Baseball is one of America’s longest pastimes, and here in the Midwest that holds true whether you’re taking in a game at the professional level, amateur, little league, or even in a local softball league. Savoring every last bit of the nice weather we get is also a strong Midwestern pastime, and tailgating is a nice-weather mainstay that’s centered around both baseball and having a good time outside.

For a lot of people that may not find baseball as exciting as others, the fun of the game for them is the tailgate before and even sometimes after a ballgame. That’s why when you’re getting ready to host a tailgate, it’s important to make sure you got all your bases covered in terms of food and fun for everyone.

Must-haves for any tailgate setup

Pop-up tent or canopy

While you won’t see a pop-up tent at every tailgate in the parking lot, it’s a pro move to have one ready to assemble during those warmer days. Having a tent or canopy provides a good spot for those who are wanting to sit back and relax in the shade, away from the sun. Under the canopy is a great spot to take in all the good aromas and tastes that come along with the tailgating experience. Or, if you’re unlucky and it decides to rain during the party, you’ll be protected and kept dry during the rainfall!


As just mentioned, some of your guests at the tailgate will be along for the ride and may not be interested in playing games or standing around and talking shop by the grill. You’ll want to have ample seating available for when it’s time to get off your feet and sit down with your plate full of hot dogs, salads, and snacks. Folding arm chairs are a great, cost-friendly option to have and if you really want to step it up, you can use an anti-gravity chair and save that one for yourself.

Games & activities

Cornhole (or bag toss) is an extremely popular tailgate game to play, that can be easily played by all ages.

Of course, no tailgate is complete without having one of the most iconic tailgating games available to play - cornhole. Whether you call it bag toss or cornhole, we’ve all seen this played by guests of all ages at tailgates and parties, making it a great activity to have available, while being easy and painless to set up. Plus, it’s always fun when that unlikely pairing goes on an unbelievable rally during a game. If you’re not up for cornhole, you could also keep a couple of mitts and a baseball around, for a classic game of catch around the tailgate.

Radio or speakers

A tailgate is essentially a parking lot party, and no party can go on without a little bit of music or entertainment playing. That’s why it’s great to have a radio or some sort of speaker set up, playing some fun music to set the mood during the tailgate. Music is one of those things that can help people settle in and get comfortable, and it helps create fun impromptu karaoke sessions that will have everyone wanting to join in on the song.

Food & drink essentials


The food on the grill is the star of any tailgate, so you'll want to ensure you've got a great grilling setup ready for your party.

Unless you’re planning on preparing everything beforehand and finding a way to keep it all warm and ready, you’ll need to have some sort of grill or griddle to cook up the tasty food. A Table Top Griddle from Blackstone is an awesome option to have onhand, since it’s so portable while having a great amount of space with its 22 inch surface. An option like this one also eliminates the need for charcoal, since it’s powered by propane. This makes cleaning up a bit easier, since you don’t have to worry about disposing of your coals and trying to get your grill to cool down.


An essential part of every tailgate are the beverages! The drinks will no doubt be flowing the entire time, so keeping them cool and refreshing is important, especially on those warmer days. There are a ton of coolers out there to choose from, but any insulated ones will perform the best no matter the weather conditions. These will keep the drinks, food, topping, and any snacks fresh from the time you leave, until after the game. Nobody will say no to a post game hot dog before hitting the road!


The popular main food items you’ll see at tailgates are hot dogs, brats, and burgers. While these are the stars of the show, the side snacks make a big difference as well. Peanuts and sunflower seeds are classic ballgame snacks, and a bag of beef jerky or our very-own Tailgate Trail Mix can make for a great mini-appetizer for people to snack on while waiting for the grilled items to get done. When it comes time to plate your food, potato chips and a salad are a great to have as options to add as a side to the classic burgers and sausages. 

It’s also nice to keep some paper plates, napkins and a trash bag near your food and snack setup. This makes everything easier and more convenient when someone wants to grab something to eat, and when it comes time to clean up.

Team Gear

If you’re heading out to support your favorite team, you’ll of course want to rep your team’s colors! You can keep it simple and stylish with a classic T-shirt and hat, showing your support while staying comfortable at the tailgate and when you head into the stadium to watch the game.

Tailgating is an activity that can be enjoyed at all baseball games big or small, and they’re a great way to spend some time outdoors while sharing good times and good food with those around you. With these tips and tricks, you’ll be hosting the best tailgates all season long, making those baseball games even more fun and enjoyable.