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Game on: the best backyard party games for kids and adults

Popular Science logo Popular Science 29/06/2020 PopSci Commerce Team
a person standing in front of a building: Backyard fun for all. © Provided by Popular Science Backyard fun for all.

The battle against “screen time” only increases during the summer months when everyone has more free time and the temptation to sit in an air conditioned room with a TV or tablet is just oh so strong. So you have to work a little harder to get everyone out into the fresh air. Or, you know, maybe you’re just looking to give that weekend BBQ a little extra dose of flare. Either way, you have to consider some compelling activities.

We found some of the most unique, fun, and durable outdoor games for all ages. From classics to entirely new ideas, you’ll find something here that is guaranteed to liven up your yard.

a close up of a device: Toss it into any gathering. © Provided by Popular Science Toss it into any gathering.

Simple, sturdy, and always a crowd-pleaser, the classic game of cornhole is a mainstay of backyard parties and pre-game tailgates for a reason. It doesn’t require much set up, and the rules are as basic as can be. This set from Backyard Champs offers two lightweight aluminum metal-framed boards (with retractable legs that easily snap into place) and eight all-weather cornhole bags in bright red and blue. The whole kit is portable, and they even offer design options for the main boards—from basic black to red striped to an “old, weathered wood” design.

a close up of a box: Roll ‘em. © Provided by Popular Science Roll ‘em.

It’s about time someone took dice out of back alleys and gloomy casinos and made them fun for the whole family again. These industrial size (and strength) outdoor dice are made of weather-treated wood and stand about 3.5 inches tall. The set comes with a collapsible storage bucket and dry-erase boards for games of “Yardzee” and “Yardkle.” It offers your guests something different from another round of badminton, but don’t be surprised if Uncle Pete has to go home early because he “caught a string of cold dice” and now owes Cousin Timmy.

a group of people standing around a table: Not pictured: glaring children. © Provided by Popular Science Not pictured: glaring children.

Essentially a giant, outdoor version of the classic game “Connect 4,” the ECR4Kids 4-to-Score is a hit the minute you break it out. It’s both familiar to everyone but also unique in this oversize form, so it hits the mark for kids and adults alike. The game stands about 46 inches tall and is just a hair under 48 inches wide, so it doesn’t command a ton of space. It’s constructed of lightweight but durable plastic (with it all put together, it weighs only about 27 pounds), and the set comes with 21 yellow and green rings.

Watch where you're pointing that mallet. © Provided by Popular Science Watch where you're pointing that mallet.

If you’re entertaining in your backyard, why not stick to the tried and true? Maybe your guests have never actually played croquet before. Maybe they’re huge fans of the movie Heathers. Either way, this classic game delivers, and the GoSports set keeps it no frills and easy. From the sturdy wood construction of the six color-coded mallets and nine wickets to the easy-to-plant end posts (all easily stored away in an attractive carrying case), this is sure to be a hit at any BBQ.

a group of people playing frisbee in a grassy field: A band apart. © Provided by Popular Science A band apart.

The key to a successful backyard game is that it has to be, at its core, simple—simple to set up, simple to grasp, and simple for anyone to play. The Hiverst Cooperative Stretchy Band checks off all those boxes, presenting a stretchy band covered in soft wool, four small plastic bases, and a few soft squishy balls. The object is for kids (or adults) to stand inside the stretchy band and then reach for balls in each corner. The band is stretchy enough to offer resistance but not so strong that it can cause violent snapback. It’s fun, it’s more of a workout than it may seem, and it’s not likely a game many people have tried before. A great addition to your outdoor activities.

a group of people playing frisbee in a grassy field: A band apart.

A band apart.
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