Best Outdoor Playsets and Toys in 2021

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Being outside is really beneficial to babies, toddlers and children because humans are designed to spend much of their time outdoors as hunter-gatherer societies would have. This outdoor lifestyle would have allowed for plenty of fresh air and sun-exposure which are important for our health; for example, sun-exposure causes the body to produce vitamin D and without regular exposure to natural sunlight we risk becoming deficient in this important vitamin which increases bone density. As a result of less time being spent outdoors, some health services now recommend supplementation from birth to avoid the risk of rickets, a condition that had been on the rise.

As well as vitamin D, being outside causes the human body to produce more serotonin the ‘feel-good’ or ‘happy’ hormone that prevents depression and eases anxiety. For children, in particular, being outside helps to set their circadian rhythm, or wake-sleep pattern, and what parent wouldn’t like a child who slept more at night!? Physical play is incredibly important for children’s overall health and development and this tends to happen more naturally outside. However, many children are quite resistant to the idea of simply going on a walk, so you may need to find some ways to encourage them to play outdoors and stay active. That’s where these toys come in, we’ve brought together some of the Best Outdoor Playsets and Toys available in 2021 so that you can encourage children out into the great outdoors. Before we get to the list of outdoor playsets and toys, here are a few features you should look out for when selecting what to buy;

Safety

Whilst some risk-taking outdoors is healthy, kids shouldn’t have to risk faulty equipment! Look out for sets from well-known and trusted brands, sturdy materials, and products which have been designed to last. With babies and toddlers, you will also want to consider how easy the product is for them to use and maybe look out for extra features like wider steps, or grip rails.

Age group

The age of the children that you are buying for will obviously influence your choice of product. As we looked at in the section on safety, babies and toddlers may need more specifically tailored products, whilst older children will want a bit of challenge. The age range a product is recommended for will give you a good clue as to whether it would be suitable for the child/ren you have in mind, but it’s also worth remembering that children do grow quickly so you may want to pick out something that will be a little more future-proof.

Number of children

It’s also important to consider how many children are likely to be using the equipment regularly. For example, buying a seesaw for an only child who doesn’t have many playdates is probably not a great option, whereas a single swing for a family with 4 kids is just going to cause a fight!

Skills developed

Outdoor playsets and toys have great learning potential. Whilst many of them hone physical skills like strength, balance, stamina or spatial awareness, there is the potential for lots of other learning too. Whether that’s developing scientific understanding by playing with rockets or water, imaginative play with food sets or boats, or construction in the sandbox, it’s worth thinking about the different kinds of learning that different toys and playsets can promote. We’ve tried to touch on this as we’ve gathered together information on the best outdoor playsets and toys in 2021.

Top 15 Outdoor Playsets and Toys for Kids

1. Best Carousel Seesaw: Hudora Carousel Seesaw

Hudora Carousel Seesaw

Why we like it: Great fun for 2 children, developing balance and core strength.

The Hudora Carousel Seesaw is a great addition to a garden where 2 or more children play together regularly whether that’s siblings, friends or even peers at a childminding or nursery setting. This seesaw encourages the development of both balance and core strength because not only does it move up and down, but, just as the name suggests, it also spins around like a carousel.

Made with high quality and sturdy materials and with seats designed to take up to 50kg of weight this seesaw should see children through a number of years. It comes with ground anchors to fix the product securely to the ground ensuring user safety. This is a fantastic piece of equipment to get kids excited about outdoor, physical play.

Pros
  • Develops balance
  • Improves core strength
  • Moves up and down and spins around
  • Made with sturdy, high-quality materials
  • Ground anchors included
Cons
  • Requires anchoring to ground, not suitable for paved gardens

2. Best Playground: Fatmoose Wooden Climbing frame ActionArena XXL

Fatmoose Playground

Why we like it: Extra large climbing frame with lots of different, exciting elements!

Climbing frames and large play equipment can really make a garden an exciting place for kids to play and the Fatmoose Wooden Climbing Frame ActionArena XXL has so many different elements that children will be hard-pressed to get bored!

With swings, a wavy slide, a basketball net, monkey bars and climbing elements there’s so much to do and so many different skills to hone by using this climbing frame. The monkey bars enhance upper body strength and teach children to persevere whilst swings build core strength, the basketball hoop encourages spatial awareness and the slide activates children’s vestibular system, promoting balance. Made in Germany with pressure-treated wood this is a high-quality product that will last for years and years.

Pros
  • Includes many different elements
  • Promotes physical skill development
  • Builds strength
  • Encourages active play
  • Made with pressure-treated wood
Cons
  • Lots of space required
  • Self-assembly

3. Best Playhouse: Little Tikes Picnic on The Patio Playhouse

Little Tikes Picnic on The Patio Playhouse

Why we like it: Enjoy imaginative role-playing in this cute patio, playhouse.

The Little Tikes Picnic On The Patio Playhouse is ideal for imaginative role play and creative fun. It features large windows, a Dutch door, a sink and a stove, as well as an outdoor picnic area. Children will enjoy using the included food accessories to produce their very own imaginary picnic which they can then take outside and set down on the picnic table before pretending to eat.

The house has a high door frame to accommodate growing children. a magic doorbell to add realism to the role play and has been decorated in more muted colors to make it suitable for any garden aesthetic. This is a nice way to add interest to your outdoor space and encourage children outside to play.

Pros
  • Ideal for imaginative role play
  • Food accessories included
  • Outdoor picnic area
  • High door frame for growing children
  • Muted colors
Cons
  • Made of plastic; less eco friendly

4. Best Water Table: Little Tikes Fountain Factory Water Table

Little Tikes Fountain Factory Water Table

Why we like it: Develops scientific skill and understanding whilst splashing and having fun.

Most children love to play with water and it is a fantastic activity that promotes all kinds of development; the Little Tikes Fountain Factory Water Table particularly promotes scientific learning and understanding because it includes a water pump, water tower and fountains, as well as plumbing pipes and taps. Children can use these features to develop their understanding of cause and effect, gravity and mechanics.

Designing and using different water systems with fountains and pipes different fountains helps to develop children’s engineering skills too! This water table is ideal for sensory play and can be played with individually or socially. This is also the perfect way to cool little ones down on a hot day, with lots of splashing in the water.

Pros
  • Promotes scientific understanding
  • Includes pump, fountains, tower, pipes and taps
  • Encourages children’s engineering skills
  • Ideal for sensory play
  • Can be played with individually or with others
Cons
  • Lots of different parts; store together to prevent loss

5. Best Slide: Smoby Slide

Smoby Slide

Why we like it: Ergonomic slide for toddlers and young children which can become a water slide too!

Most toddlers and young children love playing on slides and this is a great way to get them physically active; it develops skills like balance, improves core strength and activates children’s vestibular systems. The Smoby slide is made with strong sturdy materials and designed with younger children in mind so to improve safety the ladder has wider footplates and also features large ergonomic grip rails.

This slide also includes a hose attachment so you can clip in a garden hose and use it as a water slide in the warmer months; this could be ideal as a stand-alone activity or for children to use to enter a paddling pool, either way, it is plenty of fun!

Pros
  • Encourages physical activity
  • Improves balance
  • Made with strong sturdy materials
  • Designed for younger children
  • Can be used as a water slide
Cons
  • May be outgrown quite quickly

6. Best Sand Box: KidKraft Pirate Sandboat

KidKraft Pirate Sandboat

Why we like it: Ahoy Maties! This themed sandbox is ideal for young pirates!

Shaped like a boat, the KidKraft Pirate Sandboat is an exciting and imaginative sandbox including a shady canopy to keep children safe from the sun hidden storage seating a steering wheel and even a real pirate flag. It also includes a practical mesh cover to snap over the top when the sandbox is not in use.

Sand play is a tried and true activity for young children encouraging construction, fine motor skills, and imaginative play. The KidKraft Pirate Sandboat comes with detailed step-by-step assembly instructions so you can simply follow those to set up an outdoor adventure that kids will love! It’s made with weather-resistant wood so will last for years to come and through all the seasons.

Pros
  • Shaped like a pirate boat
  • Includes shady canopy
  • Hidden storage for toys
  • Weather-resistant wood
  • Mesh cover included
Cons
  • Sand not included

7. Best Climber Playset: Step2 Climber

Step2 Climber

Why we like it: Build strength, burn energy and promote problem-solving with this playset designed especially for younger children.

Young children are extremely physical and need lots of opportunities to burn off their energy and improve their physical skills and strength. Climbing is incredibly important for children as it’s not only getting them active and moving and builds their strength, but also encourages skills like balance, spatial awareness and problem-solving.

The Step 2 Climber Playset is ideal for younger children and has been designed and built with them in mind; with wider footplates to climb on, it’s safe for little ones but will still provide them with a good sense of adventure and fun. The more natural muted colors suggest that this set is designed to fit into any garden aesthetic and the sturdy plastic construction is strong enough to stand up to any weather conditions.

Pros
  • Encourages active play
  • Builds strength
  • Promotes spatial awareness and problem solving
  • Designed for younger children
  • Natural muted colors
Cons
  • Outgrown in a few years

8. Best Swing Set: Hedstrom Neptune

Hedstrom Neptune

Why we like it: Perfect for siblings, this encourages kids to get outdoors and play together.

The Hedstrom Neptune Double Swing and Glider set is a garden place that includes a double swing and glider it’s made with durable steel nylon and plastic components to ensure durability and has been powder coated for UV protection. The set comes with ground pegs to ensure extra stability and safety as children play. The straps can be adjusted as children grow so this set has a longer lifespan than its non-adjustable counterparts.

Using swings is fantastic for promoting children’s development; as children swing, they learn to control and coordinate different parts of their body at the same time and build core strength and stability, which is later important for writing. Swings also activate the vestibular system which helps children to develop balance and can be a soothing sensory input.

Pros
  • Made with durable materials
  • Ground pegs included
  • Adjustable straps
  • Builds core strength
  • Soothing sensory input
Cons
  • Large space needed

9. AquaPlay Waterway Table

Aquaplay Mountain Lake

Why we like it: Hours of fun water play guaranteed!

The AquaPlay Waterway Table guarantees hours of fun water play! Children love to play with water as it’s such a sensory activity, but it also promotes a whole host of developmental skills. As children navigate boats and figures through locks and up and down slopes, they begin to understand cause, effect and gravity as well as sinking, floating, weight and mass, making the AquaPlay Waterway table both educational and fun!

This set includes lock gates, a crane, speed boats and animal figures, and is sure to be a hit with most kids. It can be used indoors or outdoors, on a table or on the floor, so it’s a really versatile product that can be used in a way that best suits you.

Pros
  • Sensory activity
  • Develops understanding of cause and effect
  • Educational and fun
  • Includes locks, gates, a crane, speed boats and animal figures
  • Can be used indoors or outdoors
Cons
  • Requires close supervision

10. Step2 Sports-Tastic Activity Center Playset

Step2 Sports-Tastic Activity Center Playset

Why we like it: 3-in-1 sports activity center with built-in storage.

This 3-in-1 sports activity center features a basketball hoop, soccer goal and tethered baseball set. It allows toddlers to try out and practice these three different sports, and also includes steps and a slide for plenty of physical play building strength and stamina. The set includes a bat, basketball and tethered baseball and also features a storage area on the outer wall of the activity center where all the sports equipment can be stored safely and neatly.

The Step 2 Sports-Tastic Activity Center Playset is a great way to promote sports as a hobby and builds an interest in specific sports which can become hobbies and habits throughout childhood, promoting physical health and an active lifestyle as children grow.

Pros
  • Three in one
  • Slide included
  • Set includes a bat, basketball and tethered baseball
  • Built-in storage
  • Builds a healthy active lifestyle
Cons
  • Outgrown quickly

11. Lifetime Dome Climber

Lifetime Dome Climber

Why we like it: Develop strength and skill with this huge climbing frame.

The Lifetime Climbing Dome is a great option for outdoor play and exercise if you have plenty of space available! At 5 feet tall and 10 feet wide the dome climber is certainly not small but will support hours of fun and development.

This climbing frame is made with powder-coated steel for the ultimate in strength and stability and the company states that creating products to last a lifetime is where they got their name, so it’s made with weather- and rust-resistant materials and should last for years to come. It comes in earth-colored tones to fit into any garden, and it’s the perfect way for children to develop strength and coordination whilst having fun outdoors. Because the dome climber is so big several kids can play at the same time making it the ideal hang-out spot for siblings or friends.

Pros
  • 5 ft tall and 10 ft wide
  • Made with powder coated steel
  • Designed to last a lifetime
  • Helps develop strength
  • Several children can play at once
Cons
  • Needs lots of space

12. Little Tikes Twin Slide Tunnel Climber

Little Tikes Twin Slide Tunnel Climber

Why we like it: Designed for younger children this climber is big enough for several kids at once.

Little Tikes is a brand that is well known for producing high-quality sturdy play equipment for younger children and the Little Tikes Twin Slide Tunnel Climber is no exception to that! This 2-in-1 playground slide and jungle gym is suitable for ages 2 to 5 and has plenty of room for multiple children to play at once.

The sturdy, durable design means that parents can relax as they watch their little ones play, explore and develop their motor skills, balance and spatial awareness. This climbing frame is incredibly easy to assemble and comes with full instructions.

Pros
  • Popular brand
  • Two in one
  • Suitable for ages 2 to 5
  • Multiple children can play at once
  • Easy to assemble
Cons
  • Made of plastic, less eco-friendly

13. Maikehigh Play Tunnel and Play Tent

Maikehigh Play Tunnel and Play Tent

Why we like it: Perfect for babies, can be used indoors or out!

If you’re looking to buy some baby play equipment that doesn’t take up the entire garden, then the Maikehigh Play Tunnel And Play Tent Set is ideal; it consists of a tent, a tunnel and ball pool and can be used indoors or outdoors. The best part is that it can be packed away!

It’s made with durable, high-strength material but simply folds away into a zipped storage bag, making it portable enough to take along to the park, a friend’s house or even on holiday. It’s quick to assemble with a simple fold and pop-up design and the fabric is washable too- perfect for babies!

Pros
  • Ideal for babies
  • Can be used indoors or outdoors
  • Includes tent, tunnel and ball pool
  • Folds away into zipped storage bag
  • Washable fabric
Cons
  • Can’t be used in strong winds

14. Swingball Classic

Swingball Classic

Why we like it: Classic swingball fun to develop hand-eye coordination and tennis skill.

The swing ball classic set is the ideal way to practice playing tennis when space is at a premium. With this set, you don’t need to worry about knocking your ball into the next door’s garden or breaking anybody’s windows! It can be played individually or as a pair and there is a kind of built-in scoring device as the tether is attached to the spiral head of a solid base pole and each player aims to get the tethered to move to the top or the bottom by hitting the ball either clockwise or anti-clockwise.

Playing tennis, or in this case swing ball, is the ideal way to develop hand-eye coordination as well as strength. The height of the pole is adjustable so you can set it up in a way to suit your family’s needs and the Classic Swingball set also includes two lightweight bats so you can play straight away and is weather-resistant to keep you playing for many years!

Pros
  • Ideal for small spaces
  • Prevents breakages
  • Can be played individually or as a pair
  • Built-in scoring device
  • Develops hand-eye coordination
Cons
  • Requires appropriate radius of space around the pole

15. The Original Stomp Rocket Dueling Kit

Stomp Rocket Duelling Kit

Why we like it: Encourages scientific learning as well as physical play.

When you can get kids learning as well as being physical and active then you’re onto a winner! The Original Stomp Rocket Dueling Kit is 100% kid-powered and allows two players to launch air rockets at the same time, competing to see which goes higher.

This kit helps to develop an understanding of science, technology and engineering but no batteries are needed so it’s ready to play with straight out of the box. This toy has won multiple awards from industry experts and the rockets are super lightweight and easily portable, so you can play at the park, at the beach or at a friend’s house. The Rockets can be launched up to 200 feet into the air which is bound to thrill kids so ready, set, stomp!

Pros
  • 100% kid-powered
  • Two players
  • Develops an understanding of science, tech and engineering
  • No batteries needed
  • Rockets can fly up to 200 feet
Cons
  • Requires large space to play

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Final words

So, there we have some of the best outdoor playsets and toys in 2021, which should help to get kids with a whole range of different interests outdoors, and physically active. After a year of stay-at-home orders and lockdowns, most of us have had way too much screen time, kids included so why not make it a resolution in 2021 to build good habits and play outdoors more?

The outdoor playsets and toys that we’ve brought together here are exciting and motivating and will definitely tempt children back into the great outdoors, even if they love apps and video games. Physical health is so important that it’s worth making a real effort to get kids moving and as an added bonus playing outdoors can help improve sleep, mental health, intelligence and concentration. We hope that you have found this list helpful as you consider which outdoor toy or playset to buy.