This last weekend Big Ag and I took to the streets for the local gardens tour held in our city. We were out shopping for ideas on our backyard remodel (after lawn removal) and at the last house we went to, boy did we hit pay dirt! A beautiful, drought-tolerant yard filled with interesting plants and hardscape with lots of smaller areas to sit and enjoy nature.
I think that's the solution to having a large yard -- break it into smaller spaces that invite relaxation and an intimacy with the plants and animals who you share space with. You don't need a huge lawn to enjoy your yard unless you have several children under the age of 10, and then I'd say it's probably a necessity for your sanity.
But once the kids are grown and gone, or if you don't intend to have any, there is no reason why your garden space should not be a multipurpose living space where the business of growing food and the hobby of gardening can intersect with relaxation and entertainment beautifully.