Outdoor Games for the Whole Family

April 21, 2022

Outdoor games are one of the simplest and most affordable ways to spend time with family. From the tried-and-true favorites of tag and hide-and-seek to the sweat-inducing badminton and volleyball, there are all sorts of ways to have a blast on the backyard grass.

Now that we’ve officially entered spring and summer is around the corner, here are a few of our favorites:

Ladder Ball

Ladder ball can be played one-on-one or on teams of two. If you have a large family or friends visiting, you can set up a round-robin tournament so everyone has a chance to participate. The object of the game is to get your ball on one of the ladder’s rungs; the lowest rung is worth the most points, making it your ideal landing spot.

While the game comes with standard rules, it also allows for player autonomy and the freedom to make up rules while ignoring others. You can play up to as many points as you want and assign any point value to the rungs as long as you’re consistent throughout the game. It might be smart to make your throws worth five points and your opponents’ worth three, but they’ll probably catch onto that right away.  


Croquet is a summer staple that even young children can enjoy in the backyard. It’s a beloved game that goes back hundreds of years and was even an event in the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris. While croquet only made a single appearance at the Olympics, it picked a historic one: the 1900 games were the first to allow female athletes to compete. While there are different versions, golf croquet is played with a mallet and various colored balls with two, four, or six players. A course of seven hoops is set up, and on each turn the ball must be struck by the face of the mallet and make it through each hoop in a sequential order. The first player to run through all hoops wins.

Bocce Ball

Bocce ball is a simple game that makes it a good choice for families with young children. The object of the game is to throw the bocce ball closer to the target than your opponent. Points are awarded each round and the winning team must win by at least two. 

Bocce ball is most often played on teams of two, but it can be played one-on-one or with up to eight people (four players per team). Flexibility with the number of players makes it the ideal game for all sorts of occasions, ranging from lazy Saturday afternoons to birthday party extravaganzas. 

Four Square

A game that transports you back to the playgrounds of yore, four square is fun, active, simple, competitive, and requires little equipment and setup. As long as you have a rubber ball, a flat surface, and a piece of chalk to draw the boundaries, you’re ready to play for the coveted king spot. 

One of the best aspects of four square is that it offers all kinds of variations, including:

• a pirate version where players must close one eye

• a spinning version where players must spin around after making contact with the ball

• an airball version where players must jump each time they hit the ball

• a flamingo version where players must stand on one leg throughout the game

You can adopt an already-established variation or create your own.

The great outdoors is a wonderful place to spend time with family. Try one of the aforementioned games, embrace other traditional favorites, or invent one yourself. The sky is literally the limit.

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