35 Unbeatable Activities for Outdoors: Your Ultimate Guide to Family Fun
BY JEN AMBROSE
Have you ever looked at your kiddos sprawled out on the couch, eyes glued to some screen, and thought, “We need some fresh air and sunshine, pronto!”? I sure have! That's why I'm always on the lookout for fun activities for outdoors that can get my little couch potatoes moving and shaking—outside, of course!
The Surprising Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors
Hey there, fellow moms! Let's chat about the hidden gems that come with those muddy boots and sun-kissed noses after a day spent in the great outdoors. It's not just about giving our kids something to do—it's about what they, and we, gain from those activities for outdoors. Spoiler alert: it's a lot!
Boosting Brain Power
Believe it or not, heading outside can turn your kiddo into a little Einstein. Nature is like brain food—it helps kids concentrate better and boosts their creativity. Imagine your backyard as a classroom where every bug and blade of grass helps their little brains grow. Plus, all that natural light is perfect for keeping their vision sharp.
Building Mighty Muscles
Swinging from monkey bars, running races, or even just skipping down the sidewalk—these aren’t just fun and games. They’re the workouts that build strong muscles and healthy bones. Think of it as their very own nature gym membership!
Soaking in the Vitamin D
The sun is like a big, bright vitamin dispenser in the sky. When our kids play outside, their bodies soak up Vitamin D, which is super important for keeping their bones tough and their immune systems fighting strong against those pesky germs.
Social Skills in the Sunshine
Outdoor playdates are the perfect spot for kids to learn how to share, take turns, and make friends. And let's be real, it's not just the kiddos; we moms get to sneak in some adult conversation too while they're at it!
The Happiness Factor
You know those giggles that just bubble up when they’re playing outside? That’s the sound of happiness and stress relief. Nature has a sneaky way of making us all feel more relaxed and cheery. Plus, it’s a lot harder to remember the siren call of a video game when you’re having the time of your life in the fresh air.
Sweet, Sweet Zzz’s
After a day full of outdoor shenanigans, watch as your little ones crash into bed and sleep like logs. All that physical activity and fresh air work like a dreamy lullaby that helps them (and let’s be honest, us too) sleep better.
So, let's dive into some super cool ideas that will have your kids begging to ditch the tech and dash into the great outdoors. You might want to grab a pen and paper because you're going to want to remember these!
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35 Amazingly Fun Family Activities for Outdoors
1. Scavenger Hunt Sensation
Let's kick things off with an all-time favorite: scavenger hunts! These are not just super fun; they turn your kids into mini explorers. Make a list of things they can find in your backyard or at a local park. Think pine cones, leaves of different colors, a smooth rock—pretty much anything that won’t run away when they come near it (so maybe not squirrels). The first one to find all the items gets to pick what’s for dinner. But let’s be real, we’ll probably end up with spaghetti or pizza.
2. The Amazing Backyard Campout
Who said you have to drive hours to go camping? Your backyard is just waiting to become the next campsite sensation. Pitch a tent, roll out those sleeping bags, and get ready for some star-gazing and marshmallow-roasting. Bonus points if you tell ghost stories that are just spooky enough to make them giggle but not enough to have them sprinting back inside.
3. Nature's Own Art Studio
Here’s a pro mom tip: nature + creativity = less mess at home. Take those art projects outside! Collect some leaves, sticks, and rocks, and let your kids turn them into nature's masterpieces. They can make leaf rubbings, paint rocks to look like ladybugs, or even build fairy houses. And hey, the wind is nature’s way of saying, “Don’t worry, I’ve got cleanup covered.”
4. The Wiggly Worm Race
I know, I know, worms? But hear me out. Find a nice patch of dirt and have your kids dig for worms. Once everyone has a wiggly friend, mark a finish line and let those worms race! It’s slow-going, so you’ll have plenty of time to cheer them on, sip your coffee, and enjoy a laugh or two.
5. DIY Backyard Obstacle Course
Grab whatever you’ve got around the house—hula hoops, jump ropes, pool noodles—and set up your very own obstacle course. The kids will be jumping, crawling, and laughing their way through it. It's like your own backyard Olympics! And if the neighbor’s kids peek over the fence, invite them over. The more the merrier (and more hilarious)!
6. Water Balloon Bonanza
This one’s a splash hit during those hot summer days. Fill up a bunch of water balloons and let the kids go wild. You can have a toss, a tag game, or just a good old-fashioned water balloon fight. Just make sure to lay down some ground rules, like “no aiming at the face,” to keep it all in good fun. And don’t forget to join in—moms have epic throwing skills too!
7. A Day for Planting
Gardening can be a hoot with kids. Give them their own little patch of dirt or a pot, some seeds, and let them get their hands dirty. They’ll learn about how plants grow and have the joy of watching their very own flowers or veggies sprout up over time. And if they grow veggies, it’s the perfect way to get them excited about eating their greens (fingers crossed!).
8. Bike Parade
Encourage your kids to decorate their bikes with streamers, stickers, and whatever else jazzes up their ride. Then have a bike parade around the neighborhood. It’s a great way to show off their creativity and get those legs pumping. Plus, it’s a photo op goldmine for us moms who can’t resist a cute picture (or twenty).
9. Outdoor Movie Night
Who needs a movie theater when you've got a backyard? Set up a projector and a white sheet, and voila! You have your own cinema under the stars. Grab some popcorn, blankets, and watch a family favorite. Just be ready for the possibility of an impromptu sleepover, because everyone will want to stay till the credits roll.
10. Bug Safari
Okay, this one might make you squirm, but kids absolutely dig it. Grab some magnifying glasses and go on a bug safari. Check under rocks, logs, and leaves for all sorts of crawly critters. Just maybe have some hand sanitizer ready for when the safari is over.
11. Chalk Art Gallery
Unleash your kids’ inner Picassos on the driveway with some sidewalk chalk. They can draw, scribble, or even design a hopscotch or four square court for some extra play. The best part? Rain washes it away, so they have a blank canvas to start with next time!
12. The Great Kite Flight
Flying kites is almost like a magic trick—wind turns into fun! It can take a bit of practice, but once those kites are soaring, your kids will be too—jumping around with excitement, that is. And if the kites happen to dive-bomb, well, that’s just part of the adventure.
13. Outdoor Yoga
It's like regular yoga, but with added fresh air and the possibility of a squirrel watching you. Teach your kids some simple yoga moves to help them relax and get in tune with nature. It’s a peaceful way to end a busy day of outdoor shenanigans.
14. Treasure Hunt
Bury some 'treasure' in your yard and draw a simple map for your kids to follow. It can be anything from a box of cookies to a new book they’ve been eyeing. Watch them become mini pirates, minus the ship and the parrot, of course. Arrr!
15. Picnic Party
Last but not least, who doesn’t love a good picnic? Spread out a blanket, pack some sandwiches, snacks, and maybe a sweet treat. No ants invited, though they always seem to show up unannounced.
16. Sidewalk Scientist
Let's turn the outdoors into a laboratory. Get a few easy science kits or create your own experiments that can be done outside. Maybe it's a baking soda volcano, a homemade sundial, or a simple experiment to see what floats or sinks in a bucket of water. Your little scientists will be bubbling over with excitement, and who knows? You might just spark a lifelong love for science.
17. Leafy Masterpieces
Fall is a canvas laid out right in your backyard. Gather up those fallen leaves and let the kids create leaf piles in the shape of animals or make a big leaf maze to run through. It’s a great way to clean up the yard and play at the same time. Plus, who can resist jumping into a giant pile of leaves?
18. Cloud Watching Club
Lay back on the grass and watch the clouds go by. Have your kids look for shapes or figures in the clouds and tell stories about them. “Look, that cloud looks like a dragon!” It’s a chill way to engage their imagination and teach them a bit about weather and clouds too.
19. Mini Olympics
Create your own version of the Olympics right in the backyard. Set up events like a three-legged race, bean bag toss, or a mini long jump. Make some medals out of foil, and have a little award ceremony at the end. You’ll have your very own champions right at home.
20. Rock Band
No, not the video game—the real deal. Gather pots, pans, and wooden spoons and let the kids make a joyful noise outside. Maybe they’ll start a band with neighborhood friends. Just make sure to warn the neighbors or invite them to join in!
21. Nature Bingo
Make a bingo card with things you can find or see outside: a red flower, a bird, a cloud shaped like a heart, etc. Kids can go on a walk or hike to try to get bingo. It’s a game and a nature lesson all rolled into one!
22. Build a Birdhouse
If you're handy, or even if you're not, building a birdhouse can be a really fun project. You can get pre-made kits or start from scratch. Once it's up, you can watch together as birds come to visit. Maybe you’ll even have some baby birds to watch in the spring!
23. Backyard Bowling
Set up some empty water bottles or buy a kid’s bowling set and set up an alley on your driveway. It's another great way to get moving and have a little friendly competition.
24. Frisbee Golf
Set up targets around the yard – laundry baskets, buckets, trees, you name it – and have the kids try to hit them with a frisbee. It’s a great way to practice throwing and aim, and it’s a whole lot of laughs when that frisbee goes the wrong way.
25. Gardening Buddies
Give each child a little plant buddy to take care of. They can water it, talk to it, and watch it grow. It’s a lovely way to teach responsibility and the joy of caring for another living thing.
26. Outdoor Reading Nook
Who says reading can’t be an outdoor adventure? Set up a hammock, a comfy chair, or even just a blanket and some pillows under a tree. Let the kids bring out their favorite books and get lost in a story.
27. Flashlight Tag
As the sun sets, flashlight tag is a perfect way to use up that last bit of energy before bed. It’s like hide and seek in the dark, with a little light to keep things from getting too spooky.
28. Hopscotch Heaven
Revive the classic game of hopscotch with a twist. Make a massive hopscotch course that goes around the whole yard, with different challenges or questions at certain squares.
29. Backyard Theater
Encourage the kids to put on a play or a puppet show. They can use costumes, make a stage, and invite family and friends to be the audience. It’s a fantastic way for them to express themselves and put on those drama hats.
30. Driveway Dino Dig
Hide some plastic dinosaurs in a sandbox or a section of the yard and let the kids dig for fossils. You could even bury a “dinosaur bone” puzzle for them to find and put together.
31. DIY Bird Feeders
Make simple bird feeders from pine cones, peanut butter, and birdseed. Hang them around the yard and watch the birds come to feast. It’s a sweet treat for the birds and a treat for your eyes too.
32. Homemade Water Park
Set up sprinklers, a kiddie pool, and a slip ‘n slide to create your own water park. It’s perfect for those super hot days when you can’t make it to the beach or the public pool.
33. Nature Bracelets
Give the kids some masking tape (sticky side out) around their wrists and let them stick small leaves, flowers, and anything else they find to make nature bracelets. It’s a craft and a scavenger hunt all in one.
34. Backyard Bird Watching
Set up some bird feeders and grab a bird identification book from the library. See how many different types of birds you can spot and learn about. It’s quiet, peaceful, and educational.
35. Puddle Jumping
Yes, it’s messy, but it’s also kind of the best thing ever. After a rain, put on some boots and find some puddles to stomp in. It’s a simple joy that’s too good to pass up.
Final Thoughts on Family Activities for Outdoors
So, let’s not let the couch and TV win the battle for our kids’ attention. There’s a whole world outside waiting to be explored, with endless possibilities for fun, laughter, and discovery. Get out there, try some of these activities, and let’s show our kids that the greatest adventures happen away from screens. Plus, we get to join in on the fun, too, and maybe even let our own inner child out to play a bit. Here’s to making the most of the great outdoors!
Not enough ideas yet, check out my article, 100 Fun-Filled Outdoor Activities for Kids!