15 Best Outdoor Playhouses For Toddlers & Preschoolers

Best outdoor playhouses for toddlers

Playhouses are one of the best investments you can make for your child. We all know the positive effects of pretend play on childhood development. From cognitive flexibility, language, and communication skills to working out emotions and problem solving, pretend play has far-reaching positive effects throughout our kids’ whole lives.

Playhouses are an excellent space for this important play to take place. They can provide a private space for your kids to play by themselves, which encourages independence, as well as offering your child a place to work through and make sense of the world without overt adult interference.

Additionally, in this digitally driven world, it’s important to have toys that are interesting enough to draw your kids outside to encourage outdoor play for their physical health.

Quick View – Best Toddler Playhouses

ProductAgePrice
Neat & Tidy Playhouse 2Most Popular/Best all-Rounder
Neat & Tidy II Playhouse
1.5 – 8 yearsCheck Price on Amazon
Princess Cape Cottage PlayhouseBest Budget Playhouse for Little Princesses
Princess Cape Cottage Playhouse
2 – 8 yearsCheck Price on Amazon
Gather & Grille Kids PlayhouseBest for Social Kids or Growing Families
Gather & Grille Kids Playhouse
1.5 – 8 yearsCheck Price on Amazon
All round playtime patio playhouseHigh Visibility & Large Number of Features
All Around Playtime Patio with Canopy
2 – 8 yearsCheck Price on Amazon
Little Tikes Endless Adventures Tikes Town PlayhouseBest for Pretend-Play
Endless Adventures Tikes Town Playhouse
1.5 – 6 yearsCheck Price on Amazon
Step2 Neighborhood Fun CenterBest Playhouse for Active Kids & Their Friends
Neighborhood Fun Center
2 – 5 yearsCheck Price on Amazon
Step2 Clubhouse ClimberBest Activity Center/Playhouse Hybrid
Clubhouse Climber
2 – 6 yearsCheck Price on Amazon
ECR4Kids Buccaneer Boat with Pirate FlagBest Pirate Themed Playhouse
Buccaneer Boat with Pirate Flag
2 – 6 yearsCheck Price on Amazon
Step2 Crazy Maze Ball Pit PlayhouseBest for Crazy Ball Play!
Crazy Maze Ball Pit Playhouse
1.5 – 8 yearsCheck Price on Amazon
ECR4Kids Jumbo Princess Palace PlayhouseMost Epic Princess Playhouse
Jumbo Princess Palace Playhouse
2 years +Check Price on Amazon
Little Tikes Deluxe Home and Garden PlayhouseBest for Little Kids with Varied Interests
Deluxe Home and Garden Playhouse
1.5 – 5 yearsCheck Price on Amazon
Step2 Grand Walk-In Kitchen & GrillBest for Budding Chefs
Grand Walk-In Kitchen & Grill
2 – 8 yearsCheck Price on Amazon

Below we’ve reviewed some of the best playhouses out there for toddlers and preschoolers but before we dive in, it’s important to say that we know that every household will have different requirements for their best playhouse because every kid is unique.

Some will crave a slide to be more active, some will prefer to have a picnic, some space to do art, others a little kitchen to cook etc.

So instead of picking just one as the best, we’ve tried to give you a comparison of different playhouses along with the Pros and Cons of each so that you can choose the best one for you based on your individual needs.

Let’s get to it!

Playhouse Reviews

Step2 Neat & Tidy II Playhouse

Most Popular/Best all-Rounder

We love this playhouse because of its affordability, durability and the incredible detail and features it has to offer. It ticks a lot of boxes and will suit a really wide variety of kids.

We love that you can teach your kids about edible gardens or growing plants with the removable planter box and the indoor shelf allows them their own special place to store their things.

Its size means it’s good for indoor or outdoor use.

It features a working doorbell, removable plantar box, Dutch door, indoor storage shelf, outdoor table and seat, fireplace, play telephone, kitchen sink, and tap, slide through mailbox, clock and grille.

We believe it perfectly balances a great number of features with a good price point and amazing reviews from other parents – something we take very seriously! We only want to be recommending tried and tested products.

  • Material: Plastic
  • Ages: 18 months – 8years
  • Size: 50 x 58.8 x 58 inches
  • Weight: 55.1 pounds
  • Visibility for parents: Mostly open

What We Like:

Amazing details and features
Easy to clean and assemble
Great price
Multiple color palettes to choose from
Can easily fit 2-3 little ones
Completely enclosed floor

Our Concerns:

Open design means kids probably won’t be happy to play outside when it’s cooler or rainy
Some reviewers complain that the drainage holes in the floor aren’t enough to prevent water from building up
Not suited for older kids – may need to be replaced as little ones grow (manufacturer says 8 is the upper limit, but we think it’s more likely to be 6)

3 Cute Styles

This playhouse comes in 3 cute styles, they’re almost exactly the same – they just have different color schemes. For some reason Step2 decided to give them totally different names – which makes things a bit confusing. The most popular seems to be the Earth tone version (pictured above) Here are the other 2 styles:

Step2 Lively Living Playhouse

>>Check Price<<

Step2 Happy Home Cottage & Grill

>>Check Price<<

Little Tikes Princess Cape Cottage Playhouse

Best Budget Playhouse for Little Princesses

The Little Tikes Princess Cape Cottage is a great option for any little ones who love pink! It’s really lightweight and so easily moved around the yard and is definitely petite enough for indoor use without dominating too much room.

This playhouse has great roof coverage, meaning little ones will be happy to use it outside when the weather is less than perfect.

It’s big enough to fit a friend (just) and it’s bright pinks and purples will make for a fantastic playhouse for little ladies. But if pink is not your thing you can also get this same model in various other colors including:

It features 2 Dutch doors, 2 windows with shutters, mail slot, flag holder and an adorable house number. It definitely doesn’t have as many features as other playhouses, but we think it does the best in providing lovers of all things pink and girly with a sanctuary to act out their princess play while not costing their parents too much.

If you want to see a really epic princess castle, see the Jumbo Princess Palace below.

  • Material: Plastic
  • Ages: 24 months – 8 years
  • Size: 35 x 43 x 49 inches
  • Weight: 29.3 pounds
  • Visibility for parents: Medium – open doors on either end and one window per side

What We Like:

Lightweight but still durable
Easy to clean and assemble
The best pink princess style playhouse on the market
Doesn’t easily fade
Also comes in a more neutral tan/red brick roof palette

Our Concerns:

Not as many other features as other models (but this will encourage more imagination!)
Being lightweight means it will likely need to be weighed down for safety when outside
Quickly becomes cramped if you try to put in furniture or large toys
Closed off design means it is harder to keep an eye on your little ones

Step2 Gather & Grille Kids Playhouse

Best for Social Kids or Growing Families

We love this spacious step up from the Step2 Neat & Tidy II Playhouse. If you have a growing family or a social little one who loves having lots of friends over, then this is the playhouse for you.

Made of durable plastic, this is a great all-weather option that will support your kids as they grow. It features a working electronic doorbell, Dutch door, patio, BBQ grille (with grilling accessories including condiment bottles), built-in sink and stove, fireplace, clock, outdoor bench, house number, large windows and pantry decal.

As you can see, the raft of accessories will really enable a lot of excellent pretend play. It’s a step up in terms of price, but we think it’s worth it considering all the well-thought-out accessories to encourage hours of pretend play.

For those still looking for something cheaper, we have a less costly version with similar accessories better suited to slightly younger kids at number 11 on our list (Little Tikes Deluxe Home and Garden Playhouse).

  • Material: Durable plastic
  • Ages: 18 months – 8 years
  • Size: 59 x 51.5 x 72 inches
  • Weight: 110 pounds
  • Visibility for parents: Mostly open

What We Like:

Incredible features & accessories
Easy assembly (other than pre-drilled hole issue)
Spacious – can easily accommodate 3-4 kids playing together
Big enough to grow with your kids and spacious enough to accommodate big and little kids to play together
Very sturdy
Good visibility for parents while being covered up enough for outdoor play in cooler weather

Our Concerns:

Some parents complain about pre-drilled holes not being deep enough (not an uncommon complaint for playhouses generally)
Not a complete floor
Price is a big jump from the previous models

Step2 All Around Playtime Patio with Canopy

Best Balance of High Visibility with a Large Number of Features

This playhouse by far does the best job of balancing a heap of fun and entertaining features with high-visibility in a relatively simplistic package.

It features a working swinging double Dutch doors, kitchen grill with sink and swivel faucet, sand and water play area (holds 10lbs of sand), including a lid to keep sand dry or to store accessories, snack table and 16 additional accessories (including dish set, grill accessories).

It can accommodate a couple of kids easily to play at once and has enough accessories to keep multiple kids entertained in the same space which is a real winner for a multiple family barbeque.

The open canopy style makes it perfect for hot days because it will keep kids shaded (and cool with the water play) while still encouraging outdoor play.

While not great for cooler weather, anyone with a porch can still make use of the messy sand and water play when the weather is less than perfect.

  • Material: Durable plastic and canvas
  • Ages: 24 months – 8years
  • Size: 47.5 x 47.5 x 60 inches
  • Weight: 40 pounds
  • Visibility for parents: Very high

What We Like:

Very open for high visibility
Great price for all the inclusions
Easy assembly (other than pre-drilled hole issue)
The canopy can be detached for washing or storing
Great accessibility for wheelchair access
Accessibility from inside or outside the playhouse means more kids can play together

Our Concerns:

Not suitable for poor weather play
Some parents complain about pre-drilled holes not being deep enough (not an uncommon complaint for playhouses generally)
May need to be anchored down for windy days

Little Tikes Endless Adventures Tikes Town Playhouse

Best for Pretend-Play and Fostering Imagination

We love this really unique playhouse for little ones with big imaginations! This playhouse offers so many different options for play scenarios all within one space!

Made of durable plastic, this playhouse is great for outdoors. Its enormous list of features include four different outdoor walls each with a different unique theme.

There’s a sports wall with basketball hoop with ball included, soccer goals and a colorful numbered target buttons for made-up games or ball tossing. Next is a schoolhouse/firehouse wall including table & chalkboard, working door, mail slot, and alphabet.

Then there is a gas station wall that includes a gas pump with hose, attendee window, telephone, crawl through tunnel and a grocery store and bank window with drive up window, ATM, shelves for play food. Inside there is a kitchenette, workshop and bank.

It’s big enough inside for 2-3 little kids, but the outdoor walls and their themes mean that it’s a great option for lots of kids to play with at once.

This is without a doubt our favorite playhouse for anyone who has busy, social kids who love to switch games or who get bored easily. They’ll have hours of fun and imaginative play with everything this playhouse has to offer.

  • Material: Durable plastic
  • Ages: 18 months – 6 years
  • Size: 55 x 48.9 x 58 inches
  • Weight: 101 pounds
  • Visibility for parents: Minimal – medium as it depends on the side you have facing the house

What We Like:

Amazing for fostering imaginary play with so many variations of games encouraged via the different themed walls
Easy to clean and assemble
Durable plastic makes this a great outdoor option

Our Concerns:

No enclosed floor
Some parents complain that the stickers don’t hold up well
Doesn’t provide great visibility for parents
Label #4

Step2 Neighborhood Fun Center

Best Playhouse for Active Kids & Their Friends

Step2 neighborhood fun center playhouse

This playhouse is the absolute best for busy and active social kids.

It really encourages physical activity with games for hand-eye coordination, crawl spaces for adventure and a slide which will impress any friend who comes over for a play-date. All in all, it will provide hours of variety and fun.

It features as mentioned, a 4ft slide, activity wall including hook and loop ball target and ring toss, Dutch door and crawl through portal, countertop and two seats and included accessories are 4 rings and 2 balls.

It’s big enough with enough indoor and outdoor features to entertain several kids at once.

We think this playhouse offers a great balance of potential for pretend play and some sports for kids who want more traditional play.

If you’re looking for a playhouse that encourages even MORE active play and more of a playground feel, look just below at the Step2 Clubhouse Climber.

  • Material: Durable plastic
  • Ages: 24 months – 5 years
  • Size: 63.5 x 84 x 58 inches
  • Weight: 105 pounds
  • Visibility for parents: Medium

What We Like:

Great for busy and active kids and a good alternative to taking them to the park
Easy to clean and assemble
Offers options for a few kids to play together for siblings or parties
Very sturdy

Our Concerns:

Doesn’t have many of the regular accessories of other playhouses such as a mailbox, kitchenette etc
Not fully covered for poor weather conditions

Step2 Clubhouse Climber

Best Activity Center/Playhouse Hybrid

If you have busy and active little ones then this is the playhouse for you, especially for kids who’s imaginary games often include daring adventures instead of playing house or families.

It features 2 slides, an elevated clubhouse and lookout tower, rotating steering wheel, non-slip steps and sturdy handrails, multiple lookout windows and a skylight and lower-level tunnels.

This is definitely a playhouse for kids who like to climb and move and crawl and who can spend hours every day at the playground. If you live somewhere with mild all-year weather and active kids, then this is probably going to be the playhouse for you.

We love the thoughtful safety features and sturdy build of this playhouse. It offers a great alternative to more expensive and similar wooden options.

Just be warned that it is smaller than it looks in pictures, so read the dimensions carefully. If your child would prefer more of a traditional playhouse with some active accessories, then our #6 option, the Step2 Neighborhood Fun center might be a better option.

  • Material: Durable Plastic
  • Ages: 2 – 6 years
  • Size: 56.8 x 123 x 70 inches
  • Weight: 240 pounds
  • Visibility for parents: Medium

What We Like:

Easy to clean and assemble
Heavy enough not to require extra weights for outdoor use
Available in earthy tones or bright rainbow colors
Big enough for 4-5 kids to play on at once
Sturdy

Our Concerns:

Doesn’t have many of the regular accessories of other playhouses such as a mailbox, kitchenette etc
Many reviewers mention that their kids quickly outgrew this and would recommend this playhouse for kids 4 and under

ECR4Kids Buccaneer Boat with Pirate Flag

Best Pirate Themed Playhouse

This is such a fun budget playhouse for any little sailor. It’s weather durable for outdoor use, but is a good size to be moved indoor as well.

The pirate theme and boat shape make for a little point of difference and will foster all sorts of imagination and pretend-play for your little ones. It features a bright-colored boat shape, movable steering wheel, pirate’s flag, parrot and anchor.

An important and impressive feature is that it can be easily disassembled and put away, meaning it’s one of the only playhouses which can be easily stored.

It is definitely a niche playhouse, but for the price and ability to be stored, it can be a great additional toy for a little one before they graduate to a bigger and more permanent playhouse.

It’s worth noting that some parents complained about this playhouse being a tipping hazard when kids get particularly rambunctious and question the height of the top guard rail, so you might want to take this into consideration before purchasing this playhouse.

  • Material: Durable plastic
  • Ages: 2-6 years
  • Size: 54.3 x 30.7 x 56.7 inches
  • Weight: 37.5 pounds
  • Visibility for parents: Good

What We Like:

Easy to assemble and clean
Sturdy but easy to disassemble to put away when you’re not using it
Big enough for a couple of kids to play on at the same time
Light enough to move around easily

Our Concerns:

The railing up top could be a little taller for safety purposes
Potential tipping hazard

Simplay3 Garden View Cottage

Whimsical Gingerbread Design

This is, without a doubt, one of the most thoughtfully designed playhouses that we’ve seen for your little ones AND it’s award winning!

With a woodsy cottage style, it’s compact enough for use indoors or outdoors and has great visibility for parents. It’s also very sturdy so it can handle rambunctious play and there are tons of super fun touches for big imaginative play.

Inside there are four corner seats, a play kitchen with an oven, grill and storage for mugs. There’s also a windowsill ‘figure 8’ racetrack and an outdoor play pizza oven.

Because of the clever indoor/outdoor features, it can happily house 2 or 3 kids playing at once. Parents absolutely love this playhouse with 4.5/5 average star ratings on amazon.

  • Material: Plastic
  • Ages: 18 months +
  • Size: 40 x 48 x 52 inches
  • Weight: 65 pounds
  • Visibility: Mostly open

What We Like:

Winner of the 2019 National Parenting Product Award
Great visibility for parents
Compact for indoor or outdoor use
Great combination of a playhouse and play kitchen to encourage big imaginative play
Lightweight but sturdy

Our Concerns:

Probably not big enough to grow with your kids if they’re a bit older
Some parents complained it’s tough to put together and report models missing pre-drilled holes.
Doesn’t come with any cooking accessories

Step2 Naturally Playful Storybook Cottage

Perfect For Fairytale Pretend Play

If your little ones love fairytales this sturdy playhouse by Step2 would make a great addition to your big happy backyard. Weather they’re a princess held prisoner by an evil witch or a knight on a magical mission, the storybook design is sure to provide hours of priceless pretend play opportunities for imaginative kids.

If you are looking for a playhouse for your toddlers to grow into, then this is a great choice. The Step2 Storybook cottage is designed for little ones with big imaginations who want to get several years out of their playhouse.

Featuring molded-in stonework and a thatched roof, this adorable playhouse will fit in with any backyard without being an eyesore.

But it’s not just the look of this playhouse that we love. It also has some great details to encourage imaginative play, such as a kitchenette with sink, faucet, stove with clickable knobs, a fold down table, built in shelves and an electric play phone and doorbell.

Parents love this too with an average 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

  • Material: Plastic
  • Ages: 18 months – 8 years
  • Size: 50.5 x 55 x 64.25 inches
  • Weight: 114 pounds
  • Visibility: Medium – low

What We Like:

Big enough to accommodate a few kids at once
Fold-down table is a thoughtful touch
Aesthetically pleasing for any backyard

Our Concerns:

Visibility may be too low for some parents
Incomplete floor
Complaints about damage on arrival / difficulty with assembly

Step2 Crazy Maze Ball Pit Playhouse

Best for Crazy Ball Play!

Amazing for fine and gross motor skills, this is for any ball obsessed little kid. For some parents, this will not seem valuable at all, but others will see how entertained their kids could be for hours with a playhouse like this.

High visibility and lightweight means that it can easily be moved around for indoor or outdoor use.

This incredible ball-focused playhouse comes with a 22 piece accessory set (20 balls, 2 pitchers) and the games include tossing balls on the roof which roll down through a maze of activities, inner counters which zig-zag balls and a flipper station to flip balls.

There’s also a bottom basin for ball storage which is an absolute relief for any parent who doesn’t want to be falling over loose balls all day! The balls are a standard size and can be easily replaced if any get damaged or lost.

I have also seen this playhouse being sold as the Crazy Maze Ball Pit. The only difference I can see is that the colors on the Crazy Maze are blue and red as opposed to white and green.

  • Material: Durable plastic
  • Ages: 18 months – 10 years (we think more like 5 or 6)
  • Size: 33 x 36 x 42 inches
  • Weight: 36 pounds
  • Visibility for parents:  High

What We Like:

Easy to assemble and clean
Built in storage
Amazing for hand-eye coordination

Our Concerns:

Some reviews complain that the built in balls are flimsy and require replacing
Can be a one-trick pony for kids who don’t LOVE playing with balls

ECR4Kids Jumbo Princess Palace Playhouse

Most Epic Princess Playhouse

This jumbo playhouse is really a dream castle for any little princess. Its features include 9 turrets, 2 flags, 5 open windows, a clock and a working doorbell.

It easily fits 5 or 6 kids inside, making it the perfect place for a princess tea party, slumber party or as an extra place for your little one to have some quiet time in her own space.

It’s huge and is really sturdy as well as weatherproof, meaning it can work really well for outdoor sleepovers during summer if you have an enclosed back yard. It’s also suitable for indoor use if you have enough space and ceilings high enough.

If your ceilings aren’t high enough, you can neglect the highest turrets during assembly which will mean your princess still has her castle, just minus a bit of height.

Some parents complain the inside of this castle can be a little dark, but a lamp or light installation can easily solve this problem. If you install a light it may make your castle less movable though.

For a less extreme pink dream playhouse, check out our number 2, the Little Tikes Princess Cape Cottage Playhouse.

  • Material: Durable plastic
  • Ages: 2 years +
  • Size: 78 x 58 x 98.5 inches
  • Weight: 160.9 pounds
  • Visibility for parents:  Low

What We Like:

The dream princess castle for any little one
Relatively easy to assemble – you will likely need a ladder
Easy to clean and very sturdy

Our Concerns:

Can get dark inside – it’s a good idea to put in a lamp or light
Not easy to move due to size and weight
Low visibility for parents if you decide to have this outside
Hefty price tag

If you don’t have room for the Jumbo Princess Palace (or don’t want to spend the money), ECR4Kids makes a smaller princess playhouse as well. It’s around half the price – but it is nowhere near as epic.

This is a great Playhouse… BUT… you can get something bigger with more features for a lot less money. If your kids love fairy tales this would be a good option, otherwise I would opt for one of the other Playhouses on the list.

Little Tikes Deluxe Home and Garden Playhouse

Best for Little Kids with Varied Interests

We love this playhouse because it will allow kids with different interests to play together and hopefully learn from one another.

It features a Dutch door, a mailbox with flag and fence, kitchenette with stove, sink and working clicker knobs, sand and water table with accessories and cover and a workbench with tools.

As you can see, the range of accessories and features will allow little ones to foster different interests outside of what they’re naturally drawn to.

With a workbench and kitchen, kids can also learn about tools in a safe environment before being shown how the real thing works.

Little kids love to learn rules and there’s nothing more adorable than being scolded about safety by a 4-year-old who’s been practicing with their pretend workbench.

Suited to younger kids, it’s a great starting point before moving on to something more expensive such as the Step2 Gather & Grille Kids Playhouse.

Although, the Ste2 Gather & Grille doesn’t have a workbench, which is a favorite feature of this playhouse for many kids.

  • Material: Durable plastic
  • Ages: 18 months – 5 years
  • Size: 37 x 37 x 52.8 without the sand table and fence, 80.3 x 36.8 x 52.8 with these accessories included
  • Weight: 62 pounds
  • Visibility for parents:  High

What We Like:

Great price for all of the included accessories
Easy to assemble and clean
Big enough for a couple of kids to play together

Our Concerns:

One of the smaller playhouses on the market
No enclosed floor
Many reviews complain about missing pieces

Little Tikes Magic Doorbell Playhouse

Walmart Exclusive

If your toddler is all about the sounds, then this is the playhouse for you. The Little Tikes magic doorbell playhouse comes in a neutral color palette so all of your kids will love it and it will blend nicely into your home or yard.

It has a kitchenette with a stove, counter, oven and cupboards plus a cordless phone, fireplace, mail slot, picture window and working shutters.

The main feature of course is the magic doorbell that has 6 fun sounds that your kids will absolutely love. This playhouse is relatively compact but roomy enough that your kids can grow with it.

Unfortunately some parents complain that the playhouse isn’t as sturdy as they would like, but it still gets 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

  • Material: Plastic
  • Ages: 18months – 6 years
  • Size: 50 x 37 x 47 inches
  • Weight: Not listed
  • Visibility: Medium – High

What We Like:

Magic doorbell with 6 sounds
More built in features than other playhouses at this level
Great size that toddlers can grow into
Neutral color palette

Our Concerns:

You will need an electric drill for assembly – no pre-drilled holes
Not as sturdy as other models

Step2 Grand Walk-In Kitchen & Grill

Best for Budding Chefs

This truly is the king of play-kitchens. The extensive and adorable 103-piece accessory set will really stir the imagination of any future chef or restaurateur.

Its features are that it’s basically a full play kitchen with a light-up stovetop and grill, BBQ grille eat-in station, kitchen cupboards and shelves, large refrigerator, microwave, faucet and sink, pullout bins and of course, the aforementioned 103 piece accessory set including play food, cookware, condiments and utensils.

It’s large enough for several kids to play in at once and is suitable for indoor or outdoor use. This is guaranteed to keep any kid interested in kitchen play entertained for hours and is one of our absolute favorites because of the level of detail.

This is also an amazing way to teach curious minds about the ways of the kitchen where you can teach them about knife and oven safety before letting them practice in the real thing.

So many kids love to imitate their parents, so this is without a doubt, the best thing for any parents who love to cook.

  • Material: Durable plastic
  • Ages: 24 months – 8 years
  • Size: 47.2 x 36.6 x 50.8 inches
  • Weight: 33.8 pounds
  • Features: Basically a full play-kitchen,
  • Visibility for parents:  High

What We Like:

Huge array of included accessories
Easy to clean
Light enough to move around

Our Concerns:

Not quite enough storage for all of the accessories
Tough to put together with many reviews complaining about insufficient pre-drilled holes

Play Kitchen Sets

If you think your kids may enjoy a play kitchen instead of (or in addition to) a play house – be sure to check out this article on our sister site Big Happy House:

>>25 Best Play Kitchen Sets<<

Playhouse Buying Guide

Below we’ve also laid out some commonly asked questions for you to consider before buying your playhouse.

Benefits of a Playhouse

two kids enjoying the playhouse

Playhouses encourage pretend play which is great for cognitive flexibility (creativity), language and communication and socialization. Pretend play also helps kids to problem solve as they work through different scenarios.

Playhouses give kids a private space to work out (and often act out) their emotions which leads to improved emotional intelligence and helps kids establish their place in the world. The solo time also encourages autonomy and independence which improves self-esteem.

Finally outdoor playhouses are great for a child’s physical health.

Best Size for a Playhouse

The size you choose is dependent on the child or age ranges of children, how long you think your kids will use it for and whether or not you want to pass your playhouse on (more about this in materials).

A more spacious playhouse will provide more room to play, but you want to ensure that the playhouse will fit into the space you have designated for it.

You also want to consider your child’s style of play. A social kid will need more room for friends, an active kid more room to run around while a more introverted painter won’t need such a big space.

Indoor vs Outdoor Playhouse

indoor and outdoor playhouses

An outdoor playhouse encourages children to go outside and can often lead to a more spacious play area since you are restrained by the amount of space you’re willing to give up inside. However, they are also vulnerable to the elements, meaning a higher level of upkeep.

You may also feel safer with your child inside if you choose an enclosed playhouse and otherwise might wind up checking constantly on a little one playing outside and out of sight in an enclosed outdoor playhouse.

A good solution to that is a playhouse with fewer walls, but this will mean little use during winter as they are far less weather-proof, especially in colder climates where snow is a factor.

Playhouse Safety

There are some considerations to take into account when answering this question. A well-built, sturdy playhouse with few accessories where you have good visibility of your child is very safe.

That depends on the quality of the playhouse and also your ability to assemble it, which often can be tricky without power tools as mentioned above.

A plastic playhouse is safer for little kids because there are fewer chances of splinters and more rounded edges. That being said, a wooden playhouse with a proper, non-toxic finish should not result in splinters.

A fully enclosed, outdoor playhouse is less safe simply because you cannot easily have your eyes on your child. Playhouses with lots of additional play accessories such as slides and swings naturally have more of a chance to cause accidents because of the activity they encourage.

You should also ensure that your playhouse complies with you country’s product safety commission guidelines. In the US that’s the Consumer Product Safety Commission. It also goes without saying that you should avoid windows made of glass because that is a recipe for disaster with little ones.

Playhouses and the Weather

a playhouse and the weather

Playhouses made of strong plastic and sturdy woods are generally designed to be outdoor structures so are relatively weather-proof. That being said, you should ensure that you read the fine print when choosing a playhouse to make sure it is appropriate for the outdoors.

Plastic will usually do better in wetter climates and wood will be better in warmer regions. Although, any structure left outside for a long time will fade and show the effects of exposure and will likely require some upkeep.

If you choose a wooden playhouse, you want to make sure it has a proper finish that will ensure durability and is non-toxic.

How Easy are Playhouses to Assemble?

Theoretically playhouses should not be difficult to assemble, with pre-drilled holes and screws included in the purchase, it should just be a matter of a hand screwdriver and a bit of grit.

That being said, many parents we know find that playhouses are much easier to assemble and turn out to be sturdier and more secure with the use of a power drill or screwdriver.

You shouldn’t need these tools, but their use will make your job a lot easier.

Frequently Asked Questions About Playhouses

What is the Best Material for a Playhouse?

The short answer is that it depends on what you want. A wooden playhouse is great for a more permanent outdoor structure which will hold up well in all weather conditions. They are generally more expensive but are also larger so more suitable for growing kids and prolonged use.
Plastic playhouses are cheaper, lighter, and tend to be smaller so they are well-suited to a younger child or an indoor or outdoor setting. They usually need to be weighed down for outdoor use, but can also be easily moved inside/outside as required which is great since there are more options for open-walled plastic playhouses.
For a longer discussion on this, see our Wooden vs Plastic playhouse post.

Should I get a themed playhouse?

When we’re talking about themed playhouses, we’re talking about specific Disney, Pixar or TV shows themes such as Frozen, Minions, Dora or Peppa Pig. A themed playhouse is fantastic for the times when your child is really into the latest kids movie or show, but our experience is that they don’t have the longevity of non-specifically themed playhouses. 
A more general theme such as a cottage with a garden, or a wooden cabin with a grille tends to have more longevity and will more easily be passed along to siblings or family. That being said, a creative parent might be able to paint and re-purpose a specifically themed playhouse to give it new life.

How much does a playhouse cost?

The prices of playhouses is incredibly variable depending on size, detail, and accessories. The ones we love and have reviewed range from $172 to $899 which is obviously a huge range! You can get playhouses which are cheaper and, believe it or not, even more expensive. We’ve tried to provide you with a really great range of options to suit every budget.

Do I need a lot of accessories for my kid’s playhouse?

The short answer is no because the whole idea of a playhouse is fostering a child’s imagination and pretend play. That being said, many playhouses do come with really fun accessories such as slides, gardens, letterboxes, working doorbells, and even grilles which can add to your child’s experience.
Our advice is to consider the types of additions that will naturally add to your child’s play and try to choose a playhouse that already includes those accessories/additions. You can, of course, buy the add-ons if you’re so inclined and these can be saved to reignite a child’s passion for their playhouse down the track.

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