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Don’t put away the grill just yet. A nip in the air is your invitation to spend even more time in the yard, whether you’re into games, nature, or patio hangs. Summer may get all the glory, but fall activities can be just as cool.
Whether you’re playing with the kids or just a kid at heart, lawn games can help get the good times rolling. Here are a few that are sure to spark friendly competition at any age.
Not ready to rip up the yard for a bocce ball court? Don’t worry. You can play this ancient game—or its French counterpart, petanque—just as well on grass. The bowling-like sport is leisurely, but it benefits from a delicate arm and strategic thinking. No wonder Leonardo Da Vinci was an enthusiast.
If your family is on the cerebral side, flex your brain power with a life-size chess match. Move the giant pawns across a walkable board (for a DIY board, mark the grass with non-toxic spray paint) until you can checkmate your opponent’s king. If you follow the time controls of standard chess, you’ll be grateful for the autumnal sun. (Playing with little ones? Try giant lawn checkers, instead.)
Fans of beer pong will appreciate this oversized version, which swaps a pyramid of plastic drinking cups on a ping-pong table for large buckets in the backyard. The idea is the same: Take turns sinking the ball into your opponent’s bucket until none remain. Downing a beverage of choice if you lose? Optional.
You don’t need to get lost in a corn maze to immerse yourself in that fall feeling (but hey, don’t let us stop you if that’s your seasonal cue). There’s plenty to embrace right in your own backyard.
Turn the task of raking leaves into an inviting experience by piling them up and jumping in. Give out awards for the biggest stack, longest jump, or best performance to add a little friendly competition to this classic activity.
Gathering around a crackling fire is fall at its finest. Get the flames roaring, indulge in some oh-so-satisfying s’mores, and balance out all the warm-and-fuzzy with a round of bone-chilling ghost stories.
Whether peering out from the comfort of a hammock or snuggled up in a sleeping bag, star-gazing is a brilliant reason to hang outdoors well after the sun has set. See who’s first to spot the Big Dipper.
Blur the line between indoor and outdoor living by treating your patio like another room in your house. A few upgrades to the space can make spending time in it feel like an outdoor staycation.
Show off your fall harvest (or farmer’s market haul) by cooking up a festive dinner party. Hang twinkly lights, get the grill going, and whip up a batch of hot toddies to celebrate the new season.
Add winter-hardy potted plants, toss wool blankets over the patio furniture, decorate with gourds, and settle in for a cozy afternoon outside. Now’s the time to catch up on your favorite podcast or start a new book.
Install an outdoor TV and weatherproof speakers to make game day or movie night a theatrical experience. A quality sound system might encourage an impromptu dance party, too. (Just remember to invite the neighbors!)
If you have kids who just can’t get enough of the great outdoors (right on!), our Outside Adventure series is full of kid-friendly activities for any season. Send the little ones on a scavenger hunt while you take a conference call on the porch. Speaking of, check out How to Keep Using Your Outdoor Spaces in Cold Weather for plenty of tips on warming up your outdoor office. Then, get back to the fall fun. With these ideas, summer’s got a new contender.