7 Game-Changing Tips for a Fantastic Tailgate Experience With Kids


Cooler Weather Means Football and Tailgating Parties

I love that fall is just around the corner. The changing leaves, the smell of bonfires in the air, back-to-school sales, cooler temperatures, and, of course – going to football games!

One of the best parts of football season is tailgating. It’s always been a time for us adults to gather with friends, cheer on our favorite team, and catch up on each other’s lives.

Now that we’re parents, tailgating has transformed into family get-togethers, where our children get the chance to connect with our friends’ children.

Tailgating with kids in tow can be tricky, but not impossible. The memories we make are priceless.

Like almost all activities with kids, tailgating as a family means packing and planning differently. Never fear! Our team at Lansing Family Fun has gathered some great tips for making tailgating with kids fun for everyone.


7 Tips for Tailgating with Kids

Tailgating isn’t just for adults. Kids love tailgating, too! Check out our tips for how to enjoy tailgating with your kids in tow, from extra clothes to separate coolers.

1.   Be Prepared for Messes & Accidents

Pack extra outfits (including socks and underwear), for all the kids. No one wants to watch a game in wet clothes from a spilled can of pop or a last second jump in a mud puddle.

Don’t forget wipes, hand sanitizer, bandages, and tissues. Even if you don’t have kids in diapers anymore, baby wipes are great for sticky messes.


2.   Wear the Proper Gear

Show everyone who you’re rooting for by dressing in your team’s gear or colors. Get some pom poms, hats, or hair accessories if your kids won’t cooperate with clothing.

Since we live in fickle Michigan, check the weather. It can be cool in the morning and warmer in the afternoon, so dress in layers including short sleeves, sweatshirts, jackets, and raincoats. Later into football season, you might even need to break out some winter gear.


3.   The Tailgate Location is Key – 4 Secrets to the perfect spot:

– Arrive early: Tailgating at MSU starts 5 hours before kick-off and cars will be lined up. The earlier you arrive, the better spot you will secure.

– Plan to Walk: Walking and tailgating go hand-in-hand! You’ll most likely have to park farther away from the heart of the action if you want to avoid high parking fees. Plan accordingly with comfortable sneakers and a light load if you can. Keep in mind that you might have to walk all the way back to your vehicle to drop off any belongings if you plan to attend the game.

– Create a Safe Boundary: When you bring children along for a tailgate, we recommend finding a spot away from traffic so everyone can stay safe.

If you have little ones, investing in one of the hexagon gate systems can help create a safe place place to play. Rearranging tables and setting up a pop-up tent can double as a blockade and shelter from bad weather.

– Bathrooms: Oh, the number of portable toilets I’ve seen! If you can, the very best tailgate spots are near some sort of bathroom. This typically equates to portable potties, but if you’re very lucky you’ll find a building on campus with its doors unlocked. Kids need to go A LOT, so scope out your options as soon as you arrive. Don’t forget those wipes or hand sanitizer.


4. Bring Food and Drinks for All Ages

While kids are usually happy with traditional tailgating food like hamburgers and hot dogs, everyone will be happier if no one is whining about the food options.

If you’re tailgating with friends, coordinate the food plan in advance. Everyone’s load will be lighter if you make sure there are no duplicates. Facebook groups or event pages are great for planning who will be in charge of certain tasks.


Put kids’ drinks in a separate cooler.  I’ve made the mistake of letting my kids rummage through the drink cooler only to find them with a can of beer in the their hands. To avoid beverage mishaps and to keep the kids hydrated, pack them up their own fun cooler with waters, juices boxes, sports drinks, or whatever will help get you through a long day.

5.   Bring Entertainment for the Kids

While the adults are chatting, don’t forget that the kids will want something fun to keep them entertained. Bring some traditional yard games for the kids like corn hole, ladder ball, and can jam.

Other fun activities include Twister, coloring books and crayons (you might even be able to find coloring pages for your team online), bubbles, and sidewalk chalk. I even saw an idea of a little “spa day” for kids, doing nails and styling hair.

Leave activities with little pieces like LEGOSⓇ at home as they might get lost in the grass or parking lot.

6.   Don’t Forget Your Radio or TV

Not actually attending the game? Bring along a radio or a portable TV to watch or listen to the game from your tailgate area while the kids keep playing (or napping).

To avoid traffic and crowds, you might like to purposefully linger awhile to let the area clear out before making the trek back to the car.

If you decide to watch the game in person, be ready to leave the game early since the kids might get bored or the stadium might be too loud or overwhelming for them.


7.   Research Ahead of Time

Do some investigating to see if there are any fun events going on before the game starts. You may be able to meet and get a picture with the team mascot, marching band, or cheerleaders.

If you plan to go into the stadium, make sure you have read and understand the stadium’s bag policy. MSU and U of M both have a strict no bags policy.

Diapers and a few other necessary items can usually be put into a clear gallon-sized bag.

If you’re like me and your child needs to travel with emergency medications such as Epi-Pens or inhalers, stadiums typically allow you to enter through the medical entrance to get your items approved and tagged without any hassle.


Above all else, enjoy the time with your family. You are making great memories!

Do you have other tips for tailgating with kids? Let us know in the comments below!

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