Encouraging our teens and tweens to step away from their devices and embrace the great outdoors has become more important than ever. The allure of digital entertainment can be undeniably captivating, but as parents, we need to help kids find a healthy balance between virtual and real-life experiences. Today, Jen Barnes, a South Carolina mom of three teens, will explore a world of outdoor games and activities specifically designed to engage teens and tweens, getting them off screens and into the sunshine, fresh air, and the exhilarating world of outdoor play. 

outdoor games and activities for teens and tweens to get them off screens

Teens need play, too

It can be daunting to come up with a list of outdoor activities to get teens and tweens off screens, but I bet you have a bunch of these ready in your back pocket. You just need a refresher and some inspiration! Outdoor games and activities are a great opportunity for teens to take breaks from their screens, get social, exercise, and have fun. The best outdoor activities for teens are the ones that combine fun, friends, and fresh air! 

The best way to encourage teens and tweens to get outside for some fresh air and fun is to ensure there is a lot of peer community. Contrary to popular belief, older kids need and want to play. I believe it’s important to give teens and tweens an outdoor outlet to play and connect with each other. And yes, the competition might be leveled up as the kids get older, but that’s all part of the fun for them.

The benefits of outdoor play for kids (teens and tweens included) are boundless, ranging from physical health to mental well-being and personal development. As we delve into the thrilling outdoor pursuits listed below, we’ll also uncover the compelling reasons why fostering a love for the great outdoors can shape our teens and tweens into well-rounded, resilient individuals.

So, join us on this journey to reconnect with nature, as we discover the transformative power of unplugged adventures for our young ones. It’s time to swap pixels for sunlight and pave the way for unforgettable memories and lasting life lessons. You may want to bookmark this post so you can come back to it the next time your teen says he/she is bored or if you find them staring at the screen for too long.

Organized outdoor activities and games

Sometimes, organized outdoor activities give teens and tweens the structure to get started and provide teens and tweens with the essential structure they need to kickstart their outdoor adventures. These activities offer a framework that introduces them to the joys of being outside. This structure not only fosters discipline and teamwork but also encourages them to discover new interests and skills. What’s truly remarkable is how these organized activities can serve as a springboard for creativity. As long as you have an outdoor space for them to play, you may be pleasantly surprised how often they go outside. 

As they get used to turning toward outdoor fun, they will begin to create their own versions and rules and sometimes even their own games. These newfound freedoms allow them to experiment, collaborate with friends, and develop problem-solving skills—all while having a blast in the great outdoors. In this way, organized outdoor activities serve as the initial stepping stones that lead to a world of limitless possibilities for creative and unstructured outdoor play.

For now, here is a list of organized games and activities for your teen or tween started:

Disc golf / frisbee golf

Disc golf, also known as frisbee golf, combines the precision of golf with the excitement of throwing a frisbee. This fun activity encourages teens to explore natural settings like parks or wooded areas while honing their throwing skills. The benefits include enhanced hand-eye coordination, cardiovascular exercise, and a deep appreciation for the outdoors. There are a host of established courses that many local parks and recreation facilities can offer. If you don’t have any courses near you, teens and tweens will often make their own course through the neighborhoods. Local parks are also a good space to set up a homemade course.

Putt putt golf

For very little cost, teens and tweens can meet up together to play a little putt-putt together. Putt-putt golf, a miniature version of traditional golf, is a classic outdoor game that provides an engaging outdoor experience with its colorful courses and quirky obstacles. Teens can challenge their friends or family while developing focus and patience. This fun activity not only encourages friendly competition but also improves concentration and spatial awareness. This is also a great outdoor activity while traveling!


This fast-paced sport, most well-known for a more mature crowd, has taken the teen world by storm. Pickleball, a hybrid of tennis and table tennis, is played on a smaller court with a lightweight paddle and a wiffle ball. It’s perfect for teens looking for a fun and fast-paced outdoor activity that promotes agility, teamwork, and cardiovascular fitness. The relatively low learning curve allows beginners to quickly get into the game and enjoy the benefits of active play.

Parks and recreation facilities are quickly adapting their tennis courts, and pop-up pickleball clubs are all the rage. Rent paddles or buy your own.

outdoor activities and games for teens to get them outside


Tennis, a fast-paced racquet sport, encourages teens to engage in friendly matches or practice their skills on public courts. This activity enhances cardiovascular fitness, agility, and hand-eye coordination while fostering social interaction and sportsmanship. It’s a game that can be played casually or competitively, indoor or outdoor, any time of year, making it adaptable to different skill levels and interests.


Golf, with its serene greens and picturesque landscapes, invites teens to embrace a more tranquil outdoor experience. Whether they’re playing on a full-sized course or enjoying mini-golf, golf teaches patience, focus, and precision. Teens can challenge themselves while enjoying the beauty of the natural surroundings. Golf encourages strategic thinking and problem-solving as they navigate the course. These activities not only promote physical fitness but also instill valuable life skills, making them ideal options to lure teens away from screens and into the great outdoors.

Both tennis and golf are sports that are great for a group as small as two. Actually, golf can be played solo and well into the late decades of your life, making it a great sport to start young. Teens will definitely get their steps in and make memories playing.


Kickball, reminiscent of childhood playground games, is an excellent choice for teens (and kids of all ages). It’s a fun game that encourages them to run, kick, and strategize as a team. The benefits include increased physical fitness, improved coordination, and opportunities for social bonding. It’s a great game that can be played in parks, schoolyards, or any open space, making it accessible and convenient. Kickball is a classic game and great for involving teens and tweens because it just doesn’t get too serious, and everyone can have fun.

Big group games and activities

Teens and tweens can have so much fun by engaging in big group games and activities outdoors. These large-scale gatherings create an atmosphere of excitement, camaraderie, and friendly competition that’s hard to replicate indoors. I often think about the field day activities that little kids have so much fun with and what a good time those were. This is similar, but maybe just up a notch for the older kids. They have a little more freedom and a little more self control, but at the same time the wild draws them in more.

These types of activities can transform an ordinary day into an unforgettable adventure. The sheer scale of these activities fosters a sense of community, encouraging teens to bond with their peers, make new friends, and build lasting memories together. The laughter, energy, and shared moments create a sense of togetherness that’s both invigorating and deeply satisfying.

Moreover, big group activities outdoors offer a unique chance for teens and tweens to develop essential life skills. They learn teamwork, communication, and problem-solving as they strategize with their peers to achieve common goals. These games also promote physical fitness, as running, jumping, and competing in large group settings provide an excellent workout.

Beyond the physical benefits, these fun outdoor activities teach crucial lessons about leadership, cooperation, and adaptability, which can prove invaluable as they navigate the challenges of adolescence and beyond. In essence, big group outdoor activities empower teens and tweens to have fun, forge strong connections, and grow into more resilient and socially adept individuals.

how to get your teens off screens and outside playing

Glow stick tag

If your teens find themselves bored or restless after the sun goes down, this game of tag is a way for them to extend their outside time. Better to play with a glow stick than the glow of a screen! Glow Stick Tag is a variation of the classic game of tag, but played in the dark with glow sticks. Teens experience the thrill of pursuit and evasion while enhancing their agility and reflexes. This outdoor game for teens is perfect for summer evenings and encourages outdoor play well into the night.

Capture the Flag

Capture the Flag is another classic game involving strategy, teamwork, and a bit of stealth as teams work to capture the opposing team’s flag while defending their own. Played in wide open spaces, this game encourages teens to explore outdoor settings, develop communication skills, and engage in friendly competition. Benefits include improved physical fitness, enhanced problem-solving abilities, and the cultivation of a strong sense of camaraderie among participants. There are all kinds of versions the game that the group can adapt and make work for older kids, younger kids, and even adults (if they’ll let you play!). This is great for maximum physical activity with fun.

There’s also a glow-in-the-dark version of this game that can be played outdoors at night, making it extra fun and keeping teens outside into the evening hours. 

Ultimate Frisbee

Ultimate Frisbee combines the athleticism of soccer, football, and basketball with the joy of throwing a frisbee. Played on a field, this game promotes cardiovascular fitness, teamwork, and strategic thinking. Teens improve their coordination, communication, and agility while relishing the exhilaration of a fast-paced outdoor sport. This one will require a big, open space, so consider a local school field or park with lots of room to run. My youngest loves to gather his buddies on a rainy day and play this at our local park for maximum laughs and a reason to get as dirty as possible. Bring towels and a change of clothes!

Outdoor scavenger hunt

Outdoor scavenger hunts (or treasure hunts) are fantastic for unleashing the inner child and explorer in teens. Armed with a list of items to find or clues to decipher, they venture into nature or urban environments, promoting an appreciation for the world around them. These hunts enhance observational skills, boost curiosity, and provide educational opportunities about the environment and local history.

Teen group activities are great, but if it’s a huge group, sometimes breaking into smaller groups helps the quieter ones. You can find online resources to make clues and/or ridiculous lists of treasures to find. A fun variation of this to make it a photo scavenger hunt or use the Goosechase app to create the scavenger hunt. Teens and tweens can use their phones, so it’s kind of a win-win for everyone.


Manhunt, a modern twist on hide-and-seek, is an exhilarating outdoor game where one person hides (or one team hides), and the other team members seek to find them. Teens experience the excitement of exploration and strategy as they work together to outwit their pursuers. It’s like hide & seek in reverse, and awesome for larger groups (and any age group). Manhunt fosters creativity, adaptability, and quick thinking, all while getting teens to move, run, and explore the great outdoors. End of the game is when all players have been found. It can be adapted for teens who are driving or can be done on a large property for high-level fun.

Water games and activities

Teens and tweens will take any chance to play around water. There is no better way to motivate my teenagers to get outside than to just add water! Because of the summer heat where we live, sometimes water activities are the only way to get my teens outside. Use whatever water you can get your hands on. Hoses, sprinklers, pools, natural waterways, whatever works! For instance, water balloons, add a refreshing twist to classic games like tag or dodgeball. The splashes and giggles that ensue create unforgettable moments, while also providing a much-needed respite from the heat during hot summer days (bonus points if you add ice cream to the mix after the game).

Activities like slip ‘n’ slides turn any ordinary backyard into a water park, allowing teens to slide and glide to their heart’s content. These games not only offer a great workout but also inspire creativity as teens invent new ways to make a splash and keep the fun flowing.

Pool basketball and pool (or beach) volleyball

Pool basketball and pool volleyball transform a typical backyard pool into a vibrant arena of aquatic competition. These games encourage teens to engage in friendly matches, improving their coordination and teamwork as they chase after the ball. Beyond the physical benefits, these activities offer a refreshing escape from the summer heat, promoting a sense of well-being and relaxation.

Both of these games are great for small groups, big groups, or even just one-on-one hours of fun in the sun…or rain, as my kids would have it! They’re a great way to get everybody involved. If you have too many to fit in the pool, do a rotation to make sure you’re being inclusive to all. We like this 4-way volleyball set that can also be adjusted down for badminton. 

Mass water balloon fight

Water balloon fights are a lighthearted way to bring large groups of teens together for a wet and wild adventure. These battles not only foster social interaction and laughter but also promote strategic thinking as participants aim to soak their opponents while staying dry themselves. The spontaneity of water balloon fights creates unforgettable memories and strengthens bonds among friends.

You can play something like this with any number of players. If you have a big group you can set this up as a dodgeball-type competition, or if you have a smaller group, then perhaps an egg toss-type event. Even a combo of Capture the flag with water balloons could work and be a fun way to mix it up. You could also do something similar with Nerf guns or water cannons. The idea is to get everyone outside and having fun.

Giant slip ‘n slide

Turn any grassy slope into a thrilling water park. Teens can slide and race, mastering the art of balance and speed. These slippery adventures provide a full-body workout while keeping everyone cool and entertained on hot summer days. For this to work well, it needs to be a rainy day, or you need access to running water. Either way, your teens and tweens will have some war wounds they can brag about. I’ve seen these set up to land in a lake or a pool. I highly suggest using something as a trial run to make sure no one gets seriously injured.

Tubing, water skiing & wakeboarding

Tubing, skiing, and wakeboarding introduce teens to the exhilaration of water sports. Whether gliding behind a boat on an inflatable tube, skiing across the surface, or riding the waves on a wakeboard, these activities promote physical fitness, balance, and coordination. Add a little speed on the water really gets the teens goin’ and keeps them outside for hours with some healthy risk-taking. They also foster a deep connection with natural bodies of water, encouraging teens to appreciate and protect these environments. 

outdoor sports, games and activities to help you get your teenager outside

Backyard games for teens and tweens (or at the beach)

Whether it’s a game of cornhole in the backyard or a round of spikeball on the beach, these fun activities create opportunities for physical activity and social interaction. Backyard games offer a casual yet competitive setting where teens can bond with friends or family while honing their hand-eye coordination and aiming skills. What’s particularly wonderful about these outdoor games is their adaptability to different skill levels, making them accessible and enjoyable for everyone.

Backyard (or beach) games encourage teens and tweens to unplug and immerse themselves in the sensory delights of the outdoors, from the feeling of sand between their toes to the warmth of the sun on their skin. These activities not only provide a well-rounded workout but also offer countless opportunities for laughter, camaraderie, and spontaneous moments of creativity as teens build, chase, and compete in the beauty of the backyard or along the shoreline. 


The ultimate yard and beach game is set up for a 4 player game. Spikeball is a dynamic and fast-paced game that combines elements of volleyball and four-square. Played on the grass or sand, it demands quick reflexes, teamwork, and strategic ball control. It’s an excellent way for teens to engage in an action-packed outdoor sport that keeps them on their toes. If you have multiple nets, you can set up a tournament or just keep it small with a few friends. I see teens carrying this game in their cars so they have it at all times when the opportunity arises.


Cornhole, the classic bean bag toss game, offers a perfect blend of leisure and competition. Teens can gather in teams, honing their tossing skills while enjoying spirited matches. Beyond the fun, cornhole fosters precision, focus, and friendly rivalry among players. This easygoing game is great for all ages and allows for a lot of peer interaction. For tweens, this can be a good activity to get the conversation rolling without too much awkwardness. 


Horseshoes is a classic yard game great for family events! This game combines skill, precision, and friendly competition. Played with the simple goal of tossing a horseshoe to encircle a stake in the ground, it requires a keen eye, a steady hand, and strategic judgment. Horseshoes is not only a great way for teens to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine but also an opportunity to bond with friends and family in a relaxed and social setting. Whether played casually at a backyard barbecue or in a more competitive tournament format, horseshoes provide a perfect blend of leisure and challenge, making it a timeless favorite that connects generations and fosters good-natured rivalry.

Bocce ball

Bocce ball is a simple yet strategic game that encourages teens to engage in precise throws and tactical thinking. Played on a grassy surface, it promotes gentle physical activity and can be enjoyed in a relaxed or competitive setting.

Obstacle course

A great way to get teens and tweens involved is to have them develop an obstacle course. Obstacle courses are versatile and adaptable outdoor activities that allow teens to construct challenges from everyday objects or purchased equipment. Building and navigating these courses enhances problem-solving abilities, creativity, and physical fitness. There are so many different way to adapt this idea for kids of any age. Teens can design their own courses and compete for the fastest time, fostering a sense of accomplishment. Help them brainstorm creative ideas to use items you have around the house. Invite the neighborhood friends and find a way to make it a fun competition. 

Shoot hoops

Shooting hoops is a timeless activity that encourages teens to practice their basketball skills, improve hand-eye coordination, and engage in friendly competitions with friends. Whether they’re aiming for a casual game of H.O.R.S.E. or a more serious one-on-one showdown, shooting hoops is a fantastic way to stay active and develop athletic prowess.

Ladder golf

Ladder golf combines strategy and precision as teens aim to toss bolas onto a ladder-like structure. This game promotes balance, accuracy, and the joy of aiming for a challenging target. Ladder Golf is an ideal choice for socializing and refining coordination skills.


Slacklining involves balancing on a narrow, flexible strap suspended between two anchor points. It challenges teens’ core strength, concentration, and balance. Slacklining offers not only a unique physical workout but also a sense of accomplishment as teens progress from wobbly steps to confident walks on the line.

Photo Credit: Jen Barnes

Other outdoor activities

There are other things to consider as a way to get your teens and tweens off screens and outside more. Plan a field trip day for big fun. Make a plan and invite friends. Or engage in some everyday outdoor fun like biking, fishing, or hiking.

Water park

Make reservations or buy tickets to a nearby water park. This is a great way to spend all day long outside in the hot summer temperatures. Most places allow you to pack your own picnic lunch and provide facilities to shower or change clothes. 

Theme park/amusement park

These may not seem like outdoor activities, but your teens and tweens will get in lots of steps on a day exploring. Even the waiting in lines keeps them outside and off screens for the day!

Zoos and aquariums

A trip to the zoo or aquarium can be both entertaining and educational. Teens can learn about various animal species, conservation efforts, and even participate in behind-the-scenes tours and interactive exhibits.

Historical sites and museums

Teens interested in history can enjoy visiting historical landmarks, battlefields, or museums dedicated to art, science, or culture. These trips provide valuable learning experiences while keeping them engaged offline.

Outdoor adventure parks

Adventure parks with activities like zip-lining, ropes courses, and rock climbing can satisfy the thrill-seeker in teens and tweens. These parks often offer age-appropriate challenges that promote physical fitness and confidence.

Botanical gardens

Strolling through beautiful gardens filled with exotic plants and vibrant flowers can be a serene and visually stimulating experience. Some botanical gardens even host seasonal events and workshops.

Outdoor sports venues

Take teens to watch live sporting events like baseball, soccer, or football. Witnessing professional athletes in action can ignite their passion for sports and encourage physical activity.

Additional resources

Which outdoor games and activities will you use to get your teens and tween off screens?

About the author

Jen has been married to her original adventure partner, John, for 20 years. She is a mama to 3 teenagers who, although they have busy and independent lives, love to adventure in the outdoors when they can. Jen is a native of Chicago, but has lived in South Carolina for two decades and calls it home. She’s always planning the next adventure for herself or her friends, whether near or far. Hiking, kayaking, sailing with her family, or traveling the world is all about the experience and the journey. Her extroverted nature keeps her talking and smiling with anyone she meets along the way. She’s on a mission to show other busy families that traveling with teenagers is possible and fun!

You can find Jen online in the following locations:
Instagram: @gofamilyadventure
Website: Go Family Adventure
RWMC Posts: Jen Barnes