Football season is almost here, and for many of us, that means it is time to celebrate your favorite team in your backyard or in the stadium parking lot. Whether you love to cheer on your alma mater at a college game or your family has invested in season tickets for your favorite NFL team, tailgating is a must for any fan.
The crisp fall air, the smell of barbecue on the grill, and drinking ice-cold beer out of a cooler are just a few of the things that make this time of year so great. But in addition to the amazing food and delicious beverages, having fun with friends and family before the game starts is also a major highlight of any trip to the stadium.
The best way to get in some quality time before the game starts (or even during the game, if you don’t have tickets) is to play tailgating games. For this list, we will share some games that are kid-friendly and some that are strictly for adults. From old classics that we all know and love to new games with a twist, you will be sure to have a blast.
No tailgating game list would be complete without this favorite. Cornhole is a very simple game with the objective being to toss a beanbag onto the opponent’s cornhole platform, or better yet, get it in the hole. You get one point for landing your beanbag on the board and three points when it makes into the hole, and whoever gets 21 points first is the winner. You can team up or play individually, and either way will bring hours of fun.
You can easily make the game yourself and add your team colors or, if you aren’t very crafty, you can always buy one online or at your local sporting goods store.
2. Ladder Golf
The goal of this game is to throw bolas — two golf-sized balls tethered together — at a three-rung ladder. You want to wrap the bolas around one of the rungs, and each rung has different point values. The top gets you three points, the middle is worth two, and the bottom is one point. The person or team who gets closest to 21 points without going over is the winner.
One of the newer tailgating games, fowling is a hybrid game that combines football and bowling. It’s easy, a lot of fun, and will test your football throwing skills. Instead of tossing beanbags at a platform like you do in cornhole, in this game you will throw a football at a row of bowling pins.
Because you are throwing a football, you will need a bit of space to play this game. Players want to be the first person or team to knock down all of the opponent’s pins. If you don’t have bowling pins, you can get creative and use pretty much anything for pins, even empty beer cans or solo cups.
There is also an alternate version where you mark your pins with different point totals — 1, 2, 5, 10, and 25 — and throw the ball to make a direct hit at one pin. You mark only one pin with 25, two with 10, and at least three or four with the other point totals. And, the first one to reach 50 points is the winner.
A cross between golf and table shuffleboard, sholf is a lawn game where players take turns putting golf balls into different scoring zones on a printed putting green. Each player takes a turn trying to score points, bump an opposing player’s ball off of the green, or protect their own ball. The first player to reach 13 points wins the game.
5. Vert Pong
You can usually find plenty of solo cups and ping pong balls at any tailgate party, but this isn’t your classic beer pong. Instead, it is more like those cup-toss games you would find at a carnival.
Like the name suggests, this is like vertical beer pong, with the cups layered and standing up. You can either bounce or toss the ball into the cup, and the first team to 21 points is the winner. You can keep this game family-friendly, or you can make it into a drinking game. Either way is a lot of fun.
You can construct your own set by attaching the cups to a sheet of hard foam insulation with tape or pins. You want the cups to be upright, with just their sides attached. Then, mark each cup with a point total — the higher the cup is on the board, the higher the point total. If it sounds too difficult to make yourself, you can always buy it online.
If you don’t have a ton of space to play games, a card game is a great alternative. Kings, also known as “Kings Cup” or “Circle of Death,” is a drinking game that starts with a solo cup, a shot or a beer can in the middle of a circle of downward-facing cards. Players draw a card from the circle without breaking it — if you break the circle, you have to drink whatever drink is in the center of the circle.
Each card is assigned with a different action in the game. For example, depending on what card you draw you take a drink, pick someone else to drink, all the men or women drink, or you have to chug. Though there are different rules listed online, and you can make some up yourself, this game is NSFW — or your kids. After playing Kings, you might not remember your tailgate the next day.
7. Louisville Chugger
This game isn’t kid-friendly, but if you have a group of adults who love to drink beer, this game is hilarious. You start by taking a plastic whiffle ball bat and cutting off the end with the handle. Then, you pour in a can or two of beer. Next, you chug the beer from the bat while your friends time how long it takes you to finish.
Once the beer is gone, you put your head on the bat and take as many revolutions around it as it took in seconds for you to finish the beer. For example, if it took you 12 seconds to chug the beer, you take 12 spins around the bat.
Finally, have a friend toss you the empty can so you can attempt to hit it with the bat. Do you score points in this game? No. Is there a winner? No. Basically, the point of this activity is to make everyone laugh as hard as possible.
8. Kan Jam
This ultimate tailgating game requires skill, trash talk, and some athleticism. You need two teams to play and a Kan Jam set that you buy online. The object is to toss a frisbee and either hit or enter the goal. However, unlike cornhole, your teammate can try to redirect your shot to get it into the goal. The first team to get to 21 points is the winner.
You can also make this a drinking game by requiring each player to keep a drink in their hand and then drink the number of seconds that matches the number of points you score after each throw.