I am bringing my wife, our 6 month old daughter, and my in-laws out to Columbus from Philadelphia for the Notre Dame game in a few weeks. I am a 2012 graduate of Ohio State, and my father-in-law is an Irish Catholic from Queens who has always been a fan of Notre Dame. I promised him I'd bring him out to the game when the schedule was released a few years back, and was fortunate enough to get tickets for the two of us (day of game I am going to try and buy 2 more for my wife and mother-in-law assuming prices are reasonable, if not they'll watch from the hotel).
In my four years in Columbus, not once did I ever tailgate for a game. We always did house parties / bar hopping, etc. The few games I've had a chance to go to since graduating, we always liked to stick around high street to take in the pre-game energy. So needless to say, my knowledge of the tailgating experience is very limited (with the exception of knowing the coin required to get one of the awesome spots inside the shoe parking lot). With my 6 month old daughter coming with us, I don't know that I want to be spending significant time in Out-R-Inn or Little Bar (although I do still love you guys, just probably isn't the best atmosphere for the little one).
So my question for everyone is this: if we are driving out to the game from Philadelphia, what do I need to know / do in advance to secure a tailgating spot before the game (I assume the best location is in west campus)? Does everyone agree this is probably the best move for our pre-game activities given my in-laws, wife, and daughter tagging along to begin with? If west campus isn't the ideal location, and there are things I can do in advance to secure a more optimal spot, I'd be more than happy to do that as well. The critical factor here is that in the event my wife/daughter/mother-in-law do not come to the game, they'll need to be able to drive out of the tailgating lot prior to the game to make it back to the hotel.
Thanks in advance for everyone's support here. Every time I get back to Columbus, it seems like the campus area has gone through another renaissance and "what I thought I knew" is no longer accurate, so I just want to make sure I have planned ahead for the sake of my in-laws / daughter.