We all know it’s healthy for children to play outside, but it can be difficult to convince them to spend time outdoors.
An outdoor playhouse can be a great motivator, encouraging them to get outside to play with siblings and friends through a fun game of make believe.
There are so many playhouse models on the market today. It can be hard to narrow it down to the right one for your child and their interests.
We have put together a list for you to make it a little easier, putting some of the best playhouses together in one list to save you research time.
Here, we will go over how to go about choosing the right playhouse for you as well as the benefits of having on so you can find the best outdoor playhouse.
In this article we will review 13 of the best outdoor playhouses for boys, girls, and some gender neutral options as well:
- Step2 All Around Playtime Patio
- Be Mindful Solid Wood Outdoor Playhouse
- Step2 Naturally Playful Lookout Treehouse
- Step2 Gather & Grille Playhouse
- Little Tikes Princess Cape Cottage Playhouse
- Backyard Discovery Sweetwater All Cedar Wooden Playhouse
- Step2 Sweetheart Playhouse
- Step2 Four Seasons Playhouse
- Step2 Naturally Playful Playhouse Climber & Swing Set Extension
- Step2 Neat & Tidy II Playhouse
- Step2 Naturally Playful Storybook Cottage
- Step2 Wonderball Fun Playhouse
- Step2 Toddler Corner House
Outdoor Playhouse Assessment Criteria
Appeal of Theme/Design
Your child’s initial excitement over a new toy or plaything will most likely begin with how much fun it looks. This means you want their playhouse to look exciting.
It could be an overall theme, like a secret base treehouse or princess castle, or it could be the features that it offers.
Basically, anything that triggers a desire to play make believe or looks like a kid-sized version of what grown-ups have (i.e. play kitchen) is sure to be appealing.
Engagement and interactivity
Some playhouses offer more features than others. They may include a full interior setup, like a kitchen, or there may be exterior features like a mailbox or window planter.
For what you will likely pay for one of these playhouses, you will want to make sure there is plenty to keep your child entertained.
There are some playhouses that don’t offer much in the way of built-in features. However, they may be spacious, giving you the option to set up the interior in any way you like.
Wooden playhouses are also a good idea since you and your child can paint it together.
You may also want to consider a playhouse that includes some playground elements. Your little one would love to have a slide or swing attached to their playhouse.
How big is your backyard, and how much space do you want your child’s playhouse to take up?
These are very big things to consider when making your purchase. Most don’t take up too much room in the yard, but if you are looking at a full playset with a playhouse attached, you might want to pull out the measuring tape.
You also want to consider how long your child will be able to use their playhouse. You probably don’t want them growing out of it too quickly.
Height and overall interior area will determine how long your little one will be able to enjoy their playhouse comfortably.
Material and Safety
No matter what you are purchasing for your child, safety should always be at the top of your list. Make sure the manufacturer is reputable and that the materials used for the playhouse are non-toxic and sturdy.
If you are purchasing a plastic playhouse, check for any sharp areas that may need to be avoided or smoothed down.
If you are purchasing a wooden playhouse, make sure the wood is sanded and free from splinters.
Above all, make sure your child never plays outside in or on their playhouse without adult supervision.
Ease of Assembly
It is very easy to lose patience when trying to assemble something for your child.
While you may not always be able to avoid difficult assembly, reading through multiple reviews can really help you avoid some of the more frustrating playhouse models.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Because you are looking at an outdoor playhouse, you can guarantee that it will get dirty and worn over time. Between dirty feet, roughhousing, and nature itself, you’ll need a plan for maintaining and cleaning your playhouse.
Most plastic models are easy to keep up with. Just hose it down every once in a while, when you find that it’s looking too grungy.
For wooden models, you may want to consider treating it to prevent warping and mildew growth.
Best Outdoor Playhouse for Boys
1. Step2 All Around Playtime Patio
This playhouse is quite unique. It is designed more like a patio or pavilion than an actual house, allowing kids to prepare their own backyard party.
There are three different stations to play at. You have the grill that comes with everything you need to make kebabs and a sink right next to it to clean up those dirty dishes when you’re done.
On the opposite side, you have the table, or counter, for serving up their creations. Your child can even enjoy their real meal outside with this nice feature.
Finally, there is the water and sand feature. This provides some great tactile play as your child watches the water flow through the wheels and they dig in the sand box.
It even comes with a lid to keep out unwanted critters when not in use.
- Includes pretend grill, dishes, and play food
- Water and sand table for tactile play
- Lid included to cover sand table when not in use
- Canopy covers blocks sun
- Plenty of space inside for multiple children
- No holes are pre-drilled for assembly
- Play sink doesn’t have a drain
- Does not come with an anchoring system
- Lid for sand table doesn’t fasten down
2. Be Mindful Solid Wood Outdoor Playhouse
Want a fun project to complete with your little one that will also provide hours of fun? This wooden playhouse is a great choice.
Not only will it feel like you are building your child’s playhouse from scratch, but you can also customize it together by painting it when you are done.
Despite what it may seem like at first glance, assembly is relatively simple especially since all of the holes are pre-drilled for you.
You also don’t need to worry about your child being exposed to toxic chemicals with this playhouse. There is no plastic present. All of the wood is made with 100% compostable or recyclable materials.
- No toxic materials
- Fully customizable with paint
- Sturdy design
- All materials are compostable or recyclable
- Large enough for older kids
- Pieces don’t always fit flush together
- No activities or toys included
- Smaller than advertised
- May need to make custom adjustments and repairs over time
3. Step2 Naturally Playful Lookout Treehouse
Every little boy wants a secret hideout of his own, a cool clubhouse for him and his friends. Well, this little treehouse playground may just be what you’re looking for to satisfy his longings.
This playhouse is more than just a house. Your child can feel like a secret agent waiting for his next special mission as he scans the yard with his moveable periscope.
Once his eyes lock on what he wants, all he needs to do is go down the slide and he is off again.
There isn’t much room in the playhouse portion for multiple kids, but for a single child looking for a reprieve from the sun, it’s just the right place for a rest. There is even space underneath to hide or crawl through if desired.
- Tall platform with overhead covering
- Includes a slide
- Periscope pivots 180 degrees
- Promotes fun, imaginative play
- Easy to assemble
- A bit short for older or taller kids
- Slide is short and steep
- Doesn’t fit multiple children on the platform at once
- Best suited for toddlers
4. Step2 Gather & Grille Playhouse
It’s never too early to instill the quality of hospitality in your little one, and this playhouse will help them play host to all of their little friends.
There are two play areas. The interior of the house includes a small kitchen with a sink, and a cozy fireplace. The outside area is like a patio, complete with a grill and a two-seater bench.
Your little one will have loads of fun entertaining and cooking for their friends and family. They can even plan a make believe party, greeting their guests at the door with a real working chime.
- Two play areas with interior living area and outside patio
- Includes cooking and grilling supplies
- Doorbell actually works
- Can easily find replacement parts if needed
- Very durable
- No replacement decals provided
- Difficult to assemble
- Stickers peel off quickly
- No drainage for rain water
Best Outdoor Playhouse for Girls
5. Little Tikes Princess Cape Cottage Playhouse
A playhouse fit for a princess! This pretty pink house is sure to satisfy and little girl’s desire to have a home of her own.
This playhouse is very lightweight, making it easy to move and relocate if necessary. The design resembles a real home, with two working doors and windows with shutters.
The exterior also includes a mail slot and flag holder.
The inside is completely empty, giving you and your child creative freedom in setting up her custom house.
- Real working doors and windows with shutters
- Mail slot and flag holder on the outside
- Lightweight and easy to move
- Easy to assemble
- Let’s a lot of light in
- Plastic is a bit flimsy
- Can blow over with a strong wind
- Not very big inside
- Sharp edges on plastic
6. Backyard Discovery Sweetwater All Cedar Wooden Playhouse
This is the perfect cottage playhouse for any little girl. She will have everything she needs to play house either on her own or with friends and siblings.
No need to worry about sharp plastic edges with this playhouse. It is made entirely of cedar wood, which provides more stability and gives it a more natural feel.
The interior has a sink and a stove so your little girl can cook up her favorite meals and serve them through the side snack window. There is also a cordless phone inside the house so she can get all of her important calls.
On the outside, you will also find two plant holders. The pots and plants are not included, but it can be another activity for you and your child to enjoy together and add to the beauty of the house.
- Nice wood finish
- Sink, stove, and phone included inside
- Large windows let in plenty of light
- Easy to assemble
- Working doorbell
- Doesn’t include flower pots or plants
- Wood splits easily when assembling
- Cannot assemble if you can’t fit through the door or window
- Takes at least a couple of hours to put together
7. Step2 Sweetheart Playhouse
This is quite the fairytale cottage for little girls. Your sweet one will feel just like a princess in her cute pink home.
Little girls will feel quite at home in this cute little house. The convertible tabletop in the window can flip both ways, revealing an exterior barbecue grill. The interior includes a clock with movable hands and an electronic phone to play with.
The exterior doorbell also works like a real one. And the skylight on the roof lets additional light into the space.
- Includes electronic phone and clock with movable hands
- Table flips both ways with a pretend stove/grill
- Windows, door, and skylight lets in a lot of light
- Flower pot and mail slot on the outside
- Very cute design
- Instructions are hard to follow
- Not all holes are drilled or lined up correctly
- Skylight doesn’t close to protect from rain
- Doorbell may not fit into precut hole easily
8. Step2 Four Seasons Playhouse
This playhouse is relatively simple in design. It looks more like a covered pavilion, but the open design helps this house to feel bigger and let more light through.
One of the most unique features of this playhouse that we haven’t seen in some of the others is the interior floor. It doesn’t sit directly on the ground, which keeps it a bit cleaner for your little one.
There is a table and two stools molded into the interior of the house, which helps to save space in this cute little house.
- Molded in floor with tiled design
- Table and stools molded in
- Mailbox and doorbell on the outside
- Open sides give it a roomier feel
- Easy to assemble
- Plastic is a little flimsy
- A bit small for multiple children to play together
- Dorr attachment may wear out
- No accessories included
Gender Neutral Themed Playhouses
9. Step2 Naturally Playful Playhouse Climber & Swing Set Extension
More than just a playhouse, this set will keep your children busy and active outside for hours on end.
Your kids will love that there are two levels of play. They can climb the ladder and go down the slide, or they can enjoy the playhouse underneath the main platform.
The swings are sure to keep them busy as well.
- Physical and motor skill development through play
- Includes slide and two swings
- Playhouse underneath the large slide platform
- Platform has a thick balcony rail to keep children safe
- Playhouse has door and crawl-through portals
- Takes up a lot of space
- Instructions are difficult to follow
- Slide gets very hot in the sun
- Difficult to pop the slide into place
10. Step2 Neat & Tidy II Playhouse
This is one of the best rated playhouses on the market right now. All of the details in the design will have your child feeling like they have their own house.
Inside, there is a kitchen sink and counter for prepping and serving play food. Outside, there is a grill for cooking the food.
Other features include a window with shutters that can be opened and closed, a mailbox, doorbell with working chime, and easy to open door.
The best part of the design is the built-in floor, which will keep your child and the interior of their playhouse much cleaner.
- Includes several nice features, including a mailbox and working doorbell
- Floor molded into the interior
- Realistic stone exterior with shingled roof
- Available in two colors
- Comes with a play phone
- Tricky to put together
- No drain holes for rain to escape from plastic frame or floor
- Best for younger kids under 4 years old
- Does not have pre-drilled holes for assembly
11. Step2 Naturally Playful Storybook Cottage
This fairytale cottage is one of the coziest playhouses. The outside looks like a realistic English cottage straight out of a storybook.
Your child will feel like they’ve been transported into their favorite story.
The kitchenette comes with a sink and small stove to prepare all of your child’s favorite meals. There is also a little built-in table and chair for them to enjoy a cozy meal.
- Includes a play phone
- Realistic exterior design
- Cozy interior with kitchenette and table
- Table folds away to make more room inside
- Working doorbell on the outside
- Doesn’t allow much light in
- No built-in floor
- Does not have pre-drilled holes for assembly
- Some parts may wear out over time with rough play
Best Playhouses for Babies and Toddlers
12. Step2 Wonderball Fun Playhouse
This playhouse has some great activities for toddlers. There are so many ways to play with the little balls to watch them tumble and roll.
They can start by throwing them up on the roof and watching them plink down the tubes. Or they can have fun inside the house with the ramp mazes.
When playtime is over, you can store the balls in the side basin so they are ready for next time.
- Several activities to enjoy
- Includes 20 balls
- Comes with built-in storage bin
- Easy to assemble
- Door has a gap to prevent pinched fingers
- Balls are soft and easily crushed
- Difficult to remove other toys from tubing that a child may throw in
- Holes for assembly are not pre-drilled
- Easy for kids to climb on top with footholds in the design
13. Step2 Toddler Corner House
Similar to the previous playhouse, this one involves a lot of fun activities for toddlers. There are ball mazes on this one as well, but it also includes a few more things.
There are also shape sorters, turning gears, and bead chasers.
On the back wall of the playhouse, you can also find a little kitchenette that is perfect for tiny hands.
- Plenty of activities to keep toddlers engaged
- Includes junior-size kitchenette
- Comes with 5 balls, 3 shape sorting pieces, and pot and pan set
- Inexpensive compared to other playhouses
- Easy to open door
- Difficult to assemble
- Need to use a drill to put it together
- Too simple for some children
- Doesn’t have an overhead covering
Benefits of Having an Outdoor Playhouse
We all know outdoor play is essential for kids’ growth, but they may not always be motivated to kick a ball around or go for a walk.
There are, surprisingly, a number of benefits to having a playhouse in your backyard, including the increased likelihood that they will be inspired to played outside more.
The first, and most obvious, benefits to having an outdoor playhouse is the improvements it may have on your child’s health.
They will be out in the sunshine, which will provide them with essential vitamins that will prevent some common illnesses.
Your child will also be more active, burning off energy while they exercise their muscles in a fun way.
Your child may not need to lose weight, but keeping them active can help prevent childhood obesity.
All that running around will also tire your child out and allow them to get better sleep at night, which will also have numerous benefits on their health.
Playhouses also offer social benefits since they inspire children to interact through make believe games.
They will learn to work together and communicate effectively so they can play a joint game.
Your child also learns a lot through make believe play. It allows them to reenact things they see adults do, which can help them understand responsibility and problem solving.
Playing outside will also encourage your child to explore and learn more about the world around them.
Playhouses can be a great way to get your child to play outside more.
It can encourage them to exercise their imaginations through make believe play as well as exercise their physical bodies by running around.
There are choices available for every type of child, no matter their age or gender. There is fun to be had by everyone.