Playing games outside can improve your child’s physical development and flexibility, boost motor and social skills, improve attention spans, and teach them new things, like nature facts and how to solve problems. Unplugging with the whole family for an outside game can also relieve stress.
Be sure to choose age-appropriate games so your children are engaged — not bored by a game that’s too juvenile or frustrated by a game that’s beyond their skill set. I’ve made this easy by noting the age minimum for each game. It's a good idea to take into account the length of a game — some can be played within minutes (perfect for little ones) while others require more time and focus. Depending on the number of children you want to entertain, knowing the minimum and maximum number of players is important and this list features games for solo play and one that can accommodate up to 20 players. Most of these picks come with storage solutions like collapsible parts and/or carrying bags, which also helps make them portable choices that you can take to the beach or a picnic.
Each of the nine fun outdoor games below is highly rated on Amazon, and one (or several) may just become the whole family's new favorite sport.
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1. A Colorful Bowling Set For Toddlers
- Ages: 24 months to 4 years
This adorable outdoor game for toddlers is a pint-sized bowling set with six colorful pins and a ball. As your tot practices rolling the ball to hit the pins, this game can help develop hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills. It is perfect for solo play and there is no set length of playtime, which is ideal for very young children who may lose focus fast.
Reviewers commented this set is great for both outdoor and indoor play, and it conveniently comes with a storage bag with carry handles.
A helpful review: “Well made toy with bright colors, which is great for a toddler. My daughter likes setting up the pins & throwing the ball into them! She also enjoys putting the pins in the bag & taking them back out. Overall, a good toy for toddlers & cute too!”
2. This Colorful Turtle Balancing Game For Preschoolers
- Ages: 3 and up
It isn't easy keeping preschoolers entertained for long periods of time, but this physical balancing game lets them move their bodies, release energy, and can help improve their coordination and gross motor skills, as well as learn color recognition. The game's rules are simple: players spin a spinner and select one of 24 activity cards (which feature turtle facts) and then make their way from one colorful turtle stepping stone to the next. The set comes with three large turtle stones and three medium ones, as well as a storage bag, which makes it portable.
The game can be played for as little or as a long as your children want — and many parents say their little ones spend just as much time making up their own rules for these stepping stones and engaging in creative play with them.
A helpful review: "Best money on a toy I've spent in a long time. I have busy kids who always need something to do. They love this! They are 4 and 2... sometimes we play 'by the rules,' other times we just let then walk on these however they rearrange them [...] The bottoms of the shells have a good rubber bottom so it's very hard for them to move out of place, which is a nice safety feature. They seem sturdy and solid, they've jumped on them and dropped them and so far no breaks or cracks."
3. A Game To Teach Young Kids How To Catch & Throw
- Ages: Minimum age not specified
One of the best outdoor games for young children who are learning how to catch and throw is this simple, durable set that teaches them these basic skills while minimizing annoyances. With four paddles and four balls, parents and little ones can practice catch anywhere outside; the ball sticks to the paddle, which keeps younger children from becoming frustrated. You'll need two to four players and there is no set length for each game session.
This pick comes with a mesh storage bag so it's simple to put away and easily portable. Younger children can improve their hand-eye coordination and this game can help develop gross motor skills during play.
A helpful review: "I coach my daughter's 6u softball team. Anyone that has ever coached youth baseball/softball knows that almost all the kids start out by trying to catch the ball underhanded which can be very dangerous on balls above the waist bouncing off the heel of the heel of the glove and hitting them in the face [...] On the recommendation of another coach, I bought these. The girls love to play with them and it's carried over to their catching. Is it the end all be all to getting kids to catch the proper way? Of course not. But, is it a fun way to help them develop proper habits? Absolutely."
4. An Outdoor Card Game That Teaches Kids About Nature
- Ages: 3 years and up, according to reviewers
The perfect outdoor card game for groups, this pick will get your crew outside enjoying some fresh air and may even help hone their language development skills. In this scavenger hunt, players set out to find a match to the word on a card — like spiky, bumpy, or huge — pulled from the deck. Even though some reviewers say they've had success modifying the rules for toddlers, keep in mind that matching the words on cards requires reading. According to reviewers, the game can be played solo, but it can also be played with larger groups — with no maximum number of players listed.
With more than 30 cards inside the drawstring bag, this pocket-sized game is a breeze to store and can be taken and played anywhere. Some reviewers commented they're especially fun on hikes. As kids explore and learn more about nature, they'll learn new words and develop image recognition skills. Plus, this game's flexible play time means you can play for just a few minutes or for hours.
A helpful review: "I used this with my kids play class at the park. Ages 18 months — 8 yrs old all engaged. The older kids independently read the cards and collected their items, the younger kids got assistance from their parents. The descriptions on each card have a cute and relevant drawing to go along with it making it easy to understand what to look for."
5. A Giant Outdoor Game For Families
- Ages: 3 years and up
Giant outdoor games are instantly more fun, thanks to their jumbo size, and this tumbling wooden toy stands more than 4 feet tall. As with some of the other games on this list, there is no minimum or maximum number of players needed to make this game super fun. Players take turns removing a block and stacking on top until it all comes tumbling down, and 20 of the 56 blocks are numbered so that you can change up the game by creating your own rules.
This pick can be played outdoors or indoors, and it comes with a zippered carrying case to keep the blocks neatly organized for portability and storage. As they play, kids may develop strategy skills and fine motor skills, and it's one the whole family will enjoy playing.
A helpful review: “[...] This game is beautifully made, I mean every edge is smooth, there is a nice finish on it and it stores beautifully in its wooden crate. And the kids LOVE it, it's so fun to have a giant version of their smaller brand name stacking game and they had a blast with it. I think having it stack so high (and it goes high!) and having the collapse be SO loud and dramatic really appeals to kids. Even the ones who would normally prefer to sit with their phones actually joined in and they had so much fun and played it for more than an hour [...]"
6. This Portable Cornhole Set For All Ages
- Ages: All ages
This portable cornhole set lets you take this classic lawn game anywhere: the beach, the park, the great outdoors, or your backyard. And it's highly rated with more than 1,300 reviews.
With two collapsible cornhole boards, eight bean bags, and a carrying case, this is a relatively lightweight version of cornhole that reviewers commented is easy to set up and put away. To play, kids and adults can take turns trying to toss the bean bags into the other team’s cornhole board. As your kids play, they can work on their gross motor skills. This game can be played with as few as two players or you can gather a small group of friends together to compete (two to four players is the cornhole standard and the length of the game depends on how many rounds you decide to play).
A helpful review: "My 4 year old loves corn hole, but I wasn't willing to spend $100 on a proper wooden set for him. Instead we purchased this set since we will be home all summer due to Coronavirus. He has played with it everyday since we bought it. It was simple to put together. I did struggle to put the last piece of pipe into another piece but the whole thing was put together in less than 15 minutes [...] Its easy to move around and, more important, easy to store."
7. The Easiest Pickup Sport For Families
- Ages: about 5 years and up, according to reviewers
Pickleball is a fun outdoor game for families because it's a paddle sport that's especially easy to pick up and start playing. This beginner set brings four wooden paddles (so you can play singles or doubles games) and four balls for playing the paddle sport on a makeshift court or a pickleball court at your nearest park. Reviewers reported playing with kids as young as age 5 or 9, and it's pretty much an all-ages game. The set comes with a mesh storage bag for the balls and you'll need at least two players. An official pickleball tournament takes about 20 minutes to complete each match, but you can always modify your game to suit players' ages.
A helpful review: “We’re having a blast playing Pickleball every day in our driveway while we’re staying at home. It’s easy to play [...] If you have a flat hard space, this game is perfect for all ages [...] If you haven’t played, pickleball, it is a cross between tennis and ping pong. The ball you use is similar to a wiffle ball. Our family highly recommends this set! You can play doubles too. It gives you relief from the stress and worry of life right now. Definitely a fun release both mentally and physically.”
8. A Glow-In-The-Dark Game For Nighttime Fun
- Ages: 8 years and up
A fun outdoor game for families and groups of kids is this glow-in-the-dark version of Capture the Flag. Depending on one of 12 game options that you select, anywhere between four to 20 people can play this highly rated game and the length of the game can be modified. The game's glowing pieces mean the whole family can play into the night while adding another element of fun.
Your kids will practice working within a team, social skills, gross motor skills and thinking strategically as they enter the opposing team's territory to capture their flag, or in this case, a glowing orb. This game includes 25 light-up game pieces but no storage bag, so be sure to set something aside for it to make clean-up and storage easier.
A helpful review: “We first played this game at a camp and were hooked! It is awesome for big groups so we got one for our future camping trips and for sleepovers. It's a simple game with lots of detailed strategies though. Mix in the fitness benefits and you can't go wrong [...] We all feel better after running around in the woods or the backyard for a couple hours playing CTF Redux. There is no replacement for exercise.... except fun-based exercise! And that's what outdoor games like this have added to our family. Getting to play when the sun goes down is a bonus. [...]”
9. A Super Fun Outdoor Game For Teenagers
- Ages: 12 years and up, though many younger children also enjoy it, according to reviewers
With nearly 4,000 reviews, the highly rated Spikeball is a great outdoor game for teenagers and it was even a Shark Tank winner. The rules are similar to volleyball as two teams bounce the ball off the net, but the size of this net makes it easy to take the game with you to pretty much any outdoor space. This game requires two to four players, though some reviewers say it can be modified to include even more players. The length of each game will vary depending on how many rounds you play.
Preteens and up can develop their physical skills while playing, and this game has a corresponding smartphone app to coordinate local pick-up games or join tournaments. The net's tightness can be adjusted to suit beginning or more advanced players. The net has foldable legs and it comes with a drawstring storage bag for portability and storage.
A helpful review: “We played this game during our family reunion. Teenagers to adults loved it. Bought one when we got home and one of the teenagers took [it] to the beach — all his friends had a great time. Great game. Will definitely take to more outings. Easy to set up, very light to carry.”