Headed out to the park or for a day at the beach? Or just looking for some fun outdoor games to play in your own backyard? Grab some friends and try a few of these classics. You don't need any special equipment to play (not even a ball!), so you can enjoy them on vacation, during recess, or just about anywhere.
Note: Most of these games have been around for a very long time, so the rules shown here might not match up with the way you play the game. That's okay! Adding your own rules makes these outdoor games even more fun!
1. Team Tag
First, choose a space to be the home base that's large enough to hold several players at once. Divide your group into two teams. Team One stands in home base and counts to 25. Team Two uses this time to scatter. At the end of the countdown, Team One runs after Team Two and tries to tag them, sending them to wait in home base. At any time, a free member of Team Two can release all of their teammates from home base by tagging them and yelling "Exit!" (6+ players)
2. Follow the Leader
This is one of those outdoor games you can adjust to fit the space, so it's perfect to play anywhere. Choose a player to be the Leader, and have the others line up behind them. The Leader starts off, guiding the Followers and doing actions along the way that the Followers must also do. For instance, if the leader jumps over a rock, everyone else must too. Any Follower who isn't able to do the action is out of the game. Continue until only one Follower is left. Then they become the new Leader and the game continues! (3+ players)
3. Freeze Tag
Tag is one of the most popular outdoor games, and this twist is a classic. The player chosen to be It chases down and tags the other players. When they're tagged, they freeze in place. If another player taps them on the shoulder, they can rejoin the game. The game ends when all the players are tagged and "frozen" in place. The last to be frozen is the new It. (5+ players)
4. Ghosts in the Graveyard
Think of this like reverse hide-and-seek. Choose a home base and one player to be the Ghost. The other players remain at home base, closing their eyes and counting slowly from 1 o’clock to midnight. The Ghost runs off to hide. The others open their eyes and shout "Star light, star bright, I hope I see a ghost tonight!" They begin to hunt for the Ghost, saying "Ghost in the Graveyard!" when they find them. Everyone tries to run back to home base before the Ghost can tag them. When the Ghost catches someone, they become the next Ghost and the game continues. (5+ players)
You'll need even numbers of players on each team for this outdoor game. Choose a start and finish line. When the race starts, one player on each team kneels down with their head tucked in. A second player places their hands on the first player's back and vaults over like a frog, legs apart. When the second player lands, they crouch down and a third player hops over each, landing in front, and so on. When all players are crouched, the first player stands up and jumps over the others, continuing until they reach the finish line. The first team to completely cross the finish line wins! (4+ players)
6. Mother, May I?
Choose a finish line and select one player to stand there as Mother. The other players line up at the starting line. Taking turns, each player calls out a request starting with “Mother, may I … .” (For instance, "Mother, may I jump forward three times?") Mother can say yes, allowing them to move. She can also refuse, or give alternate directions. ("No, but you can take five tiny steps.") The round ends when one player finally reaches the goal and becomes the new Mother for the next round. (3+ players)
7. Red Light, Green Light
One player, the Stoplight, stands at the finish line, while the others line up at the start. The Stoplight turns around so they can't see the other players, and shouts "Green Light!" The other players head down the field toward the finish. The Stoplight can turn around and shout "Red Light!" at any point, and all the other players must freeze. If the Stoplight sees anyone moving, they give them a "ticket" and send them back to the start. The first player to make it safely to the finish line wins and becomes the next Stoplight. Playing with little ones? Give them a little extra time by saying "Yellow Light" before turning around and saying "Green Light." (3+ players)
8. Red Rover, Red Rover
Looking for outdoor games for a big group? This one's an old favorite! Divide into two equal teams, and have each team form a line facing each other, holding hands tightly. The first team chooses one player from the other team and shouts, "Red Rover, Red Rover, let [name] come over!" That player runs as fast as they can toward two players on the other line, trying to break their hands apart. If the player breaks through, they grab one player and take them back to their own team. If they can't, they join the second team. Continue with teams taking turns until one team has absorbed all of the other players. Alternatively, you can set a timer, and when it goes off the team with the most players wins. (12+ players)
Here's a hilarious twist on Hide-and-Seek that's especially fun with bigger groups. Choose one Hider, and let them find a spot while the rest of the group counts to 100. The Seekers look for the Hider, and when they find them, quietly join them in the hiding spot. As more Seekers find the Hiders, they squeeze in (like sardines in a can). The round ends when the last Seeker finds all the Hiders. (5+ players)
10. Shark & Minnows
It's like Tag, under the sea! Choose one player to be the Shark, while the rest are Minnows. The Minnows line up at the starting line, while the Shark stands in the middle. When the Shark says, "Fishy, fishy, come out and play!" the Minnows try to run to the finish line without getting tagged. If Minnows make it to the finish line, they wait there for the next round to start. Minnows who were tagged become Seaweed; they cannot move from where they were tagged, but they can reach out and tag Minnows running by in future rounds. Repeat the rounds until only one Minnow remains. They become the Shark, and the game starts over. (5+ players)
11. Steal the Bacon
Select an object to be the Bacon (like a shoe, a stone, or anything small enough to hold). Choose one player to be the Caller. Divide the rest into two equal teams, lined up facing each other with the Bacon in the middle. The players on each team number off, so each team has a One, a Two, etc. The Caller yells out a random number, and the two players with that number race toward the middle, trying to grab the Bacon and return to their place before being tagged by the other runner. If they make it, they gain a point. If they're tagged, the other team wins the point. Return the Bacon to the middle and repeat. Add an extra challenge to the game by having the players start and finish from a sitting position! (11+ players)
12. What Time Is It, Mr. Fox?
One player, Mr. Fox, stands at the finish line, while all other players line up at the start. Mr. Fox turns his back, and the other players call out together “What time is it, Mr. Fox?” Mr. Fox answers with a time ("It's three o'clock!") and the players take that number of steps forward. Mr. Fox can also call out "Dinnertime!" and then turn and chase the other players back to the starting line. If he catches any of the players, they become Foxes too, and can chase down players when Mr. Fox says "Dinnertime!" Play ends when one player manages to tag Mr. Fox while his back is turned, or when all players but one have become Foxes. (4+ players)
Get these games as awesome printable cards for free! Download them here.
Looking for more games to play anywhere? Check out the Best Board Games You Can Take With You Wherever You Go!