The day my kids deemed Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders “boring” was nearly as exciting as the day they began buckling their own seat belts. No more trying to secretly rig it so that they pulled the ice cream cone card at the end of the Candy Land trail, or conveniently sticking my finger out to stop the spinner on the 5 they needed to take the ladder to the top. We were finally able to play REAL family games that were actually fun for the entire family.

Since that time, our game closet has turned into something akin to the game aisle at Target. There were some winners and there were some losers, but these 6 games are our tried and true favorites for kids from 7 to 107:

Monopoly Empire

A twist on the get-rich classic

The fun of Monopoly in about a quarter of the time, this game encourages players to collect well-known brands (think Xbox, Coca Cola, Nerf) to build their empire. Secret Empire Cards throw in unexpected twists along the way. With hundreds of different Monopoly games out there to choose from, this is the one that passes GO on our list.

Catan

A classic game of strategy

This German game transcends ages and cultures, having been translated into 30 languages over its 20 plus year existence. Don’t let the heavy time investment learning the rules and set up deter you—the pay off is well worth it. A little luck and a lot of strategy help players secure resources to build and expand settlements. With the dozens of expansion and extension packs available, it’s nearly impossible to get tired of this game.

Scattergories

A word-based game good for all ages

Whether you stick to the original 1988 version or opt for the new-ish 2010 Scattergories Categories, the challenge of this game increases with the size of the group. Play individually or team up for some laughs as you battle the timer to come up with unique answers for 12 categories using just one letter of the alphabet. It’s fun to see the generational differences: celebrities that start with a “T”: adults, Tom Cruise; kids, Taylor Swift.

5 Crowns

A family favorite card game called Five Crowns

The ultimate winner in our family, this game goes everywhere with us—dinners, trips, the beach, you name it. Like Rummy, but with five suits of cards, the full game goes 11 rounds, but you can adapt it based on the amount of time you have . . . though I’m warning you, you won’t want to stop!

Ticket to Ride

A fun train-themed geography game

Similar to Catan both in strategy and complexity of setup, Ticket To Ride is another German-based frontrunner. Players build trains across the U.S. in an effort to rack up points, giving the added benefit of helping children (and even grownups) with geography. Though we have yet to give them a whirl, this game also offers various expansion packs as well as spinoffs like Ticket to Ride Europe and Rails & Sails—a double-sided board featuring maps of The World and The Great Lakes.

Catch Phrase

Family games like Catch Phrase are fun to play

Be quick or get buzzed! This fast moving game gets your brain working as you attempt to describe words, phrases or people to your team before the timer runs out. Compact and great for any size crowd, Catch Phrase encourages players to be descriptive and think outside of the box.

What are you waiting for? There are plenty of great family games out there . . . it’s your move!

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Laurie Larsh

Laurie Larsh is a freelance writer & travel blogger. She has paraglided in the Swiss Alps, hiked a glacier in Norway and jumped off a 1,400-year-old Italian bridge--none of which have prepared her for parenting tweens. Check out her travel insights for adults and kids at www.goexplauring.com.