14 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

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
Scenic Wooden PlayhouseBest Wooden Playhouse For Toddlers
Scenic All Cedar Wooden Playhouse
2 – 10 yearsCheck Price on Amazon
Backyard Discovery Sweetwater All Cedar Wooden PlayhouseBest Budget Wooden Playhouse For Toddlers
Sweetwater All Cedar Wooden Playhouse
2 – 6 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

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

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. We also love that it comes in multiple color options, providing additional options for parents to choose from.

What We Like:

Amazing details and features
Easy to clean and assemble
Great price
Multiple color palettes to choose from: Either earthy brown/blue tones which will easily blend with the backyard or brighter pink and grays which will pop more
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)

Check Price On Amazon.com

Little Tikes Princess Cape Cottage Playhouse

Best Budget Playhouse for Little Princesses

  • 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

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.

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, check out our number 10 on the list.

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

Check Price On Amazon.com

Step2 Gather & Grille Kids Playhouse

Best for Social Kids or Growing Families

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

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).

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

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Step2 All Around Playtime Patio with Canopy

Best Balance of High Visibility with a Large Number of Features

  • 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

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.

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

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Backyard Discovery Scenic All Cedar Wooden Playhouse

Best Wooden Playhouse For Toddlers

  • Timber:  Cedar
  • Ages: 2 – 10 years
  • Size: 48 x 42 x 53 inches
  • Weight: 150 pounds
  • Visibility for parents: High

This adorable all-cedar playhouse is a great entry-level playhouse for any pre-schooler who wants to have a friend over to play.

It’s definitely suited to the little ones, featuring an all-wood manufacture, two wide-open vista windows which allow for great parent visibility, a Dutch front door, two shelves for flower pots, a plastic play stove, plastic play sink and plastic play cordless telephone.

It also has a large side serving window and a bench outside so customers can sit and be served from the window. It’s adorable accessories rival some of the plastic playhouses we recommend for the little ones, so this is a fantastic wooden alternative if you prefer the look of timber in your yard.

The price point is also really great, only coming in a little higher than some quality plastic playhouses that have similar features. We also love that this playhouse is big enough for your child to have a couple of friends over comfortably.

Our only negative for this adorable playhouse is that some parents complained about some of the all-cedar boards cracking in the assembly process.

As a lightweight, smaller wooden playhouse, this Backyard Discovery item is trying to tick a lot of boxes and they may have gone too thin on the boards.

There are many happy buyers, but enough complaints for us to make mention of it.

An additional note is that the manufacturer recommends you apply a sealant to this cedar playhouse to increase its weather tolerance and durability.

What We Like:

Beautiful design will look great in any garden
More open than most wooden playhouses so parents can keep an eye on their kids
Older kids will love it too
Great warranty: 1 yr parts, 5 yr wood for rot/decay
Unlike plastic, the wood can be painted to any way your heart desires

Our Concerns:

Harder to assemble than a plastic playhouse
Needs to be sealed from weather
Wooden playhouses attract spider and other insects

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Backyard Discovery Sweetwater All Cedar Wooden Playhouse

Best Budget Wooden Playhouse For Toddlers

  • Timber: Cedar
  • Ages: 2 – 6 years
  • Size: 46 x 46 x 55inches
  • Weight: 88 pounds
  • Visibility for parents: High

We absolutely love this budget beauty which is also from Backyard Discovery and you can get it for about $100 bucks less than the Scenic Wooden Playhouse.

With wide-open windows for great parent visibility, natural light and for serving snacks, a Dutch door, two front 4-inch flowerpot holders and weighing only 88 pounds, this lightweight wooden playhouse is a great first option for any youngster with a big imagination.

The Sweetwater playhouse also features indoor plastic accessories such as a sink, stove, pot, pan and utensil set, cordless phone and a working doorbell. So many features wrapped up on one excellent playhouse.

You can easily fit a couple of little ones happily playing inside. The lightweight nature of the Sweetwater playhouse means it’s easy to move around and can work indoors or outdoors.

It does also mean that if you intend for it to be outdoors only, you might want to invest in some anchors or weights in case of wild weather.

Another good thing to note is that the manufacturer states that warranty is only valid if you stain or paint the Sweetwater with outdoor specific sealant.

This accessory packed playhouse gets great reviews and is an Amazon’s choice for wooden playhouses.

Here is a short video by the manufacturer that will give you a better look at this cute little playhouse. You can see in the video that this model is a bit small for the older kids. But for a 2-4-year-old it is perfect.

What We Like:

Taller than many plastic playhouses
Can be painted to match your backyard design scheme
Made with high quality materials
Meets the height requirement
Great warranty: 1 yr parts, 5 yr wood for rot/decay

Our Concerns:

A bit on the small side for a wooden playhouse
Assembly is surprisingly hard for such a small playhouse
Wood is general not as safe as plastic for younger kids

NOTE: This playhouse is currently unavailable – but you can still get the Timberlake Model which is almost exactly the same. It just has a different roof and window styling…

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Little Tikes Endless Adventures Tikes Town Playhouse

Best for Pretend-Play and Fostering Imagination

  • 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

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.

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

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Step2 Neighborhood Fun Center

Best Playhouse for Active Kids & Their Friends

Step2 neighborhood fun center playhouse

NOTE: This Playhouse is Currently Out of Stock

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

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.

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

NOTE: This Playhouse is Currently Out of Stock

Step2 Clubhouse Climber

Best Activity Center/Playhouse Hybrid

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

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.

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

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

Check Price On Amazon

ECR4Kids Buccaneer Boat with Pirate Flag

Best Pirate Themed 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

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.

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

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Step2 Wonderball Funhouse

Best for Crazy Ball Play!

  • 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

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.

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

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ECR4Kids Jumbo Princess Palace Playhouse

Most Epic Princess Playhouse

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

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.

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

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Little Tikes Deluxe Home and Garden Playhouse

Best for Little Kids with Varied Interests

  • 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

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.

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

Check Price On Amazon.com

Step2 Grand Walk-In Kitchen & Grill

Best for Budding Chefs

  • 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

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.

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

Check Price On Amazon.com

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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