Summer is a magical time of year for most families; the days are longer, the weather is nice, and the kids are out of school. It is the perfect time of year for family dinners on the patio or full-blown back yard barbeques. Since you will be spending a lot more time in the backyard, it’s a good idea to have plenty of fun and games for the whole family to enjoy. If you are planning a neighborhood bash or a family reunion, you are going to need a whole arsenal of games. No matter what your needs are, this list has you covered with 50 of the most fun backyard games for the summer.
Tag has the distinct honor of being first on the list because it is an all-time classic game. It needs no equipment, and the instructions are pretty simple. The only problem with tag is that it is a young person’s game, but it is great to keep the youngsters occupied while the adults chat it up.
Decide as a group who will begin as the “it” person. Whoever is “it” chases after all the other players trying to tag them with his or her hand. Once the “it” person tags another player, the tagged player becomes “it” and the formerly “it” person returns to being one of the chased. There are no points, and the game doesn’t end until players get too tired to continue.
It may share the name with another popular summer game, but it doesn’t share a lot of similarities. The object of the game is to take trying to knock bottles off of poles. In its most simplistic form, this game requires four players, two flying discs, two poles, and two bottles.
Players form two teams of two and come to an agreement to which team will go first. Each team takes turns throwing a disc at the other team’s bottle and trying to knock it over; the receiving team must also catch the disc, or the throwing team will earn points. Teams take turns until switching back and forth between players each time until one of the teams reaches 21 points. Points are counted as follows:
Jenga has been an endearing game for generations, but this takes it to a whole new level. Having an outdoor space turns Jenga from a simple tabletop game to a massive tower with loads of anxiety causing potential. If you have ever played the original Jenga, you can only imagine what it is like when this 5-foot tall structure topples to the ground.
The tower is built using three blocks on each level laid in an alternating direction for each level. When the tower is completed each player takes a turn carefully removing a block from the tower being cautious not to disturb the tower. The goal is to remove as many blocks as possible without toppling the tower, the player who ultimately topples the tower loses the game.
To learn more about Giant Jenga, check out our Giant Jenga buyer’s guide.
The game goes by many names, but Corn Hole is probably the most popular. Players take turns tossing bean-filled sacks toward raised rectangular platforms with a small round hole on the far end. While people can get quite serious about the game with big tournaments, it remains a favorite backyard game for many people, especially after a few beverages.
Each game consists of innings in which each player throws four bean bags at the opposing side’s board. Rules are different depending on how many people are on each team, but a few staples are that you must stand to the left or right of your board when throwing and stay on that side for the remainder of the game, and games are played to 21. To score bags must enter the hole or come to a stop on the board. Scoring is assessed as follows:
Ladder ball is a fun backyard game for the whole family to enjoy. It consists of a ladder with three different colored rungs along with two sets of three ropes with colored balls on each end. Some people choose to make their own game, but it’s quicker and easier to buy it online.
It is a simple game, but there are a lot of variations. The most popular variation is to have each rung be worth a different number of points. The top rung is often worth 1, the middle is worth 2, and the bottom rung is worth 3 points. The game is usually played in with teams of two; one player from each team throws all three ropes on their turn. Players alternate turns each time. After all three ropes are thrown points are assessed and the first team to reach 21 wins. Points are only counted for ropes still on the rungs at the end of the round if one rope knocks another off its rung, the fallen rope no longer counts.
Badminton has been a popular backyard sport in the U.S. and around the world since as early as the 1800s. It consists of a net, a projectile called a shuttlecock, and racquets. The game is much a mix of tennis and volleyball, but it is played at a much different speed thanks to the shape of the shuttlecock.
Games can be played in singles or doubles and players volley the shuttlecock back and forth over the net. One the shuttlecock is served players volley back and forth until the shuttlecock hits the ground. If the shuttlecock is inbound the player who last hit the shuttlecock is awarded the point if it is out of bounds, the receiving player gets the point. The game is played to 21 unless the score is within a point if that is the case the game continues until there is a two-point difference. For example, if the score is 21-20, the game would continue until the score was at least two points apart like 24-22. If the game continues to 29 points, then the next point wins, this is called the golden point.
Croquet is a classic game that has been depicted in all forms of media for generations, though its popularity has gone by the wayside in today’s tablet times. The game requires mallets, balls, wickets (a horseshoe-shaped stake), and end posts. Croquet is great because even the little ones can get in on the action and you can play with two to however many mallets you have people.
Croquet is a tough one because, like darts, there are tens of different games that can be played with a croquet set and hundreds of variations to those games. Listing them all here would be too long, but the main theme of any game of croquet is to hit the balls through the wickets. Some variations are more complicated than others, and some get competitive fast.
If you are having a family get-together, especially a reunion with a lot of people, this is a great game to play. All you need is a rope of a decent length and thickness and a large enough space for a group of people to move back and forth.
Place a ribbon or tape in the center of the rope. The game will require an equal number of participants on either side of the rope as well as a referee to call the start and end of the competition. When the referee calls go, each team pulls as hard as they can to get the ribbon over to their side of the line. The first team to get the ribbon over the line wins the match.
Lawn bowling is much like regular bowling, except with a little more work on the players’ part. What’s great about lawn bowling is that it can be played between two or two thousand players if you have the time. The one downside is that you need a fairly long, flat surface to enjoy the game.
Lawn bowling is scored just like regular bowling. Each player bowls ten frames with the final frame having an extra turn if a strike or a spare is earned. If you score a spare (knocking down all ten pins in two throws) you add the next throw to your total score. If you get a strike (knocking down all ten pins in a single throw) you get to count the next two throws to your total score.
Mini golf is a series of putting greens with various obstacles making it more difficult to get the ball to the hole. The great thing about this game is that you can buy a premade course or make your own. A ball, a club, and some imagination make this a fantastic backyard adventure. You need space, obstacles, clubs, and balls to make this game work.
Each player takes turns hitting their balls toward the hole avoiding obstacles or using them to their advantage. The goal is to get the ball to the hole in as few strokes as possible. The player with the lowest score at the end of the game is declared the winner.
Horseshoes are so popular that you can find horseshoe sandboxes at parks across the country. It’s a simple game that only requires two stakes and a handful of horseshoes to participate. Players score points by getting their horseshoes as close to the stake as possible.
There are two ways to score points in horseshoes. The first is to get a “ringer”; a term used to describe getting the horseshoe around one of the stakes. The other is to get your horseshoe as close as possible to the stake. Players take turns throwing two horseshoes each at the opposing stake. Once each player has completed their turn points are awarded as follows:
Not every game has to be a competitive challenge; some can be plain, silly, fun. Simon is a family and budget-friendly game since it only requires a group of people who are good listeners. The game can be played anywhere but being outdoors is better because it offers more space for silly activities.
You have a group of people and one leader or “Simon” to give instructions. The Simon calls out silly demands that the group complies with as long as the Simon says, “Simon says,” before giving the demand. If the Simon does not say “Simon says,” and anyone still complies, they are out of the game.
This old school game is still a staple on school playgrounds everywhere. It is free, fun, and almost universally inclusive for people of all abilities. All you need is a group of people and a wide-open space, the bigger, the better. The goal is to get from one end of the playing field to the other while following the rules.
All the players line up on the opposite side of the field as the “it” person. The “it” person has their back turned to the rest of the players. When the “it” person calls out, green light, all the players on the line make their way toward the opposite side when the “it” person is standing. When the “it” person calls out, red light, everyone must stop immediately or fall to the ground. The “it” person will then turn around, and anyone caught still moving is out. The round ends when someone makes it to the end, or all players are out.
Kerplunk is a popular board game where players remove sticks that are holding up a group of balls until there are not enough sticks and the ball dam essentially breaks. It is a fun game that builds on the suspense of being the player that drops the balls. This is the same game but played on a bigger scale which ups the ante.
Insert the sticks through the tube and pour the balls in over the sticks. Players take turns carefully removing the sticks without letting the balls drop. The game is over when the balls drop.
Dunk Tank is a backyard variation of a classic carnival game. This is the perfect game to play on a hot day and something the whole family can get in on.
Fill the bucket with water and have participant number one sit under the bucket. Players take turns throwing balls at the target until someone scores a hit and the water bucket empties over participant one. Players can take turns being throwers and receivers and the great part about this game is that it is just as fun to watch as it is to play.
Spike Ball is a relatively new backyard game, but it is quickly growing in popularity. It consists of four players, a ball, and a trampoline net. Players bounce a ball off the net trying to keep the ball in play while trying to make the other team miss.
One team starts by serving the ball off the net. The other team gets up to three touches to hit the ball back off the net. Once the ball is served, players can move anywhere around the net, and the set continues until a team can’t return the ball. When a team can’t return the ball, the other team gets the point. Traditionally, the first team to 21 points is declared the winner.
Hacky Sack is a game named after the bean-filled sack that is used in the game. There are many variations of the sack, but they are usually only a few inches in diameter and slightly under-filled. Hacky sack is one of the few outdoor games that can be played with as few as one player.
The goal of the game is to keep the sack off the ground without using your hands. Players use their feet, knees, head, and chest to bounce the sack into the air and pass it between each other. There are no points given, but the length of time the sack stays off the ground is a good metric to measure the game.
Unlike regular tic tac toe that often ends in a stalemate, this version takes a little more skill. Players need sidewalk chalk and two different colored sets of bean bags to play.
Draw a tic tac toe board on a flat surface. Players choose which color bags they will use, then take turns tossing the bags into the board. The goal is to get three in a row horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.
The bag counts in whichever square it lands even if that was not the intended square, and the last bag to land in a square is the active bag.
More people than not grew up with a tetherball pole on the school playground. Whoever would have thought that a ball on a rope attached to a pole could be so much fun? At some point, someone got the great idea to make it portable, and now anyone can play at any time.
Two players stand on either side of the tetherball pole. One player starts the game by serving the ball. The object of the game is to get the rope wrapped around the pole. Players can hit the ball, but automatically lose if they hit the rope or the pole. The first player to wrap the rope around the pole wins, and the game starts over.
Watch your step is a unique game that is a ton of backyard fun. Not only is this a fun game for a hot day, but it is also great for hand-eye coordination and exercise. All you need is a rope or string and a water balloon.
Fill a water balloon and tie a rope around the end. Tie the other end of the rope around your ankle; make sure that there is no slack between your ankle and the balloon. Players hop around on one foot trying to pop the balloons of the other players, the last player with a balloon still intact is declared the winner.
Kubb is a Swedish Lawn game that is best described as a combination of horseshoes and bowling. Kubb sets are available online and consist of ten Kubbs, one king, and six batons. Some sets also come with pitch markers to create a Kubb field anywhere you go. The object of the game is to knock down all the Kubbs before turning your attention to the king.
The first team stands at their baseline and throws all six batons at their opponents Kubbs. The throw must be underhand, and the batons must spin end over end not side to side. Any Kubbs that are knocked down in this first round are thrown to the first team’s side of the field and stacked next to each other. These Kubbs are called “field Kubbs.” On team two’s turn, they must first knock down all of the field Kubbs before going after the regular Kubbs.
If either team fails to knock down all of the field Kubbs, the Kubb closest to the other team becomes the new baseline. Teams take turns until one team manages to knock down all of the Kubbs. If the Kubbs are knocked down and there are still batons left, that team may throw at the king. The first team to successfully knock down the king in this manner wins. If the king is knocked down before all of the Kubbs are knocked down, the throwing team automatically loses.
Ramp Shot is another in a long line of throwing outdoor skill games. Though many games like these share similar qualities, they all have differences that make them unique. Ramp Shot is one of the most fun in my opinion because there is more action involved on the part of the players. The game requires two ramps, four balls, and four players.
One thing that makes Ramp Shot unique is that three out of four players are playing every turn. The ramps are placed fifteen feet apart with the active team standing behind each ramp. One person from the other team stands between the ramps while the other player sits out. One player throws two balls at the ramp with the intent of sinking the balls in the net. If the ball bounces off the back of the ramp, the other player on the team can catch it for a point. If it bounces off the front of the ramp, the player from the other team can steal the ball for an extra throw during that team’s turn. If the ball goes in the net it is worth 3 points; if your teammate catches it, it is worth 1 point. The first team to 15 points wins the game.
This schoolyard game can’t get any simpler, but that doesn’t stop it from being loads of fun. All you need is a group of people and a ball (a football often works great, but any ball will do) to pull off a game that can keep you busy for a while.
The thrower stands with their back turned to the rest of the group. The thrower calls out a number between 1 and 500 and throws the ball in the air behind them. Whoever catches the ball gets the points, and the first to 500 wins and becomes the thrower. The thrower can also call out “dead or alive” after the point value meaning that even if the ball lands on the ground, whoever picks it up gets the points.
Like many other traditional board games, someone came up with the bright idea to supersize Connect Four and move it to the back yard. What you get is an awesome way for two people to pass the time while enjoying some fresh air.
Each player chooses a color then they take turns dropping their pieces into the board. The first player to create a straight line of 4 of their pieces either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally wins. Though it sounds simple, it is easier said than done.
This Finnish game is a throwing game in the same vein as Kubb. Players throw a pin called a Molkky at a group of similar pins called skittles to score points. You can DIY Molkky set, but they are also available for purchase.
One of the many features that make Molkky different is its specific pin set up. Players must set up the pins in the following order from front to back: 1st row, 1/2; 2nd row, 3/10/4; 3rd row, 5/11/12/6; 4th row, 7/9/8. Players take turns throwing the Molkky at the skittles; the skittles are stood back up after every player’s turn. The game is scored in the following way:
Sack races are a staple of backyard get-togethers because they are inexpensive and highly entertaining. They are not only fun to participate in, but watching participants try to navigate to the finish line is great fun for spectators.
The hardest part about this game is finding the sacks anymore. For smaller people, pillowcases will do, but bigger sacks are needed for taller individuals. Create a starting line and a finish line in the backyard. Once everyone is in their sacks at the starting line, have a non-race signal go and watch the fun begin as racers race to the finish line.
The three-legged race is a lot like the sack race, but it has its pros and cons. On the one hand, all you need is some rope and space to race. On the other hand, you have to have an even number of people to play.
Players split into teams of two and tie their inside ankles together to form one three-legged person. A non-player signals go and the team’s race to the finish line trying to stay upright the whole time.
Lawn Darts is the quintessential backyard game, partially because of the acclaim they got for being so dangerous back in the day. Their design has improved over the years to be safer, but the fun has stayed the same. Darts and a ring are all you need to play this game of skill.
Lawn Darts is a simple concept, but the scoring can get a little confusing. Two rings are placed 35 feet apart from one another, and each player stands behind their rings. Both players toss their darts at the opposing rings with the intent of landing the darts inside the rings. Each game is played to 21 and scored as follows:
Laser tag is the highest tech outdoor game. It is just as fun as paintball or squirt guns but with none of the cleanup. Laser tag usually uses chest sensors and laser guns to register hits.
Laser tag doesn’t have a lot of rules which is part of why it is so fun. You choose whether you are on a team or if it is every person for themselves. From there, you give everyone enough time to get away from each other, and then the hunt begins. The more places to hide, the better in this fast-paced game.
Foursquare is a court-based ball game that requires a large flat space and four players. The court should be 16 x 16 feet and parceled into four equal-sized squares. The game also requires a rubber playground ball like a dodgeball that has a good bounce.
The player in square 4 starts by bouncing the ball and hitting it underhand to the player is square 1. The ball must bounce once before player 1 hits it underhand into another square. This pattern continues the 4th square and stays there as long as possible. The following are all faults that eliminate a player or cause them to return to square 1:
Lawn dice aren’t so much a game as a tool for hundreds of games. These large dice are easy to read and usually resistant to the elements.
You can play any traditional dice game with these dice. From gambling to Yahtzee, they will keep a group of people busy for hours.
Bocce Ball is another take on a throwing game that originated in Italy. Instead of throwing a piece toward another stationary piece, Bocce ball entails throwing larger balls at a smaller moveable ball. Each kit comes with two sets of red and green balls along with a small white ball called a Pallino.
Players flip a coin to see who throws the Pallino first. The team that wins throws the Pallino as close to halfway down the court as possible. The team that throws the Pallino also goes first throwing their first ball. Team two then throws their first ball; the team with the ball closest to the Pallino then gets to throw their remaining balls. The other team then throws their remaining balls. Scoring is pretty standard for this type of game:
Limbo is a simple game that at its purest only needs enough players and a long stick to play. The limbo game has stepped up a little, and a lot of limbo sets have their stands for the sticks now.
Players take turns walking under the pole face first. After every person makes it under the pole, the pole is moved down a notch. If a player falls or touches the pole, they are eliminated. The last player to go under the bar without touching it or falling is the winner.
There are a lot of different kinds of ring toss because of the simplicity of the idea of the game. At its heart, players are tossing rings toward pegs. Sometimes the pegs are subbed out for bottles, sometimes the rings are hard plastic, and other times they are made of rope.
Players stand at an agreed-upon distance away from the pegboard. Each player takes turns throwing their rings at the pegs. The play with the most points after all the rings are thrown wins.
An obstacle course is a combination of the different stations meant to impede a racer’s progress to the finish line. There is no set standard for obstacle courses walls, tires, and ropes are often materials uses to create obstacles.
Use your imagination to create fun and safe obstacles through the backyard. A few examples include a balance beam, rope swing over a pool, and a tire ladder.
Duck, Duck, Goose is a popular kids’ game in which an “it” person chooses another player, and that player must chase them around a circle. It requires only bodies and a fair amount of energy.
Players sit in a circle with the designated “it” person standing outside of the circle. The “it” person then walks around the circle lightly taping each player saying duck. At the “it” person’s discretion, they can call goose and that players must stand up and chase the “it” around the circle. If the “it” can run around the circle and sit down in the goose’s place before being caught, the goose becomes the new “it.”
Paper airplanes are a fun toy because they don’t take much in terms of material, and there is a sense of pride in what you built. Everyone makes their airplanes differently, which can lead to a lot of fun when competing against each other.
Each player gets a few pieces of paper to test their designs. When everyone is happy with their paper planes, stand at one end of the yard and have everyone throw their plane as far as possible. Give awards for distance, style, and trick flying.
Wiffle ball is similar to baseball except at a degree that is much easier and safer for players of all ages. All you need is a Wiffle bat, Wiffle ball, bases, and a large group of people to have a great time swinging for the fences.
Players set up the bases just like a baseball diamond. Each team needs a pitcher, catcher, three basemen, and at least one outfielder. The pitching team throws the Wiffle ball across home plate, and the batting team hits with the bat just like baseball. Players run around the bases and only score when they get back to home plate. Just like in baseball, players can strike out, be walked, get tagged out, or can be out by a catch.
One of the best parts about being outside is that players can get wet and they will get wet in this game. Players use sponges to transfer water from a kiddie pool to buckets on the other side of the yard. One kiddie pool, two buckets, two sponges, and teams of at least two are required.
Players start standing by the kiddie pool with a sponge. The first player on each team dips the sponge in the pool then runs to the bucket on the opposite end of the yard. The player then squeezes the sponge into the bucket and runs back to the starting line to pass off the sponge to the next player who repeats the steps. The first team to fill their bucket wins. One cautionary tip, the grass will get wet and slippery, which adds some fun to the game but also a little danger.
Kan Jam is another new twist on an old idea. Instead of throwing balls or horseshoes at pegs, players are throwing discs at a can. You will need two teams of two along with the Kan Jam cans and discs.
Start by placing the cans 50 feet apart from each other. One player from each team throws a disc at the opposite can. The other player, also known as the deflector, can hit the disc into the can if the thrower misses. They are only allowed to hit the disc once and cannot grab or hold the disc. Points are allotted as follows:
This is a DIY game that is easy to set up and a lot of fun to execute. All you need is some pool noodles, duct tape, and a way to hang the targets.
Take three pool noodles and connect them end to end to make a circle, then duct tape them together. Hang the targets up vertically or staggered to make it more challenging. Use another pool noodle as a javelin and throw it towards the target. For competition use different colored pool noodles with assigned points and play to a set score.
Imagine if someone combined darts and ring toss and you get the hook and ring toss. It consists of a board with hooks each with a number above them and two sets of different colored rings.
Hang the board in a sturdy vertical space. Each player stands an agreed-upon distance away from the target. Each player throws their rings at the target. The player with the highest combined score wins the round.
Volleyball is a net game that requires a team of players, a net, and a specific kind of ball. It is played on any soft surface and is played by anyone from the back yard amateur to the professional player.
Volleyball can be played with as few as two players and as many as six players on each side. Players take turns serving and volleying the ball back and forth. Each time the ball passes over the net a team gets up to three hits on their side before returning the ball over the net. When the ball is grounded or otherwise out of play, the team on the opposite side of the net gets the point. Teams play to at least 25 points by a two-point margin, so if the score is 24-25, the team with 25 would need one more point to win.
The game goes by a few different names, some of them trademarked. What is important to know is that it is a word game where players connect words in vertical and horizontal lines.
Player one plays a word on the mat, and each player takes turns playing words off of that word. Each tile has a number worth that many points, and each word is a summation of those points. Players play until all of the tiles are gone, and the player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
Twister is a decades-old game that is immediately recognizable thanks to its design. This game has seen a lot of variations over the years, but what remains the same is the game board design and the basic premise.
Players spin a needle that lands on a body part and color. Players must then move that body part to a circle that corresponds with the color. Players continue to spin and move until they fall. The last player still up on all fours wins.
This game won’t work for every backyard, but if you have a lot of space and places to hide, it is the perfect impromptu game. It doesn’t require any equipment, and a single game can keep kids busy for quite some time.
Pick one player to be “it.” The “it” person closes their eyes and counts to an agreed-upon number, usually between 20 and 50 depending on the space. The other players find a hiding spot where they don’t think that they will be caught. When the “it” is done counting, they walk around trying to find the other players. The last player to be found wins the round and becomes “it.”
BulziBucket is a mix of hacky sack and Corn Hole; It’s even billed as next-generation or extreme Corn Hole. It is lightweight and portable, which makes it popular for taking tailgating. Each kit comes with two-tiered buckets and six hacky sacks.
One player from each team stands by each bucket. The first player from each team throws their sacks at the bucket. If the thrower misses the bucket, their other teammate can use their feet, knees, and chest to try to bounce the ball into the bucket. The top bucket is worth 1 point, the middle 2, and the bottom bucket 3 points; games are played to 21.
Soccer is one of the most popular games in the world, perhaps because it only takes a ball, a few goals, and a group of friends to play. Players use their feet, chest, knees, and heads to move a ball down the field and get it passed the goalie.
The ball starts in the center and is kicked off into play. Players then pass the ball around the field with the intent of getting the ball passed the goalie and into the net for a point. The goalie is the only player that can use their hands to stop the ball. The game is timed and the team with the most points at the end of time wins.
Bean Bag Bucketz combines the best parts of bean bag toss and basketball to create an all-new game. The kit comes with the bucketz stand and 16 bean bags, 8 for each team.
Each team takes turns throwing their bags into the buckets until they are all gone. The top bucket is worth 4 points, and the buckets get bigger and worth fewer points down the pole. The first team to reach 21 points wins the game.
This is a giant version of a popular game that is played at colleges around the country. This game has been supersized and has the 21+ part taken out of the equation to make it fun for the whole family. It comes with twelve giant cups and two giant ping pong balls.
Set up the buckets in a pyramid with the top of the pyramid facing the opponents. Fill the buckets with water so they won’t get blown over. One player from the first team each throws a ball with the intent of landing it in a bucket. If the ball lands in a bucket, that bucket is removed from play. The first team to remove their entire opponent’s buckets wins.Follow Us