There are a lot of toys that spark imagination–but one that brings every kid running like a moth to a flame? A kids’ outdoor playhouse.

Playhouses provide toddlers and even older kids endless opportunities to act out all their day-to-day activities along with playing the roles they love so much: mom, dad, firefighter, chef, cat groomer, you name it. (Though maybe make sure they don’t actually take the cat in there for a beauty session. That could end poorly.) It’s a scaled-down space that’s just for them! What could be better?

Is an outdoor playhouse worth it?

Of course, compared to other toy investments, play houses are definitely on the pricey end of the spectrum. But if you consider that many of the more expensive models can double as a kitchen set, it’s a little more digestible. Also, in my personal experience they’re the perfect opportunity to catch some quiet time in the sun. Sorry, kids! Can’t fit. Looks like I’ll be right here sipping this coffee while you make “lunch.”

How do you choose the right outdoor playhouse for kids?

When it comes to choosing the right outdoor playhouse for kids, there are a few things to consider. If you live in a cold climate, you may want to choose something that can be brought inside when the weather turns. Some wooden models will benefit from an annual water sealant, and many will last years with just a bit of upkeep. Also, be sure to check the weight on whatever you choose and if it’s possible to anchor down. The last thing anyone needs is to look out the window in a storm and seeing a real life version of the Wizard of Oz.

Related: 9 backyard sandboxes that will keep kids busy all summer long

From durable plastic models that are easy to clean and move to stylish wooden mini houses that cost more but last a long time, we’ve rounded up some of the most highly-rated kids’ outdoor playhouses that will keep kids engaged for hours and hours.

(Too cold or not enough room? Check out these indoor playhouses instead!)

Best outdoor playhouses

KidKraft Modern OUtdoor Wooden Playhouse



Modern Outdoor Wooden Playhouse

Like a scaled down version of something we’ve definitely seen on “Tiny House, Big Living,” this modern wooden playhouse feels very of-the-moment. (Listen, in this housing market I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve been contemplating an abode like this yourself.) The full-size door makes it cozy and private while the picnic table outside makes a great place to socialize. There’s also grill built onto the windowsill for whipping up meals, a tiny sink and even a mailbox with a flag that moves up and down. It’s made from treated hardwood and with a little care and upkeep can last for years!

Little Tikes Cape Cottage Playhouse

Little Tikes


Cape Cottage Playhouse

If you’re house-hunting on a budget (who isn’t?!) the sweet Cape Cottage Playhouse from Little Tikes is a great option. It’s got two working doors, windows and shutters along with a mail slot and flag holder to make it feel like home. The inside is spacious enough for two kids to play and its lightweight construction makes it easy to move indoors when the weather cools down. Best of all, reviewers agree it’s simple to put together with minimal tools!

Step2 Neat & Tidy Cottage Outdoor Playhouse



Neat & Tidy Cottage Outdoor Playhouse

With hundreds of 5-star ratings, the Neat & Tidy Cottage from Step2 is a great option for toddlers. It’s got tons of fun features like a mini play kitchen complete with counter space, a faucet and grill along with a ringing doorbell (which reviewers say isn’t as annoying as you may think!) and mail slot. You can even make it extra homey with some greenery tucked into the molded planter. It also is one of the few plastic models that includes a built-in floor.

Backyard Discovery Aspen Cedar Playhouse

Backyard Discovery


Aspen Cedar Playhouse

A simple design that’s got all the bells and whistles, this cedar playhouse comes loaded with some adorable features. On the outside, there’s a sweet cedar picket fence, pretend outdoor lamps, a real Dutch door with knob and latch along with a mailbox, bench and functioning dinner bell. Step inside to find a lifelike kitchenette complete with sliceable fruit, vegetable basket pretend knife, and cutting board. There’s plenty of room for multiple kids to play at once and it’s tall enough at its peak for even short adults to stand up. And even though it looks quite fetching left unpainted, a quick flip through review photos may get your DIY gears turning…

Backyard Discovery Victorian Inn Wood Playhouse Kit

Backyard Discovery


Victorian Inn Wood Playhouse Kit

This sweet Victorian stunner comes with price tag, but with everything included, it’s easy to understand why. From the flower pot holders that frame the front porch to the attached English garden bench, the exterior might even make your real house jealous. Inside, they’ll find a fully stocked kitchen complete with phone, contemporary appliances and fresh Velcro food–perfect for the budding Bed and Breakfast owner. It does take a bit of grit and know-how to assemble but with time and patience it comes together!

KidKraft Greystone Playhouse



Greystone Playhouse

Come for the stylish bay window, stay for the oh-so-adorable details. The KidKraft Greystone Playhouse is packed to the brim with features that are sure to delight kids 3-8. There’s the mini kitchenette perched on the windowsill, a play phone affixed to the wall inside, a chalkboard mailbox to drop notes inside and another chalkboard outside for doodling. There’s even a working doorbell to announce guests arrivals. It’s roomy enough for up to four kiddos and provides plenty of opportunity for years of imaginative play.

Little Tikes Picnic on the Patio Playhouse

Little Tikes


Picnic on the Patio Playhouse

Looking to buy the whole kit and caboodle? Little ones will go bonkers for this sturdy playhouse that encourages hours of imaginative play. Along with the house itself, the Little Tikes Picnic on the Patio Playhouse comes with a 20-piece accessory set that includes play food, tableware and a pretend phone. A kitchenette inside provides the perfect place to cook up a delicious lunch of plastic hot dogs which can be enjoyed on the attached seating area. It’s also equipped with an electric doorbell (or you know, a buzzer when then service is slow.)

KidKraft Forestview II Wooden Outdoor Playhouse



Forestview II Wooden Outdoor Playhouse

Like the other KidKraft style on our list, this enchanted little house is small in stature but big on details. For one thing, those window flower boxes would please any HOA. Add in the sweet shiplap roof and stylish door and you may want to move in yourself. The inside boasts enough room for two kids to cook together at the play kitchen and the large serving window and moveable bench are ideal for food delivery or even a puppet show. There’s also a phone and multiple chalkboard surfaces to decorate or display the menu for the day. It gets super high marks for quality and while some say it takes awhile to put together, it does come with a head start–the four walls are shipped pre-assembled.

Backyard Discovery Scenic Heights Outdoor Cedar Playhouse with Kitchen

Backyard Discovery


Scenic Heights Outdoor Cedar Playhouse with Kitchen

Take the fun to new heights with this cedar playhouse worthy of its own secret word for entry. The elevated design is seven feet tall that the peak and is loaded with features that will delight kids of all ages. (But they’ll need to be at least three to play without giving you a heart attack, of course.) Up to four kiddos can play at once, taking turns with the play sink, napping on the cushioned cot and welcoming guests through the swinging saloon doors. There’s even a growth chart inside to keep track of the years they put this gem to good use.

A version of this story was published May 10, 2022. It has been updated.