Summer is here, which means the weather is just right for some much-needed outdoor fun for kids—you know, the kind of entertainment that gets them away from screens and doesn’t result in a colossal mess inside your home. Good news: Our roundup of outdoor activities for kids of all ages is full of foolproof ideas that guarantee a good time in any open-air location. From sidewalk sales and fruit picking to rockhounding and bug hunting, here are our top picks.
52 Seriously Fun Outdoor Activities for Kids
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1. Fruit Picking
A quick search for “pick your own farms near me” might yield a pretty big payoff—namely, an entire day of outdoor entertainment that includes hands-on engagement, beautiful scenery and deliciously sweet, seasonal treats. (Just don’t be surprised if your little forager puts more fruit in her mouth than in her basket.)
2. Nature Scavenger Hunt
When it comes to taking your kid out for a breath of fresh air, a little structure can go a long way. Case in point: The outdoor scavenger hunt—an activity that encourages young ones to inquire with all five senses whilst keeping them (mindfully) on task. This fun to-do can go down in any number of ways but this printable from the experts at REI is a great place to start.
3. Beach Day
Fact: Crashing waves, warm sun and a fresh sea breeze can wear out and ultimately calm down even the wildest child. The takeaway? Head straight to the seashore so you can soak up some vitamin D while the kid in your life builds a sand castle and eats their body weight in ice cream.
4. Bird Watching
Grab a pair of binoculars and a small person and then head to a local park or reserve on a bird-watching mission. This quiet outdoor activity is equal parts stimulating and soothing, so your child will be able to practice mindfulness while you both get in touch with nature. Get all the beginner bird watching tips you need right here.
5. Sensory Sand Box Play
Nobody likes the feeling of sand between their toes quite as much as a little kid, and fortunately you don’t need to devote your entire day to a beach outing just to make the sensory magic happen. Locate a playground with a sandbox (or buy one for your backyard) and your kid will be happy to dig in any day.
6. Backyard Bounce House
OK, bounce houses can be terrifying but hear us out: A small(ish), inflatable bounce castle for the backyard is an easy way to make your outdoor space more appealing—and, given its location, you don’t even need to worry about what happens when 25 children start jumping in a confined space. (Phew.) We’re big fans of this one from Fisher Price (seriously, our Editor-in-Chief wrote an ode to it.)
7. Stomp Rockets
Bring these soft, foam rockets along whenever you leave the house for a quick and easy activity that can help your kid release some energy without the risk of physical injury or property damage. In other words, this is a rare instance in which stomping is strongly encouraged. (Because the stronger the foot, the higher these rockets will soar.)
10. Slip and Slide
Sprinklers and toddlers are a match made in heaven, but when it comes to big kid appeal, nothing beats the extra thrills of a slip and slide for the lawn.
13. Giant Bubbles
Bubbles are an instant hit among little kids, but bubble-blowing as an activity is often hard to watch. Enter: Giant bubble solution—the magic potion that allows even the most inept kid to create an incredible (airborne) spectacle.
16. Kite Flying
It’s an expression for a reason, friends. Next time you want your kid to spend some time outside (i.e., get out of your hair), just tell him to go fly a kite...but definitely invest in a kite that meets expectations before you try this trick. This rainbow number should do the trick.
19. Crayon Melting
Arts and crafts are the name of the game for most of the cold-weather months, but that doesn’t mean the crayons have to gather dust as soon as the sun starts to shine. A little aluminum foil, some cookie cutters and plenty of sunshine are all you need for this activity, which breathes new life into broken crayons (i.e., all of them) and gets your kid a breath of fresh air to boot.
It’s a bit of an investment but if you have a backyard and can swing it, you should absolutely set up a kid-friendly zip-line. It’s basically the ultimate boredom buster that thrill-seeking kids can enjoy whenever the mood strikes.
26. Car Wash
Bigger kids (i.e., young entrepreneurs) will get a kick out of this classic outdoor activity that combines water play with the opportunity to make a quick but honest buck—all while soaking up some sun. (Psst: Here are some other jobs for kids who’ve got money on their mind.)
27. Bike Ride
For a fun outdoor activity that families can do together, it’s hard to beat a classic bike ride. Whether you’re riding the trails in a nearby park or just going around and around your cul-de-sac, even kids as young as 18 months can get in on the fun with one of these child-friendly bikes. (Hint: Start them on balance bikes first instead of pedals so that your little thrill seeker can learn balance and essential riding skills.)
29. Paper Boat Races
Fill up the kiddie pool and give these adorable paper boats a whirl—your child will have a blast with both the crafting portion and the main outdoor event.
32. Tie Dye Party
Tie-dyeing is a fun and easy way to make colorful, wearable art with one child or a whole group. Plus, this creative project requires nothing more than a few white T-shirts, a tie-dye kit and a small outdoor space to contain the mess.
33. Photography Journal
There are lots of different things to do and play, but sometimes the best part of being outside is simply being able to appreciate where you are. Equip your kid with an Instant Camera and he’s sure to stay fully engaged with the environment...without fancy toys or high-speed races.
34. Outdoor Movie Night
Set up a projector screen in your backyard and order a pizza—because nothing beats the novelty of viewing a movie outdoors on a warm night, especially with a kid who wants to watch and wiggle at the same time.
35. Farmer’s Market
Enlist your child’s help in making both a menu and the corresponding shopping list before you visit the local farmer’s market together. The fresh food and time outdoors makes for an errand that’s far from snoozy. Here are some recipe ideas to get you started.
36. Tree Climbing
You won’t need to twist your child’s arm to get him to climb a tree—the hard part is finding one with potential.
37. Jumping Rope
This aerobic exercise doesn’t require a sprawling outdoor space, but it will help keep your kid from bouncing off the walls when they get back inside.
38. Flower Pressing
If your child likes to stop and smell (read: pluck) the roses, be sure to bring a flower pressing journal along on your next nature walk so she can preserve the wild blossoms she finds. Outdoor memories in the making.
39. I Spy
Yep, I Spy is good for more than just road trips: Much like the “follow the leader” idea, this walk-around-the-block activity promises to keep kids in the present so they truly take in their surroundings when they step outside the house.
43. Go Fishing
Here, an outdoor activity that’s relaxing, occasionally thrilling and perfect for parent-child bonding. Plus, if your kid manages to reel in a whopper, it will be an especially memorable family outing (and good material for your summer scrapbooking project, too).
44. Open a Lemonade Stand
This sunny day activity has stood the test of time for good reason—namely because kids still need to learn the value of a hard-earned dollar and adults are still easily suckered by the cuteness of a 7-year-old with something to sell.
45. Play Handball
Handball: the classic schoolyard game that requires nothing more than a fist, a ball and a wall. This one is fun for kids of all ages and can be played solo or with a pal, right on the side of your house.
46. Make a Bird Feeder
A bird feeder can turn your outdoor space into a magical (and musical) aviary, and crafting one from scratch is an excellent hands-on project for kids and parents to do together. Just be sure to read the National Audubon Society’s guide to best bird feeder practices, lest your DIY project do more harm than good to the feathered friends it attracts.
47. Backyard Camping
Your child might be too young for a solo wilderness sleepover, but a night spent under the stars in your own backyard is a different story. Pitch a tent or roll out a sleeping pad and light up the fire pit for an evening of hot dogs, s’mores and scary stories.
48. Rock Painting
OK, so your kid’s first rockhounding mission didn’t yield anything that would catch a real geologist’s eye, but fear not—with a little acrylic paint, that lackluster collection of stones can be transformed into something that would make Picasso proud.
49. Take a Hike
When you’ve heard “I’m bored” for the umpteenth time, go ahead and say it. There’s actually nothing wrong with suggesting your child get some exercise on a local scenic trail (no matter how you really meant it).
50. Puddle Splashing
Rainy day? No big deal—just have the little kid in your life slip into some galoshes and head outdoors for some carefree puddle splashing fun. Then, wrap it up with a hot bath back home for even more water play. Easy peasy.
51. Mini Golf
Little kids might not fare so well on the regular putting green, but take ‘em to a mini golf course and they’ll enjoy a full day of entertainment from a version of the sport that’s genuinely fun for the whole fam.
52. Backyard Olympics
Invite your kids’ friends over and pick teams out of a hat. Be sure to vary the challenges so that they appeal to different strengths and abilities. Our favorite games? Water balloon toss, three-legged race and hula-hooping. Feel free to sit back and root from the sidelines or get right in there with ’em.