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Depending on their ages, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children get one to three hours of physical activity each day. One way to get children moving is to keep a well-stocked arsenal of age-appropriate outdoor toys.
For some inspiration, we researched the best outdoor toys for all kids, considering the age range, activity level, and adaptability. Our favorite picks include a fun yet safe trampoline from Zupapa, an education scavenger hunt from Outset Media, and a Little Tike's T-Ball Set for practicing their swing.
Here are the best outdoor toys.
Zupapa 10-Feet Trampoline for Kids
ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) and TUV (Technical Inspection Association) certified
6-foot enclosure net ensures safety
Safety is always important when buying toys, especially when purchasing the best trampoline for your kids, and the Zupapa trampoline protects without sacrificing fun. The whole family can participate, too; the 375-pound weight limit allows multiple kids and even an adult or two to enjoy this trampoline. The no-gap design keeps hands and feet from getting caught, while the hot-dip galvanizing technology and a self-locking frame create a more stable and durable structure.
As far as bounce goes, your kids will (safely) go high thanks to the 12 additional springs. Other comforting safety features include a high net enclosure and longer poles to secure the net and frame. You can also find peace of mind knowing this trampoline is ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) and TUV (Technical Inspection Association) certified, so you can be sure your little one is safe while they jump.
Reviewers note that setup takes about three hours but is relatively easy. The only tool you need for assembly is already included, which is a plus, and the instructions are detailed and easy to follow. While this toy is an investment, purchasing a strong, sturdy, and safe trampoline ensures it will last for many summers, and kids can enjoy it even as they grow and age.
Crayloa Washable Tie Dye Sidewalk Chalk
Thick, rectangle pieces make for an easier grip
Tapered tip makes for easy drawing
Chalk may appear lighter than packaging describes, but are bolder on sidewalk
Chalk is an outdoor toy staple, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. This tie-dye set from Crayola adds a ton of style to the most simple sidewalk art. And, as with all Crayola chalks, this set is completely washable and designs come off with a garden hose or the next rainy day.
Zuru Crazy Bunch O Balloons 100 Rapid-Filling Self-Sealing Water Balloons
Easy to use
Balloons may pop if not filled slowly
Nothing says summer quite like a water balloon fight, and Zuru’s rapid filler and sealer makes it easier to battle. Thanks to the innovative O-Ring technology and rapid fill capabilities, all you have to do is attach the stem to a tap or hose, and within a minute you’ll have 100 filled and sealed water balloons. Just make sure to fill the balloons slowly so they don’t burst.
Outset Media Kid's Scavenger Hunt
Great for individual or group play
Can be used indoors as well
Cards may contain obscure items
Perfect for individual or group play, this kit gives your kids another reason to run around the backyard in your own scavenger hunt. Each kit contains size packs of cards with items that kids have to find in order to win. Just check the deck before handing out the cards, as some items may not be found in your neck of the woods.
Melissa & Doug Giddy Buggy Tote Set
Lightweight, high-quality tools
May be useable by kids younger than 3 with adult supervision
Some customers say the tools are not as durable as others on the market
It’s never too early to grow a green thumb. This colorful, lightweight tote contains essential gardening tools, like a shovel, rake, and spray bottle, that allow even the smallest hands to take care of outdoor plants. Add a few seed pouches to get them started on their own garden.
Little Kids Fubbles No-Spill Big Bubble Bucket
Includes 3 wands so multiple children to play at once
Works with any refill solution
Bubble solution not included
Bubble making is fun, but if you knock over the solution then the party ends earlier than expected. With this bubble bucket, all you have to do is pour the solution into the bottom section of the machine, twist on the top, and you are ready to play. Unfortunately, bubble solution isn't included, so make sure to purchase before you plan on using.
Flybar My First Flybar Pogo Stick
Folds up nicely for easy storage
Weight capacity allows for long-lasting use
Makes squeaky noise
My First Flybar is a kid-safe pogo stick that trains them in hand eye coordination, balance, and gross motor skills. The foam handles keep kids comfortable as they bounce, while the flexible bungee cord improves their bounces. Though the foam base can cause some annoying squeaking, it also keeps your floor scratch-free if you need to bring the stick indoors.
AGREATLIFE A Great Life Huge Rainbow Kite
Easy to assemble
Adult help may be needed for smaller kids
Not only will this kite get the kids outside for hours, but it will enhance their coordination, strength, and critical thinking skills. The durable fabric improves the kite’s flight and keeps it in good condition for years to come. One thing to note: This is bigger than the average kite, so smaller kids may need an extra hand for flying.
Renegade Made Sidewalk Chalk Tagging Set
Great for group or individual play
Easy to wash away
Refills not available
Tagging gets a bad rep, but this Renegade kit brings kindness to the art. Each kit contains six packs of washable chalk paint, three paint cups, paint brush, and stirring sticks. It also includes seven reusable stencils that contain positive expressions like “The Best Things In Life Aren’t Things” and “Dancing Spot.”
Maui Toys Dazzler Jump Rope
Available in multiple colors
Twist handles make for an easier grip
May break if stepped on too many times
Brighten up the basic jump rope with this brightly colored, glitter-filled rope. Though heavier than traditional ropes, the weight makes it easier to perform. A quick warning for those who live in cold climates: Store the jump rope inside, as the liquid can freeze making the rope stiff and difficult to use.
Little Tikes T-Ball Set
Great for group or individual play
Easy to store
Light stand may waver with strong hitters
As far as sports toys go, you can’t go wrong with a T-ball set. The height of the stand is easy to adjust, allowing it to grow with your child and all their playmates. As your child’s swing gets stronger, you may have to weigh the stand down or trade it in for a heavier model.
SplashEZ 3-in-1 Splash Pad
Easy to set up
Room for three kids or one kid and one adult
Hose and backyard space required
This shallow wading pool and water sprinkler improves cognitive development, thanks to the alphabet pattern. If your child has already mastered their letter, you can opt for one of the other varieties, which include the solar system, world map, or U.S. map. And there’s enough room for you to join your little one as they soak everything up.
Gazillion Bubbles Tornado
No pump needed
Easy to use
If your child likes making bubbles but gets bored blowing after a while, then this bubble machine is a must-have. Simply attach the auto-feed valve cap to the solution bottle, insert the bottle into the spout, push the button, and watch as thousands of bubbles fly straight into the air. Because it creates so many bubbles in such a short time, you’ll want to buy your bubble solution in bulk.
Kiddie Play Store Kids Bow and Arrow
Easy to assemble
Arrows strong suction cups help them stick to the target
Can be used indoors, but parents advise against it due to limited space
The perfect toy to spark creative and active play, this bow and arrow set will provide hours of fun. The target can be attached to a tree or the included stand for people who lack backyard foliage. And thanks to the bow’s soft shooting power, you can rest assured that kids will be safe.
National Geographic Backyard Safari Kit
Sturdy stitching and durable zipper
Comprehensive field guide educate during adventure
Vest may be large for younger users
There’s no better place to practice STEM than the great outdoors. The durable, machine washable vest holds everything your little explorer needs, including their field guide, magnifying glass, compass, whistle, and binoculars. The vest and hat may run a little large or small, depending on your child’s size, but they aren’t needed to explore.
Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. My First Telescope
Easy to store
Not made for adult eyes
If you’re searching for the best telescope for your little astronomer, look no further. Designed specifically for younger kids, this focus-free telescope magnifies objects to nine times their size. The extra large eyepiece with nose cut-out provides comfort while your child explores the world beyond. Keep in mind this isn’t made for adult eyes, so you probably won’t be able to join in the fun.
SNAEN Water Blaster
Long shooting range
Pack straps may loosen throughout the day
Perfect for the beach or backyard, this blaster has a high water capacity—88 ounces—to ensure hours of fun. Made of non-toxic plastic materials, the backpack is super durable and sure to last for many summers. The straps may loosen throughout the day, so use a safety pin to keep them extra secure.
Hearthsong Inflatable Easel
Easy to assemble
Great for individual or partner play
Provided paint portions are small, so purchase extras
Made of super-durable vinyl, this larger-than-average easel has a built-in art tray to hold the included brushes, sponges, water-based paints, and dry erase markers (which aren’t included but can be used). When your artist is ready to create something new, simply spray it down with a hose. Some users say the versatile easel can waver in the wind, and recommend filling it with water to better stabilize it.
Step2 Fiesta Cruise Sand & Water Table
Umbrella included to protect kids from the sun
Secure lid keeps table dry and clean from potential critters
Sand must be purchased separately
Holding sand and water, this activity table adds variety to your child’s playtime. They can dig for buried treasure in the beachside cove or float boats in the swimming pool. As easy as it is to assemble, some buyers warn that it’s difficult to drain.
Little Tikes T-Rex Truck
Grows with child
Easy to maneuver
Assembly and batteries required
Turn your backyard into Jurassic Park with this easy-to-maneuver ride-on. Kids will get years of play out of this T-rex truck, as it can transition from a pull-or-push wagon to a foot-to-floor ride-on by removing the floorboard. Some buyers warn that this isn’t the easiest to assemble, but the durable material means once it’s built, it’s sure to last.
4Fun ChangeUp Portable Bean Bag Toss Multi-Game Set
Good for indoor and outdoor play
Built-in internal storage keeps games organized and readily accessible
Some games may be more challenging for younger players
If you’re looking for a backyard activity the whole family can enjoy, Jennifer Lynch, Content Developer for the Toy Association, highly recommends this game set. The console includes the boards and bean bags needed for six different games, including Corn Hole, Tic Tac Toe, Poker Pass, Football Frenzy, Skee Ball, and ShuffleBoard. Made of durable, water-resistant material, the lightweight set is easy to pack away and bring to your next BBQ or park picnic.
Mobo Cruiser Wobo Rocking Horse Ride On & Baby Balance Bike
Easy to adjust as your child’s size and skills grow
Helps build strength and balance
Assembly tools not provided
“I’m a big fan of toys that grow with your child and this rocker is perfect for that,” Lynch tells The Spruce. In addition to adjustable seat and handlebars, the rocking horse features an innovative base that converts it from a rocking toy to a riding toy. Though customers say it’s easy to put together, they note that you need your own tools so be prepared.
Rollplay 12V Nighthawk Electric Ride-On Toy
Max mileage of 6.5 mph
Helps kids learn balance
Battery only lasts 2 hours
The Rollplay Nighthawk is a new way for kids to race. The start and stop pedals on the battery-powered cart make it easy for kids to control speed and move through the course with ease. The rear flag adds to the race element, while making it easy to spot kids on the “road.” Unfortunately, the cart doesn’t run on grass, so you will need to be near a safe, paved area to use.
Radio Flyer Play & Fold Away Treetop Tower
Can be used indoors as well
Secret mesh play space underneath adds to the adventure
Assembly can be time consuming
A portable playset almost sounds too good to be true. Radio Flyer’s treetop tower has a number of built-in amenities, such a slide, climbing ladder, and telescope, to provide hours of fun. And because of its compact size, you don’t need a big backyard to reap the benefits. When the kids are done for the day, use the unique folding mechanism to get the tower flat and easy to store.
KidKraft Activity Sandbox with Canopy
Spacious enough for multiple children to play
Storage containers keep toys organized
No lid cover to protect sand
One of the most popular sandboxes on the market, KidKraft’s creation provides plenty of space for your child to create and play. It holds 200 pounds of sand and comes with two two plastic bins to store toys, water, or any treasures they wish to bury. As an added bonus, the striped canopy protects the sand from the elements and your child from the sun. And you will have it for years to come as it’s made of weather-resistant Sanmu wood and reinforced to guard against warping. Keep in mind you will need to assemble the sandbox yourself and provide your own sand, but it’ll be worth it to see the smile on your child’s face.
H2OGO! Beach Bounce Water Park
Multi elements keep kids entertained for hours
Storage bag makes packing away easy
Large, flat outdoor space required
This large bounce park provides plenty of room for your child to slip, slide, and stay cool. Kids can hop around in the mesh-secured bouncer and then slide into the giant splash pool, which holds roughly 298 gallons of water. Though you have to provide your own 110-120V blower, the setup is super simple—within two minutes you’ll have a water park in your own backyard.
Kid Trax Kids USPS Mail Carrier
Power Trax rubber traction strip tires offer a smooth ride
Opening rear door, working headlights, and horn add to the reality of the ride
No pushing or running required for this battery-powered mail truck. Rather, the ride-on uses real foot pedal acceleration to create a lifelike driving experience. But that is just part of what makes this mail truck so fun. Kids can play their favorite tunes on the included FM radio while they drop off packages in the included mailbox. Some parents struggled with the assembly, but it’s smooth riding after that.
Gorilla Playsets Outing Wood Swing Set
Heavy-duty vinyl canopy offers protection from the sun and provides shade and cooler temperatures
10-year warranty on the frame
If you have the yard space for a jungle gym, Gorilla has one of the best wooden swing sets out there. Made from durable Cedar and strong chains, this swing set is guaranteed to weather any storm. Though this is pricier than other swing sets, the play features on Gorilla’s set—which include a slide, trapeze swing, rock wall, and more— entertain kids of all ages, essentially paying for itself.
What to Look for in an Outdoor Toy for Kids
According to Lynch, the first thing to consider when purchasing a toy is the age recommendation. “Not only will this be a good indicator of what types of toys developmentally your child is ready for, but it can also help narrow the pool of toy candidates,” she says. 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.
However, don't try to stray too far from the age recommendations for safety purposes. “Some toys, even outdoor toys, have small parts and are not suitable for children under the age of 3,” Laurie Schacht, the President and Chief Toy Officer of Adventure Media, tells The Spruce.
Dr. Amanda Gummer, a neuropsychologist and founder of Good Play Guide tells The Spruce, “Playing outdoors offers children an excellent opportunity to exercise and burn off some steam."
If your goal is to get your kids moving and have them burn off some of that oh-so-abundant energy, you’ll want to choose a toy that encourages lots of movement. Dr. Gummer says active toys your child can enjoy alone, such as a trike, as well as sports games they can play with friends and siblings, are all great options. That said, even something as simple as sliding and blowing bubbles will get their blood pumping while they’re having fun—and leave them all tuckered out come bedtime.
“When purchasing outdoor toys, be mindful of the space they take up,” Schacht tells The Spruce. “Some toys fold and store easily while others are meant to be installed) and left in place.” So, if you lack a large backyard, you’ll want to look for something that is either small or can be packed and stored with ease. It’s also worth considering whether a fold-and-store toy can be used indoors and outdoors. Not only does this extend the use of play, but it can be helpful when the weather doesn’t cooperate with outdoor play.
How do I store outdoor toys in the off season?
“Outdoor toys are built well, but if you really want them to last, it’s always better to wipe them down and bring them indoors or cover them up so they are protected from the elements,” Schacht says. For toys that might be put away slightly damp, think ventilation, whether it's a bin with slatted sides or open shelving. There are dozens of creative outdoor storage ideas, too, such as a kids' parking garage for ride-on toys (basically a table fitted with a curtain) and benches that also contain built-in toy bins.
How do I clean outdoor toys?
For most toys, Schacht says cleaning is as simple as scrubbing with a damp rag or paper towels and some dishwashing liquid.
For sandbox or water toys that are prone to mold and mildew, you can soak them for 10 minutes in your bathtub or a sink. Use one gallon of water with a half-cup of either bleach or vinegar (never mix the two!). When working with bleach, follow safety precautions such as wearing goggles and gloves, opening windows for ventilation, and keeping children out of the room.
You can clean your water table by simply filling it with either the bleach-water or bleach-vinegar solution, or just water and mild dish soap. After letting the mixture sit for several minutes, rinse and dry well.
To keep your sandbox free from debris and bacteria, check the sand by raking it before and after each play session. Use a cover to keep out curious insects and other critters who might want to use it as a restroom. You should change the sand at least every year, or more frequently if it appears soiled or you're not covering the box consistently.
One important thing to remember: Never use harsh chemicals, especially on toys for younger children. Not only could this compromise the toy, but it could put your child in danger if they accidentally ingest any lingering chemicals.
When’s the best time to buy outdoor toys, to ensure the best deal and selection?
Schacht says new items will hit the stores in March, meaning you’ll have more options. But if you’d rather save money, wait till the end of the season—think September—when stores are looking to make room for new merchandise. “The beauty of purchasing at the end of the season is that when the new season comes around the following year you will have new toys your kids have not seen yet, but you were able to score at a discount,” Schacht tells us.
Why Trust The Spruce?
For this article, Leah Rocketto, a writer who has spent years covering parenting content with a focus on kids’ toys, performed hours of research on products and consulted Laurie Schacht, Jennifer Lynch, and Dr. Amanda Gummer. Schacht, the President and Chief Toy Officer of Adventure Media, has spent more than 20 years evaluating and selecting the top toys on the market. Lynch is the Content Developer for the Toy Association, and works to ensure that all toys promote safe, positive play. Gummer, a neuropsychologist and founder of Good Play Guide, is considered the U.K.’s go-to expert on play, toys and child development.