Contrary to popular popular belief, board games for families aren't just tired old classics like Monopoly or Risk anymore. Those are still kicking around, yes, but they're far from your only option. There's no shortage of choice when it comes to good family board games nowadays, so we've rounded our favorites up here to get you started.
We've recently gotten back into Carcassonne after pining over vacations in Europe (it's based on a gorgeous medieval city in France). Despite being years old, it still hasn't lost any of its charm. You can find it at Amazon here (opens in new tab).
They're not just for a post-Thanksgiving dinner lull, either; board games for families are worth investing in no matter the time of year. Besides being some of the best board games overall, most are flexible enough to suit quiet nights in or a mass gathering of relatives. In other words? You'll keep coming back to these family board games time and again.
Don't panic about breaking the bank, though. Our bargain-hunting software is on the job of finding you the lowest possible price, so you should be able to save some cash whilst searching for must-have board games for families.
Wondering how we chose these specific family board games? We only feature products that our writers truly believe are worth your time, and the GamesRadar+ team has had extensive hands-on time with each of the following board games for families.
Board games for families - top 10
No matter whether you want to entertain the kids on a lazy Sunday or you're full of food and feeling sleepy after Christmas dinner, the last thing you want is a complicated game that'll tax your brain. This is why Ticket to Ride is so brilliant. While there are tactics involved, it's a much more laid-back experience than other family board games on this list.
Basically, players score points by creating train routes. Easy enough, right? Sort of - winning isn't so straightforward. Because certain routes are worth more than others, the race is on to claim them before anyone else can. This adds an undercurrent of strategy to proceedings. Do you risk building a longer line for maximum value? Or should you finish a bunch of shorter routes to score quickly? It's a fun conundrum, especially because failure to complete certain routes before the end will see those points taken off your total.
Yes, Ticket to Ride is competitive as a result. But not to the point its players fall out. Aside from an occasional gold rush over routes everyone wants, it's a sedate puzzle you work on by yourself. We can't recommend it enough.
Herd Mentality is the perfect board game for families that don't even like board games; it's dead easy to understand, is low-pressure, and doesn't require any kind of specialist knowledge. It won't ever become outdated, either - this one hinges on what you think instead of your ability to remember obscure trivia.
That's because each card poses a simple question with no 'right' answer. Here's an example for you: what's the best sauce? Players then have to scribble down what they believe most people in the room will say. Those in the majority get a point, and the first one to collect eight wins. It's wonderfully straightforward and can be explained within seconds.
What's more, it's hugely replayable. No two groups are the same and will all answer differently, so Herd Mentality is a family board game with plenty of longevity behind it. Thanks to quirky tokens including a squishy pink cow, it's a light-hearted icebreaker as well that'll get everyone laughing.
This bizarre but adorable game has the holy trinity of selling points; it's accessible, quick, and totally moreish. Seeing as a match of Sushi Go! can be finished in 15 minutes or less, it's also the sort of thing you'll want to play "just one more round" of. In other words? It's the perfect card game for families.
Straightforward rules have a lot to do with that. Sushi Go! challenges you to create the most appetising 'meal' from a deck of cards, and certain combinations earn points. Some give less but are easier to gather, while others only pay out if you collect the most of an item. That's where tactics come in. You see, everyone has to pass their hand of cards to the next player. While this means someone else might beat you to the punch, it goes both ways - watch carefully and you can start to figure out what your rivals are planning based on their choices. That allows you to steal cards they need to finish their high-scoring dish. It's brilliantly devilish.
The result is a simple but strategic family board game everyone can enjoy. If you've not tried it yet, you're in for a treat.
Catan is a rare beast; it's deep yet approachable, strategic but not obtuse. Having been on shelves since 1995, it's got a proven track-record as well - it has serious staying power as a great board game for adults.
Cunning resource management is the name of the game here. More specifically, your goal is to build a civilization that's bigger and better than anyone else's. However, players must keep their enemies close in order to gain the upper hand - you'll never have everything you need right away, so bartering becomes a lifeline. Prepare that silver tongue of yours.
It's a good idea to dust off your math skills, too. Board tiles are randomly placed and goods rely on probability, so foresight can mean the difference between winning or losing. Similarly, it's wise to weigh up your chance of striking lucky when the time comes for expansion. Do you risk it all on something important but rare? Or is it more sensible to settle on an abundant resource that'll pay out often? It's an engrossing balancing act.
Both beautiful and engaging, Wingspan has more than earned its place as one of the most beloved modern board games for families. You don't become the winner of an esteemed Spiel des Jahres award for nothing, after all.
As you'll have probably guessed, it puts birds in the spotlight - you're trying to attract as many feathered friends to your reserve as possible. The mechanics for doing so are truly compelling. Players collect food that allows them to put down bird cards, and this lets them collect yet more food in turn. They can then play even more bird cards, and so on. It's a strangely engrossing loop.
You don't need to worry about it being overly complicated, though. Wingspan may take a few turns to get used to, but it's easy once you're over that hump. This allows you to bask in the game's gorgeous artwork, not to mention the clever birdbox playing piece. You don't even need to worry about someone undoing your hard work; Wingspan is light on direct competition, meaning you'll enjoy the experience regardless of whether you win or lose.
Carcassonne is seen as one of the best classic board games for good reason; even though it's now available on a ton of digital platforms, there’s something special about playing the game in its original, physical format that can't be beaten. Seriously, dropping a tile in exactly the right place to earn points is weirdly satisfying.
Created in 2000 and inspired by the walled mediaeval town of the same name, Carcasonne's board is created as you play. Everyone fills out a section of Southern France using tiles drawn at random, and placing meeples - little wooden people - earns you points for each completed city, road, or connected field. The challenge? Having a strategy in mind while placing your pieces. Although there is some luck of the draw, stealing control of a settlement from under an opponent's nose requires long-term tactical thinking.
Accordingly, Carcassonne is one of those rare games that’s easy to pick up but genuinely tough to master (particularly when you throw numerous expansions into the mix). If you've not given it a go yet, we'd suggest remedying that as soon as possible; it's a must-have family board game.
Life is hard sometimes, so family board games that let you (metaphorically) put your feet up are more than welcome. Photosynthesis is one of them. Yet despite all this, it also manages to keep thoughtful strategy bubbling away beneath the surface.
Considering this game's theme, that may come as a surprise. Rather than challenging you to conquer territory or crush your enemies, you earn points simply by growing trees - it's all very wholesome. The trouble is, nature's not fair. Certain soils are richer than others so will win you a higher score, and the sun moves to a different side of the board each turn. This might leave your trees blocked behind someone else's, and that means they're unable to draw in light you can use to plant more trees. As such, thinking ahead (and hemming in opponents) is rewarded.
The design of Photosynthesis is equally impressive. Thanks to sizeable cardboard trees that come in a variety of colorblind-friendly shapes, it's impressive in action and looks gorgeous when laid out on the table.
If you want a good trivia board game for families, Articulate is a fantastic place to start. It's been delighting players around the world since 1992, and that popularity is rooted in the fact anyone can get involved.
Namely, you don't need to be a font of obscure knowledge to win; you simply have to describe as many words from a category as possible within 30 seconds. Not that this isn't challenging, of course - you can't discuss what that subject sounds like or rhymes with. Instead, you've got to think on your feet and come up with a good comparison before the timer runs out. This ramps up the tension and keeps everyone on the edge of their seats.
Unlike so many family board games, Articluate can be played in a group as large as 20 or more as well. So long as you're divided into teams with at least two people per side, you're good to go. That makes it an ideal choice if loved ones are descending upon you en-masse.
Seeking out an alternative to Pictionary? Rapidough is spot on. As the name suggests, it has players using dough to make objects instead of drawing them. That means it's one of the best family board games for kids listed here - they'll love how hands-on it is.
Not that Rapidough is exclusively for children, of course. The resulting creations/monstrosities are often hilarious, and it's good fun trying to figure out what your teammate has cobbled together. In other words, artistic talent isn't required. Actually, it's more amusing if you don't really know what you're doing. All that's needed is the willingness to have a go.
If you prefer games with a competitive edge, Rapidough still has plenty to offer. Should your opponent win a round, you lose a chunk of dough. Keep coming second and more will be whittled away, making it progressively harder to build with. This keeps things spicy and leads to memorable showdowns, so we'd highly recommend taking a look if you're seeking out a new board game for families.
You can usually tell how good a family board game is by looking at how many versions there are. And by that logic, Spot It! (or Dobble, if you're based in the UK) is an essential purchase. Along with the classic edition pictured above, you can get alternate versions based on everything from Spongebob Squarepants (opens in new tab) to Harry Potter (opens in new tab). It's oh-so transportable too, making this an ideal travel game.
The reason for its popularity isn't hard to figure out - this is one of the simplest yet most charming board games for families. To get specific, Spot It! is a quicker, more elaborate Snap; all you have to do is match the pictures on a card before your opponents do. Because they're littered with random, differently-sized symbols, that's surprisingly tricky... but is still accessible for players of any age from six and up (and if we're being honest, yelling out the right symbol before anyone else can is satisfying no matter how old you are).
These straightforward mechanics mean that Spot It! can be played over and over again without losing its shine. Thanks to a 15-minute runtime, younger players won't become too fidgety either.
Best of the rest
Looking for something a little spooky but not too scary? Disney's Haunted Mansion board game is an excellent choice. It's the tabletop equivalent of trick or treating with your kids - you're enjoying all the fun of Halloween board games without the horror.
Because it's based on the Disney ride, your goal is to 'socialize' with as many of the mansion's ghosts as possible by collecting their cards. A few give you points there and then, while others offer a bigger pay-out later if you can complete the set. That leaves you with a fun conundrum: do you go for a quick and easy buck or hold out for a larger payday? Seeing as your opponents will be weighing up the same problem, you can foil their plans by going after the ghosts they need.
However, that doesn't mean players are your only issue; the ride's iconic Hitchhiking Ghosts are here to cause chaos too. If they pass through your token on their travels around the board, you'll be left with a 'Haunt' card - and the only way to get rid of them is by using up one of your limited actions each turn. Because the person with the most Haunt cards at the end is penalised, you've got to balance gathering ghosts with keeping yourself safe.
This gives Haunted Mansion a great mix of strategy and reward. As a result, it's the perfect board game for families that want a taste of the witching hour but aren't ready for something more intense like Betrayal at House on the Hill.
It may have been around since 1975, but 221B Baker Street is still one of the top board games for families. The easiest way to describe it would be as a souped-up Clue; although its mechanics are very similar, everything has been wrapped in a neat narrative bow.
Because it's based on the sleuthing of Sherlock Holmes, players will work their way through 75 murder cases. And, much like the books that inspired them, things begin with a good old-fashioned story. These are engaging enough to have been ripped from the pages of a Arthur Conan Doyle novel, and they give plenty of motivation to solve the mystery.
As you'd expect, players must uncover the killer's identity, identify the murder weapon they used, and reveal their motive for doing the deed. Unfortunately, these details are hidden throughout numerous locations that harbor more than a few red herrings. This provides an opportunity for tricks; everyone can 'lock' a location and hide whatever clue is inside, but that draws attention. The result is an exercise in bluffing. Will the hidden info be useful, or are your opponents sending you on a wild goose chase?
No matter what, you're in a race against time to gather the evidence, build a case, and then rush back to Sherlock's home of 221B Baker Street to smugly read out your theory. It's a thrilling chase that's lost none of its charm, even half a century after it was published.
Here's a weird question for you: do you think you could escape from a giant, rampaging koala? How about communing with a raccoon foreman? That's the sort of bizarre predicament What Next? hurls at you. And because those quests are teamed with more than 60 challenges, it's perfect as a board game for families that want something different.
Described as a choose-your-path adventure, What Next? lives up to that promise. Besides deciding where to go in this gorgeous pastel world, players will encounter different obstacles depending on their route or the time of day; rather than simply choosing what your character does, you'll act out their exploits with a physical task like completing puzzles or catching a falling card before it hits the ground. Succeed and you'll be taken in one direction. Fail and your character goes another way. Even though you'll end up in much the same place by the end, the journey to that point is uniquely yours.
No matter what happens, your path is always guided by a wry sense of humor that makes the experience light-hearted fun for everyone. This isn't a game that takes itself seriously; much like developer Big Potato's other projects (including Blockbuster and The Chameleon), it's breezy fun that's deeply accessible. Considering how it features an elderly housekeeper who'd like nothing more than to trap you inside a washing machine for a rinse, What Next? couldn't really be anything else.
If in doubt, add superheroes. That's the logic of Rhino Hero and its beefed-up sequel, Rhino Hero: Super Battle. We can't argue. The end-result is a fun exercise of balance and steady hands, so it's earned a place on our list of board games for families.
In a refreshing change of pace, Rhino Hero isn't weighed down by lots of rules or reading. It's a delight for kids who struggle to read as a result, opening up the playing field for younger children to get involved. All they need to do? Construct a card tower. Well, sort of.
It's not unlike Jenga, to be honest; although your aim is to use up all your cards, everyone's working on raising the same tower. Things start to get precarious the higher you go, particularly when you have to move the Rhino Hero token from one layer to another. Talk about pressure.
As an added bonus, those cards have a few special abilities up their sleeve as well. For example, some allow you to force your neighbour to lose their turn or pick up another card. Meanwhile, Rhino Hero: Super Battle adds extra tokens and troublesome hanging monkeys for extra difficulty.
Even though it shares a name with the movie starring Emily Blunt and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, the Jungle Cruise board game has its roots in Disney's classic ride. This is a whimsical, light-hearted adventure, and your job is to transport passengers through the rainforest while watching out for perils like a pride of lions or groan-inducing dad jokes. Unfortunately, your wards have a habit of wandering off. The more you get over the finish line, the more points you'll have at the end.
As a way of spicing things up, players will also need to be selective about who they focus their attention on. That's because your passengers belong to esteemed families, and one group is the new owner of the Jungle Cruise company. The trouble is, you don't know which it is - and it changes every time you play. To figure out the mystery, you'll have to take detours for clue tokens scattered across the board... all without tipping off your opponents as to what you find.
True to the story of the ride, things are always going wrong too. Represented by cards with difficulty ratings that dictate how many passengers or pieces of cargo fall overboard, these dangers affect certain sides of the boat (which may or may not contain people, depending on where you've chosen to sit them). That means you'll have to be tactical about which encounters you choose to face.
This makes Jungle Cruise a fun distraction that's easy to get the hang of but still offers enough complexity to keep players engaged. It's a real beauty as well thanks to theming that perfectly captures the Disney Parks ride.
- Read more: Jungle Cruise board game review
Board games for families - FAQ
What is the most fun family board game?
We'd recommend starting with something like Herd Mentality (opens in new tab) if you're looking for the most fun family board game. Besides being easy to get the hang of, it's light-hearted and silly in a charming sort of way (you're allowed to 'moo' at anyone that takes too long to answer, for example). While it doesn't have as much longevity as Ticket to Ride (opens in new tab), it's an easy-going board games for families that'll keep everyone in high spirits.
The same can't be said of Monopoly (opens in new tab), unfortunately. Despite being a beloved classic, the property trading game is pretty infamous for causing arguments amongst its players. It's incredibly difficult to turn things around when you're losing as well, so it isn't always much fun if you aren't winning.
What is the best game to play as a family?
There are plenty of board games for families to choose from, but we'd always recommend starting with Ticket to Ride. Besides being a very gentle sort of game that doesn't require lots of brain power, it strikes a great balance between accessibility and longevity. It's not so competitive that you'll have everyone falling out, either - always a plus so far as we're concerned.
Herd Mentality is also a favorite in terms of board games for families. It's really easy to get into and doesn't put any pressure on its players. At the same time, it's still a lot of easy-going fun that won't leave you feeling bored.