Explore new ways to enjoy your outdoor space. Whether you have a graceful front porch, expansive lawn, a rooftop deck, or inviting patio, there are numerous activities for adults, kids, and entire families that can inspire and entertain. From romantic date-nights to creative family-fun days, read on as we reveal some of our favorite outside activities.
Outdoor Movie Night
Warm nights call for entertainment under the stars. Whether you want a romantic evening as a couple or are hoping for family fun, setting up a backyard movie night takes relatively little work and yields many happy memories. You can order a formal movie screen, or go the DIY route using some cut bamboo poles and older bed sheets. But you can just as easily use one of the outside walls of your home or rooftop deck, white fencing, or your garage door. The surface needs to be relatively flat and solid, without windows or breaks to distort the picture. Move your outdoor furniture into position or put down sleeping bags and big pillows for some comfortable seating for you and your family. From there, as our editors at Better Homes & Gardens reveal, it’s showtime as soon as you start “[streaming] a movie from [your] laptop or office-standard projector.” And, of course, don’t forget the snacks!
Sun-filled Art Projects
For adults, paint-and-sip classes have been popular, particularly among groups of friends looking for creative, low-pressure activities. Art and wine lovers have found ways to bring the paint-and-sip party experience into their own home (or their backyards, patios, and porches). If you have the equipment, set up your easel, canvas, and paints in an outside spot that allows for the sun to warm you, but not overwhelm you or dry out your paints. Join your favorite group of artistic friends on Zoom and connect to any of the local artists currently offering virtual art sessions. Don’t forget to keep something chilled by your side. Whether that’s a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or a refreshing lemonade is entirely up to you.
For kids, this is an excellent opportunity not only to grab the watercolors and color pencils, but pieces of vibrant chalk. Parents applauds the idea of creating a chalkboard by “[applying] two coats of [chalkboard] paint to a large piece of plywood” and then “[hanging] the finished drawing station at kid height with heavy-duty picture-hanging hardware.” Of course, your home’s front walk and sidewalk are also prime canvases for some serious chalk creativity. You might be surprised at how delighted your neighbors are to see your kids’ vivid chalk creations as they enjoy an evening stroll.
Discover which local restaurants offer tantalizing take-out specials that include everything from family meals to dinners for two with wine pairings or margarita night specialties. There are even exclusive events that allow you to buy expertly prepared cuisine or award-winning vino via take-out or curbside pick-up, followed by a Zoom get-together with the chef or winemaker that crafted it. Imagine sitting in your backyard with your partner as the late summer sun sets, talking with your favorite local chef as you savor every bite. Whether you go big or intimately casual, a picnic on a covered blanket in a space marked off with tea lights or overhead bistro lights will make even an average Tuesday night dinner feel special. You may love the experience so much that date-night picnics in your home’s backyard or patio may become one of your favorite activities.
Dances Under the Bistro Lights
In much the same way that twilight picnics tempt, a special night under the bistro lights can create a romantic date-night activity. If you have a patio, balcony, or deck, you can easily string bistro lights above it to create a sparkling effect. If you have an open lawn, designate a dance space by using planters or electric candles; string bistro lights from the tree-tops or along a fence-line for some dazzling illumination. If you have portable Bluetooth speakers, all you need to do is press play on your smart-device for your favorite digital playlist. If not, you can also play tunes off of your laptop, which you can discreetly tuck away for safety.
You have a tent, gear, and the desire to be out-of-doors with your family. Get a little creative and enjoy your own backyard. Start by setting up your tent in the backyard, patio, or rooftop deck. The space does not need to be huge; it just needs to accommodate your tent and a small amount of cooking gear or a cooler filled with drinks and snacks. You then prepare for a night of outside fun. The experts at Real Simple suggest: “Bring sleeping bags or blankets, flashlights, and mosquito repellent for everyone. And arm yourself with enough ghost stories to keep little ones up thrillingly past their bedtimes.”
Home Waterpark Games
The temperatures are rising. The good news is you might be surprised at how easy it is to create your own home waterpark – all you need is a patch of lawn to get started. Real Simple recommends that you “buy or borrow a kiddie pool, turn on the sprinkler, unravel the hose, and commandeer as many spray bottles, buckets, tubs, and water pistols as possible.” Start with classic games like Cannonball Toss using water balloons before letting your kids fire up their imaginations as they create their own activities while also enjoying some slip-and-slide fun.
Are your kids missing theater camp? Do you have a teenager or college-aged musician in the family who wants a chance to play in public again? Parents raves about the opportunity performers of all ages have in their own backyard or front porch. For young kids, they will love creating an impromptu stage because it inspires imaginative play. For older performers, it gives them a chance to try new material without requiring much additional equipment. For backyard stages, Parents recommends “no-sew theater curtains” using red burlap, curtain rings, and a clothesline that is run around two trees. Similarly, if you have a front porch with descending stairs, you can easily hang up two pieces of red fabric using clothesline across the top landing. And voila! You can part the theater curtains to allow the performer the feeling of a real stage. The kids can perform for family, and if you have an ample enough space to safely social distance, you can create viewing pods out of Hula Hoops for your neighbors.
Balance Courses and Homemade Games
Obstacle courses and homemade backyard games can be crafted using many of the items you may already have in your home. These activities are fun, and they are challenging enough to help the family stay fit and engaged in something that is not screen-oriented this summer. Start by setting up a tennis ball or bean bag toss by arranging tiers of small baskets or even unused plastic containers in your backyard. If you don’t have bean bags, you can either take sealable plastic bags or old fabric and fill them with rice before sewing the newly formed bags shut. Don’t forget the treats to reward those making the most baskets.
Parents adores the idea of adding a balance challenge to your backyard activities. The Magazine recommends using tree stumps of varying heights that are then “[spaced] … far enough apart so kids have to carefully plot each step as they walk the path.” If you don’t have easy access to tree stumps, but do have spare balance-beam-width wooden planks, Real Simple suggests a balance game called “Walking the Plank.” The rules, according to the Magazine, are simple: “Let kids take turns walking across a long wooden plank. Whoever finishes first without touching the ground wins. (If someone does touch it, yell ‘Shark bait!’)” Hula Hoops, homemade tunnels, lawn furniture, and pool noodles can serve as supplies for additional challenges for your spontaneous obstacle course.
Homemade Boat Races
If you are feeling particularly crafty, and have a backyard pool, consider planning a family boat race. Boat bases can be made from cutting into old pool noodles, rinsed plastic containers, or light metal lids, while duct tape, fabric, and string can create the sails. If you want to create racing lanes, Parents has an ingenious idea to get your boat races started. The Magazine explains: “Kids can race homemade boats down … tracks made from large-hole pool noodles cut in half lengthwise.” Let the races begin!
Hidden Forts and Hideaways
Building special hideaways, whether playhouses, forts, or other uniquely magical abodes, can provide a “getaway” for kids. These structures can be as simple or elaborate as you want to make them. Beach towels draped over lawn furniture can create a quick, make-shift fort, while clotheslines run around trees and draped with patterned sheets, towels, or blankets are among Real Simple’s favorite hideaways.
Parents loves the idea of creating a hanging retreat perfect for family “tea parties, secret club meetings, or games of hide-and-seek.” Large hoops made from pool noodles or extra-large Hula Hoops can be draped with strips of vibrant fabric or vivid sections of crepe paper and hung from a nearby tree. The strips float down to the ground, creating a secret world inside the hoop-covered material. Pergolas can be enclosed with elaborate builds from cardboard boxes covered in glitter designs, markers, fabric, or even leftover wallpaper. Give the kids ample room to be part of the design and building process. You’ll be amazed at how creative they can be!