When looking for the perfect gift, why not look to get the kids outdoors? In an age of smartphones and video games sometimes the best gifts are the ones that come with a healthy dose of fresh air. We found great gift ideas for every age that will keep kids engaged for hours with some backyard fun. From classics like our favorite high-flying rainbow kite to techie RC flyers to toddler-friendly, water-splashin’ entertainment centers, there is something that’s sure to make your gift a hit with parents and kids alike.
01 of 09
Best Tent: FoxPrint Princess Castle Play Tent
All kids love playing pretend and what better way than in their very own castle. This pop-up Princess Castle will enchant kids of any age (well, mostly any age, but we think even adults would enjoy hiding out in here) and can comfortably accommodate 2-3 children (or one fantasy loving adult). Some of our favorite features that are sure to make you the knight in shining armor are things like the glow-in-the-dark stars, the roll up door, and the easy fold and store construction. When standing, this tent is 54” high and 41.5” in diameter, but when folded it is a compact 17”. The tent comes with a carrying case so your child can take her kingdom with her. We love that this tent is quick and easy for pop-up play indoors or out.
02 of 09
Best Classic: Little Tikes First Slide
This three foot long beginner's slide will be a hit for years of slip-sliding-good times. Designed for children between 18 months and six years old, constructed of durable, easy-to-clean plastic, and ideal for outdoor or indoor play. Not too high for little ones unsteady on their feet, and just the right height to safely slide into their favorite stuffed animal pile, ball pit or any other soft landing of choice. The Little Tikes First Slide can be easily and conveniently stored when not in use by folding and securely latching the steps.
03 of 09
Best Kite: aGreatLife Rainbow Kite
High hopes won’t come soaring down with aGreatLife's Rainbow Kite. The perfect beginner kite for any aged boy or girl, with a huge 42-inch wingspan, a fun wind-flapping tail and 50 meters of string for flying well above the treetops, the Rainbow Kite is designed for easy assembly and flying. It’s constructed from durable ripstop polyester, so you won’t have to worry about your thoughtful gift getting torn with use. The flat-line winder is easy for smaller hands to hold onto and ideal for avoiding twists and tangles. Comes complete with a resealable plastic sleeve for convenient storage.
04 of 09
Best for Toddlers: Little Tikes Spiralin’ Seas Waterpark Play Table
For the toddlers on your list, the Spiralin’ Seas Play Table will keep little hands busy and engaged for hours. This water-fun play table stands at a perfect 31.5” high — just right for toddlers. Included are one water cup and five character balls that can squirt water, ride the ‘lazy river’, spiral down the funnel or take the plunge on the ferris wheel. Spiralin’ Seas is an interactive toy ideal for outdoor fun, so little ones can splash through imaginative play. This toy promotes hand-eye coordination and the development of motor skills.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Best for Nature Lovers: Kidwinz Shock Proof 8x21 Kids Binoculars
Little explorers will love this durable set of binoculars by Kidwinz. With 8x magnification, these will bring the bounty of nature into clear view from up to 366 feet away. The eyepieces are surrounded in soft malleable rubber to protect little eyes from accidental falls or breaks. And a center joint allows the binoculars to fold to match the distance between a child’s eyes for a perfect fit. A large focus dial in the center is easy for children to manipulate. Included with this set are a neck strap, cleaning cloth, users manual and carrying case. These are perfect for any boy or girl, ages three and up, to bring the world into sharp focus.
06 of 09
Best Swing: HearthSong Deluxe Platform Swing
The Platform Swing is a new twist on the old fashioned tire swing and it kicks the fun up a notch. The padded steel frame forms a 40”x 30” platform that has reinforced nylon rope strong enough to hold up to 250 pounds. More than one child (or a fun-loving adult) can swing at a time and with the padded steel frame they will be able to comfortably dangle arms or legs. The padded frame also adds another level of safety in case of accidental bumps or falls. No tree, no worry — this Platform Swing can be hung on a swing set. The nylon string and steel frame hold up remarkably well to all outdoor weather conditions so parents won’t need to worry.
07 of 09
Best for Kids 6+: Bubble Thing BIG BUBBLES Wand and Mix
Yes! Everyone loves bubbles, especially when they’re giant bubbles. This highly-rated BIG bubble set includes 2.7 gallons of concentrated super-bubble making soap and the ‘world-famous’, architect-designed bubble wand. The bubble wand is made with an absorbent 90" fabric loop that is designed to create an endless variety of bubbles in all shapes and sizes. This set will keep kids busy for hours as they create mind-blowing bubbles. This item is great for kids ages six and up, but can easily be used by younger children with help from an adult or older friends. There are plenty of fun accessories available and we think this will be so well loved that you may want to consider adding another bottle of bubble solution to ensure the fun doesn’t run out.
08 of 09
Best for Little Swimmers: BigMouth Inc Gigantic Donut Pool Float
The BigMouth Gigantic Donut is an impressive four feet in diameter for hours of pool fun. Who wouldn’t want to float around on a pink frosted donut with sprinkles? This fun-floaty is made from durable, extra-thick vinyl so you won’t have to worry about springing a leak. Kids can take it to the beach or the pool and will love piling on this durable, fun floaty for hours of water play. Kids will love the size of this tube and parents will love all of the great photo ops. Reviewers have noted to be careful not to over-inflate the tube, and caution against inflating with anything other than your mouth. This is sure to be a favorite pool and beach toy.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
Best for Sporty Tots: Spikeball 3 Ball Game Set
If you’re looking for a gift for an older child (or a kid at heart) look no further than Spikeball. This as-seen-on-TV game is the perfect outdoor activity for any gathering. Simple setup and lightweight construction make it easy to take and play anywhere. Tons of variations mean any combo of play is possible. Designed with portability in mind, the legs fold under the net and the set comes with three balls and a carrying case. The lightweight and durable plastic outer ring simply snaps together for quick assembly. Teens and adults will love the fast-paced, easy to learn, engaging game.
Products Tested by The Spruce
How We Tested
We bought a top-rated backyard toy and our reviewers (and their families) tested it for five hours. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using this toy, from its age range to its activity level. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
What to Look for in a Backyard Toy
Age range To keep kids interested, you’ll want to pick a toy that’s right for their stage of development and skills. Remember, though, that the recommended age range is just that — a recommendation. You know these kids best, so don’t limit your choices to the age range too strictly if there’s something a little older or younger that you think they’d enjoy.
Activity level If your goal is to get your kids moving and have them burn off some of that oh-so-abundant energy, choose a toy that encourages lots of movement. From sliding to blowing bubbles, there are plenty of options that’ll get their blood pumping while they’re having fun — and leave them all tuckered out come bedtime.
Adaptability Consider the size of your yard before choosing an outdoor toy. Some need large amounts of space, which can be challenging if you have a small lot, while others may require water or specific accessories. Certain outdoor toys may be used indoors as well, which can be a nice option when the weather doesn’t cooperate with outdoor play.
Test Results: FoxPrint Princess Castle Play Tent (Best Tent)
What We Like
Door allows for quiet time
What We Don't Like
Glow in the dark stars aren’t bright
Vague cleanup instructions
One of our testers liked this tent’s “roomy” size: “At least two children can comfortably play in it with plenty of space for stuffed animals and dolls,” she noted. Its sparkly exterior was also a hit with our reviewers, and one tester liked that it had a door, “allowing for easy access or privacy when a child wants to have some quiet time.” The negatives? Its construction was “flimsy,” according to one of our reviewers, who also thought that its glow-in-the-dark stars weren’t bright enough. Lastly, one tester noted that its cleanup process was challenging: “The tent came with vague instructions for how to fold it up and put it back into the bag,” she said, “but they're hard to follow — I was unable to fold it down successfully and put it away!”