Now that spring weather and warmer temperatures have arrived, it's time to venture. And with social-distancing requirements no longer in effect for small outdoor gatherings, you can finally return to parties, barbecues and all the other fun stuff we missed last year.
Like games! So gather up your friends and family and check out this list of some of the best games you can play outside. I've tried most of them; others are included here based on overwhelmingly positive reviews from customers. (Got a fun one of your own to recommend? Share it in the comments!)
Kubb (pronounced "koob") has been a Broida family favorite for years. This lawn game is great for all ages (even a young kid could play it), because all you have to do is toss a wood dowel and try to knock over wood blocks. It's a little bit horseshoes, a little bit chess, incredibly fun for two-on-two play (though team sizes can vary if you like). And unlike a lot of the games here, this yard game can be played even on super-windy days.
GoSports offers both regulation and backyard versions, the latter simply a bit smaller and priced $10 less. Either way, you'll need a reasonably spacious yard in which to play.
The problem with most cornhole games is they're big and heavy, making them hard to take from one place to another.
Tipping Point is self-contained and totally portable, and the game itself brings a little twist to the experience: Instead of two separate boards at either end of the play area, here you've got just one in the center. And it can tilt one way or the other if a bag lands just so -- making it that much more challenging to hit the hole.
You do need a flat, solid surface on which to play; Tipping Point isn't ideal for sandy beaches. But if you love cornhole and want a game you can carry in one hand, this is it.
The idea is pretty brilliant: A compact, portable pong set, complete with cups, balls, stands and carrying case. Now you can play beer pong just about anywhere, without having to devote an entire table to it.
The execution isn't perfect: The set comes with only two balls, so get ready to do a lot of chasing after bounce-off shots. And the various plastic parts all feel a little flimsy, making this feel a little overpriced for what it is.
But what it is is a ton of fun for fans of beer pong who want a fully portable solution.
Kan Jam is a really fun two-on-two game. The "Kan" is a hard-plastic bucket of sorts, one with a slot in the front. The goal is to fling a flying disc through that slot or into the top opening. If it's off course, your teammate can try to swat it into the Kan midflight. You get varying points depending on what happens. Then it's the other team's turn.
This outdoor activity is best for families with older kids, in part because it takes some coordination to fling accurately, which might be hard for a younger kid, and in part because Kan Jam can be hard on the hands; you're constantly swatting at a fast-moving, hard-plastic disc.
I don't know the Bottle Bash origin story, but I'd guess this outdoor game started with a fence post and a bottle: "Bet you can't throw that Frisbee and knock the bottle off!" This two-on-two game comes with two plastic posts (which are easy to stake into the ground), two plastic bottles that rest atop them and one flying disc.
The goal: knock that bottle off. Meanwhile, the defending team tries to catch the disc -- and the bottle, if you're able to hit it. We liked the handy score-keeping slider on each pole but found the game more challenging than expected: Even at the minimum 20-foot distance, hitting that pole or bottle isn't easy. Younger kids might get easily frustrated.
The reason cornhole and bean bag toss games are so popular is that people love trying to toss an object into a hole. RampShot takes that idea, widens the hole, and replaces your standard bean bag with rubber balls. Now it's a team game, with your teammate trying to catch the ball if it bounces off the surface and an opposing teammate trying to catch a rebound. Very simple, tons of fun.
However, while RampShot requires four players, only three are active during each round. The rounds go pretty quickly, but if you want an outdoor activity where everyone is participating all the time, pick something else.
Spikeball is a hugely popular outdoor game, condensing elements of volleyball down to a small, circular space. Instead of hitting a large ball over a straight net, you're smacking a softer, grapefruit-size ball onto a bouncy, ringed one, sort of like tetherball but without the string. It's a fun game, but quite challenging.
And be prepared, parents: This is a pretty physical game, one that requires fast movement and probably some diving if you want to win points. Consequently, this might be best for just the kids, although it does require four players.
Four square is the popular playground game involving a kickball and four chalked squares on the ground. Crossnet takes that classic game airborne, with a four-way volleyball net and ground boundaries that mark the squares. Once it's set up, you literally play four square, but with a volleyball. The net can be set at three different regulation heights, so the game is suitable for kids as well as adults -- though obviously it does require enough skill to hit a ball over a net.
It also requires a bit of time to set up and take down, so ideally it's something you'd leave set up in the yard. But it's well worth the effort. This is one of the few games with individual, rather than team, scoring, and although only four people can play per round, it's easy to rotate in additional players. (In other words, Crossnet is a great game and works well with larger families.)
Unfortunately, at this writing, this outdoor game is sold out at Amazon, and the company's website indicates that direct orders won't ship until early July.
Rollors is among the rare games that can be played one-on-one or two-on-two, and it's simple enough that kids as young as 4 years old can join in. The goal is simple: Roll your three wooden discs toward a little tower and try to get them as close as possible. Whoever gets closest scores points.
The game can be played on grass or sand and comes in a zippered carrying case.
OK, there's my list. What game(s) do you think you might try with the family?
This article was previously published.
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