I recently wrote about outdoor play equipment for toddlers and how important it is for your child to play outside with regards to speech and language development. Today I want to share with you my review of what I personally think are the 5 best outdoor playsets for kids. There are hundreds of playsets you can choose from and I have tried several of them either personally in my own backyard, or know friends who have them. I have narrowed it down to my top 2 favorite brands.
I have chosen Step 2 and KidKraft because I have personally used both of these brands. Neither Step 2 nor Kidcraft have sponsored this post.
The 5 Best Outdoor Playsets For Kids
Step 2 Playhouses
If you are leaning towards a plastic playhouse (maintenance is easier than with wood), Step 2 is a great brand. Their playhouses are sturdy and offer great value for the cost.
Neat and Tidy II Playhouse
This playhouse is great for language development:
- It has a door (open, close)
- It has shutters (open, close, peek a boo)
- It has a mailbox (in, out, mail, letter)
- It has a sink (water, on, off, wet, wash)
- It has a fireplace – It is actually a picture of a fireplace (hot, fire, ouch, be careful)
- It has a doorbell (ding dong, bell, doorbell)
- It has a window box so you can plant real flowers (flowers, dirt, water, grow, seeds)
- Help your child think of fun and creative things to do with this playhouse
- This playhouse has a built in floor with drain holes (the playhouse we had did not have this and we had to rig up our own floor).
- The colors are neutral and will look great in any backyard! I love that there is no genderfication (Is that even a word???), so this house is great for both boys and girls.
- House is large enough to fit 2-3 small children
- This playhouse is open so you can always see what your children are doing
- As per manufacturer – 35x51x46.5 inches (18 months to 8 years old)
Since I have pretty much only talked about the Pros of this playhouse, here are some cons:
- Assembly can be time consuming – make it easier by having 2 adults work on it
- There are many screws, so if you have an electric screwdriver it will help a lot.
- I would not recommend this house for 8 year olds, unless you also have younger children. In my opinion the age range should be 12-18 months to 6 years old.
Step 2 Neighborhood Fun Center
The Neighborhood Fun Center is more than just a playhouse. It is also an outdoor play center! Some features of this play center include:
- 4 ft slide – Target vocabulary: up, down, fast, slow, wee, slide
- Activity wall (hook and loop ball target and ring toss) – Target vocabulary: throw, great job, my turn, your turn, try again
- Door and crawl through portal – Target vocabulary: open, close, in, out, crawl, bend down
- Snack table and 2 seats – Target vocabulary: eat, drink, restaurant, sit down, stand up, etc
- Comes with 2 balls, 2 red rings and 2 blue rings
- This play center is great for imagination. Your child can set up a store or restaurant or turn the whole thing into a pirate ship and the slide is the only way into the water!
- The manufacture does not provide an age range, but I would go with 18 months to 5 years.
- These are similar to the Neat and Tidy Playhouse above
- This play center does not have a floor
If you would like to go with a playhouse made of wood, KidKraft is the way to go. They use weather resistant wood, however if it is outside during cold weather/snow it will start to look faded so I would recommend covering it with a tarp.
KidKraft Outdoor Playhouse
This is very similar to the playhouse we had for our daughter although hers had a small bbq on one side and a phone inside. I have not been able to find that one anywhere. We purchased hers over 6 years ago and used it for 4 years.
We choose a wooden playhouse because we liked how it looked in our backyard. From a language perspective, the KidKraft Outdoor Playhouse has similar opportunities for language development as the Step 2 playhouses, it includes:
- a door that opens and closes
- a mailbox
- shutters that open and close
- a sink with hot/cold faucets
- 49.1 x 43.6 x 59.2 inches ; 96 pounds
- The assembly time is even longer than with the plastic ones. I think it took us about 4 hours (2 adults) to set this one up. Make sure that you have an electric screwdriver. If you have one that fits an allan key even better!
- It does not have a floor but you can make your own with pavers or old floor tiles. Use your imagination!
- If left uncovered over the winter months (cold/snow/rain) the wood can start splitting despite being weather treated.
This is one of the more pricey playhouses, however doesn’t it look amazing? This playhouse would fit in well in just about any backyard. Again, I will not go into the language development aspects, or you will be here reading forever.
Some features include:
- grill/bbq on one side
- 2 flower pots under windows – you can try adding soil and planting real flowers in the pots!
- sliding back window
- sink with faucet and hot/cold knobs
- 69.75L x 50W x 62H inches
- Since it looks like a cottage it is better suited for older children (up to age 8) or a mix of younger and older children if your child has siblings or friends that regularly play together. On a side note, the manufacturer’s recommended age for this playhouse is ages 8 and up. My guess is that this is a typo. There is no reason why younger children cannot play in this house.
Some of the drawbacks are:
- Longer assembly time than plastic playhouses
- Wood can “warp” and crack if exposed to cold and snow
- Does not have a floor
Just like with outdoor playsets, there are many different varieties to choose from. I have picked my favorite one based on personal experience and value.
I love this sand and water center. Check out my post about outdoor play equipment for toddlers for water/sand table language development tips.
Here are some great features:
- umbrella to provide sun protection – height adjustable
- lid to keep bugs and rain out – flip the lid over and create a racetrack for cars
- 2 sides for playing
- neutral colors look great in any backyard setting
- includes built in ramps, 2 bridges, 2 boats, 2 pots and 1 shovel – so much vocabulary can be focused on with these items (e.g. up, down, boat, over, under, across, dig, dirt, dirty, wet, cold, etc)
- great for children 18 months and up (manufacturer recommends 2 years and up)
- plug on water side for easy draining
- 26 x 46.5 x 20.8 inches
- if you are using this table as intended, the sand and water will get mixed (because kids love mud).
- the umbrella needs to be stored somewhere if you are closing it up with the lid
- if you fill both sides with water, you will need to lean the table over to dump the water out of the “sand” side as their is no drain plug.
I hope that this review has helped narrow your down your search for the best outdoor playsets for kids. Amazon.com probably has the largest variety and some of the best prices and shipping options.
To see a full list of outdoor playsets please click here.
Let me know what your favorite playhouse or water/sand table is!