arguably nowhere better ON THIS PLANET for lip smacking, rib sticking BBQ than Kansas City, where smoking ribs and brisket is considered an art form. The other thing to remember so as not to offend the locals is that Kansas City is not actually in Kansas, but just across the border in western Missouri.
For a Chiefs trip, we would focus on staying downtown, notwithstanding Arrowhead is around 15 minutes drive east of the city. There are plenty of things to see and do in KC. There’s museums – in addition to the museums of art and National World War 1 Museum, we’d recommend a trip to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum for a fascinating insight into an era of American sports history that also deals with discrimination and injustice as well as triumph. KC is also home to a thriving live jazz scene and nightlife, in addition to all that great BBQ that we keep thinking about.
A Chiefs game day is simply one of the best in the NFL. It starts at tailgate and KC fans take this seriously – fortunately the ample Arrowhead parking lots provide space for thousands of fans to cook, drink and dance to their hearts’ content. Then there’s Arrowhead itself – a cathedral of noise that, along with perhaps Seattle, provides the noisiest atmosphere of any stadium in the NFL.
2021 AFC West position: 1st
Las Vegas (Raiders)
We were sad when the Raiders left Oakland, mainly for the fans they left behind. We were not sad, however, for the switch in location because it’s, well, Vegas baby.
We’re not sure there’s much more to say about Vegas that hasn’t been said. A sprawling, loud, sparkling grown-ups playground of a destination that’s exhilarating and exhausting in equal measure. Yes, there’s shows and casinos and chain restaurants but away from the Strip, Vegas is also diverse in its offerings. If you golf, there are some fantastic courses dotted around. The Grand Canyon tours are spectacular. Head to the old downtown and check out Fremont Street – which harks back to early Vegas’ glory days. The Mob Museum and Neon Museum are both fun too.
But for the football fan, it’s all about Allegiant. The Death Star in the Desert is a sight to behold and will be playing host to numerous big events outside of Raiders games including the Super Bowl in 2024. You can also check out a UNLV Rebels game at Allegiant and it’s handily walking distance from the south end of the Strip. From 2022 our trips to Vegas will also include an all-inclusive upscale tailgate party worthy of the destination as well as a guided tour of this spectacular new stadium.
2021 AFC West position: 2nd
Los Angeles (Chargers)
Speaking of new stadiums, the Chargers now play their games in the shiny-new SoFi Stadium, host of Super Bowl LVI where their NFC roommates managed to snag a Lombardi this past February.
LA is a sprawling city with so much to offer it really lends itself to a longer trip. Downtown has some grand old hotels, upscale restaurants and is also great for an NBA game with both the Lakers and Clippers occupying crypto.com Arena (formally Staples Center). Head to Hollywood for the Walk of Fame, Chinese Theater and other sights and sounds that you’ve likely scene dozens of times on TV. You can take a tour of Universal as well as Hollywood Stars’ Homes and if you continue to Beverly Hills, hit up the designer stores on Rodeo Drive (just bring your credit card). If you don’t mind driving, hiring a car really opens up Southern California – driving to the coast you can take in Santa Monica and head up to Malibu, or drive south toward San Diego.
SoFi itself is a great place to see a game. Outside it doesn’t look that massive but that’s because the field is below ground level – a gladiatorial footballing arena build right into Inglewood’s basement. The screens that wrap 360 degrees around the top are awe-inspiring and like in Vegas, we include a very nice all-inclusive tailgate for our trip-goers to ensure their LA game day starts off the right way.
2021 AFC West position: 3rd
Interested in more about these cities or fancy a trip to one, two or all of them this coming season?! Register your interest now and we’ll happily send you more info!