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Summer Toys to Turn Your Backyard Into an Epic Playground

Awesome outdoor games and toys for summer play

Published on: May 09, 2024

Child smiles while playing in an inflatable pool.
Credit: Edwin Tan/iStock

My parenting style is typically quite minimalist; our playroom isn’t overwhelmed with toys and my kids play reasonably well with our collection. But I also have realized that summer days are long and we all need a little extra dose of fun to get through the summer months. 

While there might still be a chill in the air, spring and summer toys are already starting to hit the shelves. Make sure you are ready for the sunshine when the temperatures start to rise with a few of these great outdoor play items before all the best ones are gone!  

Getting the kids out of the house and into the backyard definitely helps keep them entertained and can be good for their learning and development. There are so many fun outdoor games available for kids these days, from giant bubbles to kickball croquet. You can turn your backyard — or the neighborhood park — into the ultimate summer play destination with any or all of these wonderful outdoor toys and games.

Outdoor games for families

Giantville jumbo tumbling timber toy

This 2021 STEAM-accredited game is not only fun for all ages, but it also exercises players’ logical thinking skills and creativity. Crafted from high-quality pine wood, this set includes a convenient carrying case for easy storage and transport. Whether it’s a lively birthday bash or intimate family picnic, this jumbo, 3-dimensional toy will be a smash at your next summer get-together. 

"Giantville jumbo tumbling timber toy summer backyard toys"
Photo credit: Amazon

Trademark Games bocce ball set

Bring some Italian flair to your backyard with this bocce ball set from Trademark Games. Fun for both kids and grownups, this set brings the classic game of bocce, or petanque, right to your lawn. Crafted from high-quality polyresin, the set is durable enough to withstand frequent play without cracking or damage. It includes eight bocce balls in vibrant red and green for team play, a pallino ball for scoring, and a handy carrying case for easy transport — ideal for taking to the beach, park or setting up in your yard. 

"Trademark Games bocce ball set summer backyard toys"
Photo credit: Amazon

SWOOC Games giant dice set

Get ready for enormous fun with the SWOOC Games Giant Dice Set, a classy addition to any family backyard game night. This super-sized set comes with six jumbo dice made from sustainably sourced New Zealand pine. With over 20 games to choose from, like Yardzee and Yard Farkle, kids and grownups will never get bored.The set includes everything you need: instructions for several games, five easy-to-clean laminated scorecards and a durable wooden bucket for storage and transport. Whether you’re rolling for a full house or a high straight, every game turns into a memorable, playful event with this oversized set.

"SWOOC Games giant dice set outdoor summer toys and games"
Photo credit: Amazon

Kan Jam

Frisbee is a big deal in Seattle, and this game is a great way to improve your skills while having tons of fun. Kan Jam is simple, but has enough challenge to keep kids (and adults) entertained. To get started, stand back and try to toss the disk into the can, or into the thin slot on the side if you are a real pro. The cans are lightweight and can be easily taken apart and stored flat.

"Kan jam yard game for summer fun in the yard"
Photo credit: Amazon

Paddle Smash

If you enjoy pickleball but don’t have room for a full court, this game is just what you are looking for. Four players gather around the small net court and bump, set and smash the ball into the court and over the net. Set it up in your yard and organize a neighborhood tournament today.

"Paddle smash yard game for summer fun in the yard"
Photo credit: Amazon

Carnival games party pack 

If you have a gaggle of kids to entertain, this is your answer. With everything you need for potato sack races, three-legged races, grab the tail, and an egg and spoon race, this game set is sure to entertain. It also comes with multiple pretend bronze, silver and gold medals so everyone goes home a winner.

"Carnival games for summer yard fun"
Photo credit: Amazon

Water toys

Outdoor rainbow sprinkler

Take sprinkler time up a notch with this glorious rainbow sprinkler featuring multiple jets. This giant family-size one is suitable for kids ages 18 months and older. If you are planning a summer party, this sprinkler is going to be a hit and a simple way to keep the kids entertained and cool the whole afternoon.

"Rainbow sprinkler for fun yard play in the summer"
Photo credit: Amazon

Hungry Hungry Hippo sprinkler

Just like the classic game, players race to feed their hippo fastest. But this adds a new twist — these hippos spray you with water!

"Hungry hungry hippo sprinkler for summer fun in the yard"
Photo credit: Amazon

Inflatable water slide

This 16-foot-long inflatable water slide is the perfect way for kids to cool off on a hot summer day. Race to the end on the three included inflatable speed boards to cushion every splash landing. The continuous mist is provided by a connection to your garden hose. The kids will be jumping, sliding and splashing all day long. If you have the space, go for the extra-large 20-foot option. 

"Inflatable water slide for summer fun in the yard"
Photo credit: Amazon

Twister Splash

Right hand blue, left foot green and water spraying everywhere. Get soaked while trying to be the last one standing to win this classic game.

"Twister splash for summer fun in the yard"
Photo credit: Amazon

Splash pad

Everyone loves to cool down in the water on a hot day, including your pup. Kids and dogs can enjoy this non-slip splash pad as they run through the jets of water. Anything that can tire out kids and the dog at the same time is a total win in my book.

"Water splash pad for summer fun in the yard"
Photo credit: Amazon

Outdoor toys for toddlers

Jungle play center inflatable pool

Inflatable pools have come a long way since I was a kid. This one can be filled with water or balls (or both), and the slide is just the right size for toddlers.

"Inflatable jungle pool for summer fun in the yard"
Photo credit: Amazon

Fish’n Splash water table

I’ve never met a parent whose kids didn’t love a water table. This water table comes with a fishing game and launcher so your kids can spend their days catching and launching plastic fish.

"outdoor water table for summer yard fun"
Photo credit: Amazon

Buckets of fun

Have a spray park in your own yard! This compact design sprays kids with water from multiple sides and even has a dump bucket for a bigger splash. Some reviews indicate that this toy might not stand the test of time, but at least you’ll have some epic fun!

"Buckets of fun water game for summer fun in the yard"
Photo credit: Amazon

Creative summer toys

DIY lemonade stand

Nothing says summer quite like a corner lemonade stand. Little artists will love keeping busy while they bring the stand to life with markers or paint. It's easy to set up and made out of earth-friendly cardboard. While you’re at it, why not get a few lemonade stand supplies, too? I don’t know how many times my kids have set up a stand only to look at me blankly when I ask, “Where are the cups?”   

"Lemonade stand for summer fun in the yard"
Photo credit: Amazon

Spaceship play tent

If there is one thing many kids love, it’s a cozy space to call their own. This out-of-this-world-themed tent is a fun place to play or find some quiet time and the design is sure to be blast for your little explorers.

"Rock ship play tent for summer fun in the yard"
Photo credit: Amazon


Sidewalk chalk

Do you have a sidewalk near your home? A driveway? Fence? Top of a picnic table? Then you’ve got an art canvas. Kids will be amazed when you set out this set containing 160 pieces of sidewalk chalk. The creativity will flow all day long. 

"Sidewalk chalk for summer fun in the yard"

Spray chalk

If your kids are older and sidewalk chalk has lost its appeal, give spray chalk a try. With spray chalk kids can draw not only on sidewalks, but grass and even snow. And the best part is it washes away with water. Who knows, you might discover you have the next Banksy on your hands.

"Spray chalk for summer fun in the yard"
Photo credit: Amazon

Giant bubbles

For older kids who can wrangle a bubble wand, this kit will have them ready to make those giant bubbles you often see street entertainers creating. Your backyard will be turned into a party destination in no time. The good news is that the kit makes more than two gallons of bubble solution, so your kids can practice for a very long time.

"Giant bubbles for outside summer fun in the yard"
Photo credit: Amazon

Outdoor adventure toys

Giant tree swing

This giant round tree swing is perfect for whiling away those long summer days. It will bear up to 400 pounds in weight, so plenty of room for two kids or a parent to join in. Hang it under a tree to create the perfect place to read a book and enjoy some downtime.

"Giant tree swing for summer fun in the yard"
Photo credit: Amazon

Body bumpers

At some point every day, one (if not both) of my children will get a bout of cabin fever and just want to bounce off anything and anyone. These inflatable body bumpers allow even the most active kids to bump and bonk safely to their heart’s content.

"Body bumpers for summer fun in the yard"
Photo credit: Amazon

Quad-seat teeter-totter

If the playground is a bit too far, bring a hint of the playground to your backyard. This seesaw is small but sturdy and can accommodate two or four kids at a time, each weighing up to 100 pounds per seat, which means it’s great for little and big kids alike.

"Quad-seat teeter-totter for summer fun in the yard"
Photo credit: Amazon

Kick croquet

Croquet always reminds me of my grandmother, who hadn’t played a minute of sports in her life but was ruthless with a mallet. Of course, croquet is a bit of a dangerous endeavor with small children. Those balls are rock hard and destined to knock out a window or a tooth when left in the hands of children brimming with summer energy. But this kick croquet uses soft balls and giant wickets, so you can teach your children the art of this posh sport without the risk of replacing glass or treating concussions.

"kick-croquet for summer fun in the yard"
Photo credit: Amazon

Tree climbers

Let your kids climb your backyard trees with these tree-friendly footholds. Each one has a strap that wraps around the tree trunk and locks in place with a crank clip. Setup is quick and the straps will fit most trees up to 28” in diameter. If you’re thinking of placing these super high up in a tree, you might want to invest in a helmet! This product is recommended for kids ages 12 and older.

"Child climbing in a tree for summer fun in the yard"
Photo credit: Amazon

Looking for more outside games and toys?

Editor’s note: This article was originally published several years ago and was most recently updated in May 2024 to include new outdoor games and toys. Kari Hanson contributed to this article.

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