Backyard Games and Tailgating Fun with Kids



In our early twenties, my husband and I figured out how to tailgate REALLY well. We were regulars in the lots surrounding Miller Park. In fact, we registered for tailgating gear when we got married.

Though having kids has forced us to give up our 20-pack, it has not forced us to give up the tailgating lifestyle.

We discovered we don’t need a sitter or even the ballpark to tailgate. On warm summer nights, after the kids go to bed, we can frequently be found listening to music in the backyard, drinking a beer, playing games, and grilling. Now that the kids are getting older and slightly more coordinated, we’ve started incorporating them into the fun. Here are some of our favorites!

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Backyard and Tailgate Games Kids will Love


bean bags
We’ve added in a stick for the kids to allow them to toss a bit closer. Adults still need to toss from behind the board.

Like eating cheese curds and grilling brats, bags are ubiquitous to Milwaukee tailgate culture. Not only are they fun for the adults, but they are quite possibly the most accessible introduction to outdoor games for the kids.


Yes, there are a number of names for this one, mostly in reference to body parts. With a six-year-old son in the mix, however, this is the most innocuous of them and this game continues to be a winner!

Giant Jenga

If you’re somewhat handy, you can make this with a bunch of 2×4’s. If, however, you want to just grab and go, your local Target has you covered.

Lawn Dice

Yahtzee just seems so much more fun when the dice are the size of a softball. Like with Giant Jenga, a handy person could replicate this fairly easily with a trip to their local hardware store.


Fellow word nerds, I’ve got you covered. If your family likes Bananagrams, the running around just adds an extra level of fun.

Lawn Darts

These are not the Jarts of our childhood, because I guess some party pooper responsible adult decided mini Javelins and kids do not mix, but the idea remains the same. One bonus is that they do translate to parking lot tailgating well, as you don’t need grass once you remove the steel tip.

The following games won’t be able to be played at a real tailgate, because you’ll need grass or sand to drive some stakes in, but they’re a real blast, nonetheless.


Start them young, and your kids will be ringers (bad pun intended, #sorrynotsorry) long before they can join the bar league.

Net sports

Badminton or Volleyball, anyone? One net can be dual-purpose if you decide to add another game to your collection down the road.


I’m always down for anything that makes me feel like a heroine in an Austen or Brönte novel, but I was surprised at just how much my kids loved to play.

Bluetooth speakers

Music makes everything more fun and relaxing at our house. Head to Spotify or Pandora and choose a good playlist. Connect and enjoy.

Start Slow.

If you are just starting out, no one expects you to buy ALL of these things at once. We have accumulated our collection over more than ten years of birthdays, Christmases, and summers. I’d recommend the essentials first: a comfy chair, a bit of shade (or lots of sunscreen!), a cooler, a table, and one game of your choice. Even a deck of cards counts. Before you know it, you’ll have a trunk full of things to bring to the next ball game, picnic, or outing.


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