Best Tailgate Games

The Best Tailgate Games

A tailgate is pretty much just a big parking lot party. Every party needs some party games, and tailgates are no exception. At every tailgate you go to there should be at least one game. These games are a staple of every tailgate. They give you something to do while you kickback and hang out before the big game. Don’t show up to your next tailgate unprepared. You will definitely want to bring at least one game along with you. We’ll take a look at some of the most popular tailgate games to give you some ideas for what you can bring to your next tailgate.


One of the most popular tailgate games, if not the most popular, is Cornhole. You will undoubtedly see more than a few groups at any tailgate playing Cornhole. Cornhole is so popular that there is even a professional league for it — the American Cornhole League. You cannot go wrong with bringing Cornhole to your next tailgate. It’s a game everyone will love! Cornhole is also great for large groups because you can do teams of two and do it tournament style.

If you’ve never played before, it’s incredibly simple. It is usually played in teams of two but you can modify the rules as needed if you want to just play with two people. You start by setting up the Cornhole boards about 27 feet apart, facing each other. One person from each team lines up on opposite sides, facing each other. You start with all eight bags on one side (four bags per team) and flip a coin to decide who will go first. The side that goes first will alternate tossing the bags onto the other Cornhole board until all eight bags have been tossed to the other side.

If the bag lands on the board, it is one point. If it lands in the hole, it is three points. Whichever teams gets to 21 points first wins. These aren’t set in stone rules of course. I encourage you to make your own rules and play with whatever rules you think are most fun. Who doesn’t have their own set of house rules?

Ladder Golf

Ladder golf is another one of my favorites. It is also great for large groups because the games are quick and incredibly easy to play. This game is pretty basic so it is a great game if you have younger kids there too. There a few different names for Ladder Golf, such as: Ladder Toss, Ladder Ball, and Hillbilly Golf.

Fun fact about Ladder Golf: The things that you throw at the ladder are called bolas.

You can play Ladder Golf however you prefer, but it is usually in either teams of one or two. The rules are really straight forward. You want to set your ladders up about 15 feet part. If you want a challenge you can go further back. Teams then take turns throwing their bolas. If you wrap your bola around the top step, it is worth three points. Wrapping it around the middle step is worth two points, and wrapping it around the bottom step is worth one point. The first team to reach exactly 21 points wins.


Horseshoes is a great game for tailgates because it is really laid-back and easy to play. Obviously you can’t make your own horseshoe pit, but you can bring a horseshoe pit set with you. It is pretty basic. All you need is four horseshoes and two stakes to play.

The stakes are usually set about 40 feet apart, but you can adapt this to however much space you have available. The game is usually played with teams of one but can absolutely be played with teams of two. Each team takes turns throwing their horseshoes at the stake on the other end trying to get it to encircle the stake. This known as a “ringer” and is worth three points. Anything within six inches of the stake is worth one point. Games can be played to any number of points, but are usually played to 21.

Beer Pong

For the 21 and up crowd, you cannot go wrong with beer pong. This is more popular at college football games and is always a fun time. I mean what college party doesn’t have beer pong? The only tough part about playing beer pong at a tailgate is that the ball is going to get really dirty. It will get dirty to the point where the water cup won’t be of much help. If that becomes a problem, you can always just fill up the cups with water and drink beer on the side.

There are a million different ways to play beer pong. It’s almost not worth it to mention the rules because everyone has their own house rules. That is part of what makes beer pong so much fun! If you have a bad shot feel free to bend the rules in your favor a little bit with a last second rule addition because you’ve “always played that way”.

The game is usually set up with 10 cups per side in a 4-3-2-1 formation. Teams shoot to see who goes first. Then from there it is all up to you how you want to play. Some of my favorite rule variations include “balls back”, “solo”, and bounce shots count as two cups. Those are just some of the rules I play with but again, feel free to use your own set of rules. That is part of what makes beer pong one of the best tailgate games!


As far as tailgate games go, KanJam is probably the most competitive. KanJam is a game that people of all ages will like. If you are going to play KanJam at your next tailgate, you’re going to need enough people to play in teams of two and a good amount of space.

To start, you set the cans up about 50 feet apart from each other with your partner across from you on the opposite side for each team. You can have two sets of cans or just have both teams share one set of cans. It does not really make a big difference. One partner throws the disc like a Frisbee down to the other end towards their partner. If you or your partner deflects the disc and it hits the can, that is worth one point. Hitting the can without your partner touching it is worth two points. If your partner deflects the disc and it goes into the can you get three points. The game is over instantly if you are able to throw directly into the slot in the middle of the can.

KanJam is played until 21, but you have to score exactly 21 points. For example, if you have 19 points and then score a three-point shot, it would not count. You would have to score either a two-point shot or two one-point shots.

Flip Cup

Right behind beer pong, this is probably the second most popular game to play at any college party. Same goes for drinking games at a tailgate. Flip cup is slightly more competitive than beer pong and a ton of fun. Flip cup games are also really fast paced. This game is also great for large groups because you can play ten+ people at once.

I’m sure you’ve heard of flip before or even played it yourself, but if you haven’t, here are the basics. Each team lines up on side of a table (the long way), facing each other. You count down from three and then the first person on each team drinks from their cup. As soon as they finish their cup they place it down on the edge of the table and try to flip it upside down. Once they finish, the next person on their team goes. The first team to have everyone on the team finish and flip cups wins.

Classic Catch

Sometimes you don’t even need a game to have a good time at a tailgate. When tailgating at a football game, you can’t go wrong with just tossing the pigskin around. Playing catch is a classic and something that almost everyone is going to do when tailgating at a football game. It is really laid back and something you can do while grilling up some burgers.

There are no rules to throwing the football around and the right way to do it. That is the joy of it. Just toss it around and let the good times roll. You are there to relax and have a good time. I can’t think of a better way to do that than football, grilling, and drinking.

Hopefully this list helped you if you are looking for some games to play at your next tailgate. Just remember to change the rules up to make it more fun for you. If you found this article helpful, be sure to check out our tailgating section!

Sam Rebinskas

Sam is the co-founder of Improve Your Gameday and loves all Boston sports teams.

Recent Content