Outdoor family games get everyone from toddlers to grandparents outside together. The best outdoor family games are the ones your family likes most. From DIY outdoor games for families to backyard games you buy, these activities can brighten up any day spent outside with family members.
Classic Family Outdoor Games
Chances are you heard of all these classic outdoor games and probably played them before. From safe outdoor school games for kids to outdoor games for teens and 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 3-5 players per team or play a game of HORSE with two or more players.
All you really need is a ball to play soccer in your backyard or at a local park. You can purchase portable goals to set up or simply 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. However, you can make up your own rules if you've got a smaller group.
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.
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.
Hide and Seek
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 including:
- 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!" and 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 usually played in the dark.
Capture the Flag
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.
Holding a jump rope competition is a great 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. You could also make an obstacle course players need to jump rope through.
Whether you have a swimming pool in your own backyard or if you visit a swim club or public pool to enjoy some time splashing around, playing Marco Polo is a great family water game. 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 this without water be setting backyard boundaries and walking around.
You can put together a friendly family game of tag in your own back yard, 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 very small areas. Tetherball is made from a ball, like a volleyball, tied to a rope that's tied to a pole. Player's 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 great 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. Your local school, fitness center, or park may have public tennis courts you can use.
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 turn your favorite indoor games into outdoor games. Giant board games are especially trendy, so 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. 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 Horseshoes 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 and into the ground. 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, cut 54 pieces 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 equal numbers of sticks in each of five different colors. All the sticks get dropped 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 Frisbee Tic-Tac-Toe
It's easy to make a giant tic-tac-toe board on a hard surface with chalk or even jump ropes. You could also use a marker to draw the grid on a big sheet you can set in the yard or spray paint the board on your lawn. Use frisbees as your game pieces. Each player can use all one color frisbee or you can make an "X" or an "O" out of tape on your frisbees. Players will take turns tossing frisbees onto the 3 by 3 grid to get them on three squares in a row.
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 you should make and how many dots to put on each. Players will take turns attaching their dominoes to other dominoes in the playing area by matching the number of dots.
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 are an 8 x 8 grid using two alternating colors and 12 checkers of each color.
DIY Backyard Scrabble
You can use square wood tiles, ceramic tiles, or squares of cardboard 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
You can use chalk on 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 6 should be a different color. You can recreate the spinner on a piece of cardboard. Player have to place their hands and feet wherever the spinner says while trying not to fall on the ground.
DIY Giant Kerplunk
Kerplunk is an old kid's board game that is 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
You can use backyard party game ideas, fun family games for picnics, and creative family reunion games as outdoor family games for all ages. These games work best when you have a large group of adults and kids to play them.
Playing kickball as a family is a great way to increase coordination, get some exercise and practice teamwork. All you need are four bases and a kickball. Game play is similar to baseball, only players kick the ball instead of hitting it with a bat.
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.
Holding an old-fashioned sack race is a great way to have some outdoor fun with your loved ones. You can use burlap sacks or pillow cases for the race. Make a starting line and a finish line. Players will stand in the sack and hope from the starting line to the finish line.
Tug of War
If you're looking for a fun outdoor game for large family gatherings, tug-of-war just might be the 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 center line.
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 bet, then running the bases.
Large groups can play a safer form of football by using two hands to touch the person holding the ball rather than tackling them. If you have a flag football set or even bandanas, you could also play flag football. Teams take turns trying to get the ball into their end zone.
List of Outdoor Games for Families You Can Buy
You can find great games for children to play outdoors with their family at most big box stores or online. These games come with all the materials you need and often cost less than $30.
In a game of badminton, teams use small rackets to hit the birdie back and forth over the net. Dick's Sporting Goods sells a great set that includes everything you need to play badminton or volleyball for under $30.
Setting up a croquet set in your backyard is a great way to ensure that there's always something your family can enjoy doing outside when the weather is nice. This old fashioned game is similar to mini golf, only you use wooden mallets to hit balls under tiny arches. You can find a four-player kids croquet set at Walmart for under $30.
Bocce or Bocce Ball is a simple backyard game where you take turns trying to toss your ball closer to the white ball than any other player. Walmart sells a beginner bocce set for under $20.
One of the more modern lawn games you can buy is Ladder Golf. In this game you take turns tossing bolos at a ladder structure to win points. You can get a plastic ladder golf set on Amazon for under $30.
Cornhole is basically a bean bag version of horseshoes. Players take turns tossing bean bags at a rectangular board in an effort to get the bag through the hole. A kid-friendly fabric cornhole game on Amazon costs less than $25.
Lawn Dice or Yard Yahtzee
You can find giant dice games that are plastic or made out of wood to use outdoors. Olympia Sports sells a set of wooden yard dice for under $20. You can make or print your own Yahtzee score sheets to play a giant game of Yahtzee using the store-bought dice. To play lawn dice, simply lay two hula hoops about 15 feet apart and take turns rolling dice into the hoops.
Flickin' Chicken is a fun outdoor game where you take turns throwing rubber chickens at a target. You can get the game from Walmart for under $20.
Giant Connect Four
Connect Four is another classic kids board game that's trendy now as a giant game. Dick's Sporting Goods sells a giant Connect Four game for just under $70.
Set up your own kid-friendly bowling alley in the backyard with a giant inflatable bowling set. HearthSong sells a fun unicorn inflatable bowling set for just under $30.
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 beautiful outside. Enjoy summer evenings too by bringing some family night activities outdoors. Get off the sofa and step away from the hand-held video games and cell phones to spend an afternoon engaged in a little friendly competition with the people you love the most!