The Best Outdoor Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers to Get Moving

The Melissa & Doug Giddy Buggy Tote Set is durable, vibrant, and guaranteed fun

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Commerce Photo Composite

Verywell Family / Sabrina Jiang

To encourage outdoor play, great outdoor toys are a must-have. The right ones can make enjoying warm weather fun for the whole family, and help your child build new skills. What toddler doesn’t love a bicycle or sandbox digger?

Reviewed & Approved

The Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Giddy Buggy Toy Set includes a durable tote bag to hold the included garden tools: a spray bottle, rake, and shovel. For a classic toy that's always fun, we recommend the Crayola Washable Sidewalk Chalk.

The best outdoor toys for toddlers are age-appropriate so that they promote physical activity, creativity, or playing in a new way, like with bubbles or water. "Keep in mind that this age group is continuously growing and developing, so toys that grow with kids—physically or with skill-building—are packed with major play value," says Maddie Michalik, senior editor at The Toy Insider. We carefully considered developmental milestones, toy safety, design, ease of cleaning, and value when reviewing products.

Here are our favorite outdoor toys for toddlers, because the fresh air is calling!

Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Giddy Buggy Toy Set

4.9
Melissa and Doug Sunny Patch Giddy Buggy Tote Set

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Bright, fun colors

  • Four gardening pieces included

  • Tote is made of durable fabric

Cons
  • No gloves

The Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Giddy Buggy Tote Set earns our top spot because it features fun tool pieces for gardening and a place to store them. Plus, if you want to foster a love of the outdoors in your kiddo, this adorable gardening tote set from Melissa & Doug is a great first step. The set includes a durable tote bag to hold the included garden tools: a spray bottle, rake, and shovel.

The tools are made from plastic that’s easy to clean when your kiddo is done digging. The set is safe for children 3 years old and up, so they’ll likely get plenty of use out of it the next several years.

Little Tikes T-Ball Set

4.7
Little Tikes T-Ball Set

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Adjustable height

  • Wall-mounted storage option

  • Five plastic tee balls included

Cons
  • No storage for balls

  • No weighted bottom (tips over easily)

Recommended for children 18 months old and up, this T-ball set from Little Tikes takes outdoor play up a notch. Even if your family has no interest in sports, toddlers will benefit from developing motor skills and hand-eye coordination. The tee’s height is adjustable, so you can change it as your child’s skills develop or for multiple children. Once everyone has hit a home run, simply store the set on the wall via a unique hanging design.

Step2 Summer Showers Splash Tower Water Table

4.6
Step2 Summer Showers Splash Tower Water Table

Courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond

Pros
  • Encourages sensory exploration

  • Develops fine motor skills

  • Includes extra accessories

Cons
  • Expensive

A water table is a must for the summertime fun with your toddler.  They are great because they combine sensory exploration and motor skill development. Additionally, "They also incorporate STEM play that teaches cause and effect, and promote social skills such as sharing and taking turns," says Maddie Michalik, senior editor at The Toy Insider.

This outdoor toy is great when it comes to types of play and the different skills it will spark in your child. Aside from STEM play and other social skills, your child can spark their creativity and pretend play by making the duck swim on the bottom level or pouring water over other toys. 

We like this water table in particular for its bright colors, the springboard attachment, and the extra accessories included like the rubber duck, bucket, and scoop. Kids love the sound of the rain as the waterfalls from the top tier!

What the Experts Say

"Water tables introduce children to very early physics concepts. It is early science wrapped in summer fun. Toddlers start to play with motion when they splash and learn about flowing water. Parents and caregivers can ask children to make a prediction if an object will sink or float. Invite toddlers to fill, dump, and count cups of water." Kristin Morency Goldman, senior communications specialist, The Toy Association

Lydaz Bubble Lawn Mower

Lydaz Bubble Lawn Mower

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Removable handle

  • Automatically blows bubbles

  • Three bubble solutions/sticks included

Cons
  • No cover on bubble tray

  • Batteries required

Bubbles are a favorite toy among toddlers, so you can’t go wrong with the Lydaz Bubble Lawn Mower. This push mower makes realistic sounds while shooting out tons of bubbles. While it requires three AA batteries, the bubble mower does include three bottles of bubble solution and three bubble wands.

Radio Flyer Folding Treetop Climber Playset

Radio Flyer Climber Playset

Courtesy of Walmart

Pros
  • Folds flat 

  • Secret play space under platform

  • Outdoor or indoor use

Cons
  • Could be taller

Bring the playground home with this budget-friendly playset for children 2 years old and up. With a rotating steering wheel, secret hiding place, telescope, slide, and more, this playhouse can be used outdoors and indoors, making it a great investment. 

We think parents and caregivers will appreciate this playhouse’s folding feature, which allows the playset to fold completely flat for easy storage. The Radio Flyer Treetop Climber only weighs about 32 pounds and measures 58.1 x 24.67 x 61.3 inches, so there’s plenty of space for multiple children.

Sisland Bean Bag Toss Game

Sisland Bean Bag Toss Game

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Can be used at the beach, home, etc. 

  • Durable polyester fabric 

  • 6 bean bags included

Cons
  • Difficult to fold back into carrying case

Some of the best outdoor toys are also great to use indoors, which is why the Sisland Bean Bag Toss Game earns a spot on our list. The cornhole target can be set up in less than one minute, and it’s lightweight enough to carry outside to inside or vice versa. It comes with six bean bags, so kiddos 3 years old and up can play independently or with a friend.

Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike

4.8
Strider 12 Sport Balance Bike

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • No training wheels/pedals needed

  • Built-in footrest

  • Adjustable seat/handlebars

Cons
  • Pedals, other attachments sold separately

  • Assembly required

A bicycle is a classic outdoor toy that’ll never go out of style. The Strider Sport Balance Bike, which doesn’t have training wheels or pedals, is perfect for beginners learning to find their balance, and it’s safe for children 18 months old and up. 

Available in a variety of colors, the bike comes with 12-inch tires that are puncture-proof, so you don’t have to worry about filling them up or replacing them. Plus, the lightweight bike includes an adjustable seat and handlebars to find a comfortable fit.

Lofty Kites for Kids

Lofty Kites for Kids

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Easy to assemble and use

  • Made with recycled materials 

  • Wooden handle

Cons
  • Adult help possibly needed for assembly

  • String catches on wooden handle

Kites are fun for the whole family, and with this kite from Lofty, even the smallest members of the family can soar. The kite features durable ripstop fabric made from recycled plastic with hand-drawn illustrations, 100 feet of line, as well as strong poles and a long tail for extra stability while in the air.

Assembly is a breeze, but keep in mind that younger children may need help putting the poles together. Parents and caregivers will love the kite’s included carrying bag for easy storage.

Toys+ Playground Ball

Toys+ Playground Ball

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Multiple style options

  • Colors are vibrant

  • Very bouncy

Cons
  • Pump needed to inflate ball

  • Pump not included

Sometimes, all toddlers need to burn off energy is a ball. At 8.5 inches in diameter, this ball is available in a variety of style options, like rainbow or the American flag. While a pump is typically not included with the ball, there are other buying options that include a pump if you need one. Whether your toddler kicks, tosses, rolls, or bounces the ball, it’s made of durable, child-safe materials to withstand hours of play.

Click N’ Play Beach Toys

Click N' Play Beach Toys

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • 18 pieces included

  • Mesh storage backpack

  • Non-toxic, BPA-free plastic 

Cons
  • Pieces are small

  • Straps on backpack could be stronger

For families who love the beach, we think you’ll love this beach toy set from Click N’ Play. The set is recommended for children 3 years old and up, and has 18 pieces for digging, scooping, and molding fun, including a rake, watering can, and bucket. All the pieces fit nicely into a mesh backpack, so your little one can carry it down to the beach. If you aren’t near a beach, the toys are just as fun in regular sandboxes or kinetic sand.

Restcloud Bug Catcher Kit

Restcloud Bug Catcher Kit

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Encourages STEM learning 

  • Two magnifier toys for closer observation 

  • Critter case included

Cons
  • Bug catcher comes apart easily

  • No latch on case door

Encourage your toddler’s scientific exploration with a bug catcher kit. A critter case, butterfly net, magnifying glass, tweezers, bug catcher, and container with a magnifying lid are all included in the set. The critter case features a sliding door for easy access and a mesh siding to give bugs air. This toy allows kids 3 years old and up, and grown-ups, to examine bugs and insects up close without actually having to touch them (if that’s not your thing).

Liberty Imports My First Garden Wagon and Tools Set

Liberty Imports My First Garden Set

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • 16 tool pieces included

  • Wagon pole swivels up or down

  • Wagon doubles as storage for tools

Cons
  • Plastic is not sturdy

For kiddos who love helping in the garden, we recommend checking out this gardening set from Liberty Imports. The set includes more than a dozen pieces needed for playing in the dirt, like a metal rake, shovel, buckets, watering can, and more. The highlight of the set is the wagon, which stores all the pieces when they’re not being played with.

Kidzlane Bubble Machine

Kidzlane Bubble Machine

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Easy to use

  • Portable

  • Quiet operation

Cons
  • Bubble solution doesn't last long

The Kidzlane Bubble Machine ranks high on our list because bubbles have been entertaining kids for years, and this dolphin-shaped bubble machine is no exception. It’s automatic, easy to use, and has a 500 bubble output per minute and 10 spinning wands.

Bring this bubble machine to the park, set it up at a birthday party or just have fun with it in the backyard. It’s adorable and sure to keep your toddler engaged for hours alone or with friends.

Crayola Washable Sidewalk Chalk

Crayola Washable Sidewalk Chalk

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Inspires creativity

  • Durable

  • Easy to grip

Cons
  • Some colors may stain sidewalk

Your child’s imagination will soar with this pack of sidewalk chalk from Crayola. It includes 48 color options for your little ones to choose from and each has fun color names, such as “Granny Apple,” embossed on the side.

The chalk pieces are thick so they won’t break easily or run out and are easy for toddlers to grip. Reviewers rave about this sidewalk chalk because the colors stay vibrant and it’s easy to wash out of clothing. 

"Toddlers can make the driveway their canvas with a set of sidewalk chalk. Just a few simple colors will unleash a lot of design options," says Kristin Morency Goldman, senior communications specialist at The Toy Association.

Flybar My First Foam Pogo Jumper

Flybar My First Foam Pogo Jumper

Amazon

Pros
  • Can also be used indoors

  • Durable

  • Develops balance and hand-eye coordination

Cons
  • Squeaks when used

The Flybar pogo stick is designed for both indoor and outdoor use and made to withstand all conditions. It’s made of high-quality, durable foam that was built to last and won’t scratch your floors.

You can’t go wrong with a toy that keeps the kiddos active while also working on hand-eye coordination and balance. With every bounce, the pogo stick makes a fun squeaking sound and the fun characters and colors are a bonus. 

Little Tikes First Slide

Little Tikes First Slide

Courtesy of Walmart

Pros
  • Easy assembly

  • Folds up for easy storage

  • Pairs with ball pits or kiddie pools

Cons
  • Plastic edges can be sharp

Bring the park to your backyard with this 3-foot slide for beginners from Little Tikes. This slide is easily assembled with no tools required and folds up nicely for compact storage or to move and take on the go. This slide will grow with your toddler as it holds up to 60 pounds and is great to put on the edge of a ball pit or a kiddie pool. 

HITOP Kids Sprinklers

HITOP Kids Sprinklers

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Easy assembly

  • Teaches numbers, colors, and marine life

  • BPA-free

Cons
  • Slippery

This dynamic combo of sprinkler and splash pad is sure to be a neighborhood favorite. Easily connect the hose to the inlet on the side and watch the splash pad fill while controlling the strength of the sprinkler.

The 60-inch pool is deep enough to kick and splash but shallow enough to ensure your toddler is safe. The fun mermaid and marine life design is bright and playful and makes for a perfect game of “count the fish.”

If your child isn’t in the gaming mood, you can rest assured they’re experiencing different types of play with this outdoor toy. Aside from sparking their imagination, this toy turns water into a sprinkler, leading to a lot of physical activity and just enjoying the summer sun.

Little Tikes Cozy Truck Ride-On

Little Tikes Cozy Truck Ride-On

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Durable

  • Develops fine motor skills

  • Can also be used indoors

Cons
  • Expensive

A re-designed classic, this ride-on truck with a removable floorboard is durable and comes fully loaded with a drop-down tailgate, gas cap, working horn, and off-road wheels. It has a realistic front grill that will make your child feel like a true adult driving a vehicle.

From there, you can help your child tap into their imagination and go wild. They can get creative through pretend play by making truck sounds, moving their steering wheel, or even filling up their fake gas tank.  Their development of fine motor skills in a fun way makes this a neat educational toy or tie-in with a homeschool curriculum if that is important to you.

You can either push the car or use the removable floorboard so your toddler can exercise their independence and move the truck with their own little feet.

What the Experts Say

"Ride-on toys help with mobility, endurance, sensory awareness, and coordination. Kids will develop strength in their arm and leg muscles as they ride around and explore their surroundings. In addition to keeping their bodies moving, ride-on toys help to develop fine motor skills as kids grip onto the wheels and handlebars and turn to steer." —Maddie Michalik, senior editor, The Toy Insider

Radio Flyer Red Rider Trike

Radio Flyer Red Rider Trike

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Durable

  • Adjustable seat

  • Has extra storage space

Cons
  • Wheels are plastic

The Radio Flyer is a well-loved brand that’s been around for generations, and its tricycle is great for beginner riders. It has quiet wheels and durable construction.  Fans of the product rave about the back compartment (or as their little ones call it the “trunk”) because it can be filled with your toddler’s favorite toys to take along for the ride. 

With an adjustable seat,  it is perfect for your growing child and is good for ages 3 to 5 years old. 

Reeves International The Big Dig Sandbox Digger Excavator Crane

5
Sand toy digger

Reeves International

 

Pros
  • 360-degree swivel

  • Durable

  • Easy assembly

Cons
  • Expensive

Kids love to dig, and this functional digger makes them feel like true construction operators. It has a 360-degree swivel action and a two-handed crane that reaches 33 inches when extended to dig and dump. With its 110-pound weight limit and sturdy construction, your toddler will be immersed in the construction zone for many years.

Final Verdict

Let your little one learn the magic of gardening—or just the fun of digging in the dirt—with the Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Giddy Buggy Toy Set. You also can’t go wrong with the Step2 Summer Showers Splash Tower Water Table. They’ll be entertained for a long time filling and spilling cups, washing their toys, and splashing.

How We Selected the Best Outdoor Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers

We chose the best outdoor toys for toddlers by researching reviews from customers and competitors, and studying the features of more than 50 products on the market. We considered age recommendations, design, ease of use, ease of assembly, additional features, material, and value when deciding our picks. We also consulted with Maddie Michalik, senior editor at The Toy Insider, for any considerations or product recommendations while reviewing guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics on toy buying safety.

What to Look for in Outdoor Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers 

Age Level

Kristin Morency Goldman, senior communications specialist at the Toy Association, emphasizes the importance of the manufacturer’s age-grading on products. "When a toddler uses a ride-on or another toy that is meant for older kids, they risk getting hurt or getting frustrated and discouraged."

"Families should also consider what their child in interested in," Goldman says, "This season’s must-have toy is only fun if it’s fun for your child."

Play Type

Toddlers like variety. If you’re investing in two or three outdoor toys for the summer ahead, choose a few different types of play. For instance, get one toy that incorporates water like a sprinkler, one for pretend play, and one for creativity.

The goal is to keep your child occupied and for them to build new skills. Changing it up will keep them engaged.

Durability

No matter where you live, your outdoor toys will see all kinds of weather and should be built to withstand rough play as well as seasonal changes. Avoid anything with small, breakable pieces or anything that tears easily. Plastic is a good choice.

Safety 

Unlike indoor toys, your child probably won’t be as careful when playing with their outdoor toys. Both younger and older children may play with toys like slides and trikes, and just like at a park, accidents happen.

Take safety into consideration when choosing a toy, especially for toddlers (a sharp bike wheel or slide that is too high, for example, should be avoided) or when water is involved.

When it comes to ride-on toys, Michalik emphasizes the importance of the age recommendation set by the manufacturer, protective gear like a helmet and pads, and adult supervision. "Parents also want to make sure they properly store ride-ons, especially ones that charge and run on batteries, to prevent damage and to keep kids from wandering around potentially dangerous situations," she says.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How should you clean outdoor toys?

    Clean hard plastic outdoor toys with a mixture of hot water and bleach. If you don't want to use harsh chemicals, you can use baking soda and white vinegar with hot water instead. Using a rag, wipe the cleaning solution all over the toy. Scrub any areas that are visibly dirty. Smaller toys can be soaked in the solution before scrubbed and rinsed.

  • How do you get water out of outdoor toys?

    To get water out of toys, first squeeze out all the water you can. Then, point a blow dryer right at the opening to dry out any water than didn't get out. If you think mold might have grown, you can put a mixture of hot water and bleach into the toy and leave it in there for about 10 minutes before following the above steps.

  • Can outdoor toys be left outside all the time?

    It is best to cover outdoor plays when they are not in use if you want to leave them outside all the time. Use a tarp or a sheet and tie it down well, or put toys in a large plastic tub. This helps protect your toys from the elements, so they last longer. It also helps to keep them clean for the next time they are used.

  • Why is outdoor play important?

    Playing outside helps to make sure kids get enough physical exercise each day. Toddlers and preschoolers need three hours of active play time each day and older children need a cumulative 60 minutes. Outdoor play also helps kids discover nature, which helps them develop their curiosity.

Why Trust Verywell Family 

Deanna McCormack is a freelance writer who specializes in family and lifestyle products. In her spare time, she researches and reviews the latest kids’ toys and gear. She has two kids of her own and lives in sunny Arizona, so she knows the value of great outdoor toys.

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kelsey Logan, MD, Steven Cuff, MD, Cynthia R. LaBella, MD, et al. Organized Sports for Children, Preadolescents, and Adolescents. Pediatrics (2019) 143 (6): e20190997.

  2. How to buy safe toys. HealthyChildren.org.

  3. American Academy of Pediatrics. Making physical activity a way of life: AAP policy explained.

  4. Kuo M, Barnes M, Jordan C. Do experiences with nature promote learning? Converging evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship. Front Psychol. 2019;10:305. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00305