Outdoor Play Equipment: The Gear You Need For Outside Fun

The weather is warming up, the days seem nicer and everyone is itching to get to the park or play in the backyard. That's why we gathered all the outdoor play equipment and outdoor kids toys you’ll need to make the most of your summer with the little ones.


Father hiking with toddler

If you have babies or toddlers taking a hiking backpack or some sort of baby wearing device on your hike in the mountains is highly recommended. Top brands of hiking backpacks include but aren't limited to Osprey, Deuter and Kelty Kids, all which we tend to carry in stock and gently used. They don’t have to stay in a carrier the whole time, but it’s great to have options, especially if your kid needs a nap or gets tired easily. 

Other great kid gear to have on hand is a pair of binoculars, both for looking at birds, trees and far away deer; and for children to play with as they walk around. Many kids also love searching for bits of nature to study and/or take along with them. This could be a funny stick, beetle, flower or rock, or in the case of our preschooler, lots and lots of rocks. For these reasons it's good for them to have their own backpack or fanny pack so you don’t end up a pack mule. For older kids, a guide on the natural world or a flower press can enhance exploration. And if you’re feeling really energetic, give camping with kids a try too.

Park Play

Explore the parks and playgrounds near you and make an adventure out of it by bringing along all the outdoor kid toys you need. For starters, a simple ball is great for basic tossing around, kicking and throwing, all depending on the size. Balls are good for just about any age, especially as a toddler outdoor toy and for kids who love sports.

The park is also a great place to break out the bike, trike, skateboard and scooter and take advantage of smooth surfaces and no traffic to contend with. Whether your kid is just learning to ride, practicing or wants to go free with the wind on their cheeks, this activity will invigorate and hopefully wear them out. Just don't forget to also grab a helmet to keep those little heads safe in case they fall.

While you’re already in the park you might as well include a picnic as part of the fun, after all, no one wants to leave the playground because they’re hungry. Go the eco-friendly way and bring plastic plates and utensils that can be brought back home and washed, as well as a take-along water bottle. Use a fancy picnic basket or make it easier to cart along by taking your picnic inside a roomy diaper bag or backpack. A wagon also can be a fun addition to a park outing, both to carry the outdoor play equipment and your sleepy children at the end of the adventure.

Backyard Fun 

Outdoor play equipment is a fantastic way to give kids something to do outside, be that a simple slide, whole gym or even some wood logs and stumps to mess around on via the Montessori method. A playhouse or structure made of sticks and pieces of cloth can be a lot of fun as well. And don't underestimate the joy of water, whether you put on the sprinkler or fill up a water table. Really, anything that promotes pretend play and imagination while getting kids outside is a win in our book.

Toddler outdoor toys are another thing to consider when planning for backyard fun. Outside only ride-on toys are perfect for racing, pretending to go somewhere and to push around a little brother, sister, doll or stuffed lion. We have even seen a play kitchen outside so children can perfect their skills at mud pies and sand soup. Sidewalk chalk is another great pastime to do outside and at your own house, and anyone can join in. Overall, as long as you’re not afraid of a little dirt and mess, a day in the sun in your own backyard is all many kids need to be happy.

Day at the Zoo

One of the best pieces of outdoor gear to bring to the zoo is a wagon. This not only works to cart kids around, but it can hold snacks, treats, sun hats, water bottles and that stuffed giraffe your child talked you into buying. There are so many options in this category too, from a simple fold out canvas wagon to the classic red Radio Flyer to stroller wagon hybrids like the Wonderfold W4 and the Veer Cruiser. Pair that with an umbrella to help keep the sun off their heads, and you have the perfect zoo set up.

Now, just because you committed to a day at the zoo, that doesn't mean your family has to be walking around the whole time. Most zoos have grassy knolls, picnic spots and shaded play areas for resting and snacking. This is also a good time to let your little ones decompress with a little pretend play focused on the creatures they saw. A good collection of plastic animals is great to have on hand, and while it's fine to have a collection at home maybe have your child bring two of their favorites along for the ride. These are a great outdoor kid toy not just because of durability, but if it gets dirty it's easy to wash.

Outdoor Sports 

Softball is always a good sport to play outside, and it's good for ages starting at around 5 or 6. Stock up on balls or make sure everyone has their own "special" ball so they can keep track of it. There's also soccer, football, baseball and T-ball, which is a lot like softball but for younger kids. In fact, T-ball is a great toddler outdoor toy, and the set made by Little Tikes is a perfect one for those starting out since it’s lightweight, inexpensive and easy to clean. And, if you're at home consider adding a portable basketball hoop for games outside in the yard.

Swimming is another popular summertime activity to do outside. If your kids are already comfortable in water and have swimming skills they will love having a kickboard to play with, swim goggles to use to explore under the water and any kind of pool toy around, be that an inflatable ball, diving games or squirt gun. Toddlers, babies and kids who can't swim yet would benefit from having a life jacket on hand or pool floaties to help keep them safe (though they should never be left unsupervised). There are also handy swim floats for babies that allow half of the infant to be in the water while the torso and head are above. It’s a fun way for mom and dad to “swim” with their baby.


Explore Related Articles

Join the Village

Sign up for our newsletter to geek out on new gear, practical tips & exclusive offers.
Please enter valid email & phone

Thanks for joining us!

Check your email for a confirmation message.

Please enter a valid email