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12 Backyard Camping Ideas for a Fun Night Outside

Nowadays, camping is no longer an experience reserved just for those who can travel or who like to rough it at campgrounds. Backyard camping is becoming more popular every year…and the possibilities are endless!

Check out some great backyard camping ideas to help you kick off a fun, exciting, and unforgettable camping experience…right from the comfort of your own home!

backyard camping ideas

Set the Mood

1. Hang Some Fun String Lights

String lights are an incredibly popular way to set a fun and festive mood for any activity. And backyard camping is no exception! There are lots of different ways to go about adding a sprinkle of magical light to your backyard camping adventure.

If you have a fence around your yard, hanging some string lights along the fence line is an easy and quick way to add some character and brightness to your backyard campground. If you don’t have a fence, consider buying some tall string light poles or even tiki torches to string the lights between.

These days, you also have a bevy of different string light options to choose from. You can use anything from outdoor Christmas lights to lights specifically designed for decor. You might opt for shatterproof Edison light style bulbs, or something fun like pineapple lights. The sky’s the limit based on your aesthetic, and this step can be a great way to solicit input from family members of all ages!

Another key to keep in mind is the sort of brightness you want. String lights come in all sorts of styles, from colored to cool white to warm white. It’s fully up to you the kind of color you want to go for to set the mood.

2. Set Up The Fire Pit

A fire pit is one of the most popular backyard camping ideas! After all, nothing says “camping” like snacks, stories, songs, and fun around the fire. You have the option of investing in a new backyard fire pit for the occasion, using one you already have…or even building one from scratch!

Alternatively, you can rough it a little more by building a campfire in a flagstone firepit. Just make sure you are following safety measures and protecting grass from embers and sparks! In addition, you will want to make sure you’re proficient with building and handling a fire and that little backyard campers are kept safe from open flames as well.

3. Get Out the Games

There are so many games to choose from when it comes to backyard camping fun! Some favorites that can easily be set up in the backyard are cornholehorseshoesring tossbocce ball, or a slip and slide. But those are just the tip of the iceberg!

This is another great opportunity to get input from family members of all ages…but especially the youngest campers. Having their voices in the mix on this will help them feel involved and give them plenty of games to look forward to when backyard camping!

4. Pitch Your Sleeping Accommodations

Deciding where to set up shop for sleeping is a huge part of setting the mood for your backyard camping adventure. This will vary, of course, depending on the size of your backyard and the style of camping you opt for.

One thing to consider in terms of setting the mood is whether you want to be able to see your house directly from the tent, as this can affect the feeling of truly camping while in your backyard. Another thing to consider is whether you prefer to pitch your tent around trees, for a forest feel, or out in the open. Also, do you want to have lots of tents clustered together, or disperse the family throughout the backyard and give kiddos a sense of independence?

There are lots of options for where and how to pitch your sleeping accommodations, even in a smaller backyard. You might find yourself doing multiple backyard campouts to try out all the different ways you can experience it!

backyard camping ideas

Pick Your Backyard Camping Accommodations

5. Backyard Tent Camping

Tent camping is, of course, among the most popular backyard camping ideas. There is just something so enticing about the thought of having all the fun experiences of a camping trip, right in the comfort of your own backyard!

For these accommodations, you can go as rustic or as glamorous as you like. You might want to invest in the full tent camping setup like you would at a campground. On the other hand, maybe you want to use backyard camping as an opportunity to acclimate to some more rugged camping conditions.

6. Backyard Car or Truck Bed Camping

Want to enjoy some backyard camping fun, but don’t exactly feel like going through the grind of setting up and tearing down tents–if you even own one at all? Never fear! Just like with campground camping, you have the option of camping in your car or even doing some truck bed camping in your backyard.

The greatest defining factors in backyard car or truck bed camping are space and accessibility. You will want to make sure you have the ability to maneuver a vehicle into your backyard without causing damage to your or other people’s property.

7. Backyard Hammock Camping

Another great backyard camping idea you might try out is hammock camping! This one can be a fun option regardless of whether you have trees you can string a hammock between or not. All you need is a sturdy hammock stand and the perfect nighttime weather.

The key here is simply to follow the same guide to hammocking as you would out in a campground or on a backpacking camping adventure. This includes things like weather protection, insect protection, and the like.

With these tips in mind, hammocking can be another great alternative to fully pitching camp in your backyard, and can be a great backyard camping idea for smaller spaces as well.

backyard camping ideas

Make a Meal of it

8. Eat a Real Campground Meal

Just because you have access to the great indoors when backyard camping doesn’t mean you have to make use of them! Rather than using things like your stove, oven, or even backyard grill to prepare your meals, one great backyard camping idea is to eat as if you’re roughing it.

This could mean using your camp grill if you have one in your gear. But an even better way to kick up your backyard camping a notch is to make a campground meal over your fire pit! This really gives that roughing it feeling and makes for a memorable, one of a kind backyard camping experience.

9. Get Fancy With Your S’Mores

No camping experience is truly complete without s’mores. One of the best ways to get campers of all ages on board with the backyard camping idea is to make s’mores a highlight of the show…and make them special.

This is one of the instances where you can really rely on the nearness of home to up the ante of your backyard camping adventure. Get creative and fancy with your s’mores by adding in other ingredients you wouldn’t normally lug to a campsite…like fruit slices, cookies, specialty chocolates, etc.

Or, if you prefer a simple, straightforward, no hassle s’mores making experience when backyard camping, you can try a s’mores kit! These types of kits will remove all the gathering and guesswork and ensure you have all you need for a delicious s’mores experience.

backyard camping ideas

Have a Real Campfire Experience

10. Set the Boundaries for a fun, Safe Campfire

A fireside gathering is a time to have fun and set safety precautions at the same time. Some obvious safety measures are to make sure little backyard campers are kept away from the fire…but other boundaries can be set, too.

Consider making campfire time a space of no electronic devices, where everyone is fully present and participating. Take time to teach older kiddos how to build and maintain the fire, as well as how to put out a campfire safely, and let them help with every step.

Making the building, maintaining, and safety of the campfire a family event can help get campers of all ages invested and living in the present moment.

11. Tell Stories and Sing Songs Around the Fire

There’s something about slowing down and being intentional beside a fire that really connects people. There’s a reason spooky stories, memories, silly songs, and mirthful tales often make an appearance in the space created around a campfire–and you should try to make space for them, too!

Giving every family member a chance to tell a story, pick a song to sing, or share a memory can help make some incredible new ones. It might just be the most memorable part of your whole backyard camping experience.

12. Enjoy Some Fireside Stargazing

Another super popular camping recreation that can be transposed into certain backyard settings is stargazing! While this may not be possible in every person’s backyard–due to differences in light pollution, overall location, etc.–it can certainly be worth a shot!

Consider setting up a family-friendly, backyard telescope or just using the naked eye in some comfy outdoor chairs. Search for constellations and use this as a time for learning, enjoyment, and soaking in the awe of the night sky!

backyard camping ideas

Wrapping Up Backyard Camping Ideas

Excited to kick off your own memorable camping experience with these backyard camping ideas? Check out our camping gear page for ideas on gear to add to your collection to heighten the experience of camping near the comforts of home!