Outdoor family games can get everyone from toddlers to grandparents outside together. From DIY games for families to classic backyard games that stand the test of time, these activities can brighten up any day spent outside in the sun with family members.
The best game ideas will be the ones your family likes most; they'll not only get them outside having fun, but they might just make some lasting memories too.
Classic Family Outdoor Games
Chances are you have heard of all these classic outdoor games and you've probably played them before. From safe outdoor school games for kids to outdoor games for teens and even outdoor games for seniors, you can adapt almost any outside game to make it family-friendly.
Whether you have a basketball hoop in your backyard or you visit a local court that is open to the public, shooting hoops is a great way to spend time with your family outdoors. You can hold a pickup game with three to five players per team, or play a game of HORSE with two or more players.
Throwing a frisbee is something that you and your family can enjoy anywhere there's open space. To play frisbee golf, you take turns choosing "holes," which are objects you have to hit with the frisbee. You keep score by counting your number of throws per "hole."
If you're lucky, you can find an actual frisbee golf course in your area - many cities now offer them in local parks. For relaxed summer fun for the family, try morning or evening hours when the weather is cooler.
Playing hacky sack is a fun outdoor activity that children, teens, and grown-ups can enjoy together. Basically, everyone stands in a circle and takes turns gently kicking a hacky sack to each other. The goal is to keep the sack off the ground. You can use other body parts besides your feet to keep the sack in play, just not your hands.
When playing this game outdoors, be sure that youngsters know the boundaries and establish a signal that means "game over, come out of hiding." If very young children are playing, pair them with adults to ensure their safety. There are many varieties of hide-and-seek you can try:
- Sardines: When you find someone, they join you in searching for the others, but you have to stay together.
- Ghost in the Graveyard: You usually play this at night when it's dark. The ghost hides, and when you find the ghost, you yell, "Ghost in the graveyard!" The ghost tries to tag the other players before they reach the base.
- Flashlight Hide-and-Seek: The person who is "it" has to shine a flashlight on a person to officially "find" them. This is also usually played in the dark.
This is another fantastic outdoor family game that requires minimal materials. Parents can either buy wooden lawn pins or they can make their own using water bottles and either sand or water!
If you DIY, fill the bottles one third to one half of the way, depending on the age of the players - heavier pins for older players and lighter pins for younger players.
Holding a jump rope competition is another classic outdoor activity that children and adults can enjoy together. You can try some double dutch games or rhymes to see how long each player jumps without messing up, while two other people hold the ends of the rope and swing it.
Every 90s kid relished in a good old fashioned Nerf war! Don't let this classic game go out of style - grab your guns, select your teams, and see who is left standing at the end of battle!
Whether you have a swimming pool in your own backyard or choose to visit a public pool, playing Marco Polo is an exciting family water activity. In this game, one person closes their eyes and tries to find the others by saying, "Marco." The others must respond by saying "Polo," and the tagger follows their voices to tag them.
You can play a variation of this game without water by setting backyard boundaries and walking around.
Hula Hoop Contest
Hula hoops are cheap and easy items to score at most local stores. Grab a few and challenge your family to a hoop-off. Start a timer and get hula-ing. Record the time at which the hoop finally falls to the ground for each person. The family member who keeps the hula hoop moving the longest wins.
You can put together a friendly-family game of tag in your own backyard or in any other location where there's room to run. The main goal of tag is for one chosen tagger to touch all the other players until only the winner is left untouched. There are endless varieties of tag you can try, such as:
- Freeze Tag: When a person is tagged, they must freeze in place. To get unfrozen, they have to be tagged by another player.
- Tunnel Tag: When you are tagged, you stand still with your legs apart. Another player can crawl between your legs to free you.
- Everyone's It Tag: Everybody in the game is "it" and tries to tag others below the knee. If you get tagged, you sit out until the person who tagged you gets out. Then, you're back in the game.
While some outdoor game equipment requires a large yard, it's possible to install a tetherball pole in even tiny areas. Tetherball is made from a ball, like a volleyball, tied to a rope that's tied to a pole.
Players stand on opposite sides of the pole and hit the ball to each other. The goal is to hit the ball so that the rope wraps all the way around the pole.
Family Tennis Match
Playing tennis is a wonderful outdoor activity for families of all sizes, as it is possible to play with as few as two people, or as many as eight. You'll need tennis rackets, balls, and a court to play on. Your local school, fitness center, or park may have public tennis courts you can use.
If you have never been axe throwing, then you're missing out on a thrilling sport! Parents can buy an affordable plastic axe throwing set or they can create the real deal, IF their kids are responsible enough to handle sharp objects. Set your aim and see who is the sharp shooter in the family!
This game is best for older kids and adults and should only be done under close supervision. Parents should always set a clear "DO NOT CROSS" line that players stay behind during play. Only after all axes are thrown should players cross the line to retrieve their weapons. Setting strict rules is crucial for safety in this fun outdoor family game.
DIY Outside Family Games
Anyone can make creative DIY outdoor games for kids or turn DIY backyard party games for adults into family games with a little imagination and work. Think about ways you could transform your favorite indoor games into outdoor games as well. Giant board games are especially trendy and there are plenty of online tutorials for making them!
Homemade Hopscotch Match
If you have a sidewalk or concrete patio, all you need to get a game of hopscotch started is some chalk or painter's taper. You'll need to draw a long series of squares that connect to each other. You can have one square followed by two squares centered on the first square, but you never draw more than two squares side-by-side.
Add a number to each square in order, starting with one. Take turns tossing a rock at the hopscotch game; then, you have to hop on one foot for single squares and two feet for double squares until you get to where your rock landed.
Homemade Four Square
Four square is a fun group game that's easy to make on your driveway or flat patio. You can use chalk or tape to make the giant square that is split into four equal squares. You use one ball, like a kickball, for the game.
Players take turns hitting the ball to each other while staying inside the four squares. When someone gets out, they leave their square, everyone rotates, and a new player enters the game.
Homemade Horseshoe Match
It only takes a few minutes to set up a game of horseshoes in your backyard. You can buy plastic or metal horseshoe sets, or you can make your own.
You'll need two strong stakes placed anywhere from 20 to 40 feet directly across from each other. When you put the stakes in the ground, about 20 inches should stick up. Teams take turns tossing horseshoes at the stakes.
DIY Miniature Golf
While you can visit a miniature golf course to play this game, you can also create a simple version in your backyard. Use plastic cups placed on their sides to create the "holes." Keep the cups in place by driving a nail through the side of the cup that's touching the ground into the soil.
Grab some toy golf clubs, real golf clubs, or even hockey sticks, and try to hit small balls into the cups. The player with the lowest number of strokes wins.
DIY Giant Jenga
Jenga is a wooden board game where small wooden blocks are stacked, and you try to remove them without knocking over the stack. To create your own Jenga set, cut 54 blocks from 2 x 4 wooden boards. Each piece will be about 10.5 inches long. Stack the blocks on the ground in rows of three, alternating which direction the blocks face on each layer.
DIY Outdoor Pictionary
Take your Pictionary board game outside and use chalk to play. You can draw out the game board on your driveway, patio, or sidewalk and use natural items like rocks as game pieces. Players can use the chalk to draw out their clues and erase them with water when they're done.
DIY Giant Pick Up Sticks
Use long, thin wooden dowels to make your own version of the board game Pick Up Sticks. You should paint an equal number of sticks in five different colors.
To play, drop all the sticks in a pile. On a turn, you try to pick up any stick without moving any of the other sticks. If you succeed, you keep the stick and go again. If you fail, your turn is over. The player with the most sticks at the end is the winner.
DIY Bean Bag Toss
This game incorporates hand-eye coordination with math skills. Set up five plastic bowls in front of the person tossing. The closest bowl should be labeled with a low number, one for young kids and 25 for older children.
Continue labeling bowls with higher numbers, moving them further away from the bean bag tosser. Create bean bags or find small items to toss into the bowls. Have kids keep track of their numbers and add them up to see who wins.
DIY Frisbee Tic-Tac-Toe
It's easy to make a giant tic-tac-toe board on a hard surface with chalk or painter's tape. You could also use a marker to draw the grid on a big sheet that you can set in the yard or spray paint the board on your lawn.
Use frisbees as your game pieces. Using marker or tape, make "x's" and "o's" on the frisbees. Players will take turns tossing frisbees onto the tic-tac-toe grid with the hope of getting three squares in a row.
DIY Backyard Checkers
You can make a homemade Checkers board in your backyard using a tablecloth and some paper plates, chalk, and stones, or even spray paint and frisbees. All you need is an 8 x 8 grid using two alternating colors and 12 checkers of each color.
DIY Giant Lawn Dominoes
Recreate dominoes for outdoor play by making rectangles out of wood or cardboard. Check out a standard domino set to see how many pieces you should make and how many dots need to go on each piece. Players will take turns attaching their dominoes to other dominoes in the playing area by matching the number of dots.
DIY Backyard Scrabble
You can use square wood tiles, ceramic tiles, or cardboard squares to make your own outdoor Scrabble game. There are 100 tiles in a game of Scrabble, and each features a letter of the alphabet. Players will take turns spelling words on the lawn using their letter tiles. You can even print out Scrabble score sheets to help you keep score.
DIY Backyard Twister
Apply chalk to your driveway or spray paint in your yard to create a giant outdoor Twister board. You'll need to create a 4 x 6 grid of circles. Each row of six should be a different color.
You can recreate the spinner on a piece of cardboard. Players have to place their hands and feet wherever the spinner says while trying not to fall on the ground.
DIY Hook and Ring
Hook and Ring is simple to play and easy to create anywhere. You need a space where you can anchor a hook to a tree or the wall of something. Then you need to attach a long piece of twine with a ring at the end above the hook (by several feet) or to the ceiling in between the hook and starting spot.
The game's goal is to pull the string and ring back and let it glide over to the hook, getting both to connect. It is harder than it looks to master this seemingly easy task, and so much fun to try repeatedly.
Homemade Ring Toss
All you need to create this classic carnival game in your own yard are some bottles, a ring, and good hand-eye coordination. Weigh plastic bottles down by filling them with water, gravel, or sand. A pool ring will work just fine for the object that gets tossed. Draw a line to stand on and see who rings the most bottles.
DIY Giant Kerplunk
Kerplunk is an old kid's board game making a comeback thanks to the DIY giant versions. You'll need some wood, chicken wire, wooden dowels, and plastic balls to make this homemade backyard game. Players will take turns pulling out dowels while trying not to let any of the balls drop.
Outdoor Games for Family Gatherings
When holding a large family gathering with members from several generations, a game of red rover might be the perfect activity. You'll need two large teams of people who are standing side-by-side in line and holding hands. The teams stand facing each other with about 20 feet between them.
One person at a time tries to break through the other team's human chain. Just be careful not to clothesline Granny and send her flying!
There is truly nothing funnier than watching Uncle Pete and Aunt Martha try to hustle down the lawn wheelbarrow style. This classic game is perfect for family reunions. Silly races like these tend to bring out people's competitive sides. Here's to hoping the only injury anyone suffers from this game is pulled muscles from laughing.
Holding an old-fashioned sack race is a great way to have some outdoor family fun with your loved ones. You can use burlap sacks or pillowcases for the race. Make a starting line and a finish line. Players will stand in the sack and hop from the starting line to the finish line.
When it comes time to gather the masses, consider setting up a fun DIY obstacle course for family members to try to conquer. Time each participant as they move at lightning speed through the funny and challenging parts of the course. Think about passing out a trophy to the family member with the best time.
Scavenger hunts are fun for people of all ages and are an excellent activity to incorporate into a family gathering. Set up clues throughout your neighborhood or property and break the family up into pairs, teams, or take the game on individually. See who solves all the riddles fastest.
Family Reunion Talent Show
Why not hold a talent show in your backyard? Give everyone time to think up their talent and practice their routine. Use a deck space as a stage or create a makeshift one out in your yard. Set up chairs and see who really got all the talent genes in the family.
Egg or Water Balloon Race
An egg or water balloon race is certainly something that most people will want to keep outdoors. All you need is a steady hand, a couple of eggs that you can part with (or water balloons), and spoons (small ones for eggs or ladle sized ones for water balloons).
Split the family members up into two teams and see which team can move their egg or water balloon across the finish line in a relay race style format. The winning team gets bragging rights for the remainder of the evening!
Classic Dice Games
Ever wonder why chess in the park is so popular? Make a habit of bringing game night outdoors! Dice games like Yahtzee and Farkle are always fun, but they are even better when they are bigger! Parents can buy giant dice or make their own and play these games on a bigger playing surface!
Bike and Scooter Races
Time to figure out who is the fastest in the family! Grab the bicycles, tricycles, scooters, and any other human-powered vehicles and see who can make it to the finish line first! Designate a starting point and finish line and let the races begin!
If you have an array of ages in your family races, either group people by age or give the littler racers an advantage and scoot their starting point to the halfway mark.
Outdoor Games for Large Families
There are so many creative and interesting games for children to play outdoors with their large families. Bigger groupings sometimes take more thought and planning, but there is no reason that any of these outdoor activities won't keep your big brood busy for hours.
Playing kickball as a family is a spectacular way to increase coordination, get some exercise, and practice teamwork. If you have four bases, plenty of players, and a kickball, then you can create a game of kickball. Game play is similar to baseball, only players kick the ball instead of hitting it with a bat.
Large groups can play a safer form of football by using two hands to touch the person holding the football rather than tackling them. If you have a flag football set or even bandanas, you can also play flag football. Teams take turns trying to get the ball into their end zone. This game is a great addition to fall family fun.
If you have room to install a net in your backyard, playing volleyball is a good outdoor activity for family gatherings. You can use a badminton net or make a net by hanging a string between two trees or poles. You might even find a volleyball court at your local beach to use.
Baseball is another simple game that requires a lot of players. You'll need four bases, a bat, and a ball to play. If you're playing with younger kids, consider using plastic bats and balls. Split your group into two teams and take turns hitting the ball with your bat, then running the bases.
Tug of War
If you're looking for a fun outdoor game for a large family gathering full of competitive members, tug-of-war might be a perfect choice. Each large team stands one behind the other, holding one end of a rope. Teams work together to pull on their end of the rope and try to get the first person on the other team across the centerline.
All you really need is a ball to play soccer in your backyard or a local park. You can purchase portable goals to set up or designate goals using natural objects, like the area between two trees. You'll want at least three players on each team, so you have one goalie and two active players. Feel free to make up your own version of the rules if you've got a smaller group.
Capture the Flag
This is another fun backyard family game that can also be played at a park! You need two teams to play this giant game of tag. Each team will hide a flag, then try to steal the other team's flag. Players who get tagged by the other team go to "jail" and can only get out if they're tagged by a player who's still in the game.
Get Outside and Get Moving
These are only a few of the many fun games that families can enjoy in the great outdoors. With so many options for outdoor activities, there's no reason to stay inside when the weather is agreeable.
Families can also enjoy summer evenings by bringing some family night activities outdoors. Get off the sofa and step away from the hand-held video games or cell phones. Spend an afternoon engaged in a little friendly competition with the people you love the most!