Fun and Physical Outdoor Activities for Kids

Once kids get outside, they tend to have a blast. Whether they are biking around the block, walking the dog, or hunting for cool rocks, there are endless fun things to do out in the fresh air. Sometimes, children will jump at the chance to play outside and organically come up with ideas for physical activities. Other times, they may need a little encouragement and inspiration to get started.

Keep this list of outdoor activities for kids handy and they will always have a new one to try. Even better, these outdoor play ideas are not limited to the summer months or to your backyard. Kids can enjoy many of them all year long wherever they happen to be.


Play a Backyard Game

Girl (5-7) hiding behind tree, boy (10-12) covers eyes (focus on girl)
Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Kids tend to love easy-to-play backyard games. These are the classic outdoor activities you remember from your childhood, from hide-and-seek to freeze tag to Red Rover. Teach your kids how to play, and see if they can invent their own versions and variations, too. And if it's dark out? Time for ​night games!


Take a Walk

Whether you take a stroll around the block or a challenging hike in the woods, walking outside is ideal for fitness, fun, and family bonding. Play a game, such as I Spy, as you go to keep kids interested and active. Or make it a nature walk, with a goal of appreciating your environment.


Get Wet

Sprinklers, hoses, splash parks, and the local pool—all are perfect for helping kids cool off and play actively at the same time. Make sure you review swimming pool safety guidelines regularly and keep kids closely supervised when near or in water.


Go Geocaching

Add a high-tech treasure hunt to your outdoor adventures by searching for a geocache. Using a handheld GPS device or app, navigate to a cache stashed in your area (find them at Pick up a prize and leave one of your own.

Or try letterboxing, which is similar but doesn't require a GPS unit. You'll follow clues from a letterboxing site to locate the caches.


Strap on Some Skates

Adding wheels to outdoor activities almost always makes them more appealing. Outfit kids with quad or inline roller skates, helmets, and pads and they'll be off to the races. You can jog or skate alongside for your own workout, too.


Ride a Bike

Kids' feet can take them further when they're pushing pedals. Besides being an easy mode of transportation, bicycling makes for a fun whole-family outdoor activity. Kids of all ages tend to enjoy scootering and skateboarding as well. Explore quiet streets in your neighborhood, ride around local parks, or use TrailLink's searchable list to find a family-friendly bike trail.


Pick Up a Paddle

Whether on vacation or in your own hometown, try exploring the waterways for a tranquil twist on outdoor activity. Even very young children can ride in a canoe, kayak, rowboat, or inner tube, or begin to learn to paddle on their own. Be sure to use appropriate water safety gear, such as life vests.


Play Catch

Playing a game of catch is one of the simplest outdoor activities. But with dozens of options for projectiles, from footballs to frisbees to softballs to boomerangs, playing catch is anything but boring and offers endless options.


Swing a Racquet

Team up for doubles tennis, play an energetic game of smash and volley, or bat a badminton birdie. You don't need an official court or even a net to to hit the ball back and forth. You and your kids will still work on racquet skills and get physical activity.

Another option is to set up a Ping Pong table outside for fresh air while you play. If you don't have an official table, use your paddles to whack a ball across a picnic table.


Set and Spike

You don't need a beach to play volleyball (although that's awfully fun, too). A net at your local park or in your backyard works just as well. Additionally, some community pools or ball fields have their own sand courts that are open to the public to use.


Shoot Hoops

There's a reason why so many schoolyards, city parks, and suburban homes boast a basketball hoop just waiting for action. Basketball is fun and versatile, since kids can play alone or in groups, keep score or not, or even just "HORSE" around.


Run the Bases

Head on down to your local ball field or map out some bases in your backyard for a pick-up game of baseball, softball, or even that comeback classic, kickball. Or break out a pitching machine for some fast-paced batting and fielding practice.


Seek and Find

Getting there is half the fun when you send your kids on a scavenger hunt. Tailor your activity to their ages and attention spans. You can leave clues for them to decipher and search for, or just make a list of interesting objects and sights to spot.

For younger kids, keep it simple by giving them easy instructions like finding a mailbox, a flower, or a garden hose. Use pictures instead of written words for pre-readers.


Throw a Party

Whether you have a special occasion to celebrate or just make one up (happy Tuesday!), party games are a hit with groups of kids. Most can be played outside and adapted for children of different ages and abilities. Try classics like potato sack races, one-legged runs, and a water-balloon toss.


Fly a Kite

When you fly a kite, you often end up running like the wind, which makes this an excellent outdoor activity for kids. Simple kites are inexpensive to buy and easy to operate. Or trek to an outdoor field or beach on a windy day and watch other people's kites take to the air.


Plant a Garden

Outdoor activities for kids don't always have to be just fun and games. Try putting your children to work in the garden. They can rake, dig, weed, plant, harvest, or water with a watering can, bucket, or hose (always a hit, and a chore that doesn't feel like one!).

If you don't have a yard of your own, stroll a farmer's market or visit a farm where you can pick your own produce, from strawberries to peaches. You could even secure a spot in a community garden and work on the plot together.


Ride a Horse

Sign up for a lesson or trail ride for an entirely new way to explore the outdoors. Horseback riding is a wonderful way for your child to engage with an animal while also being outside. Your child might just get hooked on a unique new sport.


Kick a Soccer Ball

Soccer is known as a super starter sport for kids, and with good reason; it's fun, fast-paced, and easy to pick up. While team play requires discipline and cooperation, kicking the ball around in your backyard doesn't!

Practice dribbling, passing, or shooting on a makeshift goal. If you've got multiple children, you can get a mini game going, as well.


Play Lawn Games

Depending on your child's age, you can try junior or adult versions of traditional games like croquet, horseshoes, lawn bowling, or bocce. Or check out a contemporary favorite like Blongo ball or Spikeball.


Swing a Club

Golf offers something for everyone. Start with a miniature golf (putt-putt) course to give kids a taste of the game. Then, move up to the driving range, or an inexpensive community course for nine holes.


Climb and Slide

Playgrounds and backyard swing sets make excellent outdoor activities for kids. While they can simply run around, up, and over the structure, swing on the swings, and slide down the slide, they can also come up with their own open-ended, innovative activities.

When kids engage in pretend play, turning the playset into a castle or pirate ship, they're using their imaginations at the same time as their muscles.


Play in the Sand and Surf

Hit the beach at a nearby river, lake, or ocean for oodles of outdoor play opportunities. Paddling, wading, swimming, ball games, and sandcastles are just a few of the many ways kids can have fun on a beach. The possibilities are as endless as the water itself.


Start a Nature Collection

Take a stroll around your backyard, neighborhood, or local park to collect leaves, rocks, sticks, petals, and other bits of nature (only items that have fallen to the ground, though). Depending on the season, you can expand your search to include acorns, chestnuts, pinwheels, or whatever else is in abundance in your area.


Create Art Outside

Take art supplies outside to do arts and crafts in the open air. A folding table, picnic table, easel, clipboard, or park bench can all provide an ideal home base for experimenting with pens, pencils, paints, scissors, glue, and other art materials.

Creativity tends to breed excitement, which often leads to movement. Encourage art activities to become more physical by having kids run around to find a good drawing spot or to find items (such as moss or leaves) to incorporate into their artwork. You can also suggest they take movement breaks between drawings, like doing cartwheels, skipping, or hopping on one foot.


Play in the Rain

Damp weather doesn't need to keep kids cooped up inside. With boots and a raincoat, they can still have plenty of fun outdoors, even during a drizzle or a downpour (but not a thunderstorm; stay inside for those).

Rainy-day outdoor play also offers learning opportunities, like experimenting with damming up rivulets of water or checking out what sinks or floats in a puddle. Try sidewalk chalk on wet pavement, too, for a new twist on an old favorite.

A Word From Verywell

There are so many ways to engage children in active, outdoor play. Use our list as a springboard to get them excited about taking part in active fun and games outside. You can also challenge them to come up with exciting, new physical outdoor activities of their own.

By Catherine Holecko
Catherine Holecko is an experienced freelance writer and editor who specializes in pregnancy, parenting, health and fitness.