Coming from the strict quarantine of the spring and into the stark summer sun, everyone is itching to get outside and spend some quality time with one another. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of outdoor games that are suitable for the whole family and can be played one-on-one or with larger groups — depending on your circumstances. For some laidback fun in the sun, crack open a beer and check out the top 5 lawn games for this scorching summer.
A game of increasing popularity that can even be watched on ESPN, and an all-ages favorite, is Cornhole. You’ve probably played it before or seen it played in an outdoor area at a bar, but this game can easily be played at home, too. Grab some boards and bags, at least one another person (although two-on-two is optimal), and get tossing. The premise is simple: throw your bean bag into the hole. Similar to skee ball, but with one target and more distance, Cornhole is an easy and intuitive game to play all day — just remember to re-apply your sunscreen.
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Similarly, a couple of games that require minimal equipment for maximum fun are Bocce Ball and Pétanque. Both were developed and popularized in Europe (Italy and France, respectively) and operate with similar rules. The objective is to toss your balls closest to the jack and earn points. And while the balls, throwing styles, and acceptable terrains for these games may differ, your freshly cut lawn is suitable for playing both. Simply grab a tape measure and the appropriate bocce or boules (balls) to get playing. However, if you’re looking for a game with a quicker pace and more excitement, Spikeball might be right for you.
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Spikeball is the rebrand of a competitive lawn game called Roundnet. Invented in the 80s, Roundnet uses a plastic ball and a circular net stretched across a short trampoline-like structure. The net is used to bounce, spike, and hurtle the ball toward the opposing team. The game is like a modified version Volleyball that can be played without a court and in smaller, grassy spaces. However, unlike Volleyball where teams are fixed to a single side, this game is played around the net — the full 360-degrees are available for both teams to play. Unlike the previous games, Spikeball is more complicated, fast-paced, and filled with idiosyncrasies which make it a unique game.
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But, the game which is the most complicated on our list, but likely also the most well-known, is Croquet. A garden game that is speculated to have been developed in the 17th century, bearing the name jeu de mail or paille-maille, Croquet is a complex classic.
The most commonly played version of Croquet is nine-wicket. And, despite the tedium of having to measure and set-up the wickets, and then learning the order in which to hit the ball through them, the game is simpler than it seems. With a mallet, hit your ball completely through a wicket to earn a point. The first player or team to earn 14 wicket points and 2 stake points wins. In our article on Croquet, we’ve included images to help aspiring players learn the course. After that, Croquet is a piece of cake (or gâteau).
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Lastly, but certainly not leastly, is a family outdoor favorite — Ladder Golf. Often called by its many other monikers, such as Norwegian Golf and Cowboy Golf, this game requires equipment that you can make from home. Using PVC pipe to construct the three-step ladder, and golf balls and string for the bolas, Norwegian Golf is the ideal game for this summer. Grab the kids to start constructing and playing.
The gameplay of Norwegian Golf is fairly straight forward: toss your bolas at the ladder and try to hang your bolas on the steps of the ladder. Each rung, or step, on the ladder corresponds to a certain number of points. The top rung is worth three points, the middle two, and the bottom is worth only a single point. The first team to earn precisely 21 points wins. Because of the lightweight materials used for the equipment, this is an ideal game to take camping or to a friend’s house.
Nothing says summertime like grilling out, enjoying good company, and playing some games in the backyard. Celebrate the Fourth of July, the re-opening of the world, or the virtue of togetherness with one of these engaging lawn games.
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