Looking to make your next barbecue or picnic a little more fun? Outdoor games are a great way to bring people together, get active, and add a little friendly competition to your next gathering.
We’ve rounded up the best games you can play outside that will appeal to adults, teens and older kids. I have tried most of them; others are included here based on overwhelmingly positive customer reviews.
Kubb (pronounced “koob”) has been a Broida family favorite for years. This lawn game is great for all ages (even a toddler could play it) because all you have to do is throw a wooden peg and try to knock over some wooden blocks. It’s a bit horseshoes, a bit chess, incredibly fun for two-player play (although team sizes can vary if desired). And unlike many games here, this garden game can be played even on windy days.
GoSports offers both regulation and backyard versions, with the latter simply being a bit smaller and priced $10 less. Either way, you’ll need a reasonably spacious yard to play in.
Big Sports Villains
The problem with most cornhole sets is that they are big and heavy, which makes them difficult to transport from place to place.
Tipping Point is self-contained and completely portable, and the game itself adds a little twist to the experience: instead of two separate boards at each end of the play area, here you only have one in the center . And it can tilt one way or the other if a bag lands like that, making it that much harder to hit the hole.
You need a flat, solid surface to play on. Tipping Point is not ideal for sandy beaches. But if you love cornhole and want a game you can carry in one hand, this is it.
Big Sports Villains
The idea is quite brilliant: a compact and portable pong set, complete with cups, balls, stands and a carrying case. Now you can play beer pong just about anywhere, without having to dedicate an entire table to it.
The execution isn’t perfect: the set only contains two bullets, so be prepared to do a lot of chasing after the bouncing shots. And the various plastic parts all feel a little flimsy, which makes it feel a bit overpriced for what it is.
But what it is is a ton of fun for beer pong fans who want a completely portable solution.
Kan Jam is a really fun two-on-two game. The “Kan” is a kind of hard plastic bucket, one with a slit in the front. The object is to throw a Frisbee through this slot or into the top opening. If not, your teammate can try to push him into the Kan mid-air. You get varying points depending on what happens. Then it’s the other team’s turn.
This outdoor activity is ideal for families with older children, partly because it takes some coordination to throw accurately, which can be difficult for a younger child, and partly because Kan Jam can be hard on the hands; you’re constantly banging on a fast-moving hard plastic disc.
I don’t know the origin story of Bottle Bash, but I guess this outdoor game started with a fence post and a bottle: “I bet you can’t throw that frisbee and knock the bottle over !” This two-on-two game comes with two plastic poles (which are easy to drive into the ground), two plastic bottles that rest on them, and a flying disc.
The goal: to drop this bottle. Meanwhile, the defending team is trying to catch the disc – and the bottle, if you’re able to hit it. We liked the handy score-tracking slider on each post, but found the game more challenging than expected: even at the minimum distance of 20 feet, hitting that post or bottle isn’t easy. Young children can be easily frustrated.
The reason why cornhole and bean bag toss games are so popular is that people like to try and throw an object into a hole. RampShot takes this idea, widens the hole, and replaces your standard beanbag with rubber balls. It’s now a team game, with your teammate trying to catch the ball if it bounces off the box and an opposing teammate trying to grab a rebound. Very simple, tons of fun.
However, while RampShot requires four players, only three are active each round. The rounds go pretty fast, but if you want an outdoor activity where everyone participates all the time, choose something else.
Spikeball is an extremely popular outdoor game, condensing volleyball elements into a small circular space. Instead of hitting a big ball over a straight net, you hit a softer, grapefruit-sized ball over a bouncy, ringed ball, much like a tethered ball but without the string. It’s a fun game, but quite difficult.
And be prepared, parents: it’s quite a physical game, requiring quick movements and probably a few dives if you want to score points. Therefore, it might be better for kids, even if it requires four players.
Four squares is the popular playground game involving a kickball and four chalk squares on the floor. Crossnet takes this classic game to the air, with a four-way volleyball net and ground boundaries that mark the squares. Once it’s set up, you’re literally playing four squares, but with one volleyball. The net can be adjusted to three different regulation heights, so the game is suitable for both children and adults – although obviously it requires enough skill to hit a ball over a net.
It also takes a little time to set up and take down, so ideally it’s something you’d leave set up in the yard. But well worth the effort. It’s one of the few games with individual rather than team scoring, and although only four people can play per round, it’s easy to rotate additional players. (In other words, Crossnet is a great game and works well with large families.)
Rollors is one of the few games that can be played one-on-one or two-on-two, and it’s simple enough for 4-year-olds to join in. The goal is simple: Roll your three wooden discs towards a small tower and try to get them as close as possible. Whoever comes closest to it scores points.
The game can be played on grass or sand and comes in a zippered carrying case.
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