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