Childhood is the time when imaginations run free and great memories are created in the world of make-believe and fantasy. From pretending to be queen or king of the castle, to hosting a tea party, these are the kind of fun activities that enable kids to explore their personalities and to develop: mentally, emotionally and physically.
Playhouses, like bounce houses, are a fantastic way to enhance the world of make-believe and for this reason, remain a staple part of any great childhood. That’s why so many adults are able to look back fondly on the great times they had playing in their own little home.
Playhouses don’t just give your child their very own little space to play, but it’s also good excuse to get them active, socializing and engaging in a wide variety of concepts that will help them thrive and flourish.
There are a wide variety of playhouses for kids and they vary tremendously in terms of size, design, material, and quality. With these in mind, we have selected some of the best indoor playhouse and the best outdoor playhouse designs that will allow your child to escape into a world of fun and adventure.
Best Outdoor Playhouse for Toddlers: Reviewed!
Little Tikes Picnic on the Patio Kids Playhouse
This playhouse is the perfect little home for kids to host pretend dinner parties and comes complete with picnic table, pretend food, table set and phone, which is certainly an advantage as these typically need to be purchased separately. The neutral color scheme, complete with faux stonework means this design looks far better than the garish playhouses of the past.
While some kids sit out and enjoy the sun at the table, the little cooks can get busy in the kitchen, cooking the food on the pretend stove. The oven even comes with moveable knobs, so they can get right into the role and pretend like they are turning it on and off.
The playhouse itself features wide open windows, so kids are always easy to monitor from afar and thanks to the amount of air circulation this allows, it won’t get too hot either!
Inside the playhouse, there are kitchen cupboards, as well as fireplace and stove to give a real homely feel. Once the food is ready and prepared the cooks inside can pass it through the hatch and straight onto the picnic table to their dinner guests. There’s even a battery powered doorbell with a variety of noises, so kids can get right into the role.
This playhouse is made for kids aged 18 months to 4 years and is a great way to get your kids outdoors and enjoying a picnic with friends in the sun. Since it encourages group play, this is a great toy to help kids develop social skills, confidence and explore their imaginations.
Step2 Gather & Grille Playhouse
If you are looking for a large playhouse perfect for keeping groups of kids entertained, then this large playhouse by Step2 is a good choice. Complete with Grille, kids will be able to get busy as little chefs and cook food for their friends and just like a real home it comes complete with seating, windows and even a fireplace.
The large windows and open patio area provide ample ventilation and allow lots of natural light in. It also makes keeping an eye on the kids easy for parents. The house itself features pale brown walls along with pops of colors for a fun yet subtle design that will look great in any backyard.
The playhouse features a door complete with a doorbell; this allows kids to request entry by pressing the bell which emits a realistic tone. Small details like this help enhance play and make the experience so much more fun.
The interior of the playhouse is spacious and has plenty of room for several kids to play. It also features a faux fireplace, clock, condiment shelf and small kitchenette area where kids can play washing up at the sink or prepare food on the worktop.
The patio area opens up to a built-in seating area and grill where kids can cook and serve delicious faux meals to one another. It also comes with a 5 piece accessory kit that includes two sauce bottles and three kitchen utensils.
Best Wooden Playhouses
KidKraft Modern Outdoor Playhouse
Many parents prefer the look of a wooden playhouse in their backyard and garden, while many kids also enjoy the more authentic and organic feel or a wood construction. This stunning playhouse features a spacious interior, complete with skylight windows, front door, and grill, picnic table, complete with serving hatch. This means kids can have lots of fun with pretend-meal prep indoors and when they’re done enjoy their hard work, having a feast at the table.
The picnic table is large enough to seat two kids comfortably, while the interior has enough space for other kids to play and cook fake hot dogs and other tasty food on the grill. There’s even a pretend kitchenette, so kids can take turns doing the washing up too.
The playhouse also includes a chalkboard, where kids can draw and even perhaps write a menu display, as well as a letterbox that allows kids to slide letters into and open it in up using the red lever. Other details such as the red curtains and white windows give this playhouse a real homely feel.
Since it’s made from wood, you also have the freedom to paint it or stain it a color of your choice, this is not an issue with the plastic houses. Naturally, many parents worry about wood deteriorating, however, the wooden panels have been reinforced and treat with a water-resistant coating to help prevent warping and rotting for extra longevity.
Backyard Discovery Victorian Inn Cedar Playhouse
The Victorian Inn has a beautiful wooden aesthetic that resembles the homes of an era gone by and will allow kids to explore the limits of their imagination. Since it looks so good, it will easily blend into almost any backyard or garden seamlessly. The panelized walls also make assembly straightforward and speedy, which is always a bonus for busy parents!
This large playhouse design is more than big enough for group play and kids can partake in multiple fun activities, both inside and outside of the playhouse. Inside there is a modern looking faux kitchen complete with all the essential appliances and includes worktops, stove and sink where kids can get busy preparing and cooking food, there’s even a pretend phone for taking telephone calls and possibly orders from hungry customers outside. The house also comes with a selection of plastic food including fruit and vegetables, perfect for making delicious meals for friends and family.
On the exterior of the playhouse is a serving station and bench where other kids can await being served the delicious food being prepared by the little chefs from the kitchen inside the humble abode.
The playhouse exterior also includes a front porch, as well as flower pot shelves and bay windows. The window shutters can also be open and closed and the roof resembles the genuine tile effect on real homes. This attention to detail is one of the reasons this playhouse looks so beautiful and why kids will love spending hours on end having fun and getting lost in pretend-play with their friends or their own imagination.
Best Playhouse with Slide
Backyard Discovery Cedar Wood Playset
If you want a playhouse with a slide to keep kids entertained for hours on end, then this beautifully built Cedar playset with swings and wave slide will certainly offer the complete playground experience. When the kids aren’t busy hosting a pretend dinner party in the playhouse o having a picnic on the bench, they can have an adrenaline filled fun climbing, swinging and sliding.
The playhouse interior boats all of the most popular features including kitchen appliances such as faucets, sink, hob, and stove. This is the perfect environment for kids to play cooking games, where they can serve one another food and even pretend to run a fast food restaurant. Kids can also site on the bench outside and the kids busy indoors cooking can serve the food once it’s ready to east. This is the perfect set up to foster social development and interaction between kids.
The house is built to last and withstand the test of time and includes details that make it look great and feel almost like a real home. This includes white window details, large open windows and impressive gables. Cedarwood not only looks great and has a fantastic grain, but it is particularly hardy wood that is able to withstand environmental damage far longer than some others.
Kids can climb up to a second level to access the 10-foot slide using the rear ladders. From here kids can play watch out, hide and seek or make a quick escape down the slide. The set also includes 2 belt swings as well as a glider for toddlers and younger children and a rock climbing wall for kids who are looking for a challenge.
Step2 Clubhouse Climber
If you want a playhouse that helps to promote physical activity and encourage social interaction with others youngsters, the Step2 Clubhouse is a good option. It’s equipped with crawl areas, tunnels, steps, platforms and slides for the ultimate outdoor experience.
Made from an extremely durable and waterproof material, this playhouse will last a lifetime and will require very little maintenance, especially when compared to wooden playhouses that require routine staining. There’s also no risk of splinters and it’s very easy to wipe clean if required. The modular nature of the pieces also makes assembly a piece of cake!
Ideal for individual or group play, the clubhouse design makes pretend play engaging and fun. Kids can easily crawl beneath the playhouse right from one end to the other, which also makes this platform a great hideout and for games such as tag. Inside the playhouse is a skylight and steering wheel, making adventures to outer space, sailing the seven seas or other pretend-play adventures unforgettable.
Overall this is a great toy for getting young kids on the move and increasing physical activity. Through coordinating the challenging course, kids will be improving their coordination and motor skills, all while having fun and interacting with others.
Best Playhouse for Girls
Step2 Sweetheart Playhouse
If you are looking for the perfect little girl playhouse, then a pink style house is probably what you have in mind. This gingerbread style home by Step2 is the perfect playhouse for girls to host tea parties and pretend play activities with friends.
Inside the playhouse is ample room for a get together with friends and the pink roof has its very own skylight to allow extra sunlight and ventilation inside. Meanwhile, the window shutters can be opened as well as the front door to welcome a light breeze in warm climates or during the summer months. There’s even a clock inside, which helps kids familiarize themselves with the concept of time and counting numbers.
A barbeque and cooking counter is also found inside that flips out where food can be cooked and prepared for hosting a potential tea party. There’s also a pretend phone and doorbell, which with AAA batteries make a range of interactive noises, sure to make pretend-play and other role-playing games exciting.
This particular playhouse is recommended for kids from 18 months to 6 years of age. It’s sure to be loved by any little girl and is a fantastic toy to aid social interaction and play.
Step2 Happy Home Cottage
If you are looking for a large playhouse for girls, then the Step2 Happy Home Cottage is just that. This little pink cottage features a cute pink roof, a stone masonry styled base, and a wide-open design to ensure spacious play and easy monitoring for parents as well as a comfortable temperature inside.
Kids can enter the playhouse via the Dutch door positioned at the front of the house, but not before pressing the doorbell to request entry. With AAA batteries the doorbell emits a tone to inform others inside of a new arrival – the perfect prop for imaginative play with friends. Just beneath the bell is a post box where letters and secret messages can be passed through to those inside.
Inside the playhouse is kitted out like a real house and includes a fireplace, clock, kitchen area, seat and pretend phone. From here, kids can really let their imaginations run wild and host a pretend dinner party, faux a restaurant or even a cafe to feed all of their friends.
The lightweight plastic design means that the playhouse is extremely durable, easy to clean and straightforward to move around the garden or place into storage during the winter months. Designed for kids from 18 months of age, this is a large enough playhouse for group play and parents can easily pop their head in and out of the large windows to join in.
Factors to Consider when Choosing a Playhouse for Kids
A playhouse may seem like a pretty standard toy, but believe it or not, there is a lot of different types of playhouses available to purchase. Some are designed with outdoor play in mind, while others are designed for large groups and indoor play. Other important factors include the age of your child, size, material, quality of the design, features and overall reputation. Here we outline some important things to look out for:
Indoor or outdoor playhouse?
If you only intend on your kids using the playhouse outdoors in your garden or backyard, then your choice of the playhouse is quite broad and diverse. However, if you want to move it indoors during winter or permanently house it inside, then you will need to take a bit more consideration of the kind of house you choose.
If you want an indoor playhouse you will need to first take a note of its dimensions, typically found in the manufacturer’s instructions and product details. Ensure you have the required space indoors to house it and ensure it’s lightweight enough to be easily moved around and safe for your properties structure. For this reason, small fabric and plastic playhouses will be most appropriate.
The Material of the Playhouse – Wood Vs Plastic
Another thing to consider is the type of material the playhouse is constructed from, typically this includes wood, plastic and sometimes fabric. The material choice will impact it’s durability, maintenance, and weight and therefore certainly worth bearing in mind before making a final decision.
- Wood Playhouses
Wood playhouses tend to look the best and be preferred by parents since they don’t look as garish and obvious as the plastic variety. There is also a lot more choice in terms of style, paintwork, colors and customization, however, they tend to be much heavier than plastic houses, making them difficult if not impossible to move around. They also require much more maintenance, including routine staining and paintwork touch-ups.
- Plastic Playhouses
Plastic playhouses, on the other hand, are much lighter and therefore easier to move around the garden. They are also much more durable and therefore last longer and are splinter-free, which is always a bonus when kids are involved. Lastly, they are very easy to clean and require next to zero maintenance as the weather and other environmental conditions have little effect on them.
Some playhouses have the standard four walls, a door, and roof, however, some offer much more than that. The best playhouses include moveable and interactive gadgets such as wheels, kitchen appliances, clocks, phones and battery-powered doorbells that play music. These are all great ways to enhance your child’s playtime, helping to stimulate their imagination and social interaction with other kids.
Some premium houses also include a range of fun physical features including slides, swings, ladders, climbing walls and monkey bars which add a completely different dimension and allow your children to exercise and play simultaneously.
The Size of the Playhouse – Area Available
How many kids are going to be using the playhouse at any one time? How much space do you have to hose the playhouse? These are the essential questions to ask before you make a decision as they will dictate the size of the playhouse to meet your requirements.
If you have limited space and one or two kids to keep entertained, then a small playhouse is fine, however, if you have lots of kids to keep entertained and a large amount of space then a large playhouse complete with slides, swings, and benches is probably the best option.
The age of your children will also dictate the size of the playhouse. You should always check the product details for the recommended age of use, however, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t choose one that is too large, intimidating and potentially unsafe for toddlers to use.
Ease of Assembly
Do you want a playhouse to double up as a DIY project? Or do you want a playhouse that will be up and ready to use in next to no time? The general rule is the larger the playhouse the longer it will take to assemble, with wood playhouses typically being more complex and time-consuming.
If you prefer easy assembly over anything else, then plastic is always the best route to take. These are typically modular in nature and so are very straightforward to slot together and secure. Of course, these are only general rules, so make sure to always check the manufacturer’s guidance and product details.