8 Backyard Toys and Games for Adults and Kids

Hathaway/Kan Jam/Jenga
Hathaway/Kan Jam/Jenga

Summer is finally here—a time for going to the beach, eating ice cream, and hanging outside. Soak in the sun just a little longer (with a healthy dose of sunscreen, of course!) with this collection of backyard toys and games that are great for kids and adults alike. Whether your family loves outdoor sports, games of strategy, or something in between, one of these items is bound to bring everyone together to create summer memories (or fierce competitions) that will last a lifetime.

1. Inflatable Bounce House; $270

Kids playing on a Little Tikes set.
Walmart/Little Tikes

Bounce houses are key players at birthday parties and carnivals, so why shouldn’t they also hold a prime spot in your backyard? With this inflatable Jump n’ Slide bounce house from Little Tikes, your backyard will quickly become the coolest one on the block. This bounce house features tall, protective mesh walls to keep bouncers safely inside the jumping area, and they’ll be able to make a grand entrance—and exit—via the wide slide attached to the front. The house even contains convenient shoe storage pockets inside, so kids (or kids-at-heart) can easily grab them when it’s time to give all that jumping a break. Complete with a blower, repair kit, and a storage bag, this bounce house can stay put or be taken on the go, guaranteeing fun that will last all summer long.

Buy it: Walmart

2. Giant 4 in a Row Game; $65

Two people playing a giant 4 in a Row game outside.
GoSports/Amazon

This classic game just got a big upgrade—literally. This oversized take on what is essentially Connect Four measures 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide and is perfectly designed for backyard parties, family game nights, and neighborhood barbecues. The “game board” is built from sturdy premium wood, while the set’s red and blue playing coins are made from a heavy-duty plastic to withstand even the most enthusiastic of players. When it’s time to call it a night, the game can be conveniently stored in its carrying case until it’s time for a rematch.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Super Soakers; $45

A Super Soaker squirt gun
Super Soaker/Walmart

No summer is complete without a Super Soaker, and this “Floodtastic” variety pack from Walmart will keep you and your friends having a blast until the last pool party of the season. This variety pack includes two Tidal Tube water blasters—which hold 10 ounces of water that you fire by pumping the handle back and forth—and two AlphaFire water blasters, which hold 7.4 ounces of water and fire via a plastic trigger. Perfect for games of two to four, these Super Soakers are a crowd pleaser (except for unsuspecting victims of a cold blast of water, that is).

Buy it: Walmart

4. Toss and Catch Paddle Set; $27

Two people playing catch.
Qrooper/Amazon

If paddle ball is your preferred summer sport, you know the pain of losing your ball in your backyard or on the beach. But with this set from Qrooper, you’ll never have to interrupt your game for a ball hunt ever again. This kit includes four bright neon paddles and tennis balls in a convenient carting case, making transport—and spotting any stray equipment—an easy feat. The paddles are reinforced with waterproof lining to make them extra durable, while the Velcro surface area helps even the most uncoordinated of athletes catch with ease. These are great for kids and adults who want to work on their hand-eye coordination this summer … or who just want to have their own version of Wimbledon this year.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Kan Jam; $40

A Kan Jam game on the beach
Kan Jam/Amazon

Who needs a gym membership when you have Kan Jam? This outdoor game will keep you fit—and having a great time—until it’s time for sweater weather once again. Kan Jam is like cornhole, frisbee, and basketball rolled into one, and although it’s typically played in teams of two, it’s simple enough to expand the game to include the entire family. This original set includes two portable, weatherproof goals; a Kan Jam disc; and instructions to make sure that everyone plays by the rules.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Giant Jenga; $130

People playing a giant game of Jenga
Jenga/Amazon

If strategy games are more of your thing, look no further than this giant outdoor Jenga set. Nearly 15 times larger than a standard Jenga game, this life-sized version starts out at 2 feet high and can stack up to over 5 feet, making it a precarious party game that’s as entertaining as it is nerve-racking. And with a handy carrying case included in the package, you can take these sturdy blocks on the go for an instant party fix. The game is designed for ages 12 and up, guaranteeing that you’ll have just as much fun playing it at a family birthday party as you will an adults-only camping trip.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Cornhole; $40

A cornhole set
Himal/Amazon

Another classic game, cornhole is one of the most popular when it comes to backyard entertainment, and for good reason. It’s easy to play and relatively quick, with games tapping out at just 21 points. Lightweight and designed for convenient transport, this collapsible set from Himal includes two cornhole boards that only weigh 2 pounds each. They’re built with high elastic wire to ensure that the boards are just as flexible as they are durable, and the board’s surface is treated with an anti-skid fabric so that bean bags can glide with ease (no referee needed).

Buy it: Amazon

8. Bocce Ball Set; $86

A bocce ball set
Wayfair

According to the manufacturer, this deluxe bocce ball set was “created with the competitive player in mind,” so you know that the moment you bring this out of your shed, it’s game on. The kit includes eight tournament-quality bocce balls, along with one pallino ball for a game that will feel as high-stakes as your regular Monopoly night. All the balls can be stored in a weather-resistant black nylon carrying case, and the kit even includes a rule book to keep players honest. Designed for ages 5 and up, this bocce set will quickly become a backyard family favorite … even if grandma wins every time.

Buy it: Wayfair

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10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

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This Insulated Growler Keg Lets You Pour Carbonated Beer, Soda, and Cocktails on the Go

GrowlerWerks
GrowlerWerks

The biggest hurdle for taking draft beer on the go is keeping it cold and carbonated once you leave the brewery. And while insulated travel growlers help keep drinks fresh for longer, traditional glass growlers start losing carbonation once they're opened.

Portland-based GrowlerWerks combats the scourge of flat ales with a line of growler kegs featuring built-in tap handles that mimic a brewery-fresh pour. And with the company's lightweight and affordable uKeg Go ($99) model, GrowlerWerks is making sure your sudsy drink of choice can survive all-day cookouts, lazy nights on the patio, or a week in the fridge.

How is the uKeg Go different from a growler?

The main selling point of the 64-ounce uKeg Go is its tap, which dispenses beer just like you'd be served at a brewery. But it’s not as simple as just filling it up and playing bartender—you’ll first need to install an 8g CO2 cartridge before you even pour your first pint. Much like an actual keg, the CO2 is what’ll actually keep your drink nice and foamy after you've filled the growler. (GrowlerWerks sells its own CO2 charges separately at $12 for a pack of 10. Each cartridge should last for the entire 64 ounces.)

The cartridge itself pops right into a sleeve, which you then screw into the bottom of the cap. Once you've tightly secured the cap onto the growler, you can choose your carbonation setting—first position for beer and cider and the second position for soda and cocktails—and start pouring.

Though the system isn’t complex, you’ll definitely want to give the instructions a once-over before you first use it—I wound up wasting my first CO2 cartridge because I didn’t have the cap in the “off” position when I first installed it, resulting in it emptying out before I could even screw it on.

So, does it work?

My first drink—Coke, because my local breweries still aren’t allowing private growler fills due to COVID-19—came out perfectly chilled and fizzy, as if it had just been poured from a fountain. But time is the enemy of all carbonated beverages, so over the next eight hours I poured a few more glasses to see how both the CO2 and the temperature held up.

I found that there was very little difference between that first cold glass at 8:00 a.m. and that final one at 5:00 p.m. The drink suffered virtually no temperature change, thanks to the uKeg Go’s double-wall vacuum insulation, and never lost any of that bubbly character. Even when the keg was left out in the sun from noon to 5:00 p.m., the soda remained unaffected.

GrowlerWerks uKeg Go
GrowlerWerks

Because we're talking about a keg here, I knew I had to test out beer as best I could, so I transferred a few cans to the uKeg, and the result was pretty much the same—the growler maintained the beer’s temperature and carbonation level all day long, resulting in a consistent pour that never lost flavor or crispness. It’s basically indistinguishable from having beer straight from a brewery tap, and it'll probably be my go-to travel vessel anytime I bring local beer on the go.

While these tests simulated bringing the uKeg to an all-day event, the company claims the growler would be able to maintain the carbonation for up to two weeks.

How's the build?

The whole idea behind the uKeg Go is portability—it's meant to travel with you wherever you go, from a backyard barbecue to a weekend excursion out into the woods. And it sports a stainless-steel body that should be up for the challenge. It's lightweight, but the build is sturdy enough that you shouldn't fret that you've got fragile cargo with you (just be aware that there is a tap faucet to think about, so you might not want to jostle it around too much). There's also a convenient handle secured onto the top, making it easy to carry around with a finger or two while also traveling with beach bags and other outdoor necessities.

In terms of appearance, the uKeg Go is sportier and sleeker than the company's traditional uKeg model, looking more like an insulated bottle from HydroFlask or Stanley than a piece of brewery equipment. And there are two colors to choose from: a uniform tungsten gray model and a slightly bolder chili red, which is what I went with.

You can pick up a uKeg Go for $99 on both the GrowlerWerks website or Amazon. There’s also the company’s standard uKeg growler that ranges from 64 to 128 ounces and features a much more nuanced CO2 system. That'll run you $159–$209, depending on the exact model you get. And if coffee is more your speed, the company recently released the uKeg Nitro ($199) model that dispenses creamy, nitro-infused cold brew with the pull of a lever.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.