Some of my favorite childhood memories include playing some of the best family board games around. We are a gamer family and I’m grateful for the time we set aside to enjoy each other’s company.
I’ve always been competitive. Through playing games, I learned how to win and how to handle losing. Admittedly, I was a pretty sore loser when I was younger, but I figured out that you can’t always win and in the end, it is just a game.
A family tradition
As I’ve had kids of my own, I’ve continued the tradition of playing games. We enjoy playing them as a family on a Sunday afternoon. We also get together with extended family to play some of the more complex games.
If you enjoy games or are looking for gifts for family or friends, games are a great option. I hope you find some new favorites in the list below. In full disclosure, a few of the ones listed are not technically board games but serve the same purpose.
37 of the best family board games
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I’ve broken this list down by approximate age ranges. My kids are 6 and 8. The 6-year-old enjoys the games in both the 3-6 group as well as the 6-9 group. And the 8-year-old enjoys games from all of the groups.
We’ve found that often the age range suggested on the game aren’t always accurate. Use your best judgment. I hope you enjoy this list of the best board games.
Best family board games for kids 3-6
- Sum Swamp
- Chutes and Ladders
- Monopoly Junior
- Spot it Jr
- Surprise Slides
- Old Maid, Go Fish
- Guess Who
Sum Swamp: this is a fun game to play for kids and adults. An added bonus is that it helps kids to begin to learn basic math. You roll two dice that have numbers on them. The third die has a plus or minus sign on it.
Chutes and Ladders: A classic game. Fun for the whole family. If younger kids are getting frustrated with the chutes (and the game is taking forever) make up your own rules and say you can only go up ladders and chutes.
Candyland: Similar to the previous game, another classic. Likewise, you can create your own rules with the cards that would set you back in the game if it becomes frustrating or is taking too long.
Monopoly Junior: This is a significantly simplified version of Monopoly. It is easy to learn and fun.
Jenga: Stack up the blocks in a tower and carefully pull one out at a time. If you touch it, you have to take it so choose wisely.
Spot It Jr: My kids love this game. There are a handful of different variations you can play with them. The basic premise is matching objects on the cards. It’s fun for kids and adults, but don’t be surprised when they beat you.
Surprise Slides: We have two girls and thus I’m mentioning the Princess Edition, but there are plenty of other editions to choose from on this game. Similar to chutes and ladders slightly, but the game gets changed up when you mix up or flip cards.
Memory: Another classic game. Helps test your memory for where you saw what and finding matches. Again the kids may beat you on this one.
Old Maid, Go Fish: This set comes with some fun additional card games to old maid and go fish including memory, matching, crazy eights, and slapjack. Classic card games that kids can easily learn to play. Plus it’s very portable.
Guess Who: A fun guessing game where players ask each other questions trying to figure out who the person they selected is.
Best family board games for kids 6-9
- Mexican Train Dominoes
- Left Right Center
- Apples to Apples Jr
- Ticket to Ride First Journey
Sequence: There is a junior version of this game, but we play the regular version. It’s a pretty easy game to learn and you can play in teams.
Mexican Train Dominoes: We love playing this game. It’s pretty relaxed and helps kids find matching numbers.
Yahtzee: It’s such a simple and fun game. Rolling 5 dice up to three times per turn and trying to fill in each line on your score sheet. I play this with my older daughter often. She had a round once where she had four Yahtzees and a score of over 600! Try to beat that 😉
Uno: A fun game for two or a whole crew. Easy to learn and fun to play (unless you get draw 4 played on you over and over again).
Clue: There is a new version available, but I prefer the classic that I grew up with ;). Be the first to figure out who did it, where, and with what and win the game.
Left Right Center: A super simple dice game with chips. There is zero strategy to this one. It’s lucky of the dice.
Apples to Apples Junior: A simpler version than the original, Apples to Apples Junior is funny, entertaining, and promotes creativity and thinking outside of the box.
Ticket to Ride First Journey: This is a simplified version of the original Ticket to Ride game. Kids can start to learn the general concepts until they are ready to move up to the original version.
Sorry: Another classic that made the best of family board games list. Simple but fun for the whole family.
Qwirkle: A fairly simple game to understand, Qwirkle encourages forward-thinking and pattern creation. An interesting and engaging game for the whole family.
Best family board games for kids 9-12
- Ticket to Ride
- Settlers of Catan
- Code Names
- 5 Second Rule
- San Juan
Ticket to Ride: A fun family game trying to make routes connect. You get to buy and sell and see who has the most cash when the route is completed. A fun game for the whole family without being too overwhelming. Ticket to Ride Europe is a popular version as well.
Settlers of Catan: The original version of the game is quite fun. If you find you like it there are many variations and expansions for it. This one is a bit more expensive and takes more strategy, but I still consider it a mainstream game. If you like really complex games, check out the last list.
Taboo: If you like talking fast, this is the game for you. There is a word at the top of the card you are trying to get your teammates to say without saying any of the five words most closely associated with it. It takes quick thinking and talking and is fun for the family and as a party game.
Boggle: A timed word game that helps you learn new words (that other people write down) and figure out how to connect letters to spell words. It’s timed and whatever words you write down that other people find too, don’t count. I grew up playing the original version but have enjoyed playing Big Boggle recently too.
Pictionary: Whether you are an artist or not this is an entertaining one. In fact, it is even more entertaining when you don’t draw well. Laughter and fun guaranteed on this one.
Tellestrations: This game goes from words to pictures to words and back again a few times. You draw a picture of a statement and from the picture the next person writes what they think you drew. From the words the next person draws and so on. It’s like telephone including pictures and can be quite funny.
Code Names: Code names comes in both word form, but also pictures depending on which edition you choose. Both are fun. It takes creativity and thinking outside the box to try and figure out how to associate words and pictures to give your team clues.
5 Second Rule: A fun family or party game. 5 Second Rule gives you a category or prompt and you have five seconds to come up with three things that fit. If they can’t, play gets passed to the next person who can’t repeat any answers that were already said.
Bang: A fun role-playing card game. You don’t know who is who and have different goals depending on your role. Figure out as you go and hope you guessed right.
San Juan: A bit more complicated than other games listed in this category, San Juan lets you pick roles each round with unique benefits. It is a good introduction to more complex games without being quite as overwhelming.
Best family board games for serious gamers
If you don’t like games that take a lot of time, thought, and strategy then this list is not for you. Fair warning, these games are also more expensive as they have more pieces and are more complex. Some people call these nerd games. I’m apparently a bit of a nerd.
Prepare in advance as some of these games take upwards of three hours. I’ve found they tend to underestimate when the game states how long it takes.
Kingsburg: This is our family favorite. My eight-year-old daughter and I both love it. We play the original version, but I think the newer version plays the same. My dad even bought the expansion for it. It’s expensive, but we play it often.
Stone Age: Each round you pick a benefit as you strategize which items to get (weapons, farms, building elements, family members, etc). It’s a comples game to explain quickly but not too hard to pick up after playing it for a bit.
Note: the game is no longer being sold new by Amazon, but you can find still find it from resellers on Amazon.
Pandemic: Work with your teammates to figure out how to save the world from outbreaks, epidemics, and diseases. Enough said.
Terraforming Mars: In this game, you work together for the terraforming process, but compete for victory points. The points are awarded for your contributions to various aspects of the game.
7 Wonders: 7 Wonders is divided into three ages. In each age, players are given an opportunity to play cards to develop their city. After the last age is over, players get points from their cards and military conflicts. The player with the most points wins.
Agricola: We love the original version of this game. In it, you are a farmer in a shack with a spouse. As you go through the game you choose between farming, building a bigger house, and growing your family. Creating a balanced strategy is key. There is also a simplified Agricola Family Edition if you want to ease into the game
Note: the original version is no longer being sold new by Amazon, but can be found from marketplace sellers on Amazon.
Terra Mystica: In this strategy game, you work to transform the landscape of the board and then build your structures. You have to decide where and how close to other players. Building near others can limit your expansion, but also provides some added benefits. The possibilities are endless
I hope you have found a few fun new games to try out in this list of the 37 best family board games. They make great gifts and provide hours of family play and bonding time.
As I work to continue to be more intentional with my schedule, I set aside time to play games with my girls. I hope they too will have wonderful memories that they will share with their future families.
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