The best outdoor playsets for kids don’t have to cost a fortune! But they do entice kids to get out of the house and playing outside is a crucial part of a child’s development.
So not to overwhelm you, this list will only have 5 playsets on it.
There are hundreds of different kinds of outdoor play equipment you can choose from and I have tried several of them either personally in my own backyard, or know friends who have them.
So to make your decision even easier I have narrowed it down to 2 brands to choose from!
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.
However, there are some affiliate links, so if you do decide to purchase one of my recommendations I will make a small commission at no cost to you – other than the purchase price of the product that is.
The Best Outdoor Play Equipment For Kids
Step2 Playhouses – Perfect For Pretend Play
If you are leaning towards a plastic playhouse (maintenance is easier than with wood), Step2 is a great brand. Their playhouses are sturdy and offer great value for the cost.
Step2 Neat and Tidy II Playhouse
- 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.
Step2 Neighborhood Fun Center
- 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
KidKraft Playhouses – Good Value For Cost
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 7 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.
Updated June 1, 2017
Originally I had featured the KidKraft Woodland Playhouse in this list, however that product seems to have been discontinued. So I will tell you about this awesome pirate ship instead! Friends of ours had this one for many years and the kids never got bored of it.
ECR4Kids Indoor/Outdoor Buccaneer Play Boat with Pirate Flag
This isn’t an ordinary playhouse. It’s a pirate ship that is waiting for little ones to explore and learn. It is also wonderful for a child’s learning and development.
Here are just a few examples of the skills that can be gained:
New Vocabulary Words – pirate, ship, flag, plank, mast, sail, steer, crouch down, etc.
Prepositions – on, off, under, top, bottom, in, out
Social Skills – taking turns with other children, coming up with a story line (for older kids)
Pretend Play – kids can pretend to be pirates looking for treasures. Or maybe it’s an extravagant cruise ship. But, it could also turn into a car or a rocket ship. The possibilities are endless!
Gross Motor Development – your child can practice climbing, jumping and running. If you have a daredevil on your hands she may even try balancing on the edge of the boat.
Some features include:
- GREENGUARD [GOLD] Certified for reducing chemical pollutants and improving air quality
- Perfect for kids ages 2-6
- 56.7″ H x 54.3″ W x 30.7″ D, 36 lbs
- Steering wheel turns
- Easy assembly – no tools required!
- Plastic is resistant to sun fading and temperature changes.
See just how easy it is to set up and how fun it is for kids!
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.
Step2 Naturally Playful Sand & Water Center
I love this sand and water center. Be sure to read my article about outdoor play equipment for toddlers for water/sand table language development tips.
Here are some important 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.
What Do You Think About These Outdoor Playsets?
I hope that this review has helped narrow your down your search for the best outdoor playsets for kids.
As I mentioned at the beginning, the choices of outdoor toys for children is so vast that it can be daunting to try and choose the perfect one.
My experiences with the products mentioned have all been positive and I hope yours will be as well.
Let me know what your child’s favorite playhouse or water/sand table is!