29 Fun and Physical Outdoor Activities for Kids

Children playing hide and seek in the forrest.

Something about the outdoors is magical for children. When they are out in the fresh air, where they can move their bodies freely, their moods are almost always positive and many behavior problems seem to disappear. That's probably because kids actually need a solid amount of time for active play every day. It's been proven to improve behavior and sharpen their focus.

Kids are little bundles of energy and that energy needs to be able to flow for them to be at their best. "Children often need to release their built-up energy, so consider the benefits of physical activity in dealing with strong emotion and supporting child development," says Haley Hartmann, a senior associate at the Goddard School. "When children are showing strong emotionality, encourage movement such as a bike ride together, a walk around the neighborhood, stomping your feet, jumping up and down, or put on music and dance."

These fun outdoor activities are sure to get your kids moving and enjoying being out in the fresh air. On top of that, these activities are great for all ages—get the adults involved too for a family bonding experience!

Remember, you don't have to plan anything elaborate for your kids to enjoy playing outside. Children will likely make up their own games and start exploring before you even say a word. There are also times that it might help to have some ideas up your sleeve. When that happens, turn to this list for inspiration.

Girls playing hopscotch

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Backyard Activities for Families

You don't have to travel far to get moving with your family. Playing in your backyard, alleyway, or sidewalk can be a good way to make sure that everyone is getting physical activity, even when life gets busy. For example, while dinner is cooking, step out to join in on a game of hopscotch.

Play a game of catch. Get a baseball (or any small ball), scrounge up a mitt if you can, and practice tossing the ball back and forth.

Play hopscotch. Grab some chalk and draw yourself a hopscotch course right on your front sidewalk. And as a fun surprise, other people walking by will find it hard to resist joining in!

Toss a Frisbee. Have some old-fashioned fun tossing a Frisbee back and forth. Just remember to throw low for the little ones.

Run through the sprinklers. If it's hot outside, turn those sprinklers on and run through them to cool off. Or, on days when the sun is just scorching, grab the hose and spray it on your kids.

Play Red Rover. Get your kids to work out some energy by running. If you've got enough people, you can set up a game of Red Rover, where each team takes turns calling a member of the opposing team over to try and break through their lines (fortified by holding hands). If you don't, try a game of Red Light, Green Light. Simply call out "green" to start, and have kids run towards you until you say "red light." Then, they must freeze absolutely still. Any movement and they're out! The last one standing wins.

Boy sledding

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Cold Weather Outdoor Activities for Families

While it's fun to snuggle on the sofa on cold days, it doesn't mean you can't get outside. Physical exercise is still essential when it's chilly and there are lots of fun ways to get it. Just make sure everyone is dressed appropriately for the weather.

Go sledding. Kids of all ages will love climbing up and sledding down the slopes.

Take a ski trip. Head somewhere with fresh powder and ski together.

Try snowboarding. If you've never tried snowboarding, rent some gear and take a few lessons as a family.

Have a snowball fight. Split up into teams, make a pile of snowballs, and go at it!

Jump in puddles. If you live in a more moderate climate, head outside to stomp in some puddles! Your kid will love the permission to get wet and dirty.

Family hiking

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Nature Family Activities

The natural world can be a beautiful and calm escape from the pressures of daily life. There is just something about trees, open sky, or natural water sources that makes everyone smile. Get moving and bond together as a family out in nature with these activities.

Go on a family bike ride. Enjoy the beauty of the natural world on bikes—just remember to wear a helmet.

Go on a family hike. Hit the trails together. Hikes are great because you can take them at your own pace.

Have a scavenger hunt. Make a list of things to find in nature, such as a pine cone or a red leaf.

Take a night hike. Head out after sunset to observe the night sky. Choose a day where there is a full moon if you can.

Try creek stomping. Follow a creek wherever it leads you—just be ready to get wet and possibly muddy too!

Kids doing a ropes course

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Team Activities for Families

Working together can be fun and it's a great way to bond as a family. Team activities help kids build their cooperation skills and some children really thrive on competition. Try these activities that can be done as a group.

Complete a ropes course. Challenge yourselves and encourage each other to try to push individual boundaries and step out of your comfort zones.

Have a three-legged race. In groups of two, tie one person's leg to the other's and try to make your way to the finish line first—without eating dirt on the way.

Play a game of kickball. Rules are the same as baseball, except that pitching is underhand and there's kicking instead of batting. Use a medium-sized bouncy ball.

Run or walk a 5k. Head out together on race day. It's not about being first, it's about completing the course and having fun while doing it.

Shoot some hoops. Or, score some goals! If you've got a basketball and some kind of hoop, play a game of HORSE or 2 v. 2. If you've got a soccer ball, you can play 1 on 1, do a shooting contest, a dribbling race, or more.

Family paddle boating

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Warm Weather Family Fun

When summer arrives and the kids are out of school, there's more than enough time to get outside and play. Slather on that sunscreen and stay cool with these fun activities to do together.

Build sandcastles at the beach. If you don't think this is a physical activity, just wait until you're hauling buckets of water to the shore to make a moat for your castle.

Collect shells. Searching for shells may not be intensive physical exercise, but it can turn into a nice, long walk without you realizing it.

Fly a kite. It's harder than it looks!

Go boogie boarding. Kids of all ages that are comfortable in water can hop onto their boogie board and body surf small waves. Parents should be with their kids in the water.

Go out on paddle boats. Take turns paddling through the lake. You can also go canoeing!

Go swimming. Whether in the pool, at a lake, or on the seaside, swimming is one of the best ways to enjoy the warmer days.

Go tubing. Floating or zooming along a river can be an adventure.

Head to the playground. Sometimes simple fun is the best. Climb the structures, race down slides, or swing along the monkey bars.

Roller skate. Head to the rink or just roll down the sidewalks. Just make sure you're wearing proper safety gear!

3 Sources
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. American Academy of Pediatrics. Making Physical Activity a Way of Life: AAP Policy Explained.

  2. Janssen I, LeBlanc AG. Systematic review of the health benefits of physical activity and fitness in school-aged children and youthInt J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2010;7(1):40. doi:10.1186/1479-5868-7-40

  3. Pandel H. Healthy competition is good for childrenInstitute of Public Affairs. 2015;2015: [30]-33.

By Elisa Cinelli
Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families. She has written for well-known sites including POPSUGAR and Scary Mommy, among others.