- 1 Hive Mind
- 2 Backgammon
- 3 Ticket to Ride
- 4 Catan
- 5 Betrayal at House on the Hill
- 6 Lanterns: The Harvest Festival
- 7 Carcassone
- 8 Cribbage
- 9 Travel Scrabble
- 10 Clue
- 11 Trouble
- 12 Mysterium
- 13 Cathedral
- 14 Sagrada
- 15 Pandemic
- 16 Checkers
- 17 Sheriff of Nottingham
- 18 Sorry!
- 19 Guess Who
- 20 Monopoly
The Best Family Board Games to Pack for Every Trip
Family vacations are the best—but one of the realities of bonding time is that you need to, you know, plan fun activities. While tours and outdoor time are memory makers, sometimes you need a low-key activity. Enter the board game. Family board games are excellent for a long car ride, quiet hours at the hotel, or something to do pool-side. The right game keeps the whole family entertained for short bursts of time or for long, drawn-out competitions. Whether your gang loves strategy, questions, or simplicity, we’ve compiled the best classic board games and more newly celebrated options. Now you’ve just got to get everyone to agree on which family board games to pack!
Does your family play better with cooperation over competition? Hive Mind is for you. The narrative involves bees trying to impress their queen through a series of questions, and the bees get more points based on how harmonious their answers are. You need at least three people, but you can hive have up to as many people play as you want.
Backgammon is about as classic as it gets with family board games, with some estimates putting it at nearly 5,000 years old. Made for two players, the game involves a board, checkers, and dice. Most backgammon games are already self-containing—they lock like a jewelry box—but if you’d like to save space, this roll-up version keeps your suitcase light and the game within reach.
Ticket to Ride
Good for two to five players, Ticket to Ride is ideal when you need a quick family board game, as it only lasts about 30-60 minutes. The aim of the game is to play cards that allow you to connect train routes across the country. Kids 8 and up can play, but there are a million little pieces. Pro tip: you’ll want to have Ziploc bags handy to keep it all organized.
Named the “game of the century,” in 2015, Catan is a quick strategy game where settlers collect different regions on the island of well, Catan. Made for ages 10+, it’s simple to learn and has numerous expansion packs for anyone who falls under its spell. But be ready to bluff, as some of the best fun happens when you don’t play the game straight.
Betrayal at House on the Hill
For a spooky game, Betrayal at House on the Hill lets you strategize while exploring a haunted house. Designed for 3-6 players, you’ll want to have a relatively table space to play it on, as the game tends to sprawl as it takes you into different creep-tastic settings. Look for the 2nd edition (don't worry we linked it for you), which has been updated to fix some of the inconsistencies of the first edition.
Lanterns: The Harvest Festival
For folks who like their family board games a little more abstract, Lanterns: The Harvest Festival is a good mid-level game for tweens and up. Set in Imperial China, players are decorators who place tiles, dedicate lanterns, and prettify Palace Lake while being awarded honor. The person who wins the most honor before the festival arrives wins the game.
Part pegging board, part card game, Cribbage is a classic way to have fun that dates back to the 17th century. There are only a few pegs, a deck of (included) cards, and a board for score keeping necessary. While the rules take a minute to get used to, you’ll never play the same game twice. Repeat after us: never break up a run.
For word nerds, it’s hard to beat Scrabble, the family board game where you score points based on placing thesaurus-level words on the right tiles. Since the game has many pieces and can be a bit of a hassle to transport, this travel version is designed to fold small and keep all the pieces together. The official Scrabble dictionary is also recommended for the final judgment on any iffy plays. Yes, "za" is now officially a word.
This classic mystery family board game lets players solve a murder by making note of clues and eliminating suspects and weapons. The newer boards come with two sides for different crime scenes: a mansion and a boardwalk. It's fun to pair this family favorite game with a screening of the Clue The Movie starring Tim Curry and Christopher Lloyd.
One of the great family board games for young kids (as young as 5!), Trouble is easy to learn and only has a few pieces of which to keep track. Pieces move around the board after each dice roll until they make it home free, with Warp and Double Trouble spaces adding complications along the way. Who doesn't love popping that automatic bubble?
In Mysterium, one player acts as a ghost and the other players must act as psychic investigators to solve the ghost’s murder. Clues along the way mean players have to work together to figure out who committed the crime. The game has four and a half stars on Amazon, with players calling it "a more adult, more fun, more challenging version of Clue," and praising it as "a party game done just right."
Playing as a team against deadly infections, you’ll need cooperative skills to succeed in Pandemic. Your team travels the world to different infectious hotspots, discovering cures and treating patients while trying to keep the pandemics at bay. The game has a solid five stars on Amazon (even with more than 2,000 reviews), and people delight in the game's illuminating cooperative play, saying it's "the fastest way to make friends or enemies." Let's hope it's friends, shall we?
Kids as young as 3 can play a game of Checkers, where black and red pieces move and jump to gobble up the other player’s pieces. This travel board has all the fun of the original Checkers, but it's magnetized for fewer missing pieces and the ability to store them on the go. If you have kids and an upcoming flight, this is one of the family board games that's an absolute must.
Sheriff of Nottingham
Rule-followers need not apply for Sheriff of Nottingham, which encourages players to bribe, negotiate, and lie to get past the Sheriff. One player plays the Sheriff, while others are merchants trying to make it to market to sell their goods. This game is best for teens and adults, and you'll need groups of three to five players. Family reunion fun, anyone?
Does your mystery character have glasses? Red hair? A mustache? Easy to learn, compact, and endlessly re-playable, Guess Who? is a guessing game that goes quick as you narrow down your opponent’s potential cards. It's one of the family board games meant for kids, that everyone will agree on.
You can’t say “family board game” without immediately thinking of Monopoly. Play the ultimate capitalist by buying, selling, and trading properties all while collecting money and trying not to go to jail. Beyond being a fun game, it's a good way to teach kids about money and investment, and, er, how dangerously out-of-hand an entrepreneurial spirit can get if left unchecked. Remember, it pays to be nice—even in Monopoly.