Looking for some fun backyard games to play at your next barbecue or family party? Good ol' fashioned group games — from sack races to Cornhole and other toss games — are all the rage these days! So check out our video and list of our favorite old and new outdoor games (to buy or DIY) that will make your backyard the ultimate kid-friendly party spot this summer. Many of these games are great for the beach too!
Potato Sack Race
Sack races, aka "gunny races," became popular at carnivals in the 1800s, and they're still a hoot today. All you need is a burlap sack or large, sturdy pillow case for each participant (it should reach their waist), and plenty of space for them to hop to the finish line. If you don't have sacks on hand, a three-legged race is a fun and easy alternative. Try pairing kids with adults!
Spikeball, a cool cross between four square and volleyball, is sure to be a hit at your next barbecue! To play, smack the palm-size ball onto the net so it bounces back up toward your opponent, who then gets three tries to control it and bounce it back to you. When a player misses, the other scores a point. The first one to 21 wins!
Cornhole or Beanbag Toss
This beanbag toss game is simple but requires the perfect combination of luck and skill. Official "regulation" cornhole is played with two sets of wooden boards (24x48 inches) set 27 feet apart (which is pretty far!), so it's better suited for older kids and adults. But you can find plenty of kid-friendly beanbag toss games on the market. If you're handy at building things, you can build your own cornhole game!
Bocce or Boochie
Bocce is a classic outdoor game with roots in the Roman Empire! It can be played on grass or on the beach (damp, firm sand works best). Standard bocce balls weigh 2 pounds, which is heavy for kids (and some adults!), so be sure to pair-off your teams fairly! Little kids who are too young to play will get a kick out of tossing the "pallino" (little ball that is used as the target).
A new bocce-inspired family game called Boochie is a more kid-friendly option (recommended for ages 8 and up). It combines a variety of tossing challenges using lightweight "bean balls" and plastic rings, and has a relatively short playing time.
Yeehaw! Round up your cowboys and cowgirls for this classic backyard game. You can buy rubber horseshoe sets these days, which are much more kid-friendly than traditional metal horseshoes. The National Horseshoe Pitchers Association guidelines call for the two stakes to be 40 feet apart, but we think it's fine to place them closer together for the youngins.
Like horseshoes and cornhole, washer toss (aka "washers" or "urban horseshoes") is another fun tossing game that's easy to play with a cold drink in one hand. You can buy it or build your own single-hole or three-hole washers game, if you're handy.
Kan Jam or Frisbee Golf
Frisbee fans will love Kan Jam, a disc toss game for all ages that can be played in the backyard or on the beach. The goal is for teams to toss the discs into the slot or on top of the large cans. If you have some Frisbees and some (clean) buckets, trash cans, or recycling bins, you can play a basic DIY version of this game. And there's always Frisbee golf — another game that requires aiming plastic discs at different targets.
How low can you go? There's a pretty good chance the kids will beat the adults at this classic luau game — unless you're feeling pretty limber! You can use a long pole or broom, or you can buy a bamboo limbo pole online. Some Hawaiian tunes or other festive music make this game highly entertaining! It's an excellent choice for the beach or a pool party.
This award-winning active play game combines the fun of horseshoes, bocce ball, and bowling. It involves rolling wooden discs toward a pyramid-shaped target, and trying to get the discs to land with the higher point value facing up. Watch this video review to see how it's played. Families are raving about it!
Giant Tumble Tower
Here's another awesome wooden game. This one can be played outdoors or inside (where there's plenty of space). Giant Tumble Tower is like a 5-foot-tall version of the classic board game Jenga. It comes with 56 hardwood blocks that measure 8x3x2 inches (so you could build your own version!). Because of its size, this game is better for older kids.
This game (aka "lasso golf," "ladder golf," "golf toss," or "ladder toss") involves tossing "bolas" — roped pairs of golf balls — around different rungs of a PVC "ladder." The bolas are pretty hard, so be careful playing with young children around. If you're pretty handy with a hacksaw, you can build your own ladder ball game.