It’s been almost 2 years since we purchased our new home out in the country in West Virginia. I love that my kids have a little bit of room to run and explore.
I also love being able to utilize our own backyard for quality time as a family. My oldest is already 13 years old and I’m realizing now more than ever just how quickly childhood flies by! I only have 4 more summers with her!
This year, rather than spending a lot of money on a big vacation, I thought it made more sense to dedicate some of our vacation money to backyard activities that our whole family could enjoy together for years and years to come.
It’s a great way to save money now and invest in long-term quality time.
Sure, I like vacations and traveling as a family just as much as anyone else, but if you can make your outdoor space feel like an oasis, you can make life feel like a vacation every weekend!
This year I decided I wanted to focus on a few things for our backyard. Here are my ideas for a better backyard full of fun activities for my family (and yours).
Dedicated Entertaining Space (Deck, Patio and/or Pergola)
We built a deck and put up our Backyard Discovery Beaumont Pergola at the end of the summer last year. We have been LOVING it this year!
Initially, I wasn’t sure that we needed a pergola for the space but it really adds to it and has turned out to be a great idea! It helps to define an entertaining space. We love sitting out there in the evenings.
We plan to buy lights to string up out there this year and I’d like to find some climbing, flowering plants to put around it. At some point, I’d also like to get a hot tub and an extra large picnic table for the deck.
And, of course, I’m still on the hunt for some great outdoor furniture. My husband might even build us some! We are still a family with 7 kids, so there’s only so much we can accomplish each year. I’m learning to be okay with that.
I think that every great entertainment space needs a fire pit. We wanted a fire pit that minimized smoke output and looked amazing too, which is why we went with Breeo. Our family has already enjoyed using the fire pit a few times this year, and we are bound to use it many more times all summer long!
We have our fire pit sitting under the pergola and it’s the perfect spot for it. It’s been great for roasting hotdogs, marshmallows for smores, and having a warm place to sit when the evening temperatures drop.
Projector and Projector Screen
We’ve actually owned a projector for quite a few years but never a screen. This year we got a screen so we could take the excitement outside. It’s so much fun to set it up there in the evening and watch a movie with the kids while we sit around the fire pit and roast marshmallows!
Backyard Tent Camping
This year starts a new tradition – we decided to kick off the end of our homeschool year and the beginning of summer with a family backyard camping night! We got a new canvas tent from Kodiak Canvas that’s big enough for the whole family (and built to last!).
We had our kick-off-to-summer backyard camping night the first weekend in June and had a BLAST! We set up a screen and projector and watched movies outside, we roasted hot dogs and smores on the Breeo fire pit, and then retired to the tent.
The easy-to-assemble canvas tent from Kodiak Canvas was great at retaining body heat. We didn’t wake up feeling all damp from the morning dew like I have before in other tents, just fresh air that was so refreshing.
We had such a great time that the older kids decided to camp outside the following night as well. The overnight temperatures have been a bit cooler since then so they’ve been sleeping inside, but everyone is excited to have more backyard camping nights throughout the summer.
Without a doubt, this is going to be an annual tradition for our family. We had so much fun!
We haven’t had a backyard playground in a few years so that was another thing that was at the top of my list to put up this year. With 7 kids, a playground is definitely a must-have for us!
My kids had a lot of different opinions about what they wanted most in a swing set so I was thrilled to discover Backyard Adventures. They allow you to custom-build high-quality, wooden swing sets and play sets so you get exactly what your family wants! You can read all about the playground we got in my Backyard Adventures custom-designed playground review.
Bear Playgrounds did the installation for us and we could not be more pleased! The kids have spent hours and hours playing on this play set already and we’ve owned it less than a week!
Eventually, I play to add a large sand play area to our playground as well. My boys love to play in the sand!
Every good celebration begins with food! If you want to make memories in your backyard, make sure you stock up on great foods to make that happen. Some of our favorite summer foods to enjoy are:
- Things you can grill like hotdogs, hamburgers, ect.
- Frozen desserts like ice cream and popsicles are always a treat. My kids also love having dirt pudding at least once in the summer.
Our family loves to get out the grill, invite family or friends over, and spend the day outside eating great food and enjoying good conversation and activities. If you want to take your grilling game to the next level, make sure you check out this guide to the best grilling supplies.
My kids love eating outside, so a picnic is always a good idea here. Even if you don’t have a picnic table, you can just lay out a blanket and eat on the ground. A huge bonus is there is no mess inside!
Growing up I have fond memories of going to my grandparents in the summer and picking raspberries. They had huge bushes and I would spend hours outside picking berries.
Although we started work on our garden last year, we are working to expand it this year. I want to have a backyard full of yummy food my children can help themselves to throughout the summer – fresh blueberries, strawberries, grapes, raspberries, tomatoes, ect.
Our garden is a work in progress and I hope to expand it to include more items year after year. This year we added additional strawberry plants and adding in a few additional veggies, like carrots and pumpkins for carving this fall.
This year I also started planting flowers. My kids love to pick flowers for me and each year I’d like to expand my flower garden so the kids will have a nice garden to pick from.
I also got a few new planters, like this one from Step2. It has really helped to spruce up my back porch!
There are tons of fun outdoor games you can get for a good time in your backyard. Our family really likes to play cornhole. Miranda’s family enjoys playing 9 square. Here’s a comprehensive idea list for lots of backyard fun.
- Yard bowling
- 9 Square
Traditional Kid Games for Outside
- Capture the Flag
- Duck, Duck, Goose
- Hide and Go Seek
- Dodge Ball
- Foot races
Kids and adults love cooling off in the water during the hot summer months! There are a lot of fun ways to play in the water.
My kids love to play in the water and while they would love an inground pool or even a large above-ground pool, it’s not in the cards right now. We did get a smaller above-ground pool that we hope to set up in the near future.
If you have a pool, make sure you get lots of fun accessories like floats, pool noodles, and sinking toys you can dive down to retrieve. Kids of all ages love the pool!
Water tables are a great activity for younger kids. In fact, we use our water table all year long. There are so many fun water table activites to keep your kids entertained for hours!
Check out that throwback photo to Maggie and Jacob when they were preschoolers playing with our water table. Boy they grow up fast!
We didn’t have a pool growing up but I have many fond memories of playing in the sprinkler with my siblings and friends growing up.
My kids LOVE a good water fight! We’ve done them many times with water balloons. Recently I’ve started buying sponges and then filling a 5-gallon bucket with water and letting them use the sponges like reusable water balloons. They love that and it saves a lot of money (and clean up!).
A few times during the summer we like to get out all of our car wash supplies are clean our cars along with letting the kids clean their toy cars. It’s a fun time for everyone, even if it is a needed chore. My preschoolers especially think it’s so much fun to be able to wash their own cars while we wash ours.
Additional Fun Outdoor Activities to Consider
A few other things we like doing outside in our backyard include:
- Blowing bubbles
- Going on a scavenger hunt (here’s a printable scavenger hunt we’ve used in the past). We have a small trail on our property and it’s fun to take the kids for a walk on it in the evening.
- Collecting rocks (and painting rocks sometimes too)
- My kids have this backyard roller coaster and this toddler roller coaster and love them.
- We also have a trampoline and it gets a TON of use all year long. My husband and I enjoy getting on with them too sometimes. It’s great exercise! I was nervous about injuries but we’ve had it for two years now without any issues. Friends who have kids who HAVE been injured on a trampoline all told me they would still get one because their kids just love it so much.
I hope this post has given you a few good ideas of ways you can have fun in your own backyard with your family this summer. Summertime is a great time for making memories as a family!