Best Outdoor Toys for Toddlers and Kids – Our Top Picks by Age

It is common knowledge by now that children these days want to spend all of their time indoors, on their computers, video game consoles or tablets. However, if you show your child, at a very early age, that playing outside is actually a lot more fun and enjoyable, they will want to keep doing it as they get older.

Of course, it’s not only fun, it’s great for their development and health, but they don’t really care about that. All they care about is having fun. Thankfully there is a wide variety of toys to help them do just that, and we’ve found the best of them.

Best Rated Outdoor Toys for Toddlers

WOWMazing Giant Bubble Wand Kit

WOWmazing Giant Bubble Wand

No matter how old you are, everybody loves bubbles. But the Giant Bubble Wand Kit from WOWmazing, is definitely not your average run-of-the-mill bubble blower, and you will see that as soon as you open the box which contains a huge bubble wand, a bag of bubble concentrate as well as a ‘tips and tricks’ book to help you make the most of your bubble-making experience.

Your toddler may still not be big enough to make the bubbles herself, but she will most certainly enjoy running around trying to catch and pop the bubbles, which will, of course, give her a great exercise and help her spend some of that uncontainable energy.

This is exactly the type of toy you want to buy if want it to ‘grow’ with your child, and as he gets older, he will love making the bubbles himself, and maybe let some of his younger siblings and friends run and pop them.

Pros:
  • For all ages
  • Simple and easy to use
  • Lightweight

Cons:
  • Bubble concentrate will not last long

Step2 All Around Playtime Patio with Canopy Playhouse

Step2 All Around Playtime Patio with Canopy Playhouse

Mom and Dad will not be the only ones hosting backyard barbecues this summer. Kids can too, with the All Around Playtime Patio from Step2. This large playset features a realistic stone stack design, which is something that should blend easily into your backyard décor, and it features a pretend grill, a play table, and a snack table. Kids enter the playset through two swinging gate doors. The interior is very large, measuring about 47.5 inches wide and deep, and the canopy is 60 inches tall, so there’s lots of room inside for multiple kids to play.

This is a very cute set that will inspire a lot of imaginative play. Little kids always want to do what they see their parents doing, and with this playset, they can imagine that they are grilling in the backyard and serving up a feast for their friends.

Pros:
  • Can be used for years
  • Plenty of toys in one set

Cons:
  • Requires adult assembly

Sprinkle and Splash Play Mat

Sprinkle and Splash Play Mat

Those hot summer days are just around the corner. And there’s no better way for your toddler to spend them than the Banzai Sprinkle and Splash Play Mat. With a 54 inch diameter, this mat is easily big enough for a couple of toddlers to comfortably play on, so your kid can host playdates in the sun, and work on her social development.

It has sprinklers attached to the rim, so all you need to do is attach a hose to the designated hole in the mat and let the water run as the sprinklers shoot it into the pool area. You can stop the water once the pool fills, or you can keep the sprinklers going for extra fun.

At the end of the day, just empty the pool and let it dry. The mat dries very quickly so there’s no need to worry about mildew or any other moisture-related issues.

Pros:
  • Big enough for 2-3 kids
  • Dries quickly
  • Safe for toddlers

Cons:
  • Hose required

Best Outdoor Toys for 2 Year-Olds

Little Tikes T-Ball Set

Little Tikes T-Ball Set

This great playset comes with an oversized bat, five oversized baseballs and, of course, a tee. The height of the tee can easily be adjusted about up to one inch depending on the height of your child and their skill level. This is designed to help little batters improve their batting skills, motor skills, and hand-eye coordination.

Parents will like that this set also has built-in storage, since there are spaces at the bottom of the tee to hold the baseballs when not in use, and the base of the tee can actually be hung from any wall while holding the tee, bat, and both baseballs, however, it doesn’t come with any wall-mounting tools, so you’ll have to provide your own. A little bit of adult assembly is required, though it is quite easy to do, and shouldn’t take longer than 5 minutes.

Pros:
  • Easy storage
  • Safe plastic
  • Great for hand-eye coordination

Cons:
  • No wall mounting equipment included

Step2 Up & Down Roller Coaster Ride On

Step2 Up & Down Roller Coaster Ride On

What if your kid had her very own roller coaster? Yes, you read that correctly. With the Up & Down Roller Coaster from Step2, your kid can enjoy a theme park ride in your very own backyard. If you’re looking for a special gift, it doesn’t get much more special than this.  

We know the first question that comes to mind when you hear the words ‘backyard roller coaster’ is probably whether it’s safe. Well, no need to worry because the coaster is strong and sturdy, as well as streamlined to the point where your kid has no room for error when taking rides on it.

The inclines on the ride are objectively tiny and don’t seem like a big deal at first glance, but to a 2-year-old, it is like riding the most extreme roller coaster, and they are guaranteed to love every second of it.

Pros:
  • Safe and durable
  • Easy to set up
  • Original gift

Cons:
  • Takes up a lot of space

Little Tikes Lil’ Wagon, Red

Little Tikes Lil’ Wagon, Red

At the age of 2, your kid has already mastered upright movement like walking and running. Now it’s time to take advantage of that. With the Little Tikes’ Lil’ Wagon she can take her favorite items, like toys and plush friends to all of her adventures.

Your little boy or girl will have no trouble pulling this lightweight plastic wagon around, but don’t let the lack of weight fool you, this wagon is deceptively durable and strong, and can hold surprisingly many things. Also, the wheels are specially designed to avoid scratching your floor, but they are also strong enough for a tougher surface, which means the wagon can equally be used indoors and outdoors.

Toys like this are a great way to give your kid a sense of independence and maturity since he can tug around his own stuff, as well as a younger friend or sibling, and feel like a grown-up.

Pros:
  • Great for all surfaces
  • Very light but durable

Cons:
  • Sometimes the wheels are screwed in too tight out of the box

Best Outdoor Toys for 3 Year-Olds

Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Dilly Dally Turtle Target Action Game

Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Dilly Dally Turtle Target Action Game

This cute turtle is a really fun gift that your child can play with on their own, or with friends. In fact, you might want to get in on the action yourself!

We all know that 3-year-old kids love to throw things, and this is what we like to call ‘appropriate-throwing’, so the next time your little guy or gal starts throwing stuff around the house, you can tell them to go throw at their turtle instead.

The toy has a simple and elegant design, consisting of a turtle-shaped target with numbers, and a plastic stand which can be easily folded and stowed away. It also comes with 4 Velcro bags that stick to the target.

It goes without saying that this toy is really great for your kid’s fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. It will prepare them for the world of classroom sports later in life, and maybe even uncover a great throwing arm.  

Pros:
  • Simple and elegant
  • Durable
  • Great for indoor or outdoor use

Cons:
  • Smaller than you might expect

Adventure Kids – Educational Outdoor Children’s Toys

Adventure Kids – Educational Outdoor Children’s Toys

This box of outdoor goodies is a great way to get your kid away from the TV and iPad. It contains a small butterfly net, a fully functional sighting compass, magnifying glass and ultra-light binoculars, as well as a really cool mechanically powered flashlight that requires no batteries. It also includes a small draw-string bag which can be used as a backpack to carry this and other stuff around.

All of the items in the pack are quite sturdy and will handle quite well being dropped or thrown around by a 3-year-old. Everything is also obviously designed for kids, so nothing is too heavy or too big. Even the squeezing mechanism on the flashlight can be easily pressed and shouldn’t be a problem for a child of this age to use. If your kids like nature, take this set with you to the park and they are sure to have a blast!

Pros:
  • Small and light
  • Durable
  • No batteries required

Cons:
  • The butterfly net is too short

The Original PlasmaCar by PlaSmart

The Original PlasmaCar by PlaSmart

When it comes to getting your kid out the door, there’s hardly anything better than a ride-on toy. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes for you to choose from, but no matter what you choose, your kid will almost certainly love it.

The great thing about the Plasma Car is that it will also help your kid develop her strength and balance since this is a kid-powered vehicle like no other. The design is simple, yet ingenious. The front wheel of a regular tricycle has been replaced with a three-wheel system, technically making this a 5-wheeler. Moving the steering wheel makes the Plasma Car wiggle and provides forward thrust.

There’s no need for your kid to use her feet to push herself along, there are no batteries or pedals, which makes the Plasma Car unique in the world of ride-on toys. You can’t go wrong with this one.

Pros:
  • No batteries required
  • Never tips over
  • Available in various colors

Cons:
  • Doesn’t work as well on all surfaces

Best Outdoor Toys for 4 Year-Olds

Ring Toss Games for Kids

Ring Toss Games For Kids

Here’s a game that never gets old. Ring toss has been around for such a long time for a reason – it is universally loved by both kids and adults.

This set includes a wood base complete with point markings, 5 rope rings, as well as a convenient bag to carry everything in.

This game is obviously going to help your kid develop his fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness, but also it can teach him a thing or two about patience and concentration, as well as building his confidence as he inevitably gets better at the game. Ring toss is also a great social game which will give your kid a chance to work on her interpersonal skills, team spirit, and healthy competition.

If you’re still not convinced, the manufacturer is tossing in a lifetime warranty, so if there are any issues with the product it will be immediately replaced.

Pros:
  • No risk – lifetime warranty
  • Classic game

Cons:
  • Smaller than the pictures will have you believe

Bean Bag Toss Game

Bean Bag Toss Game

Another great toy from Melissa and Doug, the Verdie Chameleon is a game that kids love! The double-sided board offers variety in terms of games to play. You can set it up horizontally or vertically depending on your child’s skill level, which means it is suitable for a variety of ages. The bean bags are also numbered and color-coded, so the kids learn to count by coming up with a point system. The toy gets its name from the brightly colored chameleon on the face of the board, which is designed to draw and hold onto your kid’s attention.  

Your little guy can easily move the board around by himself since it is very light and has a carrying handle attached. It is also easy to store and doesn’t take up space when not in use. In addition to number recognition and counting which we already mentioned, the game can clearly improve your kid’s motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Pros:
  • Great social toy
  • Easily stored
  • For all ages

Cons:
  • Can be frustrating at first, since the holes are rather small

Step2 Game Time Sports Climber and Slide

Step2 Game Time Sports Climber and Slide

Keep your little athlete active and engaged with the Game Time Sports Climber and Slide from Step2. Whether you’ve got a soccer star, football fanatic, little hoopster or just a monkey who climbs everything in sight, this versatile backyard play set is both fun and functional. Not only will the Game Time Sports Climber provide hours of entertainment, it also helps kids learn to toss, shoot and kick more effectively.

There’s a built-in basketball hoop, as well as 2 large holes which can be used as soccer goals and your kid can work on her hand-eye coordination and technical skills. There’s even a built-in scorekeeper. Between games, the little athletes can take turns climbing the ladder and coasting down the slide. With its bright vivid colors and rugged durability, this sports-themed outdoor toy is sure to be a slam dunk with your aspiring athlete.

Pros:
  • Strong and durable
  • Easy to set up
  • Versatile

Cons:
  • The slide will only be fun for small children up to 2 years old

Best Outdoor Toys for Kids Over 5 Years Old

Nerf N-Strike Elite Strongarm Blaster

Nerf N-Strike Elite Strongarm Blaster

This new blaster in the Nerf Elite line from Hasbro is appropriately named the Strongarm. It comes with 6 elite darts that shoot up to 90 feet, and it is very easy to use. When you want to load it up, just press the button on the side, the barrel pops right out, load it with darts and put the barrel back into position. When you want to fire, you can do that in 2 different ways – single fire, which as the name suggests fires a single round when you squeeze the trigger; and slam fire, which is a semi-automatic way of firing, which lets you shoot all 6 darts in rapid succession.

This toy is great for role-playing and practicing hand-eye coordination. It also becomes a great physical exercise when your kid starts playing with friends and running around the neighborhood.

Pros:
  • Very durable
  • Easy to use
  • Never gets old

Cons:
  • Inaccurate aim
  • Can be dangerous for kids under 8 or 9

Faux Bow 3

Faux Bow 3 Foam Bow & Arrow Archery Set

This is a safe and easy-to-use bow and arrow from Marky Sparky, who invented the original Nerf Bow and Arrow. It comes with six plastic arrows with a foam tip, which can be fired over 100 feet away.

The way it works is the hollow arrows are placed on the tip of the bow and pulling back on the spring-loaded mechanism at the back of the bow generates air power to fire the arrows. The accuracy may be a little inconsistent, but there are multiple factors included in the shot, such as wind and air resistance, as well as the original position of the bow and arrow.

This toy is really simple and fun to use, easy to set up and will provide your kid with years of entertainment. No targets are included, but it shouldn’t be a problem to make some targets of your own using cans or plastic bottles.

Pros:
  • Safe and durable
  • Ingenious design
  • Long range

Cons:
  • Hard to shoot accurately

Flybar Pogo Ball Trick Board With Grip Tape

Flybar Pogo Ball Trick Board With Grip Tape

The Pogo Ball Trick Board from Flybar is a great new way to bounce and have fun. Your kid will improve his balance, increase his coordination, and have countless hours of fun on this board. She can try challenging her friends to see who can keep their balance the longest, explore all kinds of new moves or just enjoy bouncing around aimlessly.

Each board comes with an ultra-durable deck, made of thick ABS plastic, covered in grip-tape and a heavy duty rubber bounce ball which fits within the board and can stand a weight of up to 160 pounds. Each set also includes a hand pump and 2 pins.

They come in five exciting colors with awesome graphics and stylish carry handles which fit seamlessly into the design and make the board portable and easy to carry. Simply pump it up to get bouncing!

Pros:
  • Strong and long-lasting
  • Fun design
  • Great for coordination and balance

Cons:
  • Risk of injury

How to Choose the Best Outdoor Toy for Your Kid

It might seem simple, but there are many things that you need to factor in when choosing toys for children. Those factors include, but are not limited to: safety, durability, educational value, pricing, and last, but most definitely not least – fun. When it comes to age appropriateness, there is a great rule of thumb to start with – check the manufacturer’s recommendation.

how to choose an outdoor toy

However, sometimes it’s a great idea to get a toy that doesn’t quite fit into your kid’s age range if it’s going to help boost their development, but that decision is going to have to be yours in the end, since there is nobody who knows your child better than you do.

For babies and small toddlers, aged under 3, it might seem more appropriate to focus on indoor toys, such as plush animals, stacking rings and battery powered noise-makers. However, if you get something that can withstand the elements in your backyard, such as a workbench or patio, we guarantee that your kid will enjoy playing with it.

At 2-3 years old kids love to mimic adults and the activities they see people around them doing, so getting a plastic tool set, a wagon or a tricycle is sure to be a hit. Don’t forget sandbox toys, balls, and bubble blowers either as they are especially popular at this age.

When it comes to preschool-aged children and children 5 and up, try to get something that helps them connect with the world around them. Toys representing their favorite cartoon character, such as action figures, can help develop their imagination and role-playing.

Also make sure you get toys that build different skills, whether artistic or otherwise. Stuff like modeling clay, sidewalk crayons or RC cars can be a great place to start. Finally, always look for something that promotes activity. Ride-on toys, climbers, slides and other action toys are a must.

Important Things to Look Out For

Depending on your kid’s age, there are different safety hazards that you may need to look out for. First of all, don’t take the warnings on the packaging lightly, they are there for a reason. Sure, there are certain labels manufacturers are obligated by law to put on their boxes, depending on the intended age of the toy user, but that just means that there have been cases where similar toys have created problems in the past.

If your kid is under 3 years old, always be on the lookout for choking hazards. Babies use their mouths to understand the world better and that means toys with small detachable parts which can become stuck in the throat are a huge no-no. At this age, sharp edges can also be a big problem, as well as toys that are too heavy.

When it comes to older kids, they are generally more careful and experienced with the aforementioned problems, so you should worry more about what the toys are made of, and make sure that there are no toxic materials or lead paint. Manufacturers are prohibited from using these dangerous materials in children’s toys today, but it never hurts to do your own research.

Benefits of Outdoor Toys

Kids want to play outside. They are naturally drawn to it. And there is a strong case here for those who believe our natural tendencies exist for a reason. Outdoor play is great for kids: it gives them an opportunity to explore their surroundings, develop their coordination and muscle strength, and of course gain social awareness and self-confidence.

Playing outdoors will boost your kid’s motor skills, flexibility, and a host of other physical skills they will need to rely on in their adult life. Your kid uses his whole body when he’s playing outdoors, so don’t forget to dress him appropriately too.

When children are using a ride-on toy or playing a sport, they use all of their muscles to balance and move their body in all directions. Simply riding a bicycle provides your kid with first-hand knowledge about cause and effect and the laws of physics, as well as giving him a great exercise in spatial awareness. Also, moving with speed gives your kid a new perspective and helps him understand the world better. There are other toys that require coordination and balance, such as scooters or skates, and these are also highly valuable teachers.

Outdoor play sets can boost your child’s imagination and social skills. It is hugely important to let your kid experience social interaction and develop friendships (or even conflicts) with her peers. Being in an outdoor setting may be less intimidating for your child in terms of creating social connections because there’s more space, which allows your kid to naturally ‘open up’.

This means that your child might be more inclined toward joining activities and games other kids are playing, as well as being more likely to make new friends. After a while, you will notice that your child is getting more independent in her social encounters.

Conclusion

Putting lots of toys in your backyard can bring a multitude of benefits. Old fashioned outdoor play is always going to be fun for kids, even though it may seem that modern gadgets like tablets and gaming consoles are all they care about.

It is of utmost importance for you to teach your kid about the outside world, and there are many, many toys you can use to help you in that quest.  We’ve mentioned some benefits playing outdoors will provide your kids, but there are numerous others, and the only real way to discover them all is to let your kid experience the wonderful world outside.