Let the games begin!

By Kimberly Holland
Updated April 14, 2021
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Legs and bare feet of young couple playing croquet on grass
Stanton j Stephens/Getty Images
| Credit: Stanton j Stephens/Getty Images

Backyard picnics and barbeques are a family's sanctuary from the world. They're the perfect time to relax, reconnect, and soak up sunshine and laughter, while digging into salads and sandwiches, too, of course. As the weather warms up (or cools down if you live in the hottest of climates), you can take all the excuses you can find to spend more time outdoors, including a bit of good-natured gaming.

Playing games can help lower stress, build bonds, and even improve cognitive function. And playing lawn games gets everyone outside for a healthy dose of vitamin D. (Don't forget the sunscreen.) Backyard games can be traditional contests — tic-tac-toe and checkers, perhaps — but on a grander scale. There are also games solely meant for outdoor play; cornhole and lawn darts are best played in your yard.

If you've got some outdoor events planned this season, go ahead and stock up on a lawn game or two so you and your crew have plenty of reasons to stay outside and enjoy some light-hearted competition. Keep reading for a list of 10 great lawn games that kids and adults can both enjoy.

Mini Golf

GoSports Pure Putt Challenge Mini Golf Game
Credit: Amazon

If your family's tradition of mini golf during your yearly vacation was rained out or quashed because of shut-downs, you can keep the tradition going with your own backyard match. With equipment for nine holes, you can turn your yard into a course fit for a PGA tour. And if it rains, bring the game of mini golf inside.

"We love this set. We got a couple of light up balls & 2 glow stick bracelets fit purrrfectly in the holes. Borrowed a set of clubs. Backyard mini golf competitions are soooo on. Loooots of fun," one reviewer wrote.

Buy it: GoSports Pure Putt Challenge Mini Golf Game, $30; Amazon

Bocce Ball

lawn bowling game
Credit: Amazon

Never heard of bocce ball? It's a good time to learn together as a family! This fun game is one of the oldest lawn games, having originated in Italy several millennia ago. It's a bit like bowling, but it has some elements of curling if your family loves that sport every time the winter Olympics roll around. Great for all ages, bocce could very well become your family's next favorite reason to get outside.

Buy it: Franklin Sports Bocce Ball Set, $66; Amazon

Ring Toss

Perfect Life Ideas Bottle Ring Toss Game
Credit: Amazon

How many bottles will you capture? And what's on the line in this game of ring toss? For adults, it would be fun to put bottles of beer or cider in the box (bottles aren't included with the game), and the drinks you encircle are yours at the end. For kids, use bottles of soda, sparkling water, or sports drinks.

Buy it: Perfect Life Ideas Bottle Ring Toss Game, $20; Amazon

Cornhole Set

Retro Stained Boat Shoe Cornhole Set with Bags
Credit: Etsy

A favorite at backyard barbeques and laid-back breweries, cornhole has quickly become the must-have lawn game. The boards are large and often quite heavy, but they can be beautiful and a true statement piece in your backyard. These boards are beautifully stained for a durable finish. You can also pick your bag colors to match any outdoor decor or team allegiances you may have.

Buy it: Retro Cornhole Set With Bags, $210; Etsy

Tic-Tac-Toe

Giant Tic Tac Toss Yard Game
Credit: Amazon

This lawn game is great for kids who are just learning the joy of a tic-tac-toe duel. But instead of paper and pencil, you'll use large wooden Xs or Os and toss them into one of nine squares made by rope frame.

Buy it: Giant Tic Tac Toss Yard Game, $50; Amazon

Lawn Darts

Lawn Darts Game
Credit: Amazon

Another great lawn game for adults and kids, lawn darts puts your throwing skills to the test. This set packs up well so you can take it with you to a park or beach. And if the sun is setting and the yard is getting darker by the second, don't worry. These darts and rings glow.

Buy it: Glow-in-the-Dark Lawn Darts Game, $40; Amazon

Stacking Tower

Giant Tumbling Timbers
Credit: Amazon

Take the tabletop game of Jenga and blow it up for outdoor play. This giant game of Tumbling Timbers has everything you love — suspense, agony, the thrill of victory. But when it's all stacked for the start of the game, it's 2.5 feet tall and can grow to taller than 5 feet. The 56-piece game is made from New Zealand Pine kiln dried hand sanded pieces.

Buy it: Giant Tumbling Timbers, $70; Amazon

Ladder Toss

AmazonBasics Ladder Toss Outdoor Lawn Game Set
Credit: Amazon

If your family is eager for a challenge, use this ladder toss game as a chance to learn something new. Designed for two or four players, this game calls on players to toss bolas (those are strings with golf balls on each end) toward the ladder. Points are awarded based on where the boula lands — the higher rungs earn you more points. When the picnic is over, this game breaks down for easy storage in a carrying case.

Buy it: Ladder Toss Outdoor Lawn Game, $40; Amazon

Connect Four

Giant 4 Connect in a Row
Credit: Amazon

While the burgers cook and the beers chill, bring out this giant-sized Connect Four board for kids or adults to play. The game stands 2.5 feet tall and nearly 3 feet wide, so it can be propped up on a table or placed in the yard. To keep things moving, time each player so they don't waste precious seconds fretting over their next move. Who will connect four first?

Buy it: Giant 4 Connect in a Row, $90; Amazon

Croquet Set

Family Traditions 8 Player Wooden Croquet Set
Credit: Amazon

You don't need a perfectly manicured lawn or fancy white outfits for this game. You just need a beautiful croquet set and some friends to play. This set is handmade by craftsmen in Holmes County, Ohio, and it comes with enough balls and mallets for eight. "Excellent craftmanship in a quality old school style outdoor set. Very happy with our purchase, and I'm sure it will be around for a long time!" one reviewer wrote.

Buy it: Family Traditions 8 Player Wooden Croquet Set, $340; Amazon

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