I love kids outdoor playhouse! Some people call me immature; I prefer the term ‘young at heart’. When I pass by a park, I’m pretty likely to jump on the jungle gym. I can’t resist a swing set and I certainly can’t resist a kid-powered merry-go-round. Each time I see a playhouse, regardless of its disrepair, a temptation to play creeps upon me. All of these things bring up feelings of nostalgia and dredge fond memories of simpler time. When I was younger, we had a little butter-colored playhouse.
By the time I grew into it, the plastic siding had faded to the color of skin and sky-blue shutters desaturated to a shade of periwinkle. The sink was broken. The floor sat on crooked ground. Regardless of its disrepair, that little thing became so many things to me: a police station, a schoolhouse, a space ship, a gas station, and a bank in the midst of a robbery. I like to think that those earliest days of imaginative playtime sparked my love of writing. Even after I outgrew it, that Little Tikes building never went far. If I look out my back door now, peering past curling willow tendrils, I can see it folded behind the garage. Made-to-order nostalgia.
In short, a playhouse can play a big part in a child’s formative years. It can be their shelter from the storm, their creative outlet, and the source of imagination. I want you to be able to pick the best playhouse for your family and to give them that spark that drives the happy moments of their life. We have to answer a few questions before we get there. What makes the best treehouse? What do some of the most popular outdoor playhouses for kids have in common?
Kids Playhouse Criteria
While this is certainly no master’s thesis, requiring thousands of hours in research and many sleepless nights, we put some thought into our playhouse selections. All six meet fulfill four separate criteria on material, age range, consumer rating, and price.
All of these playhouses happen to be made out of plastic; wooden items tend to be marketed towards children older than our targeted range and have been purposely excluded from this list. We only selected items suitable for those between the ages of one and nine years of age; this represents the range of children most likely to be interested in these items. In order to ensure some modicum of satisfaction, l of our selected items have more than a four-star rating and more than 20 customer reviews. Lastly, as we know that young kids can strain the wallet, we only featured playhouses with prices under 650 dollars. If you want a different set of criteria, or need some ideas on narrowing your ideas, you can scroll down to the last section of this article.
Best Kids Outdoor Playhouses Reviews
1. Little Tikes Picnic Patio Playhouse
Brought to you by Little Tykes, an Ohio-based company founded in 1970s, the Picnic on the Patio Playhouse tries its best to spark your child’s imagination. Each box contains a cottage-styled playhouse with walls of imitation cobblestones and imitation siding, a faux-shingled roof, a working door, a patio table with two stools, a mail slot, and a kitchenette. Inside the kitchen, you’ll find an oven with pretend burners, miniature cupboards, and a fireplace. Picture windows add a touch of realism to your child’s playtime-fun. Other features include a doorbell with six fun tones, a 19-piece accessory set for the kitchen, and a pretend phone for all those imagined conversations. It’s small enough to fit inside the typical home and durable enough to survive the outdoors; this makes it perfect for a variety of families. This kid’s outdoor playhouse can be found on Amazon for $234.98; this makes it the third most economical option on this list.
Before selecting this house, please be aware that it’s marketed only to children between the ages of 18 months and four years of age; this means it lasts a lot less longer than some other options on this list. The reviews for this kid’s outdoor playhouse are overwhelmingly positive; 92-percent of reviews happen to be four or five stars. When averaged out, the Little Tikes Picnic Patio Playhouse garnered a 4.5-star rating from 46 customer reviews. People commonly quoted its design and included seating as highly-durable and the main reason for their high review. Some reviewers even claimed that these things survive hurricanes! In addition, this outdoor playhouse for kids earned accolades for its neutral color-scheme and somewhat simple assembly. The few negative complaints can be quickly summarized as follows: the house’s interior is simple, storage space for accessories is minimal, and it lacks the height necessary for older toddlers. Overall, the Picnic Patio Playhouse garners high-end reviews with a middle-of-the-road price.
2. Step2 Skyward Summit
Created by the twenty-five-year-old rival of Little Tikes, Step2, Skyward Summit is far more mountain than playhouse. For someone on the hunt for something atypical, and child-exhausting, this might be the playhouse for you! With its four climbing surfaces, nearly seven-foot summit, two cargo nets, and surplus of secret cubbies, this outdoor playhouse hopes to sate your child’s sense of adventure. Due to its 320-pound weight limit, and suggested limitation of four children, this particular outdoor playhouse for kids might not be best choice for larger families. With a price of $408.97 this miniature climbing wall is second only to the Clubhouse Climber in price.
Recommended for children between four and eight years of age, this particular playhouse would not be suitable for younger toddlers. While many customers place it indoors, this kid’s outdoor playhouse may not be suitable for those with smaller homes or low ceilings. For those parents with children old enough to use it safely, Skyward Summit garners relatively positive reviews; only 14 percent of customers rated this item at less than four stars. For those who rated it poorly, the poorly packaged and low quality hardware earned the most ire. Bolts commonly broke during construction and lacked the power needed to punch through Skyward Summit’s durable plastic. Those reviews, as stated earlier, were definitely in the minority. Positive feedback generally commented on the playhouse’s high-quality construction and its ability to provide endless hours of entertainment. While expensive, this playhouse provides a lot of things for the adventure-hungry child in your life.
3. Step2 Naturally Playful Lookout Treehouse
A hybrid of tree and playhouse, the Naturally Playful Lookout Treehouse by Step2 offers a periscope, a faux-shingled roof, a durable ladder, and a sturdy slide. With its relatively compact size and neutral color scheme, this plastic toy can find a home both in and out of doors. While recommended for children from eighteen months to five years of age, it has a weight limit of only fifty pounds; please keep that low weight limit in mind before selecting this piece. It does have one huge benefit though: it’s cheap! At only 112.85, this piece is nearly fifty dollars cheaper than the next item on our list.
Sometimes though, you get what you pay for. When compared to the other pieces on this list, this one has far fewer five-star ratings. Only 73 percent of its 409 reviews give this piece a perfect score. Aside from praising its low price, most of these customers applaud its compact size and hassle-free assembly. Four-percent of customers give this outdoor playhouse for kids a score of two stars or fewer. As mentioned earlier, the Naturally Playful Lookout Treehouse has a weight limit of just fifty pounds; this heavily limits the size of children able to play on it and skews the reviews towards the negative. In addition, those with tall toddlers may find this toy less than useful. Quite a few one-star reviews lament this lack of headspace. If you need something cheap, indoor-friendly, and quick to assemble, this might be the piece for you. Just be aware that it’s less durable and much more short-lived than some other items on this list.
4. Step2 Neat and Tidy II Playhouse
Unlike Skyward Summit and the Naturally Playful Lookout Treehouse, the Neat and Tidy Cottage II by Step2 offers the classic playhouse feel. The exterior has an open design with siding made to resemble both cobblestone and wood. In addition to its neutral and attractive exterior, this house comes with a few extra features: a pass-through mailbox, a realistic doorbell, a flowerbox, a kitchen seat, a working Dutch door, a fireplace, a play phone, a set of shelves, a kitchen table, a faux-faucet, and a built in floor with pre-fabricated drain holes. With a recommended age range of 18 months to 8 years, this kid’s outdoor playhouse offers the widest range on our list; it also has no listed weight limit. With all of these accessories, and a sales price of 149.59, it’s little wonder that this Step2 product is the number one bestseller in its category.
Eight-nine percent of its 278 reviews gave this playhouse more than four stars. Its easy to clean exterior, large range of appeal, and quiet doorbell earned the majority of these high-ratings. However, not everyone was happy with this bargain buy. People consistently put down its difficult assembly, fragile sink, inconsistent coloration, and small drainage holes. Overall, if you want a simple and classic playhouse, one that lets you see the kids at play, you cannot go wrong with this Step2 product.
5. Step2 Clubhouse Climber
The largest, most colorful, and most complicated of all listed playhouses, Step2’s Clubhouse Climber offers a crawl-through tunnel, lookout tower, cyan-colored slide, and railed-in bridge. Its multiple module assembly allows for minimal adult assembly. In addition, this piece features a rotating steering wheel, a custom skylight, and a set of durable climbing stairs. Due to its size, this piece should not be placed indoors and puts it out of reach of apartment-dwellers. As it poses a choking and falling hazard for younger toddlers, the Clubhouse Climber is also not suitable for children under the age of two. Costing $632.84, this piece happens to be the most expensive on our list. Is it worth the cost?
It depends on which customer you ask. With a combined rating of 4.3 stars, the costliest piece on this list happens to be the worst reviewed. Only 70 percent of its 70 reviewers gave the Clubhouse Climber a perfect score. Those who were charmed by this piece praised its easy-to-climb stairs, excellent airflow, and well thought out design. For lower ratings, no love could be found for the Clubhouse Climber’s poor directions, slippery-when-wet surfaces, difficult assembly, relatively thin plastic, and short slides. The piece tries its best to justify its price tag, but, for many consumers, the Clubhouse Climber seems to fall short.
6. Little Tikes Endless Adventures Tikes Town Playhouse
Brought to you by Little Tikes, Endless Adventures features four different-themed walls for a wide array of playtime fun. Children can turn a corner and find themselves at either a schoolhouse, gas station, sport’s arena, or bank. Included with the decals are a wide variety of accessories: a table, a chalkboard, a mail slot, a molded in bell, a gas pump, a phone, a crawl-through tunnel, a ball, a basketball hoop, a soccer net, a drive-up window, an ATM machine, a set of shelves, a kitchenette, and a workshop. By mixing and matching supplied parts, you can also toss in a grocery store and firehouse to its function. Its small size allows it to be placed both in and out of doors. If you need versatility, and care little about getting what’s cheapest, you should consider picking up Endless Adventures. With a price tag of 389.99, this piece ranks second most expensive on the list.
With a slightly better rating than Clubhouse Climber, this outdoors playhouse for kids manages to earn 4.4 stars from customers. Seventy-two percent of reviewers gave it a perfect score. The fans of Endless Adventures praise its versatility, innovative design, wide gender appeal, easy assembly and durability. The nine percent of people who gave it unfavorable reviews despised the short-lived decals, fragile accessories, and unattractive color scheme. If you want six themes in one, Endless Adventures possesses the most versatility on this list. If you want something simple, this might not be the piece for you.
What Do You Need to Know About Picking Kids Outdoor Playhouse?
If none of the above products fit your family’s playtime needs, you can continue reading for a few simple tricks to boost your search. While you may want something that matches your home’s exterior, no playhouse should be chosen based on only that one characteristic. Many of the critical reviews above show the downfalls of choosing a toy based simply on its exterior, its price, or its posted images. You can use a variety of resources to find you’re the perfect outdoor playhouse for your kids: department stores, toy stores, or the internet. When shopping online, you can use keywords such as “kid’s outdoor playhouse”, “playhouse” and “outdoor playhouse for kids” to yield on-topic results.
Consider the following before hitting that ‘add to cart’ button or tossing a box into your overladen cart:
- ASSEMBLED SIZE: Do you intend to place this piece indoors or outdoors? The former can only accommodate smaller playhouses. The size of the piece typically correlates to its price; the larger the completed item, the more expensive it tends to be. Carefully measure your available space before starting your shopping trip. Tearing a piece down because it won’t fit in your living room might cause a headache.
- DURABILITY AND WEIGHT LIMIT: If you have five children, or toddlers of above average weight, you need to consider the durability of the item being purchased. All playhouses tend to have a listed weight limit. You should keep this in mind in order to ensure a safe and fun playtime for everyone.
- RECOMMENDED AGES: As these pieces come rated for various ages, it’s best to pay attention. While you can buy something a child can grow into, it might be unwise to buy something beneath your child’s developmental level. Some playhouses include number and reading games; these would be wasted on a baby learning how to crawl.
- WEATHER RESISTANCE: If you need something to live up to a hurricane, you need to look at the reviews. Some playhouses come pre-equipped with drainage holes, durable rooftops, and weighted bottoms; others, those not intended for heavy weather, do not.
- THE THEME: With buildings ranging from schoolhouses to rocket ships, playhouses can tickle a wide range of interests. You should consider your child’s preferences before selecting your final product. Your hyper-masculine son might not appreciate the Fluffy Froufrou castle.
- THE PRICE: While it can be tempted to give your child whatever they want, you need to keep your budget firm. No matter what your price range is, you should be able to find something that fits your needs. Just keep in mind that more durability, larger size, and brand names come at a higher cost.
- EASE OF ASSEMBLY: Not only should the child give the playhouse five stars; the people putting it together should too. Some pieces come with clear directions and well-labelled hardware. Other selections come with little more than an empty box and a mismatched scattering of screws. If you hate pulling out the drill, you should consider buying something more complete right out of the box.
If you keep these items in mind while you shop, you should be able to find the perfect playhouse for your family.