Stuck indoors this fall or winter with nothing for the family to do? If you feel like you’re going a little stir crazy or suffering from some cabin fever, then you may want to check out some of the best board games for the whole family, most of which are available on Amazon.
Go beyond the card game that you always pull out at Thanksgiving, or the classic game that always makes everyone fight (cough-cough, Monopoly and Scrabble), and try out one of these lesser-known, newer and/or overall awesome board games, perfect for a family game night.
Best Board Games for Families with Older Kids
Keeping your older child’s attention can be difficult, especially when it becomes no longer cool to hang out with mom or dad. Get them off their cell phones and to the dining room table, with one of these teen-approved board games.
If your older kid has a thing for true crime podcasts (or maybe you both do), then you might want to try Betrayal at House on the Hill. This game is a bit horror-esque, but still light-hearted enough to be suitable for a playful game night (in other words, it’s not gory or disturbing in any way).
The detailed, immersive and beautifully designed game is suited to teens and up and is only $30 on Amazon. It takes about an hour to play, and each time you do play the game, it changes up a bit, with 50 different gameplay scenarios possible.
If you think you have a preteen who’d be interested in some of the modern strategy games that adults like, but you’re not sure if they’re ready for the more challenging aspects of those games, you can start them out with Ticket to Ride.
A very basic strategy game (at least as far as strategy games are concerned), Ticket to Ride’s premise is simple. You have to build a railroad across the country.
The competition isn’t terribly fierce between players until the end, so it also gives kids a chance to adjust to the vibe of the game before they need to start knocking other players off.
If you think your preteen or teen is ready to jump right into the world of adult-friendly strategy games, you can go with the popular Settlers of Catan immediately.
This world-famous game can seem intimidating at first, but you’ll fall in love once you get the hang of it. Die-hard Catan fans have praised this board and strategy game for decades.
Suitable for up to five players, Settlers of Catan is a bit of a time commitment, taking up to two hours of play during normal gameplay.
4. The Shining
A board game based on, yes, that The Shining, this game is another good pick for horror-loving teens and their parents.
Play against each other or together. Regardless of which you pick, the object of the game is to survive for four whole months while dodging traps and tricks.
The rules can be kind of complicated, which is why the game is recommended for older teens. You’ll likely want to take a few minutes to familiarize yourself and your fellow players with the rules before starting.
For a slightly spooky game that’s maybe a little more palatable for the easily spooked (versus The Shining board game or Betrayal at House on the Hill), go with Horrified, which pits players against classic monsters such as Frankenstein and Dracula.
The cooperative board game is suitable for ages 10 and up, one to five players. The game is easy to learn and is slightly different every time you play, making for an enjoyable experience for the whole family, no matter if this is your first time cracking open the box, or your third year in a row breaking out the box for the Halloween season.
Cranium was a hit party game when it first came out in the late 1990s, so if you’ve yet to enjoy it, now’s the time.
A board game for ages 16 and up, and four or more players, it requires you to use every area of your noggin, as you solve puzzles, perform, sketch and more. If you’re tired of games that only require you to use one part of your brain, this is the game for you.
Plus, this 3-in-1 version allows you to personalize the gameplay to fit your needs, as well as how much time you have on any given game night.
This beautifully-illustrated board game for ages 14 and up requires you to build your aviary by collecting birds, finding food and hoping for a little egg laying. The part-board game, part card game can be played by one to five people and takes about 40 to 70 minutes of gameplay time.
An award-winning game, Wingspan is not only educational (you may find that you come away with more than a few fun bird facts), it’s also plenty entertaining and sure to delight even the most low-key birding enthusiast
Best Board Games for Families with Smaller Kids
Sure, small children are easy to entertain. But if you’ve been a parent for a few years now, you likely already know how painful it can be to play Candyland over and over and over… and over. Break out one of these toddler-approved games to shake things up.
Suitable for children ages three and up, this game incorporates the childhood favorite characters from Richard Scarry’s Busytown into an easy game for up to four players.
The board itself is more than six feet long, making for an interesting change to your typical board game. The instructions are easy enough for anyone to understand, and the game encourages teamwork and learning.
The game is different each time, so there’s no worry of boredom for any parents concerned that this game will become the new favorite (as it very well might).
If you want to introduce your toddler to the concept of board games for the first time, HiHo! Cherry-O is a toddler classic that’s sure to please. Suitable for ages two to six, the game isn’t only fun, it’s also educational, teaching basic math skills like counting, adding and subtracting.
Children take turns picking pretend fruit from the game board and add or subtract fruit pieces from their baskets as required. The first one to fill up their basket wins.
This classic German board game was designed to fit children ages two and up and can even be played solo. It’s a quick game, too, taking only about 10 minutes per game.
Players collaborate to pick all the “fruit” off the “trees” before the nasty raven makes it across the board. If players succeed, everyone wins. If they don’t, everyone loses.
The unique game is a nice twist on the one-winner-only format and one that teaches teamwork and a communal mindset.
If you love Sequence for adults (which you’ll find below, in our list of best family board games for holidays and family gatherings), then you might want to try Sequence for Kids, the toned-down family edition that’s best for children ages 3 through 6.
There’s no reading required, but this classic game still helps children learn critical thinking and logic skills in a fun way. Just play a card, place a chip on the corresponding character on the board and try to get four chips in a row.
12. Sequence Letters
If you have a child who’s just a little bit older, they may want to try Sequence Letters, which is the same exact concept, only for ages 4 to 7 and focused on letters versus character illustrations alone.
A great game to supplement your child’s preschool or kindergarten curriculum, this game challenges kiddos to match cards with letters to pictures on the board, to get those coveted four chips in a row (so, for example, they would play an “I” to get their chip on the illustration of an igloo).
In the vein of games like Settlers of Catan, My First Carcassonne takes the civilization-building strategy gameplay style and ages it down so that it’s suitable for children as young as 4.
The premise is simple. Animals are loose in the streets of Carcassonne and it’s up to players to bring the animals home.
Players build the city through tiles and game pieces, closing off and creating new streets until the animals are caught and the game is won. The game is suitable for two to four players.
14. Hoot Owl Hoot!
This adorably illustrated board game is a cooperative game for ages 4 and up. Rather than pitting players against each other, the game asks players to work together to get the friendly owls home before daylight.
Players draw cards and move to corresponding spaces on the board, for play time that teaches children problem solving and shared decision making skills. Plus, there are two levels of gameplay, so the game can age up with your child (or so that older kids can play with younger kids).
Another adorably-illustrated board game, this cooperative whodunit is a little like Clue, only for younger kids. Suitable for ages 5 and up, Outfoxed encourages families to work together to uncover the guilty fox.
You’ll look for suspects, find clues and use your deductive reasoning to crack the case together. (Plus, even parents will appreciate the whimsical design, from the top hat-wearing fox to the on-the-hunt hens in their Sherlock Holmes-esque outfits.)
16. Dinosaur Escape
If you have a younger child who’s all about the dinosaurs, consider Dinosaur Escape, another cooperative, work-together strategy game from Peaceable Kingdom (maker of the above Hoot Owl Hoot!).
In this perfect game for your dino-lovin’ kid, players have to help the dinosaurs escape from a deadly volcano.
The game uses matching and strategy to teach children simple educational concepts that will come in handy in a range of situations. The game is suitable for kids ages 4 and up, two to four players.
Best Overlooked Board Games for Families
So we probably already know your favorite classic game from when you were a kid. Beyond Monopoly, there’s a handful of favorites that families are still playing today, from Operation to Candyland to Chutes and Ladders.
But what about these overlooked classics that everyone knows, but fewer have played?
Inexpensive at less than $20, this Hasbro classic is available on Amazon and remains a fantastic family game that, surprisingly, not that many people have played (maybe they feel their sleuthing skills aren’t up to snuff?).
Regardless, get Clue for your next game night and enjoy playing with up to six family members, ages eight and up. This is one the grown-ups will remember from childhood and a great problem-solving game for younger kids.
Jamie Kim, Founder of My Itchy Child, also adds, “I think Clue is an excellent board game that parents can play with their children. It helps children develop deductive reasoning based on information gathered.”
“While the game itself is entertaining, it’s also endearing as a parent to watch my kids using their cognitive abilities to solve problems,” Kim adds.
18. Mouse Trap
If asked to make a list of your favorite classic games from childhood, you’d likely overlook this popular option — but once someone brings it up, you’re as equally likely to fondly recall this fun and exciting game that requires a fair amount of smarts and skills in order to capture the cheese and build a better mousetrap.
At $25, Mouse Trap is relatively affordable and available on Amazon. It’s suitable for two to four players, ages six years old and up.
Yes, Sorry! is kind of frustrating, but it’s a quick game (half an hour to play, typically) and a classic that everyone can enjoy. It’s suitable for up to four players, ages five and up.
You move your pieces around the board and try to sabotage your family members as you go. When you get the chance to send a particularly whiny family member back to their starting point, you’ll definitely relish the opportunity to sweetly turn to them and simply say… Sorry!
20. The Game of Life
The Game of Life often gets overlooked for some of its more popular Hasbro siblings, but it’s still a wonderfully fun game for families who aren’t terribly keen on classic strategy or knowledge-based games like Trivial Pursuit or Battleship, and would rather test their luck around the board.
For two to four players and ages 8 and up, the game is easy to set up and start playing, right out of the box, with very little gameplay knowledge needed. The learning curve is very, very minute, making this one classic board game that’s definitely suitable for families who don’t care to spend an hour pouring over the game rules.
Best Board Games for Holidays and Family Gatherings
Board games are a good entertainment option when you have the extended family over. Everyone unplugs and interacts in a fun, safe environment that doesn’t include you listening to your crazy uncle’s political rants.
But picking a great game for situations like these can be tricky. How do you find something that everyone will enjoy? You can’t exactly play Cards Against Humanity with Grandma and Grandpa.
Well, try one of these options on for size.
You don’t need any talent for this fun game — just a love of music.
Here’s how it works. Each player (up to 10, so it’s good for groups) writes down some “trigger words” on a card. When it’s your turn, you say one of your words aloud and flip a timer. If someone else sings at least five words from a song, with lyrics including your trigger word, then they get to advance on the board.
This classic game is good for up to 12 players, ages seven and up. How does it work?
Simply draw a card, place a chip on the card’s matching space on the board and the goal is to form a sequence of five chips in a row. Everyone’s trying to get to five total sequences first.
The game is simple to understand but requires strategy to master. It’s fun enough for the adults to play, but can also teach the kids critical thinking skills.
23. Castle Panic
Castle Panic is a fun tabletop game that’s suitable for players ages 10 and up. You get the fun of a traditional cooperative defense game, but with gameplay that’s a little more beginner-friendly, so even those family members who haven’t played a board game in a while will catch on quickly.
Up to six people can play at once, but this game can also uniquely be played on one’s own, for a solitary experience outside of family game night.
If you’re worried that you still have too many younger kids in the family, to enjoy a game like this, you might want to go with the OG Castle Panic for the older family members, but then invest in My First Castle Panic for the younger kids. Suitable for 4 year olds and older, it’s an easier version that works for one to four players.
For another adventure-style board game that’s suitable for younger kids but still exciting enough for the adults, try Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar (if it sounds familiar it’s because a similar game came out in the 1980s and this is the remake).
Easy to learn, this game requires you to take turns as you race around the board, dodging danger and uncovering treasure. It’s suitable for four players at a time, ages 7 and up.
25. Slide Quest
Slide Quest is a unique option, as it requires a fair amount of dexterity, along with strategy. Suitable for ages 7 and up, this combination makes the board game a win with players of all ages.
Players control levers and moving platforms to help guide a knight through a series of various challenges, incorporating a lot of the skills you might use in video games, but taking them into the physical world for a board game that requires fine motor skills and family cooperation.
This family favorite from the pros at Parker Brothers is suitable for a near-endless number of people, making it ideal for larger family gatherings. All you need is two people to start, and then your options are limitless from there.
A kind of ‘I Spy’ or ‘Where’s Waldo?’ game, your mission with Pictureka is to look for various items on a rearrangeable board that hides things often in plain sight. There are 100 different missions to complete, so this is one game that certainly won’t get old quickly.
Best Strategy Board Games for Families
Are you a family of strategists? Then try out one of these strategy-based games the entire family can enjoy.
Simple and aesthetically pleasing, Blokus is easy to learn.
Just place your 21 colored, square pieces on the grey board. Each block must touch another block of the same color, but only at the corners. The goal is to take up as much of the board as you can with your color while thwarting your fellow players simultaneously.
The player with the most connected squares on the board at the end of the game wins.
Shelly Peel, one of the Founders at Social Mums, shares, “Blokus is a game that requires strategy, that requires strategy. There’s no chance or luck involved, as your strategy dictates whether or not you win or lose.”
Peel also adds, “The beauty of this game is that the rules are quite simple for young children to follow. The game also helps children develop their problem-solving skills, as they tend to get better with every time you play.”
28. Calliope Tsuro
Another similar strategy-based game, Calliope Tsuro is suitable for ages eight and up, and as many as eight players. Using path tiles, create a path for your dragon pawn to follow. Each time you play, the path changes, depending on the moves of your opponents.
Create your own path, block others’ ways and be the last player on the board to win.
Labyrinth is another strategy-based game that’s suitable for younger kids. A quick game (20 minutes or so is all that’s required) for two to four people; players work their way around a constantly-changing maze.
The good thing about Labyrinth is that it’s easy enough for a small child to enjoy (think eight or nine years old), but still challenging enough that the adults won’t mind playing along.
A great introductory strategy game, Takenoko is a cute Japanese-themed game that centers around growing bamboo to feed some hungry pandas. Suitable for ages 13 and up, and two to four players, your family will need to use your best strategic thinking to cultivate and irrigate your land and then grow various species of bamboo to score points.
Watch out for the weather, which could ruin all of your hard work. The game ends when one of the players has completed a series of tasks, and then players tally their scores to see who’s been most successful in their bamboo-growing endeavors.
31. Bunny Kingdom
Bunny Kingdom comes to you from the same creators behind Magic: The Gathering, but it’s a little more accessible than the latter, and better for family fun.
Bunny Kingdom is a kingdom-building game, though, that requires a certain amount of strategy as you claim new territories and then defend them. The game is suitable for children ages 14 and up, and two to four players.
32. 7 Wonders
This strategy game requires you to build your own civilization from the ground up, and is suitable for three to seven players, and ages 10 and up.
Gameplay continues over three “ages” of world civilization and, when the last age is over, players total up their points to determine a winner. Plus, this is a game that can grow to keep you entertained over the years, with expansion packs available.
We know what you’re thinking. Monopoly? In less than half an hour? Yes. With this particular version of Monopoly, you can play in as little as 30 minutes. This upgrade over the original version of Monopoly includes rising and falling property values, event cards, cashless gameplay and instant transactions, for a Monopoly that’s easier than ever.
If you love beautifully-designed strategy games like 7 Wonders, but don’t want to spend too much time playing, Trekking the National Parks might be the perfect fit for you and your family. This game can be played in as little as half an hour, and is suitable for two to five players ages 10 and up. Easy to learn and customizable, for different ways to play, the game requires you to travel to the States’ various National Parks to collect stones and claim campsites. The more points you gain through your travels, the greater chance you have at winning.
Planning a Family Game Night
Whether you’re planning a family game night just for your family of three or four or you’re having several family members over for a fun event, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind when planning your family game night and picking the best board games for your family.
Firstly, you’ll want to look at the number of players a game allows, but then also look at game reviews to see how flexible that number is. Some games may say they only allow for four players, but reviews may show that it’s possible to play the game on teams, allowing for more participants.
Second, look at the level of difficulty, and consider not only the age appropriateness of a game, but also your child’s, as well as everyone else in your family’s overall skills.
Do you have a family that’s particularly adept at strategy? Or does your family do better with artistic-style games that require acting, singing or drawing? Or, does your family prefer games of chance, where anything can happen? Try to pick a game that will leave everyone having fun, and not frustrated or feeling like they’re not “good enough” to participate.
Lastly, consider how much time you have to play a game. Some games (like Monopoly) can take hours, leaving everyone bored and frustrated. Others take as little as half an hour, which might not be long enough to keep everyone engaged.
Go with something that fits your individual circumstances and needs that is family-friendly, and you are bound to have a great time! There is a perfect game out there for the whole family from classic board games to cooperative games to trivia games.
You might also be interested in: The 33 Best Ravensburger Jigsaw Puzzles
The 34 Best Family Board Games:
- Betrayal at House on the Hill
- Ticket to Ride
- Settlers of Catan
- The Shining
- Busytown: Eye Found It
- HiHo! Cherry-O
- My Very First Games: First Orchards
- Mouse Trap
- Sequence for Kids
- Sequence Letters
- My First Carcassonne
- Hoot Owl Hoot!
- Dinosaur EscapSorry!
- Spontuneous: The Song Game
- The Game of Life
- Calliope Tsuro
- Castle Panic
- Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar
- Slide Quest
- Bunny Kingdom
- 7 Wonders
- Bugs in the Kitche
- Monopoly Ultimate Banking Board Game
- Trekking the National Parks
Holly Riddleview post
Holly Riddle is a travel, food and lifestyle writer, and a full-time freelance content creator after several years on editorial staffs for a multitude of publications ranging in topic and audience demographic. She currently acts as the editor at large for Global Traveler magazine and is a regular contributor at Trazee Travel, WhereverFamily, TravelMag, CruiseHive and more. Ghostwritten work for travel clients has appeared on Forbes, Bloomberg, Inc. and other top publications. She also manages blogs for tour providers, hotels and tourism boards.view post