A little after-dinner sporting is a great way to stay outside, burn off a few calories and work up an appetite for dessert. When the sun starts to go down, a few headlamps can illuminate your family games, whether they include a scavenger hunt that stretches across your yard or local park, or a classic backyard game like bocce, croquet or horseshoes. There are plenty of games to choose from and master with your family– or create your own game with things you have around the house.
Sometimes a summer evening is so nice that you have to wonder – why go back inside at all? With a tent, sleeping pads and sleeping bags, you can quickly transform a patch of grass (or deck, or patio) into a backyard getaway. Camping with the comforts of home right nearby is an easy way to extend your time outside, long after the sun goes down. Best of all? It’s easy to get started.
Bring the drive-in experience into your backyard with a movie on your deck, patio or yard. Personal projectors are getting more and more affordable, or you can queue up a movie on your laptop – or even your phone. Camp furniture is a great, easy-to-setup option for your seating, especially if you go beyond the classic chair to a recliner or loveseat. For more permanent seating, stretch out on all-weather furniture with a comfy cushion.
When the sun goes down and the stars come out, it’s time to revive the campfire tradition of spooky, scary stories, right in your own backyard. Turn a lantern down low and pass around a flashlight, taking turns telling tales about ghosts and ghouls. Or, if you’re in the mood for something less scary, play “pass the story” – pass the flashlight after every sentence, and each person adds a line, usually leading to a story that gets goofier and goofier.
Worried about bugs coming out when the sun goes down? Consider screening your movie in a screen house.
On a clear night, the sky overhead is more entertaining than anything you can stream on tv – a neverending highlight reel of twinkling stars, constellations, shooting meteoroids and the bright moon. And you don’t need an expensive telescope to enjoy the show; a pair of basic binoculars can get you closer to the stars or the craggy, fascinating surface of the moon. Wrap up in an outdoor blanket and admire the wonders of outer space.
You don’t need to be at a campsite to toast marshmallows and whip up some delicious s’mores. Gather around a fire pit (a camp stove works if you don’t have the space) and try a new s’more recipe. And if you want to double up on desserts, try rolling around an ice cream ball while you’re toasting – you can have delicious ice cream ready in about half an hour.
If the moon (or city lights) are bright, night is also a great time to watch out for the nocturnal birds that may be your neighbors. You can get started birding with the same tools you use for stargazing.