The weather in Texas is finally starting to look like spring (even though Punxsutawney Phil has predicted six more weeks of winter) and I’m here for it. While my allergies might protest, I am dying to get outside among friends (safely of course!) and play some outdoor games for adults.
It’s crazy to think we’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 lockdowns, but our family is taking the same positive approach as the beginning of lockdown and making the best of it. 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 brought my family so much joy to be outside, getting some exercise, and being competitive.
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And let me tell you, our activities got 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 ways to safely spend time with your loved ones, read these tips, and then read on 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 Backyard Bocce Ball tournaments in my grandparents’ backyard with my sisters 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, and 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 that makes it all the more entertaining. I have vivid memories of my parents having intense paddle ball competitions on the beach in Galveston 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, which is why I stand by the fact that it is, indeed, an outdoor game for adults. While I am still unsure that my family plays by the real rules, we have the best time 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.
As an avid golfer with three daughters that 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 how to 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 described 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.
Is it just me or have you been hearing about and seeing pickleball everywhere these days? Whether it is 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 backyard! Look up your nearest court or get this set from Target and go try out the game that no one can stop talking about.
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 is 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 barbeque, guaranteed. Until I get a net and set of my own, however, I’ll still be playing traditional four square, and you should, too.
Corn hole is one of those classic outdoor games that will never get 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. It is essentially a bean bag tossed played in teams in which each player must do their best to toss their bean bag into the hole in the board. Scoring is also 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 them 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 questioning if Jenga is truly an outdoor game, but make it giant and it is no longer safe for the kitchen table… just ask senior producer, Michelle Nash about her broken water glass fiasco. If you haven’t played, you basically arrange all of the blocks a certain way 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, 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 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. The sets come in green, red, and blue and I will be spending way too much time deciding which color to add to my game collection.
No list of outdoor games 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, and she notes: “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 is 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.
Ping Pong Table
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 Reed, our contributing editor, acknowledges that Ping Pong requires some skill and coordination, but it is loved and appreciated by all.