Hawkeye Football Game Day Guide: Kinnick with Kids

Football and family are synonymous, right?

In Iowa City, Hawkeye football games offer much more than the stereotypical college experience. There are many options available to keep the family fun going before, during, and after the game.

Grab your favorite black and gold gear and Herky hat, and pocket this guide for a great game day at Kinnick Stadium!

hawkeye football game day guide kinnick kids


Tickets must be in hand for all members of your family, no matter their age – this includes infants. You can purchase youth tickets for a lower price.

Get your tickets through the official University of Iowa Athletics Department online, or in-person including on game day at Kinnick Stadium. (Make sure the game isn’t sold out!) You can also try shopping on your own through Facebook, or reputable ticket websites like StubHub.


Hawkeye Express

Avoid tricky travel and pricy parking near Kinnick Stadium – consider hopping aboard the Hawkeye Express train with the family! Kids ride for free; adults are $15 round-trip. Tickets must be purchased with cash. Parking is free near the train depot, located near Coral Ridge Mall, at 2435 James St., Coralville. Rides to the stadium begin three hours before every kickoff time. The train will return riders during the fourth quarter, and 90 minutes after the game.


Park your car, and then take a complimentary Cambus shuttle. Ramp parking is available in downtown Iowa City or park at Hancher, the Hall of Fame, or the Hawk Lot. To view the Football Shuttle routes and Cambus schedule online, visit www.ebongo.org.

Pregame activities 

Family-Friendly Tailgate

A family-friendly tailgate happens on Krause Family Plaza outside Kinnick Stadium. Enjoy live music, a photo booth, game day giveaways, prizes, and activities. Snag autographs with student athletes and coaches, snap photos with Herky the Hawk, and play in the kid zone. If you arrive early – two hours to be exact – you can even greet the Hawkeye football players during the Hawk Walk.

Marching Band Show

Get in the Hawkeye spirit and take in a live University of Iowa Hawkeye Marching Band show ahead of the game. The show gets underway 1 hour and 15 minutes before kickoff at the Recreation Building, 930 Evashevski Dr. The performance lasts about a half hour.

Snap a photo with Nile

Rub the helmet, and then snap a family selfie in front of the iconic Nile Kinnick statue at the entrance to the stadium. Not only will it be cool for the kids, but it’s a nice souvenir for Mom, too.

Inside the stadium

Hawkeye Warm-up

Avoid the heavy crowds and enter the stadium early to see the team warm-up before the game. The Hawkeye Marching Band will also take the field to get everyone pumped-up!

Chants and cheers

Be sure to practice the Iowa Fight Song and fan favorite cheers like I-O-W-A, the burrito lift, and The Swarm (AKA the team’s entrance onto the field). You’ll also want to participate in college football’s favorite tradition The Wave, and literally turn and wave to kids watching from the University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children’s Hospital, at the end of the first quarter.

Nile Kinnick

Give your kids the low-down on who Nile Kinnick is ahead of your visit. That way they’ll really appreciate his Heisman acceptance speech from 1939, which is played at the start of every game.


In addition to the traditional eats like concession popcorn, pizza, and pretzels, the stadium began offering local flavors like Molly’s Cupcakes, Pancheros chips and queso, and 30Hop hotdogs beginning in 2016.

New North End Zone

Construction has been underway at Kinnick Stadium, and is ready for the 2019 football season! Be sure to swing by the new North End Zone and see the revitalized stadium. The project, called Kinnick Edge, created an upper and lower general admission area, two new concourses, and a premium club level. This includes expanded restrooms and concession facilities. Learn more by visiting the Kinnick Edge website

Stadium accommodations


The stadium offers several family friendly accommodations, including a lactation space for nursing mothers and family restrooms.

Allowed items

Diaper bags and breast pump bags are allowed, but are subject to search. The same goes for clear totes, one-gallon Ziploc bags, and clutches. A non-flavored, sealed water bottle (one per-person) is also admissible, in addition to seat cushions (with no back-support) and blankets.

Prohibited items

No strollers, umbrellas, noisemakers, footballs, or banners/signs are allowed.

Final thoughts

Don’t forget to pack your patience. There will be traffic and crowds (and some obnoxious, irresponsible fans) no matter how well you plan. Relax, take many photos, and enjoy the day making memories with your family.

For more Iowa Football game day info, visit footballgameday.hawkeyesports.com.

For more festive fun and seasonal events, check out our Ultimate Guide to Fall in Iowa City

Kids at Kinnick Event

If the gameday experience isn’t for you, consider attending “Kids at Kinnick,” a practice game that is open to fans and families before the first official game each season. The 2019 event will be held Saturday, Aug. 10. This free, family event offers a chance for kids to bring home autographs from their favorite players, take a sneak peek at the team, and enjoy discouted consession snacks. 

The fun begins at 9 a.m. outside the stadium with inflatables, face painting, and photos with Herky, followed by the practice at noon. Parking is free on hard-surface lots. If you miss this year’s, keep an eye on the website next season. It is held each year! 

Go Hawks!


Katie is a spouse, mother, and professional communicator. She became acquainted with Iowa City as a student at the University of Iowa, earning degrees in Journalism, Political Science, and most recently her MA in Strategic Communication. Katie and her husband met and fell in love in Iowa City, deciding to never leave. Their family can often be found eating their way through downtown, walking their dog in City Park, or cheering on their beloved Hawkeyes at live sporting events.


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