The 10 Best Family Games of 2021

Get ready to laugh, squabble, and bond with your crew

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Best Family Games

The Spruce / Chloe Jeong

Whether you have a family reunion coming up, are looking for indoor activities that don't involve screen time, or just want to bond with your kids, it's always wise to have a few games on hand. But as you probably know, not all are created equal, and some are better suited for families versus those for peers and friends.

"The best family games work well with a variety of ages, meaning that younger players can understand the rules and take part, while older players are not bored out of their minds," says ​​Erik Arneson, a game expert and the author of How to Host a Game Night. As you look at options, be sure to consider the type of game (board, card, dice, guessing, drawing, team-based, outdoor-friendly, etc.), as well as the recommended age range, the number of players needed, and how long it takes to play.

"When I'm looking for a family game, I want something that's both easy to learn and can be played again and again," adds Cardner Clark, store manager of Guardian Games in Portland, Oregon. With insight and recommendations from these game experts in mind, we rounded up standout sets for every family.

Ahead, the best family games to enjoy among kids, parents, and siblings on game night.

Our Top Picks
Get strategic about sabotaging other players and stacking your hand in this ridiculous card game guaranteed to make you laugh.
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This cross-country train adventure game is both strategic and fast-paced. It's pretty competitive, but a game the whole family will enjoy.
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This is a game that will get you up and moving as you complete the fun challenges, so it's perfect to take into the backyard.
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This card game tasks players with matching symbols, but there's only one matching symbol for every two cards. It's fun and develops fine motor skills.
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This dice game is fun for all ages and fast-paced, so it's great for game nights. It's also easy to take on-the-go.
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Best for Young Children:
ThinkFun Zingo Bingo at Amazon
This take on bingo is entertaining and educational. It helps develop language and matching skills, so it's great for younger children.
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This card game is perfect for younger kids with wild imaginations as well as older kids, as it requires strategic thinking and problem solving.
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Get to know each family member's sense of humor while you try to make each round's judge laugh at your caption and image combo.
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This game is not only hilarious, but it will also get your creative juices flowing as you try to draw the word on your card.
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This game is not only fun, but it also promotes physical activity. You can play it anywhere, but it's an especially perfect rainy day game.
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Best Overall: Exploding Kittens LLC Exploding Kittens Card Game

Exploding Kittens

Type: Card | Age Range: 7 and up | Number of Players: 2-5 | Playing Time: 15 minutes

What We Like
  • Easy to learn

  • Exciting

  • Travel-friendly

What We Don't Like
  • Five-player maximum

Exploding Kittens has everything we love about family games—it's easy to learn, super fun, competitive, and totally silly. Created for ages 7 and up, this simple and hilarious card game involves drawing cards from a pile and hoping you don't pull an exploding kitten.

While it's a luck-based game, it's a modern version of Russian Roulette, and you can bet each round is still super exciting. You can play with just two players, but the limit is five, so it may not be ideal for larger families. Since the only pieces are cards, this game is also great for travel.

"The game’s creators recommend ages seven and up, but we think that depends a lot on the seven-year-old. Age, really, is less relevant than temperament. There’s not a lot of reading, and the concept is simple to understand, but there’s strategy required to make the game fun and not just random—and that requires patience and concentration. Some younger kids might find that a tall order."—Danielle Centoni, Product Tester

Best Board Game: Days of Wonder Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride

Type: Board | Age Range: 8 and up | Number of Players: 2-5 | Playing Time: 30-60 minutes

What We Like
  • Easy to learn

  • Competitive

  • Award-winning

What We Don't Like
  • Relatively pricey

  • Five-player maximum

According to Clark, the best family board game is Ticket to Ride. "What starts as a fun puzzle of matching colors to build train routes can get cutthroat when you block someone's path," she tells The Spruce. Recommended for ages eight and up and calling for two to five players, this competitive railroad-themed game involves strategy, wit, and a sense of adventure.

Best Outdoor: Gutter Games Beat That! The Bonkers Battle of Wacky Challenges

Gutter Games Beat That! The Bonkers Battle of Wacky Challenges

Type: Card | Age Range: 9 and up | Number of Players: 2-8 | Playing Time: 30-90 minutes

What We Like
  • Interactive

  • Includes physical challenges

  • Good for larger groups

What We Don't Like
  • Not ideal for younger kids

Looking for something to play outside? You should definitely consider Beat That! The set comes with 160 challenges, including everything from balancing a cup and stacking dice with chopsticks to floating paper airplanes and shooting baskets with ping pong balls. This backyard game can be played with two to eight players, and is suitable for kids about nine and older.

Best Card Game: Asmodee Spot It! Card Game

Asmodee Spot It! Card Game

Type: Card | Age Range: 6 and up | Number of Players: 2-8 | Playing Time: 10-20 minutes

What We Like
  • Easy to learn

  • Travel-friendly

  • Good for bigger groups

What We Don't Like
  • Cards are flimsy

Greg May, founder and CEO of The Uncommons, a board game cafe in Manhattan, is a fan of Spot It! for families. This simple, yet incredibly fun card game involves memory, matching, visual perception, and quick thinking. Though it's easy to learn, people of all ages will get a kick out of it. "You can play even with young kids," notes May.

Best Dice: George & Company LLC Left Center Right

 LCR Left Center Right Dice Game

Type: Dice | Age Range: 5 and up | Number of Players: 3 + | Playing Time: Not listed

What We Like
  • Budget-friendly

  • Easy to learn

  • Travel-friendly

What We Don't Like
  • Small pieces

Recommended for ages five and up, Left Center Right is a fast-paced, addictive dice game the whole family will enjoy. The travel-friendly tin houses three dice and 24 playing chips. LCR doesn't call for any decision-making, but it's undoubtedly competitive. All you do is roll the dice to see where to pass your chips, and the last person with chips wins.

Best for Young Children: ThinkFun Zingo Bingo

Zingo

Type: Card and board | Age Range: 4 and up | Number of Players: Up to 7 | Playing Time: Not listed

What We Like
  • Easy to learn

  • Engaging

  • Award-winning

What We Don't Like
  • Only comes with 24 words

Super easy to learn and created for ages four and up, Zingo! is perfect for younger kiddos—but that doesn't mean adults won't enjoy it, too. The bingo-style game includes 24 double-sided cards and 72 tiles. Slide the Zinger to reveal images, and fill in your card when there's a match—that's all there is to it.

Best for Older Kids: Gamewright Forbidden Island

Forbidden Island

Type: Card | Age Range: 10 and up | Number of Players: 2-4 | Playing Time: 30 minutes

What We Like
  • Cooperative

  • Encourages problem-solving

  • Award-winning

What We Don't Like
  • Four-player maximum

"My top pick for a family game is Forbidden Island," Clark tells The Spruce. "It's cooperative, so everyone works together to find treasure and escape before the island sinks."

Suggested for ages 10 and up, this adventurous game encourages problem-solving and strategic skills. "Every game tends to be exciting, and it's amazing how often they come right down to the wire," adds Arneson.

Best Trivia: What Do You Meme? Family Edition

What Do You Meme? Family Edition

Type: Card | Age Range: 8 and up | Number of Players: 3-20 | Playing Time: Not listed

What We Like
  • Transcends generations

  • Good for larger groups

  • Travel-friendly

What We Don't Like
  • Not ideal for younger kids

When playing What Do You Meme?, you compete with your friends and family to create the funniest memes. With each round, a new teammate becomes the judge, offering entertaining and comical moments as family members get a new sense of each other's humor. We also like that you can play with larger groups.

Best Drawing: USAOPOLY Telestrations

Telestrations Telephone Game

Type: Card | Age Range: 12 and up | Number of Players: 4-8 | Playing Time: 30-60 minutes

What We Like
  • Funny

  • Engaging

  • Award-winning

What We Don't Like
  • Poor-quality drawing materials

Highly recommended by Arneson, Telestrations is an endlessly fun and funny drawing game. There are a few different versions, but the six-Player Family Pack is ideal for playing among relatives of all ages.

A silly take on the classic games of telephone and pictionary, it comes with over 800 words, plus all the drawing materials you need. And as Arneson notes, "No artistic skill is needed!"

What Testers Say

"This is great when you’re playing with restless kids or just trying to squeeze in a little fun before dinner is ready. We can see Telestrations being a great game for holiday gatherings because it’s so flexible." — Danielle Centoni, Product Tester

Best Physical: Endless Games The Floor is Lava Game

The Floor is Lava Interactive Game for Kids

Type: Physical | Age Range: 5 and up | Number of Players: 2-6 | Playing Time: 10-45 minutes

What We Like
  • Encourages physical activity

  • Simple concept

  • Engaging

What We Don't Like
  • Requires semi-large room

The Floor Is Lava was inspired by the often parodied, imaginative game in which parents encourage kids to pretend the family room floor is, well, lava. Similar to Twister, it's super simple but also incredibly fun—and perhaps best of all, it encourages physical activity. We also like that it can be played with kids as young as five.

Final Verdict

Our number one pick for family games is Exploding Kittens, a ridiculously silly and easy-to-learn card game—all you need to succeed is a bit of luck and a sense of humor (view at Amazon). That said, if you're looking for something that allows for more players, your best bet is Telestrations, a hilarious award-winning mashup of telephone and Pictionary (view at Walmart).

What to Look for in a Family Game

Type

When buying a family game, you'll see there are several different types. This includes everything from board games, card games, and dice games to trivia, physical challenges, and activities involving drawing, guessing, or building things.

Age Range

Before buying a family game, be sure to check the recommended age range. The options on this list were selected because they're fun for adults and kids alike, though some may be too challenging for younger children. That said, there are lots of excellent options for ages four or five and older that the whole family will enjoy.

Number of Players

An important option to consider is the minimum and maximum number of players for each game. Most games need at least two players, though some call for three or more. Additionally, some cap out at five players, while others can be played with eight or more people.

Playing Time

We also recommend checking the time commitment for each game. Some board games and strategy games take upwards of an hour to play, while lots of card games involve super-quick rounds that take 15 minutes or less.

Why Trust The Spruce?

Theresa Holland is a freelance copywriter specializing in commerce, consumer goods, parenting, and lifestyle. Before writing this roundup, she caught up with three game experts who offered specific recommendations and insight into what to look for in a family game. She pored over user reviews and combed through the recommended age range, time, and number of players for dozens of products, ultimately selecting games that were easy to learn and fun for both adults and kids. Theresa is a big fan of board games and has played several hands of Exploding Kittens and Telestrations in recent years. She has been writing for The Spruce since 2019, where she covers recreation, travel, and outdoor living.

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