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8 end-of-summer outdoor games for the whole family

Few things have the memory-building potential of a dusky, summer evening. The crickets are out, the sky is tinted with watercolors, and the weather is just right. One of the best ways to enjoy such a setting is with a round of outdoor family games. Now is your chance to encourage kids to play outside. Whether you are a family of two or 20, there are backyard games for groups of all sizes. Are you competitive? Athletic? Artistic? The key to a good outdoor activity is the company you keep. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular outdoor events that you can try tonight.

Family of four using chalk on sidewalk outside
Maria Sbytova/


Who knew a simple disk could deliver so many hours of entertainment? The beauty of this energetic game is that it can be taught to those as young as 3 or 4 while still captivating adult audiences. Keep score or just challenge your distance as you try your hand at the ultimate form of catch. If you’re fortunate, you may have a frisbee park in your area with goal posts as well.


Thank goodness this game has all the right elements to be truly timeless. There has never been a better time to dust off the old set you have in the garage and set up your course on the lawn. Whack your colored ball through the rings and get to the other side. But watch out! You don’t want anyone else getting close to your ball, or else it’s back to the beginning for you.

Corn hole

The competitive event that has starred at many a pool party or barbecue, cornhole reminds us that teamwork really does make the dream work. Set your platforms several feet apart, and try to toss your beanbag through the hole. Points are awarded if you land on the board at all, but don’t get knocked off! Best played in singles or on double teams, and you can rotate the fun in this backyard favorite.


Isn’t it amazing how much fun a simple ball and net can provide? You can shake up each game by incorporating different kinds of balls. In addition to your classic volleyball, you could use a beach ball, or even a water balloon. Just don’t let it drop! Whether you have enough space for a full-court game or even hang your net across a pool, this competitive classic is a guaranteed hit.


Precision is what really counts in this game of patience and practice. Make it extra exciting by purchasing a jumbo set. For an increased challenge, you can set competitions for highest point value, greatest distance, or even worst throw. As always, be careful when small children are around, as a classic dart set often includes metal-tipped pieces.

Water balloons

Nothing capitalizes on great weather quite as much as a good, old-fashioned water activity. Water balloons are top of the list. Fill them up by the bucket and barrel for endless possibilities. Team up for your typical toss-to-hit battle or incorporate relay races and other similar challenges. Just make sure you have plenty to go around for a splashing good time.

Relay races

Water balloons are not the only way to create a good relay race. You can use any number of items to make a great memory. Eggs, whipped cream, and blindfolds are all great potential ingredients for the imagination. The key elements are: a starting point, a finish line, designated teams, and a physical pattern to follow. Although the classic potato sack race is still a blast, you can continue to innovate time and again.

Sidewalk chalk

This activity takes away the pressure of competition and allows your artistic side to show. This washable, colorful pastime gains new life each year when the weather turns warmer. Draw out a hopscotch board, or craft a mural that will grace your driveway until the next rain. Hours of entertainment can be had on a much larger canvas than paper could ever provide.

Some pastimes are an annual event, and some are worth bringing back. Outdoor and backyard games are fun to organize and a perfect addition to any family gathering. There are so many options for all ages. If you’re not sure what activity is ideal for your group, take a look at this list and see which pastimes you may have forgotten. After all, summer is the perfect time to bring out your inner child.

Toddler sitting on board of corn hole game
David Prahl/

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