My parenting style is typically quite minimalist; our playroom isn’t overwhelmed with toys and my kids play reasonably well with our collection. But I have also realized that summer days are long and we all need a little extra dose of fun to get through the next few months.
Getting the kids out of the house and into the backyard definitely helps keep them entertained and can be good for their learning and development. There are so many fun outdoor games available for kids these days, from giant bubbles to kickball croquet. You can turn your backyard — or front yard — into the ultimate summer play destination with any or all of these wonderful outdoor toys and games.
Outdoor games for families
Frisbee is a big deal in Seattle, and this game is a great way to improve your skills while having tons of fun. Kan Jam is simple, but has enough challenge to keep kids (and adults) entertained. To get started, stand back and try to toss the disk into the can or into the thin slot on the side if you are a real pro. The cans are lightweight and can be easily taken apart and stored flat.
If you enjoy pickleball but don't have room for a full court, this game is just what you are looking for. Four players gather around the small net court and bump, set and smash the ball into the court and over the net. Set it up in your yard and organize a neighborhood tournament today.
If you have a gaggle of kids to entertain, this is your answer. With everything you need for potato sack races, three-legged races, grab the tail, and an egg and spoon race, this game set is sure to entertain. It also comes with multiple pretend bronze, silver and gold medals so everyone goes home a winner.
Take sprinkler time up a notch with this glorious rainbow sprinkler featuring multiple jets. This giant family-size one is suitable for kids ages 18 months and older. If you are planning a summer party, this sprinkler is going to be a hit and a simple way to keep the kids entertained and cool the whole afternoon.
Just like the classic game, players race to feed their hippo fastest. But this adds a new twist — these hippos spray you with water!
This 16-foot-long inflatable water slide is the perfect way for kids to cool off on a hot summer day. Race to the end on the three included inflatable speed boards to cushion every splash landing. The continuous mist is provided by a connection to your garden hose. The kids will be jumping, sliding and splashing all day long. If you have the space, go for the extra-large 20-foot option.
Right hand blue, left foot green and water spraying everywhere. Get soaked while trying to be the last one standing to win this classic game.
Everyone loves to cool down in the water on a hot day, including your pup. Kids and dogs can enjoy this non-slip splash pad as they run through the jets of water. Anything that can tire out kids and the dog at the same time is a total win in my book.
Outdoor toys for toddlers
Inflatable pools have come a long way since I was a kid, and this one with a sprayer and a slide is just the right level of water play for toddlers.
I’ve never met a parent whose kids didn’t love a water table. This water table comes with a fishing game and launcher so your kids can spend their days catching and launching plastic fish.
Have a spray park in your own yard! This compact design sprays kids with water from multiple sides and even has a dump bucket for a bigger splash. Some reviews indicate that this toy might not stand the test of time, but at least you'll have some epic fun!
Creative summer toys
Nothing says summer quite like a corner lemonade stand. Since this stand needs to be colored to really shine, it's two activities in one. It's also easy to set up, and is made out of cardboard which can be easily recycled. While you're at it, why not get a few lemonade stand supplies, too? I don't know how many times my kids have set up a stand only to look at me blankly when I ask, "Where are the cups?"
Outdoor play tents
If there is one thing many kids love, it's a cozy space to call their own. These tents not only provide a space to play, their creative design is sure to spark their imagination.
Do you have a sidewalk near your home? A driveway? Fence? Top of a picnic table? Then you've got an art canvas. Kids will be amazed when you set out this set containing 160 pieces of sidewalk chalk. The creativity will flow all day long.
If your kids are older and sidewalk chalk has lost its appeal, give spray chalk a try. With spray chalk kids can draw not only on sidewalks, but grass and even snow. And the best part is it washes away with water. Who knows, you might discover you have the next Banksy on your hands.
For older kids who are able to wrangle a bubble wand, this kit will have them ready to make those giant bubbles you often see street entertainers creating. Your backyard will be turned into a party destination in no time. The good news is that the kit makes more than two gallons of bubble solution, so your kids can practice for a very long time.
Outdoor adventure toys
This giant round tree swing is perfect for whiling away those long summer days. It will bear up to 400 pounds in weight, so plenty of room for two kids or a parent to join in. Hang it under a tree to create the perfect place to read a book and enjoy some downtime.
At some point every day, one (if not both) of my children will get a bout of cabin fever and just want to bounce off anything and anyone. These inflatable body bumpers allow even the most active kids to bump and bonk safely to their heart’s content.
If the playground is a bit too far, bring a hint of the playground to your backyard. This kids' seesaw is small but sturdy and can accommodate two or four kids at a time, each weighing up to 100 pounds per seat, which means it’s great for little and big kids alike.
Croquet always reminds me of my grandmother, who hadn’t played a minute of sports in her life but was ruthless with a mallet. Of course, croquet is a bit of a dangerous endeavor with small children. Those balls are rock hard and absolutely destined to knock out a window or a tooth when left in the hands of children brimming with summer energy. But this kick croquet uses soft balls and giant wickets, so you can teach your children the art of this posh sport without the risk of replacing glass or treating concussions.
Let your kids climb your backyard trees with these tree-friendly foot holds. Each one has a strap that wraps around the tree trunk and locks in place with a crank clip. Setup is quick and the straps will fit most trees up to 28" in diameter. If you're thinking of placing these super high up in a tree, you might want to invest in a helmet! This product is recommended for kids ages 12 and older.
Looking for more outside fun and games?
Editor’s note: This article was originally published several years ago and was most recently updated in 2023. Kari Hanson contributed to this article.
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