The weather in Texas is finally starting to feel like summer and I’m here for it. While the weather might protest, I am dying to get outside among friends and play some outdoor games designed for adults. Trust me— it’s about to get competitive.
It’s crazy to think how far we’ve come since the COVID-19 lockdowns. But if there’s one thing I’ve taken from that time (and trust me, I’ve learned a lot), it’s to always make the most of the time I have with loved ones. This summer, that means more art projects than I’ve done since middle school and reading more books than I’ve ever been assigned to read. I only wish I had this list of boredom-busters back in March 2020.
My favorite part, though? Getting outside for some fresh air and playing games like we were kids again. It truly brings my family so much joy to be outside, getting some exercise, and enjoying each other’s company.
Featured image by Kristen Kilpatrick.
Just in Time for Summer: 19 Outdoor Games for Adults
Let me tell you, our activities get heated in the best way possible. Now that the weather is starting to cooperate, I can’t wait to recreate these ‘field days’ with family and friends. If you are looking for fun ways to spend time with your loved ones, keep reading for our list of the best outdoor games for adults to spark ideas for your weekend plans.
Bocce Ball is one of the easiest and yet most competitive games you could possibly play. I grew up having bocce tournaments in my grandparents’ backyard and those games are some of my fondest memories to this day. (Although I think we were more invested in what color ball we got to throw than the game itself).
The game is played with eight large balls and a pallina—a smaller ball. The goal is to have your ball land as close to the pallina as possible. While it takes little-to-no skill or effort, watching your ball land right next to the pallina and then roll 10 feet away can definitely get your blood boiling! This set even glows in the dark, so the fun doesn’t have to stop when the sun goes down.
Paddleball is one of my favorite games and simultaneously the one that I am worst at. (But hey, that makes it all the more entertaining!) I have vivid memories of my parents having intense paddle ball competitions on the beach as a kid and they made it look so easy. I would always end up frustrated that I couldn’t hit the ball more than five times in a row. That’s why I stand by the fact that it is, indeed, one of the best outdoor games for adults.
While I’m still unsure if my family plays by the real rules, we love counting how many times we can hit the ball back and forth without it hitting the ground. This set by The Beach People is stunning and makes any player feel like a pro.
Is it just me or have you been hearing about and seeing pickleball everywhere these days? Whether it’s an outdoor double date or a neighborhood tournament, everyone is raving about this game. It’s similar to tennis but is played on a badminton-sized court with special paddles and a wiffle-esque ball. I have noticed more and more parks building pickleball courts and have even been to a few friends’ houses where they have their own in their backyards!
Four Square Volleyball
When researching the rules of four square for my family, I came across this four-square volleyball game set and have been dying to get it ever since. It’s the love child of classic four square and volleyball and seems to have “I’m addicting” written all over it.
The rules are the same as four-square, but instead of bouncing it into someone else’s square, you spike it! This game will be the main event of your next barbecue, guaranteed. But until I get a net and set of my own, I’ll still be playing traditional four square. You should, too.
Corn hole is one of those classic outdoor games that never gets old. It’s also a very low-energy game, one that you can play with a drink in one hand and a conversation going all at once.
Each player must do their best to toss their bean bag into the hole in the board. Scoring is simple: one point for the bag landing anywhere on the board, two for it hanging off the rim, and three for making it in. While you can always find corn hole boards with more character, I suggest getting a simple wood set and getting creative. I have seen beautiful boards with the family’s name hand-painted across and have been to a few events where everyone gets to sign and date the board using colorful paint pens, add their handprints, and more.
You may be wondering if Jenga is truly an outdoor game, but make it giant and it is no longer safe for the kitchen table. (Just ask our executive producer Michelle about her broken water glass fiasco.) If you haven’t played, you basically arrange all of the blocks to build a tower and remove them one by one without letting it come collapsing down. Michelle’s advice? “Just avoid a windy area and definitely keep all drinks out of the crash radius.” This set by SunnyLife is gorgeous and would also make a great gift.
Spikeball is one of the ultimate outdoor games for adults, as it can be played in the grass, on the beach, and even in the pool. This one will definitely get your heart pumping as you have to be quick on your feet to slap the ball onto the trampoline in the middle of the players before it gets away from you. Our motherhood contributor, Brandy Joy Smith, and her family are huge fans of this one—adults and kids alike.
I know this isn’t your typical outdoor game, but when our contributing editor, Anne Campbell sent me these gorgeous Backgammon sets, I couldn’t help but add them to the mix. She recommends setting the game out on a picnic table and it doubles as pretty décor, too! This is definitely a scene I can get behind—sitting in the backyard, Flatland Calvary playing in the background, a glass of rosé, and some friendly competition.
No list of outdoor games for adults would be complete without horseshoes. My dad made a homemade horseshoe pit in our backyard when I was little, and although it has since been covered in grass and overtaken by weeds, I am now dying to fix it up.
All you need is two stakes, two horseshoes, and lots of patience to hook the horseshoe around the stake. This traditional Texas game is a favorite of our editor, Lauren Zielinski. She notes that “It’s actually not as easy as it looks if you’ve never played, and nostalgically takes me back to little honky-tonk bars with free jukeboxes, open doors, and plenty of ice-cold Lonestar beer in deep South Texas.”
While some people might want to leave beer pong in their college days, I recommend giving the game an upgrade and trying out BucketBall. It’s basically the same as traditional beer pong, but with bigger buckets and a tennis-sized ball. You can play with or without the alcohol, but the alcohol definitely makes it harder, funnier, and, well… an outdoor game for adults. It takes all the fun and competitiveness from the original game but leaves out the lukewarm beer and germ-covered ping pong balls. If you happen to have 20 trash bins lying around, feel free to make it jumbo and play with a basketball.
Even though this might be played inside the majority of the time, ping pong can certainly be considered an outdoor game. There are plenty of tables that are built to withstand weather conditions, so why wouldn’t you play the game outside? Riley, our contributing editor, acknowledges that ping pong requires some skill and coordination but is loved and appreciated by all.
Play it at the beach or enjoy it in the backyard, ladder toss is a game that always gets people on their feet. If you’ve always put off participating in this game (like me), now is your time. It’s one of those games that doesn’t take a high level of skill and can be enjoyed by all ages. The game itself is on the less-expensive side, making it an affordable addition to your outdoor game repertoire.
Dartboards are always a load of fun, but sometimes they can get dangerous. With kids and dogs running around, it’s not always feasible to have metal darts flying across the yard. That’s why this magnetic dart board set is the perfect solution that will keep everyone entertained. The boards can be hung from practically any object that will allow it, making it easy to transport this game to any get-together.
As an avid golfer with three daughters who weren’t too into the sport growing up, croquet was something that my dad loved to set up in the backyard and play with my sisters and me. He loved to teach us how to hold the club and take aim as we hacked away trying to get the ball through the small hoops. Again, we never paid too much attention to the rules, but it was always so fun to see who could make it through the course first.
Contributing editor, Anne Campbell describes the game best: “It’s fun for all ages and it looks good on the lawn, whether it’s being used, or not. (Even more perfect when paired with mint juleps and sundresses…)” We couldn’t agree more.
Ring toss games have always been a personal favorite. Bring it outside, keep it on the patio, or enjoy it at the kitchen counter. The possibilities are endless with this portable and highly entertaining ring toss game. It’s lightweight, affordable, and highly addicting.
Twister is the epitome of a nostalgic childhood game. It gets everyone moving and laughing— especially when you’re forced to stretch muscles that haven’t been activated since the years of high school sports. This particular version is perfect for any pool-party or outdoor gathering where getting wet is a guarantee.
Four-In-A-Row isn’t typically played on such a large scale, but putting this game on the outdoor patio surrounded by delicious appetizers will definitely keep your crowd engaged. It’s like tic-tac-toe—utterly simple yet highly thought-provoking. You’ll definitely get into heated competition when it comes to this game!
This outdoor game is great for when your group is feeling motivated for some friendly competition. If you have a trustworthy scorekeeper or board, backyard bowling can turn your backyard into the high-energy bowling alleys you loved visiting as a kid.
This post was originally published on February 14th, 2021, and has since been updated.