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Best Pool Games & Fun Activity Ideas for Kids & Family

Best Pool Games & Fun Activity Ideas for Kids & Family

We are preparing for a couple of stays at hotels this summer, and one of our basic hotel must-haves is a pool. We have a pool in our backyard, but my kids go gaga for hotel pools, no matter where in the world we are! Anytime we stay at a hotel, or visit a friend who has a pool in her yard, I bring a bag of water games for my kids to play with (don’t forget to pack a cute suit along with all their toys). This way, they stay happy and engaged in the water and I can kick back and relax and watch them play their fun pool games. 

Need a list of fun pool games for making your pool experience fun this summer? Zulily brings to you the best pool games for all ages with easy no-prop ideas!.”

Must-Have Accessories for Fun Pool Games

Every year, I buy a few simple pool and water accessories It doesn’t matter how many dive rings I purchase, by the end of the summer I inevitably own zero dive rings. But dive rings are a must-have water game accessory for us! Here a few more of our must-have pool accessories that make great pool games:

Hula Hoops 

These aren’t quite as portable as other accessories for the pool games we play, but my girls love having hula hoops at our pool. We use them for diving games. We start by placing them right next to our diving board and the girls have to dive through them. Then we start moving them a bit further and further away and see how far the girls are able to dive and still make it gracefully through the hoop. (I usually have to get in the water for this game and hold the ring while they dive.) 

Pool Noodles 

For noodle races! We love having pool noodles on hand for lounging and playing, but pool noodles are great because even smaller kiddos, who may not be allowed to dive or play in the deep end of the pool, can participate in noodle races across the shallow end of the pool.

Water Guns 

My kids love this gameI can play while standing by the pool and they participate while in the water. I fill up their water guns and then we take turns trying to shoot each other with water. My rule is that they can’t swim underwater to avoid getting hit or they are out! We also usually set up a “game zone” so I’m not running all the way around the pool during each game. This one is an especially fun pool game when you have a pool full of kiddos.

Dive Sticks 

Toss these little guys in the water and there are countless pool games you can play. You can simply have all your kiddos jump in after them and see who surfaces with the most. Or, you can throw them all in at once, and time each kiddo, one kid at a time, to see who can collect all the dive sticks the fastest. Dive sticks are one of my favorite pool games because these little sticks are super portable, meaning I can bring them to hotels easily. They are also available just about anywhere and are quite inexpensive, so if they get left behind, it’s totally not a big deal!

Beach Balls 

These inflatable toys can be used to play a water game of keep away where two kiddos throw the ball back and forth between them while the person in between them tries to snag it away. A beach ball can also be used for a game of volleyball in the water. My kids also love when I stand next to the diving rock at our pool and throw it to them while they jump into the water and try to catch the ball before they hit the water. Beach balls are easy to deflate and pack to take with you to hotels, community centers or friends’ pools. 

Pool Floats 

We buy and bring a couple of small circular inflatable pool floats with us to hotel pools all the time. Sometimes the girls use them as basketball goals for their beach balls and occasionally they have races to see who can swim the length or width of the pool faster in a pool float using only their legs. The kids will also toss them into the water and take turns seeing if they can jump into the floats from the side of the pool, which is much harder than it sounds, especially for bigger kids! Because these can be deflated rather quickly and easily stored theyre ideal for traveling.  

Best Pool & Water Games That Don’t Require Equipment 

I admit it. Sometimes, I just don’t have the time, or the mental capacity, to remember to pack pool toys when we go away for the weekend. Luckily, there are still a ton of fun games the kids can play in the water that don’t require any accessories whatsoever.  

Marco Polo 

Probably one of the most well-known (and loudest) pool games for kids out there. One person is “It and closes her eyes while attempting to tag people without being able to see them. She yells out Marco! and everyone else playing must respond by yelling Polo! The person playing “It” must rely on sound alone to find and tag her fellow players. Fun fact: No one really knows why the game is called Marco Polo. Perhaps a legend some believe is true, that the famed explorer of the same name got lost and when his family called for him, yelling “Marco!” he responded by calling back “Polo!” 


Have all players stand on one side of the shallow end of the pool. One person, the “shark” remains on the side of the pool, behind the other players. When you shout Go! the players in the water must swim to the other wall as fast as they can. The shark counts to three and then jumps in the after the swimmers. The swimmers crossing the pool can only swim or run through the pool with their heads above the water. The shark, however, can swim underwater to tag other players. Repeat the back-and-forth process until only one swimmer remains. He or she then becomes the shark. 

Handstand Contest 

This one is always a favorite with my kids. Have them all get in the shallow end of the pool. Count to three, and then all kiddos should attempt a handstand in the water. The one who can hold the post for longest without coming up for air wins! Sometimes, this leads to funny rounds of silly water ballet. 

There are tons more ways kiddos can have fun in the water, with or without toys or props. My husband and I always joke that our favorite pool games are any of the games that wear our kiddos out! 

About The Author

Stephanie Jarrett

Stephanie Jarrett is passionate about all things: family, parenting, travel, and budget-friendly tips. As a Texas-transplant and girl mom of three, she’s a resident expert for, Pearachute Kids, Hawaiian Falls, OKC Tourism Board, Livie & Luca, Mox Shoes, Arlington CVB, many more. When she isn’t on a road trip with her three girls, exploring museums, parks and more, she’s probably curled up on the couch with the latest NYT bestseller and a glass of red wine. Follow her adventures in Dallas/Fort Worth and beyond at

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