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Active Family Games for Game Night

What are your favorite family games?

Have you ever thought of switching out Monopoly or Risk for something a little more active? Especially in the summer, when there's plenty of after-dinner sunlight, try these ideas for your game night. 

Active Family Games for Game Night
Sami Sarkis / Getty Images /

Outdoor Classics

Take your game night to the backyard or park and play some old-fashioned, traditional favorites. Bonus points if you have some "when I was a kid, we used to ... " stories to go along with them. Your kids will love that! It's also fun to alternate.

First, parents teach kids a game they remember from childhood. Then, kids return the favor by showing off a game they've learned at summer camp or in school gym class.

If you need some ideas, how about one of the 10 ways to play tag, or variations on good old kickball? There's also hide-and-seek, four-square, and Red Light, Green Light. Or try Red Rover, Statues, even dodgeball. 

Indoor Fun

If weather or darkness keeps you inside, you can still play active games together. Many party games are physically active but still safe for indoor play: Limbo doesn't take up much room, for example, and neither does bean bag toss or Simon Says. 

Some board games actually incorporate movement, so they're a great way to combine a family love of gaming with some physical play. The same goes for video games that incorporate motion controllers. While not a strenuous workout, they can provide a little extra dose of fitness, without forcing the issue.

Or: Go ahead and play your favorite sitting-still family board games (for my family, that's Ticket to Ride), but keep this list of brain breaks handy. As your child might know from school, "brain breaks" are quick, three- to five-minute physical activities that get muscles moving and give everyone a break from sitting still. Incorporate them into your game night so everyone can stand up and wiggle a little. Then jump right back into your board game.

The 9 Best Indoor and Outdoor Summer Activities for Kids

Proper Props

Play familiar games or inspire new ones with simple toys or objects you have around the house. Use these ideas, or challenge kids to come up with their own. They are sure to have lots of imaginative suggestions. All you need are basics such as:

It's also fun to set up a tournament of games. (Some of these require more props or set-up than others, so choose in advance.)

Out on the Town

You can take your game night on the go and still keep things active. One of the best places to do that is an adventure park. You might even get discounted admission if you just go for an hour or two in the evening. These parks let you try out ropes courses, zip lines, climbing walls, and other cool activities, often in an appealing setting like a zoo or park.

If there's no adventure park nearby, you can turn a regular park into an adventure.

Try a new playground, or visit one you haven't stopped at in a while. Bring some toys along (like balls or Frisbees), or create an obstacle course to make a familiar place into a new experience.

Another awesome family challenge is geocaching. You can do it just steps from your front door—geocaches are planted all over the world!—or venture further afield. What's fun is working together to solve clues and unearth hidden caches.​


If you have space and the budget, consider some equipment to snazz up your game nights. Depending on your family's interests, this could mean a Ping Pong, air hockey, or Foosball table, a net to use for outdoor games of badminton and volleyball, or camping equipment so you can take your games out into the wilderness. 

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