The sun is shining, the kids are away at summer camp and you’ve got the whole weekend to yourself. So what better way to pass the time than breaking out some of your favorite backyard games for adults and inviting your friends over for a few games, a few laughs and, of course, a few cold ones?
Can’t decide what to play? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
In this guide, we offer our pick of the ten very best outdoor games suitable for adults, each one adding something different to your next summer BBQ, tailgate party, or family get-together.
Top 10 Best Backyard Games for Adults
|Bow and Arrow
|Hook and Ring
1. Bottle Bash
Sometimes known as Polish Horseshoes, Beersbee, or Poles, Bottle Bash goes straight to the top of our list because it combines everything we look for in a good outdoor game and then some.
First of all, there’s simplicity. Bottle Bash is such a breeze to set up and play that you could easily get a game underway in a couple of minutes.
Simply place two poles into the ground either 20, 30, or 40ft apart and place a bottle on top of each pole.
Next, divide into teams and take turns at throwing a flying disc at your opponent’s bottle and knock it off the pole. As the defending team, your job is to catch both disc and bottle before they hit the ground.
Then there’s the game set itself.
If the idea of knocking bottles around seems a little dangerous, there’s no need to worry. With the official Bottle Bash Standard Outdoor Game Set, you get a couple of unbreakable bottles, plus the poles and flying discs, all of which are not only super durable but really well-designed, adding a cool look to your summer bbq, garden party, or day at the beach.
Finally, there’s the most important factor of all:
One of the most entertaining games we’ve played in a long while, Bottle Bash is best suited for four or more players divided into teams, making it a great game to break out any time you get together with a bunch of friends.
Overall, a simple yet incredibly enjoyable yard game with well-built equipment that’s sure to provide you with hours of fun for years to come.
If you prefer something slightly less taxing than the high-energy hijinks of Bottle Bash, you might find the classic game of Croquet more your speed.
Though it may suffer from a reputation as being the exclusive reserve of the elite and well-to-do, this ancient game of skill and strategy has proven to be a hit at picnics and garden parties across the United States.
Over time, it’s begun to develop a brand new reputation as one of the best backyard games for adults who prefer much more relaxing get-togethers with games that focus more on wits and ingenuity than speed and adrenaline.
Buying a good quality croquet set (complete with mallets, balls, stakes, and wickets) means you’ve got everything you need to play one of the many different versions of the game that have developed over the years, each one offering its own unique and entertaining challenges.
That said, we prefer the version known as Six Wicket American Croquet, partly because it’s the one most of our friends in the US are familiar with, but mostly because it’s genuinely the most fun.
Fast, frantic, and fantastically fun, spikeball is a high-octane team game that’s guaranteed to get your blood pumping and your adrenaline flowing.
To play, place the spikeball net in the middle of a large playing area and divide into two teams. The first team serves the ball by spiking it into the net so that it bounces out and towards the other team.
From then on, both teams battle it out to score points, with each team allowed to touch the ball no more than 3 times before it touches the net again and bounces out to the other players.
Unlike some outdoor games, there are no boundaries or limitations in spikeball.
Players are allowed to go wherever they need to go to stop that ball from hitting the ground, so expect plenty of running around and maybe the occasional Superman-like dive if you’re going to emerge victoriously.
If you were planning to relax and take it easy, Spikeball may not be the game for you, but if you’re looking for a great way to stay active this summer, this is definitely a great game to consider.
4. Bow and Arrow
What’s not to love about archery? An ancient sport with a thoroughly modern set-up, this timeless target game takes minutes to learn but a lifetime to master.
If you’re looking for a great summer alternative to being stuck inside playing darts, then you’ll love breaking out the bow and arrows and pitting your wits in an invigorating game that, much like your favorite darts games, requires a steady hand and an eye for accuracy.
The best part is that you don’t have to be a master bowsman to enjoy archery. Beginner-level bow and arrow sets are specifically designed to help you get to grips with the basics in no time.
Ah Cornhole, an American summertime institution up there with baseball, July 4th fireworks, and hot dogs.
Like horseshoes and other classic backyard games, Cornhole has long been a staple at picnics, parties, and family get-togethers, often proving popular thanks to its simple set up and straight forward rules.
Cornhole boards like the ones in this classic set from GoSports take less than a minute to set up, while the rules make it so easy to play that you could still be in with a fair chance of scoring some points even if you’d already downed a few beers before the game began.
Don’t believe us? Check out our step-by-step guide to playing Cornhole to discover all the fun of this great American classic for yourself.
Sometimes known as ladder toss or ladder golf, ladderball is a relatively new outdoor game that’s great for those chilled out gatherings when you’re looking for a relaxing way to while away the afternoon.
The aim is to throw your trusty bolos (two golfball-like balls connected by a short piece of rope) onto the rungs of the specially designed ladderball ladder. The higher the rung, the more points you pick up.
It sounds easy, but there’s a real skill involved in consistently landing those higher rungs, making it a great game for all abilities.
To get your game started, you’ll need a quality ladderball set like this one from GoSports, but if that doesn’t float your boat, check out some top alternatives in our guide to the top 10 best ladderball sets.
If you liked the disc-throwing aspect of our top-ranked game, Bottle Bash, but found the targets just a little too small for your liking, you might find a lot to love about KanJam.
By far one of our favorite backyard games for adults to have come along in the last couple of years, KanJam involves dividing into teams, with each team striving to get that flying disc into the can-like goal more times than your opponents.
It’s exciting, competitive, and comes with several cool twists and variations to keep things interesting.
Though you can technically play a version of the game using any old frisbee and a couple of garbage cans, we prefer to use an official KanJam set to enjoy the game the way it was meant to be played.
Need to brush up on the rules before you get started? See our beginner’s guide to playing KanJam.
8. Hook and Ring
Some call it Tiki Toss, others prefer the name Ring Toss, while others still know this traditional British pub favorite as Ringing the Bull. Yet if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that it really is as simple as it sounds:
Throw your rings over a hook mounted to the wall and the player who successfully gets the most rings over said hook is declared the victor.
As basic as it sounds, there’s no denying that Hook and Ring can quickly get addictive, and you’ll find yourself heading back to the hook to practice even after everyone else at the party has gone home.
9. Bocce Ball
Over the past couple of years, bocce ball has enjoyed a surge in popularity as an indoor bar game, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t every bit as enjoyable outdoors as it ever was.
A standard outdoor bocce ball game set comes with a small, white ball known as a pallino and a set of eight balls, with four balls for each team.
The goal is to get your team’s balls as close to the pallino as possible, and if that means you have to knock your opponent’s balls out of the way to do so, then hey, so be it.
This straightforward strategy gives bocce ball an enjoyable competitive edge that you might easily overlook if your only experience with the game is watching a few old folks leisurely roll the balls on a bocce ball court.
Speaking of which…
Official bocce ball rules dictate that the game should be played on a standard court, though if you’ve only got a modest amount of space in your backyard, that will work just as well for a quick game with friends on a sunny afternoon.
And finally, no guide to the best outdoor games for adults could ever be complete without mentioning the traditional game of horseshoes.
This all-time classic dates way back to the 1800s, if not earlier, drawing influence from the popular Victorian pastime of quoits.
Despite being over a century old, horseshoes remain as widely-played today as ever was, with best-selling horseshoes sets popping up at picnics, tailgating parties, family reunions, and just about every kind of outdoor gathering you can think of.
If you loved the other throwing games on this list such as Cornhole and Hook and Ring, you’ll love horseshoes, a game that’s perfect for players of all abilities.
Since all you have to do is throw your horseshoes at the two stakes, beginners can pick the game up in minutes, while more experienced players will have hours of fun trying to outdo each other’s highest score.
For a breakdown of the rules, see our complete guide to playing horseshoes, or check out our DIY instructions for building your own horseshoes pit.
How to Choose the Best Outdoor Game for Adults to Play
If our list of the ten best adult-friendly backyard games has left you feeling a little spoiled for choice, there’s a quick and easy way to determine which one is best suited for your next outdoor gathering.
If you can’t make your mind up between Bocce Ball or Bottle Bash, KanJam or Cornhole, simply ask yourself the following key questions:
What Kind of Get-Together are You Planning?
Is it going to be a lively, vibrant affair with friends who like to stay active, run around, and work up a sweat? If so, you’re going to want an exciting, fast-paced game like Bottle Bash or Spikeball.
If it’s a chilled out afternoon where the games should be fun without requiring too much energy, a more relaxing game like Bocce Ball may be more your speed.
How Much Space do You Have?
Are you heading to the beach or a park with lots of wide-open space? In that case, you’ll have plenty of room to set up a game such as KanJam.
How Much of a Challenge do You Want?
Setting up a game of Bow and Arrows can be a great way for skilled players to while away the afternoon, but for absolute novices, it can prove to be so much of a challenge that playing it is more frustrating than enjoyable.
In other words, think about who you’ll be playing with, and adapt accordingly.
Other Enjoyable Backyard Games to Try Out
If none of the games we’ve featured in this guide quite do it for you, don’t worry, there are lots of alternatives.
If you enjoyed the throwing aspect of games such as horseshoes and cornhole, you should enjoy the unique game of Mölkky, a skittles-like game that is quickly becoming a hit across the United States.
Need something a little more exciting to really get the blood pumping? You could do far worse than a good old fashioned game of Tetherball.
And if neither of those are quite right either, check out our guide to the best oversized outdoor games such as Giant Jenga and Giant Connect four, games which provide all the fun of the indoor classics with the added hilarity of the huge game pieces, making them the perfect choice for your next grown-up gathering.