Playing summer lawn games is even more fun as you get older, and the steep annual decline in everyone’s athleticism provides endless opportunities for humor. But which lawn games are the best? We ranked our top nine; feel free to disagree, but also feel free to agree. Really just feel free, because it’s summer and that’s kind of what it’s all about.
9. Giant Jenga
Giant Jenga is better than the regular kind, for the same reason that life-sized chess leads to more satisfying trash-talk -- defeat is, literally, more crushing. Obviously it’s an outdoor game because who wants a 3-foot tower of wood tumbling down in their living room? Note to DIY people: it’s easy to make this game yourself with a few 2x4s. Not to non-DIY people: you can also just buy it.
Spikeball takes the fun of trampoline basketball and removes the “neck injuries” part, leaving you with an awesome team game that allows for some dramatic dives for the ball and surprising strategizing. Don’t play with super-competitive friends unless you’re looking to get tackled.
Cornhole is the more democratic version of horseshoes in that it rewards a “good enough” throw. It’s one of the most laid back games in the universe, but beware anyone who knows what a "jumanji" is, as they will destroy you.
6. Ladder golf
If you ever screwed up a yo-yo trick really badly and got your hands tangled in string, you missed your chance to invent ladder golf. Legend has it that the game originated from cowboys throwing live snakes at barbed wires, which actually doesn’t sound fun for anyone, snake or human.
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What’s more fun than politely smacking a large hard ball while imagining you’re the handsome scion of the most powerful industrialist in all of New England? The game (or similar variants) dates back as early as the 1600s, and it shows: you must wear a white polo and give golf claps, even after watching your friend wail a ball straight into a tree.
4. Lawn darts
Ok, actually, what’s more fun than whiling away a balmy evening hurling ancient weapons of war? Although the pointy, dangerous kind of lawn darts have actually been outlawed for decades, you can buy weighted plastic darts that do a pretty good imitation. Or, if you’re really familiar with the “dark internet,” seek out the pre-ban kind.
Hot take: people aren’t playing enough bocce these days. Sure, maybe you know that one cool bar that’s taken up the cause, but this game is too much leisurely fun to be broken out as rarely as it is. End of the day, it’s the Old World-est way to do sports with a drink in hand and a dadbod.
Tennis, but with a volleyball net and a more manageable court size? Sweet. Badminton is also one of the easiest backyard games to set up and play, and perhaps the most viscerally satisfying, what with those vicious spikes.
Stump is perhaps the greatest lawn game of all time, probably because it’s the one with the highest stakes. If you can do it, flipping a hammer in the air, catching it, and swinging it in one smooth motion to hammer a nail into a stump is downright beautiful. Advanced practitioners have even been known to play the Flaming Stump, which is exactly what it sounds like. We can’t recommend that one.