22 Playful, Physical Outdoor Activities for Kids

Keep kids busy, and burning energy, for hours at a time!

Keep this list of outdoor activities for kids handy. There's no reason for kids to be bored when there is a whole world of outdoor play waiting for them. How many of these games can you check off in one sunny season? (Hint: These outdoor play ideas are not limited to the summer months, or to your backyard.)

1
Play a backyard game.

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

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 with flashlights!)

2
Take a walk.

young family on walk with dog outside
SolStock/E+/Getty Images

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 as you go to keep kids interested and active. Check out outdoor retailer REI's Passport to Adventure program for suggested hiking trails and printable kids' activities.

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3
Go geocaching.

kid walking on a log in forest
Malcolm MacGregor/Moment Open/Getty Images

Add a high-tech treasure hunt to your outdoor adventures by searching for a geocache. Using a handheld GPS device, navigate to a cache stashed in your area (find them at geocaching.com). Pick up a prize and leave one of your own. Or try letterboxing, which is similar but doesn't require a GPS unit.

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4
Get wet.

family playing in sprinklers in backyard
Xavier Arnau/E+/Getty Images

Sprinklers, hoses, splash parks, 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).

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5
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 might want jog alongside for your own workout).

6
Ride a bike.

Kids' feet can take them farther when they're pushing pedals. Besides being an easy mode of transportation, bicycling makes for a fun whole-family outdoor activity. Explore quiet streets in your neighborhood or use Pedaling.com's searchable list to find a family-friendly bike trail.

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7
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.

8
Play catch.

It's one of the simplest of outdoor activities: a game of catch. But with dozens of options for projectiles, from footballs to Frisbees to boomerangs and the Djubi (pictured), playing catch is anything but boring.

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9
Swing a racquet.

Team up for doubles tennis, play an energetic game of smash and volley, or string up a net and bat a badminton birdie back and forth.

10
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. Some community pools or ball fields even have their own sand courts that are open to the public to use.

11
Shoot some hoops.

There's a reason why every school yard, and most suburban homes, boasts a basketball hoop just waiting for action. It's fun and versatile, since kids can play alone or in groups, keep score or not, or even just "HORSE" around.

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12
Run some 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.

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13
Make your own toys.

Homemade fitness equipment - soda bottle bat
Erica Greis

Getting there is half the fun when you send your kids scavenging for the materials to make these do-it-yourself fitness toys. Then take them outside for even more action.

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14
Throw a party.

Kids play musical chairs outside at a birthday party
Kids play musical chairs outside at a birthday party. Digital Vision - Getty Images

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.

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15
Fly a kite.

Father and son flying kite
Photodisc

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. Still intimidated? Trek to an outdoor field on a windy day and watch other people's kites take to the air.

16
Plant a garden.

Organic hot peppers in container vegetable garden by Kerry Michaels
Kerry Michaels, About Guide to Container Gardening
Outdoor activities for kids don't always have to be just fun and games. Try putting them to work in the garden. They can rake, dig, weed, or water (always a hit). If you don't have a yard of your own, stroll a farmer's market or visit a you-pick-it farm.

17
Ride a horse.

Girls horseback riding
Chris Windsor

Sign up for a lesson or trail ride for an entirely new way to explore the outdoors. Your child might just get hooked on a unique new sport.

18
Play soccer.

Boys outdoor soccer
Kari Dahlen

It's known as a super starter sport for kids, and with good reason. 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.

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19
Play lawn games.

Super-size Kick Croquet from eSportsonline
eSportsonline

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

20
Swing a club.

Preschooler playing miniature golf with plastic club
Catherine Holecko

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 9 holes.

21
Bounce and swing.

Backyard playset
Catherine Holecko
Playgrounds and backyard swing sets make excellent outdoor activities for kids because they're open-ended. Kids create their own games and pretend play, using their imaginations at the same time as their muscles.

22
Play in the sand and surf.

Digging in the sand at the beach
Catherine Holecko
Hit the beach, on a lake or—if you're lucky—the ocean for oodles of outdoor play opportunities. Paddling, wading, swimming, ball games, sandcastles: The possibilities are as endless as the water itself.

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