Your Home Outdoors

8 Backyard Games to Play Away an Afternoon

August 23, 2018

Welcome to Your Home Outdoors, our summertime series on tips and tricks that'll help you live your best life outside―no matter the size of your space! So pull up a chair, grab a glass of something icy-cold, and join us.

You don’t need much to make a lazy summer afternoon feel endlessly relaxing: a few friends or a good book, a cold drink, and a bottle of sunscreen can give you a day that feels like it’ll never end—but throw in a few games, and you’ve got yourself a never-ending summer party.

The best summer games are the kind you can play anywhere, from the beach to the park to the patio; the kind that are fun for adults but easy enough for kids; and the kind that aren’t too competitive (it’s supposed to be a relaxing afternoon, remember?). To help you have the most fun for the remaining days of summer, here are eight backyard games to make the weekends last as long as possible.


Perhaps the most classic of all backyard games (and, perhaps, the game with the most uncomfortable-to-utter-aloud name), cornhole is deceptively fun. Sure, it may look like just a bean bag toss, but it’s so much more than that. Form teams, aim for the target, and get ready to develop a personal philosophy on “tossing strategy” in no time.

Travel Cornhole Set
Wooden Cornhole Set


Kubb is a Swedish game that’s sort of a mix between bowling and horseshoes. Wooden posts are planted in the grass or the sand (depending on where you’re playing) and teams take turns tossing batons at their opponents’ posts to knock them over. The game can be played with teams of any size, making it perfect for large groups. It’s another entry in the “seems simple, turns out to be super fun” game category.

Kubb Set


I’ll take any excuse to yell “Off with their heads!”...and with a croquet mallet in hand, no one will look at me funny. The goal of croquet is to hit balls through a series of hoops using a mallet. The fun of croquet is hitting balls through a series of hoops using a mallet. You also get to to say “That’s a sticky wicket” as many times as you’d like...or until your friends decide that it’s off with your head.

Croquet Set


Wherever you are—at a campsite, by a lake, in your front yard—bocce always lends a day a certain Italian charm. The game is simple: It’s basically pin-less lawn (or beach) bowling. But, like so many of these games, the subtleties of the roll are key, and are where the fun (and the challenges) lie. Mix up some Aperol spritzes and call it una buona giornata.

Bocce Set
Glow in the Dark Bocce Set


Some call pétanque the French bocce, which isn’t wrong...but isn’t quite right, either. Unlike bocce, which is similar to bowling, pétanque is all about the toss, sort of like horseshoes. Instead of a step-and-roll, in pétanque players toss the boules from a standing position, which requires a different kind of technique. Take a long, languid, French-style afternoon (complete with apéritif) to get the hang of it.

Petanque Set


Badminton is the kind of game that feels more serious than it is, in the best way. Sure, you could focus on your form and your backhand, offering your teammates tips for serving and setting. But you could also put up a net in the yard and whack the heck out of the birdie. Which you should definitely do.

Badminton Set

Ring Toss

The premise of ring toss is in the name: Toss the ring onto the pole. Think that sounds idiotically simplistic? Think that sounds like a game even children would tire from quickly? Think again. This is another game that requires excellent tossing skills and, for such a simple setup, manages to produce a surprising amount of fervor.

Ring Toss Set

Beach Bucket Ball

Beach Bucket Ball is like beer pong without the beer: Buckets are set up in a triangular formation and your mission is to sink the ball in the buckets. In beer pong, you have to drink the beer in the cup. In Beach Bucket Ball, the beer is optional. But if you’re spending the afternoon with nothing to do but play games, why not crack a cold one?

Beach Bucket Ball Set

Grilled Eats for Summer Days

What’s your go-to backyard game? Let us know in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • BerryBaby
  • Steve
Bunny Schulman

Written by: Bunny Schulman


BerryBaby August 23, 2018
Oh, also served retro dishes including a Jell-o molds and Popsicles.
BerryBaby August 23, 2018
Had a 'being a kid again' summer party for friends and we are all over 60.
We had a ball! Water balloon tossing contest, pass the cucumber between your knees, had an ice bucket filled with squirt guns, jars of bubbles on all the tables, we were feeling like kids again!
Had a blast!
Steve August 23, 2018
Lawn Darts!