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With the weather getting nicer, it’s only natural to be planning some outdoor activities with your friends at parks, beaches, or a big backyard. We have a guide to the items you’ll need to (safely) kickstart that summer fun, but what should you do when you’re out there?
We’ve collected 10 games appropriate for all ages that you can play outdoors, whether you’re throwing your first BBQ again, or kicking back at a park. The best lawn games should cover all your outdoor fun bases, while remaining portable and easy enough for anyone to learn and play (though you can always just make up your own rules).
From classics like cornhole, to some seriously jumbo Jenga, if you’re all vaccinated up, and want to spend time outdoors with friends and family, here are some games you should consider playing.
A mashup of four-square and volleyball, this fast-paced game is great for camping trips and park picnics. To play, the opposing team has up to three hits between them (like volleyball) to bounce the ball back off the net; if they miss, your team scores. You can play singles or doubles, but the first team to 21 points wins the game.
Admittedly, this game is a bit challenging, and you’ll for sure work up a sweat maneuvering around to smack the ball back into the net. But the set is incredibly portable, since it only comes with three balls, a net, and the rule book, which you can bundle up into the carrying bag.
Cornhole is a game in which two players (or four players in teams of two), throw bean bags at an sloped, wooden board with a hole toward the top. If a beanbag lands on top of the Cornhole board, it counts for one point. If the beanbag gets into the hole, it counts as three points. The game is played until one team gets 21 points.
According to the official rules, Cornhole boards must be placed 27 feet apart, so you’ll need a wider outdoor space, like your backyard, or a public park (just don’t toss your bean bag into someone else’s picnic). Players can choose between using blue or green bean bags, so you’ll always know where your team stands. The legs can be folded under these boards for easier storage and transport, which is a big bonus.
Sometimes called “lawn bowling,” Bocce is an Italian game in which players (individuals or teams of two) try to score 12 points by getting their balls closest to a smaller one called a pallino; here’s how it works.
At the beginning of a round one player rolls the pallino roughly twenty feet away. Players then take turns rolling their larger balls toward the pallino. Once all the balls have been tossed players determine the larger ball that’s closest, which counts for one point. If multiple balls from one team are closer to the pallino than any ball rolled by the opposing team, each ball counts for one point. Players can throw their ball in an attempt to knock their opponents balls farther away from the pallino, without hitting the pallino itself.
Bocce can be played on multiple surfaces, including grass, sand, and on an official court. You shouldn’t play on a hard surface like concrete or pavement because you could damage the ball. Bocce balls come in two colors, so players and teams can see who’s who.
4. Kan Jam
Kan Jam is a deceptively difficult game in which four players (in teams of two) try to score 21 points by throwing a Frisbee toward a round, plastic can. Hitting the can with no interaction from your teammate counts for two points, if your partner hits the Frisbee so it makes contact with any part of the can, it counts for one point, if your partner hits the Frisbee into the opening on top of the can, it can counts for three points. If the Frisbee makes it through the front slot with no interaction from your teammate, it’s an automatic win.
The cans in Kan Jam are always spaced further than six feet apart, so it ups the level of difficulty depending on how you space them. If you love playing horseshoes, but want something that involves a little more fast-paced teamwork, than Kan Jam is the game for you.
5. Mini Golf
Typically played on an official course, this mini golf set allows you to play at home. The set comes with one club, two balls, four “holes,” one tube, one windmill, three slides, and a set of mats and borders you can use to play indoors. The object of the game is to complete the course you’ve set up while hitting the ball the fewest number of times. The ball must go into each hole before moving players can move on to the next one.
The ability to customize your course each time you play, and the option to set it up indoors makes it the most versatile game on this list. Want to invite a few more friends over? We recommend you get at least one more putter before you play.
Horseshoes is a game for up to four players, and combines some of the rules of Cornhole and Bocce. Players begin by stick two metal stakes into the ground, then attempt to throw their Horseshoe (U-shaped metal widgets) toward it. Horseshoes that hit the stake and spin around count for two points; if no player makes that shot, the team whose horseshoes closes to the stake get a point. Teams are awarded multiple points if their horseshoes are closer to the stake than any thrown by their opponents. The first team to score 21 points wins.
This set comes with four horseshoes: one pair is gray, the other two are blue. Teams or individuals only need the two horseshoes they throw.
7. Lawn Darts
Lawn darts is the only game we’re recommending that can be played with no shared equipment (unless you’re playing on teams). This set comes with four lawn darts (two red, two blue) and four hoops.
Each team sets its rings at two distances (five feet and ten feet away, for example), and attempts to throw their darts so they land inside one of the rings. If your dart makes it inside the closer ring, it counts for three points. If your dart makes it inside the further ring, it counts for five points. The first team to score 21 points wins. If no player gets darts in their hoop, the player whose dart is closest to one of the rings scores one point.
8. Jumbo Jenga
A favorite on the lawn of breweries, campsites, and outdoor BBQs, this wooden toppling tower game (a mouthful, but it’s really just jumbo Jenga) is a timeless game that can be enjoyed by kids and kids at heart. The rules are simple: after stacking up the the 7.75 x 1.5 x 2.5-inch pine wood blocks, each player takes a turn carefully pulling a block from the tower and placing it on top. If the tower collapses during your turn (or your team’s turn, if you’re playing in a group), then you lose.
The tower can measure up to 5 feet tall during gameplay when you use all 54 blocks in the set—the blocks themselves are pretty hefty, so we recommend building your tower on the grass, or a surface that can take a couple dings when it topples over. It also comes with a white board so you can get creative and make up your own rules. A convenient carrying case also lets you take the blocks on-the-go.
9. Viking Chess
This Swedish lawn game, called “Kubb” or often “Viking Chess” was said to have been played all the way back in the Viking Ages, but you can bring that Nordic energy right into your own backyard. To play, each team tosses wooden dowels underhand to try and topple their opponents kubb blocks. After toppling over all their blocks, once you knock down the king kubb (almost like a checkmate), your team is wins. Kubb is typically played on grass, but kubb could also be played on a sandy beach, dirt, or even snow.
It’s relatively easy to set up, and the set comes with ten kubb blocks, six dowels, and four corner stakes to mark the area that you’re playing in. The durable game pieces are made of shock-absorbant hardwood, so don’t feel afraid to really put your back into those throws.
10. Connect Four
A jumbo twist on the classic Connect Four game, this is strategic game will make even the most boring of outdoor family reunions enjoyable. The oversized game plays the same as the kind you know and love: two players (or teams) drop coins in from the top of the board, trying to get four coins in a row. After alternating turns, the first team to join 4 of your color in a row horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, wins the game. When you’re finished, just slide out the wooden bottom bar to release the coins.
Unlike other lawn sets that might use MDF material (fiber wood) for the grid, this one uses a premium stained wood that’s built to last, and will look great while you’re kicking the other team’s butt. The set also includes a nylon carrying case which holds the 42 solid plastic coins, 21 red and 21 blue.