In the modern world, kids have so many things around the house vying for their attention. It’s easy for them to forget there’s a whole world waiting just outside the front door. With the best outdoor toys and games, your children will want to be outside, soaking up the sun and getting exercise.
Today, kids are often distracted by screens. Whether it’s a tablet, a gaming console, or a phone, you’ll find them glued to something. If you want to get them to go outside, you’ll need to break out the big guns. Fortunately, there are fun options for children of all ages — and even some excellent games for adults!
The Importance of Outdoor Play
Studies show that children today spend half as much time playing outside as their parents did. This means less time spent running around and exploring. Naturally, this isn’t great for your child’s health.
Of course, you can’t ignore the importance of outdoor play. Naturally, you’ll find plenty of benefits for both you and your kids.
IT’S PEACEFUL FOR YOU
When you’re trying to get work done around the house, sometimes all you need is a little peace and quiet. With outdoor games, you earn yourself a little free time to finish up chores, or just relax for a bit.
Of course, you’ll want to be sure that younger children still have proper supervision when playing outside.
IT’S HEALTHY FOR THEM
It is common for children to view exercise for exercise’s sake as a chore. And children hate chores. The best way to get kids to live healthily is to make exercise fun. With outdoor toys, play becomes an active endeavor.
Children run and jump and throw balls. While to them it’s just a fun game, to their body it’s an outstanding workout. When being healthy is fun, it’s easy to raise a healthy child.
THEY’RE NOT JUST FOR KIDS
Kids may just want to have fun, but they’re not the only ones. Adults deserve to have a good time too.
Many of the best outdoor toys for kids are also great for adults. Yard games let you channel your competitive energies into a healthy outlet while having fun with friends and family.
Even toys that are “just kids’ toys” are a great opportunity to bond with your kids. Pick up the laser tag blaster and get in the game, or show off your trampoline skills. Your kids will love having fun with you.
How We Picked the Best Outdoor Toys for Kids
We compiled our list of the best outdoor toys and games for kids by consulting with expert lists as well as buyers. Using a combination of expert recommendations and the reviews left by actual customers, we found the toys which left their users happy.
Of course, no one person’s opinion is the definitive one. So we believe that this combined approach is vital to finding the best outdoor toys.
Budgeting your Outdoor Toys
Not everybody shopping for the best outdoor toys is doing so with the same budget. Thankfully with such a broad range of options for toys, it’s easy to find something that fits within your budget.
Some toys are available for as little as $20 to $30. On the opposite end of the scale, a high-end trampoline costs up to $490 – $530. Some toys are available in a variety of sizes.
So you can try out smaller versions before investing in larger, more expensive toys and games.
The 10 Best Outdoor Toys for Kids
We know that the last thing any parent wants to do is buy a toy for their child only for it to be a flop. Every toy chosen for this list has a history of happy kids. This minimizes the risk of your next purchase falling fla
Bocce is a yard game classic where players attempt to roll their balls as close to a target ball as possible. The player with the ball closest to the target ball scores a point. He or she gets additional points if they have more than one ball closer than their opponent’s closest ball.
Bumping the other scoring balls, or even the target ball, to move them is a legal play and a great way to shake up a round’s status. A top-rated bocce set costs between $15 and $500, depending on the materials used to make the set.
- Bocce is easy to play, and young children enjoy throwing and rolling balls, even if they’re too young to understand the rules. Bocce sets usually include more than two sets of balls. This allows the whole family to play together.
- Bocce balls are heavy, so it is important to watch children when playing. Of course, the balls can be dangerous if thrown at another person.
Jumping on a trampoline is an outdoor activity that is as fun as it is healthy. Every bounce your child takes gets their heart pumping.
While netting around a trampoline used to be a luxury, it is now a standard fixture on modern trampoline designs. This helps keep jumpers from bouncing off. Highly-rated trampolines cost between $100 and $3,000 depending on their size (small trampolines can be purchased for far cheaper than professional full sized models).
Common variables determining price include the size and weight capacity of the trampoline.
- A backyard trampoline encourages children to exercise. Kids love to bounce on trampolines and adding one to your yard will make your children’s friends jealous.
- If you purchase a trampoline without a net or do not install the netting, there is a risk of a jumper accidentally propelling themselves off the trampoline if they land awkwardly. Although fun to do, maneuvers like flips are also dangerous, with the potential for spinal injuries if the flip goes badly for the jumper.
Another backyard classic, croquet players use large wooden mallets to strike wooden balls. Each player attempts to navigate their ball through a series of small wire gates.
After clearing the final gate, a player strikes their ball against the peg to win. Quality croquet sets are available for as low as $10. Astonishingly, deluxe sets can cost as much as $600-$800!
- Croquet is an excellent game to develop hand-eye coordination in your child. It’s easy to change the challenge of a round by changing where you place the gates, meaning every game is a unique challenge.
- A croquet mallet is a dangerous toy if swung around recklessly. Younger children may get frustrated when playing croquet if the gates are set up in a difficult arrangement. Croquet plays poorly if your lawn is not well-maintained. Long grass or dense weeds will disrupt the path of the balls.
4. Water Table
Physical play is an important part of a young child’s development, and water tables are a great way to engage your child outdoors. Water tables can be simple designs with just a basin for water, and some flat surfaces on which to play.
Others have complex designs with sandboxes and additional gadgets to play with.
They are great for families with multiple young children as kids as young as one year old enjoy them, but they remain fun for children into their early school years. A reliable water table costs between $20 and $400-$600.
- By entertaining children of such a wide age range, water tables provide great value for the money if you buy them when your child is young. In fact, they are one of the best outdoor toys for young children. Kids love splashing about during the warm weather months.
- Playing at a water table can get messy quickly. If the table cracks, it may be rendered unusable if you are unable to patch the leak properly. Older children, such as those nearing double digits in age, are likely to think a water table is too childish for them.
5. Ladder Ball
In ladder ball players attempt to toss sets of two balls attached with a string, called a bolo so that they land on a three-rung ladder. Each rung is worth a different amount of points, from one to three, though home rules often change which rung is which.
Players compete in teams, with a player from each team standing behind each ladder and throwing bolas at the other ladder. Plastic ladder ball sets start at $20, while more sturdy metal sets cost as much as $120.
- A PVC ladder ball set is easy to transport, as the pipes simply slide out of the joints to allow you to carry it in a bag. Players of all ages can play ladder ball. Crafty people make homemade ladder ball sets for even less than commercial sets using PVC pipes and joints, string, and some golf balls or tennis balls.
- Bolos in low-quality sets tend to break, with the balls coming off the string. Homemade bolas with golf balls are more consistent to throw. But they are also heavier and more dangerous.
6. Laser Tag
Laser tag is a safer alternative to paintball. In this game, players attempt to shoot infrared guns at other players. Targets, contained in sensors in the guns, or separately worn accessories which players wear receive the infrared blast.
Players get eliminated after getting hit a set number of times. A laser tag set costs between $30 and $500, depending on the number and type of guns and the number of body packs included (and of course the quality of the set).
- As there are no projectiles, the risk of injury is lower than in other shooting games. Laser tag gets players running, helping your child stay healthy. It’s fun for all ages so you can play, too!
- Not all parents are comfortable with kids playing games that simulate guns, so some of your children’s friends may not be able to join. Children can break the guns if they drop them. So it is not ideal for children under seven years old.
A popular yard and beach game, Cornhole features two angled wooden goals. Players take turns tossing bean bags at the goals, scoring three points for a shot through the hole and one point for a bag on the board.
A basic cornhole set starts at $20. But additional perks like special designs and higher-quality bean bags are available with prices reaching up to $600.
- Cornhole accommodates all ages and skill levels by simply adjusting the throw distance. Making a homemade cornhole goal with plywood and two-by-fours greatly reduces cost.
- Small children like to climb up onto the goals, which can lead to damage. Although young children enjoy throwing bags for a short while, they usually lose interest quickly. So you should only buy a set for use primarily by players older than five years of age.
8. Sports Goals
Sometimes the best outdoor toys are also the simplest ones. Participation in team sports is common for young children and a backyard goal lets you bring the game home with you.
Goals are available in a variety of sizes and types, with metal and PVC pipes as the most common. Depending on the type of goal you seek, you should expect to spend between $60 and $3,000 on a sports goal.
- Goals are versatile and can be used to play multiple different sports. Children get extra practice time helping their development in the sport. Sports are active, getting your kids running and playing healthily.
- Less expensive goals suffer from wear and tear quickly from sports like soccer, which use a large ball. Kids risk suffering burnout with a sport if they are made to play too frequently.
The hottest game in backyards is spikeball, and with good reason. It’s fun and energizing, earning its spot as one of the best outdoor toys. A more frenetic take on volleyball, instead of having three hits to return the ball over the net, teams instead have three touches to bounce the ball back off the trampoline.
Spikeball costs between $25 (for a low-quality set) and $100 (for a higher quality one).
- Spikeball is fast-paced, helping to keep your kids interested. Older children and parents can have fun along with younger children.
- Spikeball is challenging and children younger than preteens often struggle with it. Players are forced to move quickly while huddled around a small net, leading to the risk of collisions or injuries while diving for the ball.
10. Backyard Water Slides
Made famous by Slip ‘N Slides, backyard slides turn an everyday hill into hours of fun. Designs range from simple tarps to complex designs with pools and sprinkler systems.
Short backyard water slides are available for as little as $13, with longer slides costing up to $250.
- Everybody enjoys water slides making this an excellent toy for outdoor family fun. Setting up your backyard slide is easy.
- Children require careful supervision to ensure they are sliding safely. Unseen rocks in the yard can tear your slide and injure riders if you place the slide over them. So you’ll need to be careful with setup.
The Toys, Games & Stuff Choice
We have selected three of the toys above for special consideration as the best outdoor toys for kids. For young children, the water table is a must. Children develop through tactile play, and the variety of play areas will keep young children entertained for hours.
If your family has kids covering a wide range of ages, pick up a Ladder Ball set. It’s easy enough for younger children to play. But with enough skill to entertain older kids and adults alike. If you’re buying for an older child, they will love the challenge of Spikeball. It’s an opportunity to jump and dive, and never disappoints.
The best outdoor toys will keep your kids happy. And any of these stand a great chance of doing so.