50 Fun Outdoor Activities for Families
Sure, the idea of getting outside as a family sounds amazing. But what are you supposed to do in the great outdoors? (More importantly, how are you supposed to convince your kids that it’s more fun than screen time?) We’ve got ideas for families of all ages — check it out.
In the Backyard
- Backyard Bowling - Set up bowling pins made with cans or water bottles and use a soccer ball as your bowling ball. Compete with each other to see who can get a strike.
- Paint War - Put on old clothes and fill water guns with (non-toxic, washable) paint. It’s a water gun fight — with higher stakes.
- Fairy Houses - This activity works best if you live near a wooded area. Collect different items — acorns, twigs, flowers, etc. — and build tiny houses in the backyard. If you don’t want to reference fairies, you can make squirrel or rabbit houses.
- Pool Day - If you have little ones and no backyard pool, create a makeshift outdoor tub using plastic storage bins from your house. If your kids are too big to fit in the tubs themselves, try bobbing for apples! Genius Tip: You can also blow up an inflatable pool and try a couple of these pool party ideas.
- Water Balloon Fight - Have a family water balloon fight. If you want to make it really competitive, build bases that each team can hide behind.
- Hang Christmas Lights - At first, it might seem a little kooky, but who couldn’t use a little extra joy and light? Pull out the Christmas lights and decorate your house. Worried this means you’ll have to take them down again? We say that it is yet another excuse to go outside.
- Family Play - Set up a sheet as a backdrop in your backyard and put on a family play. Your kids can put it on for you and your spouse, or the whole family can put it on for the neighbors.
- Obstacle Course - Using items from your house, create an obstacle course in the backyard. Time each other as a family to see who can get through the course the fastest.
- Statue Garden - In this game, each family member picks a costume. Everyone stands in their statue pose, while one family member patrols. The first person caught moving then becomes the patrolling player.
- Stargazing - Before bed, take picnic blankets out to the yard and watch the stars together.
- Movie Under the Stars – Combine a craft with entertainment when you make your own homemade movie projector (use a mobile device along with a shoebox, some duct tape and a magnifying glass) and place a white sheet on the side of the house!
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Greenways, Trails, and Neighborhoods
- Bouquet - Taking a walk on a local greenway or trail? Bring a pair of scissors along and clip pretty flowers as you go to make bouquets for your home. Just be sure to leave some flora and fauna for the other trail-goers.
- Birdwatching - Print out a list of common birds in your area and take it with you on an early morning walk. See how many you can spot!
- Bikes and Scooters - Travel in style by getting out your bikes, scooters and roller skates for the whole family to ride.
- Mailbox Challenge - At each mailbox, one family member challenges the rest of the family to make it to the next mailbox while doing an activity (jumping on one leg, dancing, running, walking backward, singing, etc.)
- Landscape Art - Sit together as a family and draw a picture of the landscape. Pass the picture around, so that each family member can draw one thing about the scene in front of you.
- Tape Bracelets - Put a bracelet of tape on each family member’s wrist, sticky side out, and collect leaves and flowers on your bracelet along the walk.
- Nature Molds - Let each family member carry a chunk of Play-Doh out on a walk. Using leaves, rocks and flowers, make imprints of the things you discover on your walk.
- Be a Good Neighbor - Walk around your neighborhood together and leave encouraging notes and drawings in your neighbors’ mailboxes.
- Name that Sound Scavenger Hunt – Notice of all the unique or common sounds in and around your area. Compare how many sounds come from nature versus how many are man-made. Any sounds you don’t recognize? Daydream about what they might be!
- Newspaper Drawings - Lay out sheets of newspaper on the driveway and draw funny faces onto the photographs. Younger children can color in the cartoons as though they’re playing with a coloring book.
- Blow Bubbles - There are dozens of online recipes on how to make your own bubbles. Stir up a quick recipe and pop away!
- Hopscotch - Bring back that classic childhood game, hopscotch! Draw a grid on your driveway or sidewalk and challenge your family members to see who can make it through the fastest.
- HORSE/Knockout - If you have a basketball hoop, or there’s one nearby at a local park, play classic games like HORSE and Knockout.
- Highways and Byways - As a family, draw a city on your driveway and populate it with toy trucks and people. Move them around and play together.
- Spray Painting - Use spray bottles filled with water to paint pictures and letters on your driveway or sidewalk.
- Frozen Scavenger Hunt - Freeze some toys in a plastic container, then use tools as a family to crack the ice and find the frozen treasure.
- Maze - In chalk, draw a maze on the sidewalk/driveways and see how fast your family members can solve it.
- Minute to Win It - Head outside and play some minute to win it games! Need ideas? Check out our article, Top 50 Minute to Win It Games.
- Sponge Race - Place two buckets at opposite ends of your driveway or city block. One bucket should be empty, the other one filled with water. Race a sponge back and forth to see how fast you can fill the empty bucket. If your family is big enough, split into two teams for this game.
- Giant Tic-Tac-Toe and Checkers - Create a tic-tac-toe board on your driveway and play together as a family. For more fun, get out a set of checkers and draw the board on your driveway to play together.
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No Equipment Necessary
- Leaf Hunt - Go on a hunt around your neighborhood to see how many different kinds of leaves you can collect. When you get home, sort them into categories and find their similarities and differences.
- Puddle Splashing - Rainy day? No problem. Get outside and splash in as many puddles as you can. Just be sure to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
- Rainbow Scavenger Hunt - On a walk, find or point out an item for every color in the rainbow.
- Sharks and Minnows - In this game, two family members are the sharks, while the rest are the minnows. The minnows have to race from one end of the yard to the other without being tagged by the shark. If tagged, a minnow becomes a shark in the next round.
- Worm Relocation - If it’s been raining, go out on a family mission to move worms from the sidewalk back to the grass.
- Flower Pressing - Gather flowers and press them together. Once you have let the pressed flowers dry, make paintings and art with them! Genius Tip: For more craft ideas, check out these 100 summer craft ideas for kids.
- Acrobatics - In your backyard or a grassy area, practice your cartwheels, somersaults and round-offs together.
- Disney Tag - Play freeze tag together. To unfreeze yourself, you have to name a Disney character. If you want to narrow it down, you can limit your family members to only pick characters from a favorite movie.
- Bike and Scooter Races - Mark out start and finish lines, pick your preferred vehicle, then time each other to see who can finish the fastest.
- Red Light, Green Light - One caller stands at the opposite end of the yard from the players. The caller yells out red light (stop) and green light (go) to see who can reach the end the fastest. That person becomes the caller for the next round.
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Learning and Chores
- Wash the Car - Pull your car out into the driveway and have a good old-fashioned car wash! You might get sprayed with the hose a few times, but it’ll be worth it.
- Toy Bath - Are your children’s toys getting a bit grimy? Fill a bin with soapy water and have each child bring a box of his/her toys out to “give them a bath.”
- Coach and Players - If one of your family members plays a sport, let him or her be coach for the day and teach you all the drills they use to practice. Genius Tip: Get inspired with these team building ideas for sports.
- Laundry Line - Create a makeshift laundry line in the backyard and go environmental for the day by air-drying your laundry. To make this more fun for younger kids, wash doll clothes and hang them out on the line too.
- Music Maker - Fill glasses with different levels of water to create a series of notes. Try to recreate popular songs together using your makeshift instrument.
- Afternoon Tea - Do schoolwork outside by having an afternoon tea where you and your family eat snacks and read together on blankets.
- Driveway Math Problems - Do math problems in chalk on your driveway as a family.
- Plant a Garden - Whether in your backyard or just in pots, plant a garden as a family. Tend to your plants by weeding and watering them.
- Multiple Choice - Draw four squares on the driveway with the choices A, B, C, D inside. Ask questions (they can be school-related or just silly) and have your family members run to the correct square.
What are you waiting for? Grab your sneakers and get moving!
Kayla Rutledge is a college student who spends most of her time writing, singing for her church and eating quesadillas.