Whether you’re planning your summer BBQs or getting ready for a whole lot of tailgates, the best lawn games are perfect for any outdoor occasion. Outdoor games make perfect father’s day presents as well. If you aren’t sure which games you want, we’ve got a whole list below of the best backyard games for all ages. Read through the options below and see which ones would be the best fit for your family and get ready for a summer of fun where you don’t even have to leave the yard.
Family Activities Everyone Will Enjoy
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Classic Backyard Games for the Whole Family
The Italian lawn game, bocce, was brought to the United States by immigrants over a hundred years ago and has become one of the most popular backyard games to this day. Traditionally, bocce is played using courts. A smaller ball, called the Jack, is tossed to the other end of the lane and then players take turns tossing the larger balls to the end of the court using an underhand toss. Whichever team’s balls land closer to the jack are victorious for the round.
Even without courts, it’s easy to play this game in any backyard. If you’ve got a set of bocce balls, you can just determine the area that will be included in the game. Some people use ropes to section off part of the lawn, but you can play wherever the Jack is thrown. The game is easier with a flat elevation instead of playing near a hill because gravity will work against you.
Divide into teams for a little friendly competition and see what makes this game so popular. Bocce ball sets don’t take up too much room, so this is a great game to bring along to the park or a friend’s BBQ as well.
Lawn bowling is a similar option, but inside of trying to underhand throw the balls closest to one small target, you are rolling it to knock down pins. There are many sets available in wood or a lighter plastic, which is great for small kids.
Bring the schoolyard game, Four Square, to your own driveway or yard. Chalk is one of the easiest ways to set this up because you need to create one large square split into four equal-sized smaller squares. Number them one through four.
Using a bouncing ball, one person serves into a square of one of their opponents. Each player can hit the ball with their hand and send it to a different square. It can only bounce once in each square and if you miss the ball, you will move out and each person will move up a square. Another way to kick people out of their square is to catch the ball that is tossed to their square. If you catch it before it hits the ground, the person who hit it will have to get back in the waiting line.
This simple game can be made a bit more complicated with fun rules. Allow the person who is in square number one to make up some fun rules. For example, you can challenge certain players to hop on one leg while the ball is in play or they have to say a certain thing each time they hit the ball. This can make things more difficult, but some rules will be so fun that you’ll want to include them every time.
Get yourself some rackets, a shuttlecock (also known as a birdie), and something to use as a net and you can play some badminton in your backyard. The shuttlecock is a little object that usually has some type of feathers or plastic piece that gets hit back and forth over a net. You can play singles or doubles.
The only rules are that you must hit the birdie back and forth without needing more than one hit on each side of the net. This racquet sport is similar to other racquet sports, but the shape of the birdie is what makes it unique. The flight path can vary and it requires more attention while it’s in the air.
If you are setting up your own court in the backyard and you want to stick with the standards, you’ll want to set up your net at a height of five feet. Games are played until someone reaches 21 points and then they are the winner. Stretch out your arms and get ready to serve up a great time in your backyard with a badminton tournament.
PIG or HORSE
Basketball hoops are common in many driveways. If you have access to a hoop, you can play one of the popular basketball games that don’t require an entire team. PIG is a shooting game where players take turns standing in predetermined spots in the driveway. If you make a basket, the person next up has to make the same shot or they will receive a letter. Once you’ve gotten enough letters to spell the word, P-I-G, you are out.
If you want a longer game, HORSE is another popular version that allows each player to have five misses before being out. You can switch it up and try throwing the ball in another way or get creative with your shots knowing that if you make it, the next person will need to replicate your efforts.
This is a fun way to practice your jump shots and make the practicing into a game that people at any age can play and have fun with.
Baseball is America’s favorite pastime, but it’s not an easy backyard game because you need quite a few players and a large, open, grassy space. Wiffle Ball is a really fun alternative that fits the backyard better. Instead of the classic baseball and bat, you play with a lightweight plastic ball and a long plastic bat.
To play, you can make up teams and play innings, very similar to baseball. The lightweight ball doesn’t travel quite as far, so you don’t need to have a full baseball team on the field. You’ll set up scoring areas that are usually about 20 feet wide and ten feet deep. When you hit the ball, you’ll score depending on how far you hit the ball.
Many neighborhood community centers hold tournaments so you can play against other teams from your area. With a minimum of two people needed to play (pitcher and batter), this game is easy to play regardless of the size group you have.
Everybody loves a round of hide-and-seek and kids of any age can play along. If you’ve never played this popular game, you’re in for a treat. Gather your group and set some boundaries for where people can hide. It would be a nightmare for someone to hide further away and be forgotten about.
One person is it and they will close their eyes and count to a certain number while all the other players hide. The person counting will work as quickly as they can to find each player. Once they succeed, someone else takes a turn being the seeker.
For a different version of the game, you can flip it around and play the version called Sardines. In this version, only one person hides while everyone else counts. Then you scatter and look for that person. Once you find them, you just hide alongside them. The more people that locate the hiding spot, the more you’ll feel like you’re all squeezed into a sardine can. You stay in place until the last person finds you. It’s a fun twist on a classic game that can be played anywhere.
Capture the Flag
Did you ever go to summer camp? Capture the Flag is a popular game at many camps, and even at paintball locations. This is a great game if you have a bigger group and you can include any age group. The idea is that each team has a flag (you can use any kind of object as the flag) and the yard should be split up into separate quadrants for each team.
You can play with two to four teams that have even numbers of team members. The point is for each team to protect their own flag while sneaking in to steal the flags of other teams. Once the areas are divided, players will try and run and grab the flag without getting tagged. If you are tagged, you will have to complete a certain challenge or be rescued by someone else on your team.
The game will have everyone running around and working together on various strategies. It’s a great way to get exercise and have fun even with a large group.
This flying disc game was created in Buffalo, New York, and was originally called garbage can frisbee. It’s played with two teams. Each team has a can on their end and they take turns tossing a frisbee back and forth to try and hit the can on the other side. Players can knock the frisbee away from their goal to disrupt the other team’s chances.
KanJam is one brand that sells the materials for this game, but you can also make your own using large plastic trash cans or buckets. The object of the game is to score 21 points before the other team by blocking their tosses and hitting your targets.
If you want to keep the fun going after the sun goes down, you can get the glow-in-the-dark discs now and there is even a splash version for those hot summer days in the backyard. Start practicing your toss today and be a master at this favorite backyard game.
This is a bean bag toss game that uses wooden boards and bean bags. It’s perfect for party guests of all ages. You split into two teams and take turns tossing the bags back and forth trying to land the bean bag into the holes in the boards.
Cornhole sets are a popular wedding or birthday gift because they can be easily customized with paint. The American Cornhole Association lays out all the information you need if you want to create your own cornhole boards including the dimensions and where to place the hole. When you set up the game, you need about ten feet by 45 feet of space to play the game. Make sure you have two colors of bean bags so you know which ones belong to which team. You take turns tossing them to the other end of the court and see if you can knock your opponents’ bags off and sink yours in the hole.
This is a super popular tailgate game and will be a great gift for anyone that likes to hang out in the backyard. The rules are simple and it’s a fun way to get out of chairs and be a little active without needing any special talents or skills.
Similar to cornhole, horseshoes is a simple backyard game that has been popular for years. You will need to set up a court to play that is a little more permanent compared to some of the other games. With horseshoes, classically, you’re tossing actual horseshoes and trying to hook them on spikes that are stuck down in the ground. If you are playing with traditional horseshoes, you want to make sure that the stakes are sturdy.
You can find some options that aren’t quite as heavy if you have little kids or want something that doesn’t need to be deep in the ground. It’s important to realize how heavy horseshoes can be. Small children will have a hard time throwing them and participating. Take advantage of another form of the game until they’ve grown up, so they can enjoy them as well.
Ring Toss Game
One more game that is similar to the previous two is ring toss. This can be played with large plastic rings or small washers. If you use large rings, you’ll have a stick on each side of the court (similar to horseshoes) and you’ll take turns tossing the rings to try and get them to land on the sticks.
If you play with washers, you’ll be trying to get the washers to land in open pipes on each end. Both games are challenging in their own ways, so see what supplies you have to make your own version.
This game can be played with two or four players. Take turns going back and forth and practicing swings until you find something that works for you. It’s a very easy game with simple rules, so it’s perfect to bring out at a party or just for a family day at home.
If you are having an outdoor party, set up a volleyball net. Volleyball is a game that can accommodate more people and you can put together multiple teams and take turns playing in a tournament style.
You can play volleyball with as few as three people on a team, but it’s easy to add more as well. All you need is a net and a ball, both of which are easy to find at any major sporting goods store. It’s also good to mark the court using tape or rope and stakes. Take turns serving the ball to the other team and work together not to let the ball hit the ground on your side.
This game is great for people of all athletic abilities. There are multiple ways to hit the ball and the rules are pretty easy to follow. The most common faults happen when a team hits the ball too many times before lobbing it back over the net or someone lets the ball hit the ground or touches the net.
Volleyball is common at the beach, but it works great as a backyard game as well. Put your teams together and have some fun serving the ball back and forth.
Ladderball, also known as ladder toss and ladder golf, is a team game that combines luck, good aim, and a good time. The game set includes two goals that look similar to ladders. They are often constructed out of PVC pipes or plastic. The objects that can be tossed are two golf balls connected with a piece of rope.
Each team has one player on each side and they take turns tossing the golf balls toward the ladder trying to get it hooked on any one of the rungs. Each is worth a specific point value. Usually, the top rung is worth three points, the middle is worth two points, and the bottom is worth one point. It may sound simple, but it can be hard to get the throwing method down.
Pack up the equipment in a carrying case and bring this game with you to any outdoor event. It’s always a hit.
Spend your afternoon pretending like you are hanging out with British royalty with a game of croquet. A croquet set includes mallets, wooden or plastic balls, and hoops, known as wickets. You line up the balls and smack them through the hoops to score points.
There are multiple versions of the game, each of which has unique rules. Garden croquet is the easiest to start with, but they all include the same materials, so you can change it up and see which version works best for your family.
Playing on freshly mowed grass will give you the best field for play, but you can really enjoy this lawn game anywhere. Read up on the rules of the game and give it a try. If you’re feeling really fancy, you can serve some afternoon tea and snacks just like they would in Great Britain.
Giant Board Games
Many of the classic board games can easily be turned into backyard games with a few simple tweaks. You can make tic tac toe boards or checkerboards using sidewalk chalk. As long as the sun is shining, you can create all kinds of game boards with chalk or play some word games like hangman.
Another popular outdoor option is to buy games you know and love in an outdoor-friendly version. Giant Jenga is a fun game and can be done as a DIY project if you have some leftover wood pieces. Order some giant dice and have fun throwing them in the yard to play dice games like Yahtzee.
Bring your favorites outside and find creative and fun ways to mix the board game fun with fresh air and sunshine. If you have leftover sidewalk chalk, put together a game of hopscotch.
Do you have golf enthusiasts in your family? Consider gathering a collection of golf balls and creating your own miniature golf course in the backyard. Have each member of the family create their own hole with obstacles and challenges.
GoSports has various options for equipment you can purchase to bring in more challenges. Pick up a giant net and set up a driving range in the yard. There are also tools that will help you create a course with a little more ease.
Just be sure to watch the windows of the house because golf balls can do some damage if people lose control over their swing.
Spikeball is a newer game that has become popular in the last few years. It’s an alternative to volleyball. Instead of a net that teams hit the ball back and forth over, there is a small circular net that resembles a trampoline. Teams take turns hitting the ball into the net and trying to make it difficult for the other team to return the ball.
Teams play until they hit a certain score, usually 21. Points are scored when the other team misses a ball and it touches the ground, or if the ball bounces or rolls back on the net. It’s perfect for sandy beaches or grassy yards. Pick up your own Spikeball game, and get two teams together. You might love it so much that you end up playing in a local tournament.
Ping pong is a classic game that involves two players (or four) hitting a ping pong ball back and forth on a table. The scoring is similar to tennis. Most people that own a ping pong table keep it inside because it isn’t weatherproof, but if you have a nice day, you can move it outside to take advantage.
Another option if you have an adults-only party is beer pong. Using a pyramid of cups on each end of the table, teams take turns trying to throw ping pong balls into the cups. Each time they land one, the cup must be removed until one team is left without any more cups on the table. If you leave the beer out of it and use water instead, this game can include younger children.
While traditional ping pong (like what you might remember from Forrest Gump) is probably better inside where the table is protected, alternate games like beer pong are great for outside. It’s also better if you have any spills.
Where to Buy Lawn Games
Once you’ve got an idea of which backyard games look the most fun, you can visit a local sporting goods store and pick up your supplies. You can also check stores like Walmart, Target, or even online home goods retailers, like Wayfair. Grab your games and set yourself up for a summer filled with backyard fun and BBQs.
Frequently Asked Questions
The best backyard games invite people to have a little friendly competition no matter what their fitness level is. Bocce ball and corn hole are two of the most popular options.
Backyard games are a blast! There are many classic, new, and reinvented options to choose from, like bocce, volleyball, badminton, croquet, hide-and-seek, capture the flag, and spikeball.