50 Fun Things to Do Outside With Kids as a Family

3 kids flying a kite outside

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Playing outside with your children isn't just about encouraging more physical activity. A 2019 study found that kids who spend less time in green spaces are more likely to develop psychiatric issues, such as anxiety and mood disorders. So, time spent outside may improve your child's mental health.

However, sometimes, it can be hard to think of fun activities to do—and wrangling kids of varying ages to participate in a single activity may seem difficult. To make it easier, we've rounded up 50 mostly free things to do outside as a family to help you find the perfect fit.

Next time the weather looks inviting, try these creative ways to play outside:

  • Blow bubbles using a DIY mix.
  • Build a fort using lawn furniture.
  • Build paper airplanes. Who can make theirs fly the farthest?
  • Color eggs outside with less mess.
  • Draw a hopscotch board with chalk.
  • Drive to a neighboring town and check out their playgrounds. Maybe you'll find a new favorite.
  • Do things you'd normally do inside, like play board games or have a pillow fight.
  • Drive to another neighborhood and go for a walk there. Pretend to be observational scientists: What's different? What is the same?
  • Eat homemade popsicles.
  • Film a home movie.
  • Find a shady tree and read.
  • Find shapes in the clouds.
  • Fly kites.
  • Gather up a wagon, stuffed animals, and some pots and pans and have an instant parade.
  • Go "fishing." Set up a wading pool with objects and let your little one try to catch them.
  • Go for a group jog.
  • Go for a walk. Set a timer to see how far you can walk in five minutes, 10, 20, or 30. Note whether you're going to make a loop or take an out-and-back route so you can plan accordingly.
  • Have a picnic at a local park, beach, or your own backyard.
  • Have a water balloon fight.
  • Have a water gun fight.
  • Host a dance party.
  • Host a nature scavenger hunt. Look for pine cones, acorns, and other common outdoor items and tally who found the most pieces.
  • Hula hoop.
  • Is it getting dark outside? Play hide and seek with flashlights (and partners if you have little ones).
  • Learn to do cartwheels.
  • Look for natural items like leaves, sticks, shells, and rocks to make a mobile.
  • Make bird feeders out of pine cones, peanut butter, and birdseed.
  • Make homemade playdough and bring it outside. It's less messy than playing on the floor or carpet.
  • Make mud pies. Who can make the fanciest creation?
  • Make s'mores.
  • Paint rocks.
  • Pick flowers (from your own yard).
  • Pitch a tent.
  • Plant a small container garden.
  • Play classic outdoor games such as Red Rover, Red Light Green Light, or Steal the Bacon.
  • Play Follow the Leader through your yard or neighborhood.
  • Play on the swing set in the dark.
  • Play wiffleball or kickball.
  • Ride bikes.
  • Roller skate.
  • Run through the sprinkler.
  • Search for bugs.
  • Set up a canvas and let your little ones paint. Again, less mess to clean up.
  • Set up a lemonade stand.
  • Sing as loud as you can.
  • Take a nap in a hammock or just on a blanket you lay on the grass.
  • Take turns playing photographer with your phone or camera.
  • Walk barefoot in the grass. Then try the cement (make sure it isn't too hot first). Ask your preschooler to compare what they feel like. What other surfaces can you make your feet touch?
  • Wash the car.
  • Water the plants. Give your preschooler some basic experiments to consider: Does the hose make water come out faster than the watering can? Which is easier to control?
1 Source
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Engemann K, Pedersen CB, Arge L, Tsirogiannis C, Mortensen PB, Svenning JC. Residential green space in childhood is associated with lower risk of psychiatric disorders from adolescence into adulthood. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2019;116(11):5188-5193. doi:10.1073/pnas.1807504116

By Amanda Rock
Amanda Rock, mom of three, has spent more than a decade of her professional career writing and editing for parents and children.