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If you’re lucky enough to have your own outdoor space then you’ll know a garden is a great place for your children to enjoy fresh air and have the sort of messy play that’s best avoided in the house.
We’ve spent several hours trawling through the Mumsnet forums and expert review sites to find the very best outdoor toys for kids that have been tried and tested by parents and their children, taking into account everything from entertainment value to age suitability.
From climbing frames and swings to paddling pools and trampolines, here are the best outdoor toys to help you and your family make the most of the great outdoors, whether you’ve got a huge lawn, a little yard or you’re heading down to the local park.
Here are the best outdoor toys for kids as recommended by parents.
1. Best overall outdoor toy for kids: Swingball Classic
Price: £27.94 | Buy now from Amazon
“Our Swingball has been a godsend over the last few days! DD happy to play with it alone.” (Recommended by Mumsnetter AngelsWithSilverWings)
“Swingball. My teens love it and both my partner and I have admitted to playing it on our own as well!” (Tried and tested by Mumsnetter MaryBerrysBomberJacket)
“Swingball is awesome but make sure you get the proper one that you hit into the ground if you can. Then you can really whack it and it won't fall over like the ones you fill with water.” (Rated by Mumsnet user Coffeeandcrumpet)
If you want to bring out your children’s competitive side then Swingball Classic is a sure-fire way to do it.
This fab family game is extremely easy to set up - all you have to do is push the spike into the ground, adjust the height, attach the tethered ball to the pole, pick up your racquet and let the fast and furious fun follow.
Unlike other garden ball games, you won’t have to keep knocking on your neighbour’s door to ask for your ball back, unless you’re playing against a budding Serena Williams with a killer forehand.
The manufacturer says the game is suitable for kids aged three to 18, but of course there is nothing to stop competitive parents or grandparents from getting in on the action.
The big downside to swingball is that the pole needs to be stuck into the ground, which is no good if your garden is decked or covered with paving slabs. But this doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun, as Swingball also makes an all-surface version for just a few pounds more.
- Age range: 3-18 years
- Size: 68.58 x 22.86 x 8.89cm
2. Best budget outdoor toy for kids: Tobar Rock-n-Hopper Hopping Toy
Price: £16.95 | Buy now from Amazon
“A lolo ball - loved this when I was a kid. Used to be able to do a thousand jumps (couldn’t do 10 now).” (Recommended by Mumsnetter SM33)
Lolo ball, pogo ball, hopper… whatever you call it, we’re pretty sure you’ll be familiar with this classic outdoor toy.
It’s simple to use as all you have to do is put both feet on the platform and use the tough rubber ball to bounce, either on the spot or around the garden.
There’s no assembly required and it’s ideal for small spaces. The Tobar Rock-n-Hopper is also best suited to children aged eight years and up and parents who enjoy indulging in a bit of 80s nostalgia.
- Age range: 8+
- Size: 37.01 x 8.99 x 37.01cm
3. Best outdoor toy for toddlers: Little Tikes Cozy Coupe Car
Price: £76.17 | Buy now from Amazon
“A slide, a Cozy Coupe Car and a playhouse would be my top three played-with outdoor toys.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnetter PinkWaferBiscuit)
“Cozy Coupe Car. Still using it now and DS is five.” (Rated by Mumsnetter Dsisproblem)
“Not sure how old your little one is, but the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe has been very popular here (seven-year-old still tries to squeeze in!).” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Equimum)
After 30 years, the ubiquitous red and yellow Little Tikes Cozy Coupe Car is still a firm favourite and can be found parked up in gardens across the land.
Toddlers will love scurrying across the patio or lawn Fred Flinstone-style, or you could even use it indoors if you’re feeling brave and have hidden the breakables away.
The car features a petrol cap that opens and closes, a clicking ignition switch and a working horn. And if red and yellow aren’t to your child’s taste, the Cozy Coupe comes in a range of other colours and designs, including a dinosaur, fairy and a police car.
- Age range: 18 months-5 years
- Size: 74.93 x 41.91 x 85.09cm
4. Best outdoor toy for 2-year-olds: Chad Valley Sand and Water Table
Price: £40 | Buy now from Argos
“I got this for my two-and-a-half-year-old. He’s enjoying it. It's not the fanciest one and is a little basic but it does the job well... It comes with a cover which is useful, and the little spade, fork, boats etc. Just a tip: I don't use sand and water at the same time on different sides or it becomes one big slush as my one tips sand into water and vice versa. One day is sand day and another is water day!” (Recommended by Mumsnetter eyesbiggerthanstomach)
If you can’t get to the beach, bring the beach to you with the Chad Valley Sand and Water Table.
The set comes with two moulds, a sand rake, a scoop and two boats, so there’s no need to fork out on additional items to enjoy this sandy/soggy/slushy play. The table also comes with a storage lid, which means you can leave the table outside in all weathers (providing you remember to put the lid on, of course).
It’s super easy to put together, and you can take the legs off so that it can be placed on the ground and enjoyed by younger children.
It’s true that there are other water tables out there that come with more exciting features, not to mention a higher price tag attached. But if you’re looking for an affordable first water and sand table for your toddler, then this comes highly recommended by parents.
- Age range: None specified
- Size: 70 x 52.5 x 52.5cm
5. Best outdoor toy for 3-year-olds: Aquaplay Portable Waterway Canal System Toy
Price: £39.99 | Buy now from Amazon
“AquaPlay has been popular in our house. [It’s] basically a water tray but with little characters and stuff.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnetter BelfastSmile)
If you’re looking for a water tray with a difference, then look no further than the Aquaplay Portable Waterway Canal System Toy.
This neat little suitcase opens up to reveal a world of locks, plus a car and a boat driven by a hippo for children to guide through the waterway.
Kids will love the novelty of packing everything away into a little suitcase, ready to take to their grandparents or even to the park. This portability means that it’s a great toy for small gardens and can be easily stored without taking up too much room.
- Age range: 3-7 years
- Size: 30.5 x 40.6 x 71.1cm
6. Best outdoor toy for 5-year-olds: The Original Stomp Rocket Duelling Rockets
Price: £24.99 | Buy now from Amazon
“Definitely a Stomp Rocket. My four-year-old is obsessed.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Hellandcoldwater)
“Stomp Rockets are good to take to the park.” (Rated by Mumsnetter stressbucket1)
Mumsnetters love the original Stomp Rocket, which provides hours of entertainment for kids both big and small. However the Original Stomp Rocket Duelling Rockets take things one step further by introducing a competitive edge to the game.
The premise is simple: just jump or stomp on the powerful air-launch pad to send these durable foam rockets up to a whopping 200 feet into the air.
This kit comes with two launch pads, meaning two kids can play at the same time to see who can send their rocket the furthest.
It’s dead easy to assemble, with no batteries required. But in order to avoid falling out with the neighbours, you do need a large open space for this one. If your garden is on the smaller size, best to head to your local park instead.
- Age range: 5-15 years
- Size: 21.77 x 54.03 x 75.01cm
7. Best outdoor toy for 12-year-olds: JumpKing UFO Swing
Price: £174.99 | Buy now from Wayfair
“My Neighbour has a UFO Swing by JumpKing and it's brilliant. All the kids love it, right up to the teens.” (Recommended by Mumsnetter Humina)
Famous for their trampolines, JumpKing has also managed to impress Mumsnet users with this fun basket swing.
Young kids will love swinging up high, while teens and adults can enjoy lazing around in the summer sunshine. Because why not?
The swing is attached to a robust black and yellow powder-coated frame by a strong and durable rope, so it’s really built to last. It’s easy to adjust the height of the swing to suit different ages too.
- Age range: From 3 years
- Size: 206 x 200 x 200cm
8. Best outdoor toy for small gardens: TP Toys Deluxe Picnic Table Sandpit
Price: £129.99 | Buy now from John Lewis & Partners
“When we had a small garden, we had a picnic table where the centrepiece lifted out and the middle was a sandpit or could be used as a water tray or a variety of things. It worked well for quite a while as you could change around what was in the table and they could have a picnic at the table too.” (Rated by Mumsnetter teaandcakerules)
“My grandad treated us to a wooden picnic table where the lid comes off and you have sand inside it. It's great if you have a smallish garden because it's also somewhere for the kids to have a picnic/sit for a BBQ etc. But it’s definitely a slightly pricier option.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnetter Littlehouseinthebigcity)
If your garden is short on space then you may want to invest in this handy picnic table and sandpit in one.
This traditional wooden picnic bench is perfect for family barbecues and alfresco dining, and the top lifts off to reveal two plastic containers for sand or water play.
It’s on the pricey side, there’s no doubt about it, but Mumsnetters who’ve tried and tested this particular outdoor toy say it’s well worth the investment.
- Age range: From 2 years
- Size: 48 x 110 x 91cm
9. Best outdoor toy for large gardens: BalconyFort Searcher Climbing Frame
Price: £604.99 | Buy now from Dunster House
“Have a look at Dunster House for wooden climbing frames - we've got one from there and it was easy to build and very good quality.” (Rated by Mumsnet user ThePurpleGirl)
If you have the space and the cash to splash then this gorgeous wooden fort, climbing frame, slide, monkey bars and swing combo is an absolute must.
The BalconyFort Searcher Climbing Frame is great for encouraging imaginative play and burning off loads of energy to ensure that everyone gets a good night's sleep after a long day of fun.
It’s a sturdy piece of play equipment and relatively easy to assemble, although you may want to set aside a day to get everything in place.
This pressure-treated climbing frame also comes with a 10-year guarantee attached, so you know it’ll easily see your little one through their formative years and beyond.
- Age range: 3-14 years
- Size: 4.65 x 3.80 x 2.80m
10. Best outdoor toy for sand play: TP Toys Ahoy Wooden Play Boat
Price: £179.99 | Buy now from Amazon
“I've bought my daughter a wooden sandpit/play pirate ship for her fifth birthday (younger sister is two).” (Rated by Mumsnet user DockOTheBay)
This cute wooden boat is so much more than just a sandpit. The captain’s wheel and compass will allow your child to set sail on a maritime adventure, plus there’s a blackboard, removable splash bowl and a sturdy wooden surface to boot, making it a great outdoor space for the sort of arts and crafts that you don’t want in the house. And when you’re done, the play surface lifts up to provide some handy storage.
It’s a little on the pricey side, but the versatility and longevity of the TP Toys Ahoy Wooden Play Boat means that you’ll almost certainly get your money’s worth.
- Age range: 3-12 years
- Size: 92 x 180 x 118cm
11. Best outdoor toy for families: Tactic Mölkky Outdoor Game
Price: £39.98 | Buy now from Amazon
“For children (and adults) who can count, [Mölkky] is good fun.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user MrsCollinssettled)
A firm favourite across the continent, Mölkky is a simple game that involves throwing a piece of wood at 12 numbered wooden skittles. The first player to score dead on 50 points wins.
It sounds deceptively simple, but you need tactics, a good throwing arm and maths skills to be a Mölkky champion, which makes it great for older children and adults alike.
Ideal for family get-togethers, Mölkky is great for taking to the park, beach or on holiday.
Some reviewers have said that the carry box feels a bit flimsy though, so you may want to consider investing in a separate carry bag, just in case.
- Age range: From 3 years
- Size: 31.5 x 23 x 19cm
12. Best paddling pool: Bestway Family Rectangular Inflatable Pool
Price: £22.79 | Buy now from Amazon
“Very easy to use. It's our second summer with it this year.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnetter CacenCrunch)
“Second Bestway. Easy to inflate.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user maggienolia)
Bestway is one of the most reliable names when it comes to inflatables and this family-sized paddling pool is robust, sturdy and shouldn’t let you down.
It’s a good size, so you’ll be able to fit the whole family in there without a problem, although the depth of the pool means it’s unsuitable for younger children.
Granted, it’s not the prettiest pool out there, but it does the job along with the best of them and will keep you and the family cool on hot summer days.
- Age range: From 6 years
- Size: 2.62 x 1.75 x 0.51m (larger size also available)
13. Best outdoor trampoline: Zero Gravity Ultima 5 Rectangular Barrel Trampoline
Price: £285.95 (12ft) | Buy now from Amazon
“Zero gravity is good and you can get storm straps to stop it from blowing away.” (Recommended by Mumsnetter trashcansinatra)
“We have a 12ft x 8ft Zero Gravity barrel-shaped trampoline. Really pleased with it. Fits well tucked away in the corner of the garden. Kids love it aged 13, 11 and seven. It seems safe and well constructed.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user MasterFlamingo)
Love them or hate them, no list of the best outdoor toys would be complete without a trampoline.
Trampolining aficionados will know that a rectangular trampoline gives a better bounce than a round one, so the Zero Gravity Ultima 5 Rectangular Barrel Trampoline is great for the experienced trampolinist who has outgrown their previous trampoline and wants to hone their skills.
Parents love this particular trampoline for its high-quality construction and safety features, including its state-of-the-art safety enclosure with a wired top ring and extra-thick padding.
But if your child is new to trampolining, you may want to try something a little less intense (and kinder to your pocket), such as the Chad Valley 6ft Trampoline.
- Age range: Not specified
- Size: 12 x 8ft (smaller and larger sizes also available)
How do I choose the best outdoor toy?
There are a number of things to consider when buying an outdoor toy for your child.
How much space do you have in your garden? Pick a toy that’s suitable for your garden size and can be used safely in the space that you have available. A trampoline may be your dream garden toy, but if it doesn’t leave you enough room to sit outside, you may want to reconsider.
You should also think about whether you want a toy that’s a permanent fixture or one that can be easily packed up and stored away when not in use. Always check the measurements carefully before buying.
Price is, of course, a key factor in every purchase. Consider cost per use as a way to determine the value of your prospective play equipment. Bigger items like trampolines and climbing frames tend to cost more but will remain popular with your kids long after they've outgrown smaller toys.
That said, you don’t want to splash out on an outdoor toy that turns out to be a five-minute wonder. Shop around and choose wisely.
Does the toy suit the ages of the children playing with it? Some toys have a limited shelf life, while others can be used by kids from toddlerhood all the way to their teenage years and beyond. Whatever toy you opt for should be safe and appropriate for the child you’re buying for. And, of course, you should always supervise young children when using any toy that involves water.
Outdoor toys are often more expensive than indoor ones due to the wear and tear that they endure. With this in mind, consider the build and structure of the toy. Is it tough enough to withstand the great British weather and your kids?
Where should I store outdoor toys?
Outdoor toys can be easily stored in sheds, garages or any other outbuildings. If you lack any outdoor storage, then it’s worth considering whether the toy you buy can be brought inside and stored in a cupboard or even in the loft.
Other toys can be safely left outside, but you must make sure that they are able to withstand the elements. It may be a good idea to invest in a waterproof, dust-proof and windproof cover to protect your toys when not in use.
How do you keep outdoor toys clean?
It really depends on which outdoor toy you have. Soap and water or a wipe down may be enough, or you can always call on the old favourites vinegar and baking soda.
A brush with soft bristles, gentle soap and a careful hand is the best option for wooden structures. But always read the care instructions before attempting to clean your toy.
What is the best outdoor toy for kids?
An oldie but a goodie, Mumsnet parents and their children love Swingball Classic, which is why we think it’s the best outdoor toy for kids. Durable, easy to assemble and simple to play with, it will provide hours of entertainment for the whole family.
How we chose our recommendations
Our expert parenting writers and journalists spend hours researching the very best quality products for our Swears By articles.
All the outdoor toys on this list have been tried and tested by Mumsnet users and their children who have recommended their favourites based on factors including entertainment value, versatility, price and age suitability. We use this method so you always know that real people are behind our recommendations.
Finally, we collated all that information and then looked at other online reviews to see which outdoor toys for kids have received the best recommendations among both consumers and experts.
This article is not intended as a countdown of the ‘top 13’ best products, but rather a list of tried-and-trusted recommendations so you can be safe in the knowledge that you’re getting honest and reliable advice on choosing an outdoor toy that will keep your child entertained for many years to come.
Why you should trust us
We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.