Fun outdoor games are trending in family resorts, restaurants with outdoor spaces, and backyards. These games provide fun family bonding time and keep the kids occupied during playdates.
It doesn’t matter how old you are. If you have space, fill it with an outdoor game or two from this list. They’ll come in handy at birthday parties, outdoor barbecues with friends, and every day because they encourage people to mix and mingle. Perhaps you’ll soak up some sunshine and also get some exercise, too, depending on which games you choose for outdoor play.
See also: Best Travel Games for Kids
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As seen on Shark Tank, Spikeball is played in backyards, on college campuses, and at tailgates. Spikeball is a little bit like volleyball and enjoyed by kids, teens, and adults. Players can be as competitive as they like. My daughter’s P.E. class even played this outdoor game at school because it’s fantastic exercise and fun.
Two teams of two people can play. Basically, one person from a team throws a rubber ball on a net. The other team has three alternating touches to get the ball back on to the net. Yes, it’s a little like bump, set, spike in volleyball. This is one of the yard games that is portable and comes with its own bag to transport and store the equipment. You can also find organized Spikeball tournaments near you.
Cornhole is popular with people of all ages, even though it can be far harder to play than it looks. That’s part of its allure. You’ll try to toss bean bags from afar through a hole in a slightly elevated board. Adults tend to love it as much as the kids do.
You can even find cornhole boards with favorite college or football team logos in addition to sets made from weatherproof plastic. It is the ultimate party outdoor game, and this one happens to be portable with a carrying case should your summer days involve the beach or park.
Kan Jam is a perfect game to play with friends at the beach or with the family in the backyard. To play, you’ll form two teams of two players. One player tries to toss a Frisbee (or the generic, “flying disc”) into a can from 17′ away while the opponent tries to deflect it. You’ll receive points for hitting the can, too.
Ladder Toss is a classic tailgate and beach game because it’s portable and comes with a carrying case. Players throw bolos at target ladder rungs that are different colors. The score is calculated based on which and how many rungs you snag. This yard game is also called ladder golf or bolo toss.
Most everyone who grew up decades ago probably played horseshoes as a kid with those heavy, metal horseshoes that today would cause parents to recoil in horror at the potential danger of injury and/or property damage. But with the modern, rubber version, you can still enjoy the classic, family-oriented beach or lawn game without the crazy 1970s-era dangers.
You’ll place the rubber discs with stakes about 40′ apart. All you need to do is toss the horseshoe onto the pole, which is of course harder and more fun than it looks. You’ll receive points for reaching various distances from the stake, if the horseshoe leans against the pole, or if you score a ringer.
Outdoor ring toss games are usually rather compact for easy storage. They’re great for improving hand-eye coordination, so it’s one of the beneficial outside activities for kids of all ages, but particularly those who are toddler to elementary school-aged.
The ring toss game is even more fun when purchased with matching color cones to make a complete game set. Playing is simple. Toss the ring on to the cone or target, which could be something as simple as cardboard squares or targets drawn on the ground with sidewalk chalk. The player with the most rings on the target wins.
Chess and Checkers
If you have a checkered mat, both outdoor chess and outdoor checkers, bring favorite board games outside. A variety of mat options exist, including nylon boards that roll up for storage.
Or, opt for interlocking plastic tiles that are raised above the ground to prevent water from becoming trapped underneath the board.
Choose a mat and then buy the pieces separately. Chess pieces come in a variety of heights, too, so if you’d like a giant outdoor game, they have pieces that are nearly 3′ tall.
Like outdoor chess and checkers, younger children may also enjoy passing the time with Giant Outdoor Tic-Tac-Toe. Nearly everyone already knows how to play. It’s also easy to DIY it by using sidewalk chalk to draw out the squares and finding ten playing pieces (that don’t necessarily have to be x’s and o’s).
Giant Connect Four
If you’re looking for giant outdoor games, outdoor Connect Four is way more fun than the original indoor game. We have played this multiple times at resorts. The pieces are stored on the posts and release from the bottom of the board after a game with ease.
It’s one of the popular outside games for groups and parties because pretty much everyone knows how to play. Basically, each player takes a turn sliding a ring into the game board. The goal is to try to get four in a row vertically, horizontally, or diagonally while preventing the other players from doing the same.
The cool thing about a giant Jenga game (also called tumbling blocks) is that it can accommodate multiple players. Each person takes turns carefully removing wood blocks until the entire tower comes tumbling down. The last person to remove the fatal block loses.
Special tumbling block game tables can be purchased to keep the game at eye level. While wooden blocks are sturdier and more typical, I have seen this giant outdoor game come in a plastic version lately. However, a lot of the fun is listening to the blocks come tumbling down when someone loses.
Sand bocce ball courts are also currently popular in landscape design. While you could go with a permanent bocce ball court, is also one of the best lawn games.
You can buy a bocce ball set in a carrying case and take the game to your favorite lawn, whether it’s yours or a beach or park. You’ll need two teams, but they can be one player each or up to four players each. The game is played in a space that’s typically 13×90′ in size with eight balls and a smaller target. The rules are a little complex, but in a nutshell, players roll balls underhand to reach the target.
Take bowling to a new level by rolling or kicking an over-sized ball during lawn games of inflatable bowling. The enormous ball knocks over equally enormous pins. It deflates for easy storage and is one of the outdoor activities that is both a fun game and great exercise. Like regular bowling, the player who knocks over the most pins wins. Kids love this.
The base of this tetherball set is surprisingly stable (my daughter has it) and resistant to tipping. This outdoor game can be moved around the yard and we’ve gotten our money’s worth.
The sturdy base makes it so that there’s no need to have an in-ground pole hole. Two players are needed as they compete to wrap the ball around the pole in their direction.
The classic game of croquet one of the most popular yard games. You’ll need a good-sized lawn for this, but croquet is an awesome way to engage multiple ages as players try their best to hit the ball with a mallet through various hoops in order to win.
Outdoor badminton is great fun for the whole family, and maybe a little competitive, either in your backyard or at the beach. A portable outdoor badminton set that includes equipment from the net and poles to the birdies and rackets can make this happen easily and inexpensively.
Lawn darts are a more compact version of a bean bag toss. Jarts are lawn darts, too. This game is similar to a bean bag toss game in that you’re trying to toss the dart into a circle placed about 35′ apart. Of course, if you’re playing with children you can put the circles closer together.
Be mindful that older versions of Jarts have metal points that aren’t ideal for young kids.
Giant Wooden Yard Dice
Giant Wooden Yard Dice allow you to play your favorite dice games in your backyard in a funny, novel way. It’s one of the excellent outdoor games for families.
Or, you can spice up any regular board game that requires dice by rolling giant dice instead of regular dice. The sky is the limit but this game comes with laminated yardzee and yard farkle cards.
You probably played kickball in elementary school as a kid. If you have a backyard big (and flat) enough or are at a stretch of beach with few other people, you may enjoy playing kickball again with your whole family. It’s a ball game similar to baseball—except the ball is kicked rather than thrown—and the bases are included with the set.
Flickin’ Chicken is a top pick for outdoor games for kids. The name, contents of four rubber chickens, a target disc, and a scorepad pretty much explain how the game works. Little ones usually think tossing a rubber chicken is hysterical, but so will the whole family.
A classic outdoor game in my husband’s mind, Trackball is great to play in a grassy backyard or especially at the beach whether you’re a kid or an adult.
Each player holds a scoop-like Trackball racket, which is a little reminiscent of Jai alai. One player places the light hollow plastic ball in the scoop racket and tosses it to the other player standing many yards away. The scoop-like racket and the hollow plastic ball enable players of all ages to toss the ball far further than they might expect while also making the ball easier to catch.
When the ball is tossed long distances, the way it can sway in the air with the wind may send you diving to the ground trying to catch it.
What are your favorite outdoor games for kids and adults?
Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).
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