The Best Backyard Toys To Turn Your Yard Into A Magical Oasis
There are few things better than being outside, and there is truly nothing better than watching your children live out their childhoods by making up stories, climbing trees, and running wild in your own backyard. It's one of those happy Norman Rockwell moments for me, and this season gives you the perfect opportunity to create an actual wonderland with some summer toys for backyards.
This isn't going to be the Summer That Wasn't. This can be the summer your kids spend an entire hour chasing each other under a rainbow sprinkler. It can be the summer your kid spent reading books inside a boat swing hanging from a tree. It can be the summer of building, and imagination, and wonder, and some good old chasing-a-ball-down-the-driveway.
You don't have to have a bunch of toys to make a great summer, but this list has a lot of ideas to turn your backyard into a magical oasis. Whether you have a ton of trees for a forest-like feel or a big open space to set up all the water toys (don't forget the sunscreen), there's something here that will totally make your kid happy. Summer is all about freedom, and luckily there's a lot of it right there in your own backyard.
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1. Canvas Regatta Boat Swing
Two words: boat. swing. A swing is always lovely, but when you can pretend to be captain of the ship as you swing in the sunshine, it's especially brilliant. I love the bright colors of the flags, and the boat itself has mesh seats, so even if it rains, your boat won't hold water.
2. Little Tikes Wacky Wash
When I was little, my siblings and I spent many hot Georgia summers riding our bikes and Power Wheels up and down the driveway while someone sprayed us with the water hose. We called it a "car wash," but this inflatable version is so much cooler. There's even a soap bubble maker and spray hose so your kid can make tons of suds, and it's easy to store and inflate when your kids are ready to play.
3. Rainbow Inflatable Sprinkler
At 5-foot high and nearly 8 feet wide, this inflatable rainbow is a magical water oasis. You just hook up your hose to one corner of the rainbow, and the water comes down through the transparent curtain in the center of the rainbow's arc. I personally love that it's not a sprinkler moving around or spraying someone directly in the face — the water coming down from the rainbow gives even the most apprehensive toddler a chance to try it out at their own pace.
4. Little Tikes Big Waffle 18-Piece Building Set
If your kids love blocks and Legos, they'll love taking that engineering brain of theirs outside with these giant waffle blocks. I remember these from my own childhood, and they're great for building forts, making train tracks, and creating obstacle courses. The individual blocks are totally lightweight, and are made for kids as young as 2, so your toddler should have no problem clicking them together to build. (Although full disclosure, you'll totally want to play with these, too.)
5. Octzilla High Bounce Ball
If having two children has taught me anything, it's to never underestimate the power of a ball. This one is especially fun because when it hits the pavement, it promises to go super high. It also comes in three colors: blue, pink, and yellow.
6. Pink Play Tent With Star Lights
OK, every Instagram page in the world features a kid in a tent, but is the tent this darling? Pink with cute details, this sweet little fort is 55 inches deep and 53 inches high with star lights attached for the ultimate twinkle.
7. Hobbit Hole House
I can not tell you how desperately I want this hobbit hole for myself. Made by a family-owned business, these hobbit holes come in different sizes (they even make them as chicken coops!) and look just perfect in a big backyard. The kits come with everything you need, and the only tools required are a drill and a level. In certain areas, you may be able to have someone install it for you.
8. Triple Water Slide
The bigger the water slide, the better. This one from Target features three lanes so your kids can all go together, or one kid can go sideways and take advantage of all the space.
9. Bounce House
You may have noticed that bounce houses are a thing right now, and this one's pretty perfect. The entire thing blows up in just two minutes, and can hold up to three kids at a time. It also stands at just 5-foot-7 tall, so you can peek in over the top whenever you need to. The mesh walls also add some visibility so you can see what's actually happening in there.
10. Dome Climber
For your kids who love to climb, swing, and dangle, this dome climber is a great piece of equipment. I love that it sort of looks like a spaceship, and it offers them the chance to hide underneath like it's a fort or secret lair, too.
11. Ride-On Dinosaur
There are a lot of ride-on options out there in the world, but the Kid Trax Ridemals collection is really something else. This dino is fun to ride as a 6-volt toy, but it also makes 20 unique sounds based on your interactions with it, can be fed, played with, and walked if your child doesn't want to ride. It's like a real little pet dino right in your backyard, and I fully expect you to reenact the scene in Jurassic Park where Laura Dern saves the triceratops.
12. Inflatable Rolling Wheel
OK, do you know how much my siblings and I would've chased each other in this thing? This giant inflatable wheel can support up to 200 pounds and offers your kids a lot of play opportunities. They can roll in it with someone, they can lay down in it and roll like a log, or they can just use it like their own persona space bubble in the grass.
13. Kick Croquet
Croquet is a sweet game, but maybe you're not ready for heavy wooden mallets and balls all over the yard as your toddler explores. This version comes with a ball for your kids to kick through the arches, turning your child's foot into the actual croquet mallet. (Probably just as lethal.)
14. Zipline Kit
If your backyard has trees, then this zipline kit really needs to go home with you. At more than 150 feet long, you can string it between two sturdy trees and let your kids really fly. Everything comes with the product, including the tree grips and the seat, so all you have to do is install it.
15. American Ninja Warrior Obstacle Course
The great thing about having a big backyard is letting your child run out all their energy while you keep an eye on them from the window. It's even better when you can design an actual obstacle course in the yard with this American Ninja Warrior kit. They'll spend forever jumping, running, and pretending to be a total athletic superhero.
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16. Ocean Front Playhouse
I just love a playhouse, and this one from KidKraft is so sweet. I love the coastal vibe, and I really love the mailbox to drop letters in for your children. There's also a working doorbell and a little chalkboard so they can write out a menu, messages, whatever they come up with inside the playhouse. So many opportunities for play with this.
17. Unicorn Sprinkler
It's true: unicorns are still in. This sprinkler from Big Mouth is more than 6 feet tall, and the water shoots straight out of the horn. I can promise you that I've had one of these for two years, and the kids still go wild over it. Also you look like the coolest neighbor in the world with a giant unicorn in the backyard.
18. Magic Flower Water Table
A water table is always a good choice. My oldest is nearly 6, and will still spend a good 45 minutes playing with our water table with her toddler sister. This one is extra special because there are five different activities you can do on the table, including making a flower magically "bloom" as you pour water over it.
19. Scavenger Hunt
Do you know how long kids will spend on a scavenger hunt? For literal ever. At the beginning of spring, we did about a dozen of these, and my daughter was just thrilled every time. Even when the hunt was a list of me writing things like "a mailbox, a black bird, a patch of dead grass." This little game comes with three 60-card packs — one for outside, one for inside, and one for on-the-go — so your child has ample opportunity to find all the things. Just give them a few at a time and let them go to town.
20. Hop N Go Unicorn
If your child is not quite ready for something powered by battery, this little hopping unicorn is a perfect alternative. It can hold up to 200 pounds and comes with a cover with a strap so your child can hold on as they bounce themselves exhausted all over the yard. Set up obstacle courses, make them race, or just let them pretend to be a knight on the way to save the world with their trusty steed.
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21. Garden Tool Set
Like hunting for things, children will spend ages scraping in dirt, looking for worms, or digging for rocks. Give them this little garden tool set — it comes with a cute belt with pockets — and they will have the time of their life.
22. Roller Coaster
I mean. If you're going to build a magical backyard, why not, right? Easy to assemble, the little coaster car just hangs out in a well up at the top of the track until you're ready to give it a push. Just be prepared for a whole lot of "AGAIN!!!"
23. Big Dig Sandbox Excavator
Again with the digging. If you have a spot in your yard that you don't mind your kid using as their own archeological dig site, then give them their very own excavator for maximum fun.
24. Rainbow Hand Kite
Too many kites are a pain in the butt, but this one is a sweet version of a hand kite that your kid can do themselves. With long rainbow ribbons, they can run back and forth, watching the colors whip behind them with an easy-to-hold wooden ring.
25. Silicone Flying Disc
Plastic Frisbees are so 1993, you guys. This one is made of silicone, so it promises to fly straight and far. Set it up like an obstacle course and give your kids a chance to see how hard they can really sling it.
26. Camping Hammock
It's like a Hobbit house hanging from a tree. This little camping hammock is easy to install, and is such a cute little space for your kids to climb into and read or just rest. I love how it looks a little like a Dr. Seuss tent.
27. Forest Trail Kit
One of my daughter's favorite things to do in our backyard is "go on an adventure" with a bag packed full of things. Instead of hunting down every item they need in the house, you can give them this little kit instead. Inside is a giant waterproof groundsheet that they can use to sit on or use as a shelter or tent if they're pretending to really go deep in the woods. There's also a magnifying glass, a trail card with ideas of things to find, a compass, a card for finding leaves, and a card for building the perfect forest den.
28. Archery Set
You can pretend like it's summer camp with this cute archery set. The arrows have suction cup tips, so no worries about anyone being hurt, and the target can be adjusted so everyone gets a chance to feel like Robin Hood.
29. Light-Up Roller Skates
My family owned a roller skating rink when I was a kid, so maybe I'm biased, but these are the best way to get around when you're little. Roller skates are pretty easy for kids to try, and the light-up option on this pair is just perfection.
30. Pogo Stick
A pogo stick requires so much coordination and strength that your kid will thoroughly exhaust themselves in minutes with this thing.
31. Mini Heart Pool
Everyone has an inflatable pool, but what about a heart-shaped one that will also hold adults? This is a great option if your kid loves water but isn't quite big enough to splash in and out of a pool on their own. You can sink in, too. Set one of the sprinklers up over it for the ultimate splash pad.
32. Mermaid Train Table
Train tables are always a popular choice for kids, but this mermaid train table is really unique and cute. Set it up on a porch or deck so you all can enjoy the sunshine while your child plays with mermaids, sea castles, underwater creatures, and more. (Bonus: easy to clean up.)
33. Nature Journal
I love a journal, and this nature-themed one comes with stickers, a magnifying glass, pens and pencils (and a sharpener!), along with the cutest little notebook. Your kids can take it on all their adventures and write down everything they see with the little sticker prompts urging them to describe a tree or an animal.
34. Mini Scooter
My daughter got a scooter for her birthday two years ago and it's still her favorite mode of transportation. This one comes in purple or green, and has the "learn to steer" technology so your little one can understand moving the handlebars to go a certain way while they scoot. It's also very lightweight and small, so it's easy to store or take on a trip with you.