10 Best Playhouses of 2021 for Kids and Toddlers – GoodHousekeeping.com


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Learning through pretend play is essential to a child’s development, and while some kids are able to whip up extensive scenarios with few props, a playhouse can encourage them to take their imagination to the next level, as well as engage additional developmental skill sets. There are a number of play sets on the market that broaden creativity, build physicality and motivate socialization, all under the guise of play.The parenting and product experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute test all of the must-haves for babies, toddlers and children, from baby monitors to swing sets, and everything in between. We look at over 500 new toys each year, ensuring that they meet necessary safety requirements and performing our own assessments to ensure they are well-constructed, durable and offer skill-building value to kids, then we bring in kids to help us test for the “fun factor.” To find the best playhouses, we considered overall design, durability, play features and industry safety standards. These are the best playhouses to buy: Best Overall Playhouse: Backyard Discovery Timberlake PlayhouseBest Value Playhouse: Monobeach Princess TentBest Expandable Playhouse: Simplay3 Young Explorers Adventure ClimberBest Playhouse for Groups: Step2 Clubhouse ClimberBest Climber Playhouse: Step2 Skyward SummitBest Outdoor Playhouse: Step2 Naturally Playful Storybook CottageMost Versatile Playhouse: Motherly Timeless 5-in-1 Crib and PlayhouseBest Wooden Playhouse: KidKraft Modern Outdoor PlayhouseBest Fort-Building Playhouse: Crazy FortsBest Cardboard Playhouse: Melissa & Doug Fire Truck PlayhouseWhat to look for when shopping for a playhouseSkill-building features: Sometimes a simple structure is all a child needs to let their imagination soar, though many playhouses on the market today have elements that activate additional skill sets. Features like kitchenettes, climbers and even play phones can encourage children to further develop important creative, social and gross motor skills.Size: Whether you’re looking for an indoor or outdoor playhouse, measure your space to ensure that your child will have room to move in and around their structure. If you have the space, err on the larger side so that your child can grow into the playhouse and have space for siblings and friends.Materials: You can find high-quality plastic and wood playhouses. Wood is typically more expensive, and plastic is often easier to assemble, but both options can be extremely durable. Fabric playhouses will be more tent-like and likely won’t last as long as wood or plastic structures.Safety: Playhouses can be designed for indoor or outdoor use. Be sure to set them up as directed to keep everyone safe. Also take note of the manufacturer’s suggested age range and/or development stage to help gauge whether the product will be appropriate for your child, and look for structures that meet ASTM safety standards.

1Best Overall Playhouse

Timberlake Playhouse

Backyard Discovery

Our tiniest testers love the realistic design elements in this playhouse, including a play stove, sink and cordless phone. Large windows allow for interactive play, and a swinging door surrounded by flower pot holders adds a nice homey touch. Constructed with naturally decay and bug-resistant cedar wood, this lifelike playhouse is built to last outside and meets ASTM safety standards.

Age: 2-11 yearsAssembled dimensions: 3’6 x 3’10 x 4’7

Realistic design elements
Large windows for interactive play
High-quality cedar construction
Meets ASTM safety standards

2Best Value Playhouse

Princess Tent

Our experts loved this playhouse’s open design, giving kids their own space while making it easy to keep an eye on them. For a little bit of privacy, transform the roomy interior into a makeshift fort by throwing a blanket on top. Best of all, this colorful pick costs less than $40.
The lightweight polyester tent is easy to assemble and move, however our testers found that the poles can come out during play, requiring a quick pop back into place.
Age: 3 years and upAssembled dimensions: 4’7 diameter x 4’5

Under $40
Spacious and visible interior

Easy to assemble, but poles may pop out of place

3Best Indoor/Outdoor Playhouse

Young Explorers Adventure Climber


This climbable playhouse features lots of tunnels and holes to crawl through and an extra-wide slide for an easy dismount from the top level. It’s perfect for little learners, and it can grow with them. Combine it with the Young Explorers Activity Climber and the Young Explorers Discovery Playhouse to create a mega play set. 
This double-walled plastic set can hold three climbers at once, up to 60 pounds each. It’s durable enough for use both indoors and outdoors and is ASTM safety certified. Our Lab pros noted that assembly can be tedious, so try using an electric screwdriver to streamline the process.
Age: 18 months – 6 yearsAssembled dimensions: 2’4.5 x 5’10 x 4’1.25

Climbable structure with tunnels and a slide for easy dismount
Combines with two other sets for added play
Durable plastic structure
Meets ASTM safety standards

Assembly can be tedious, made easier with an electric screwdriver

4Best Playhouse for Groups

Clubhouse Climber

This playhouse was designed to encourage social play. It has interactive elements, like windows and a steering wheel, as well as crawl spaces and tunnels (perfect for hide-and-seek), an elevated clubhouse, a bridge and two slides.
Constructed with double-walled plastic, this set is made to hold up to four children, able to support a maximum weight of 240 pounds. It’s easy to wipe clean, and is ASTM safety certified.
Age: 2-6 yearsAssembled dimensions: 11’5 x 7’7.5 x 5’10

Can accommodate up to 4 children
Has interactive play elements, with tunnels, a clubhouse and two slides
Meets ASTM safety standards

5Best Climber Playhouse

Skyward Summit


Great for gross motor development, this playhouse is focused on the climb. With four different walls of cargo nets and hand grips, each side presents a unique physical challenge for children. There’s also a mid-tier platform where kids can rest or perform lookout duties.
Our experts found assembly to be pretty easy, especially considering the size of the set, which towers over six feet high. This sturdy plastic structure can hold up to four children at once — one on each wall — with a maximum weight of 300 pounds, and meets ASTM safety standards.
Age: 4-8 yearsAssembled dimensions: 6’8 x 4’4 x 6’8

Multiple climbing surfaces to develop gross motor skills
Easy assembly
Meets ASTM safety standards

6Best Outdoor Playhouse

Naturally Playful Storybook Cottage


Like the name implies, this playhouse looks straight from a fairytale. The stonework, thatched roof, window shutters and hinged door with a battery-powered doorbell on the outside are matched with a cozy cottage feel on the inside, where children are met with an interior stocked with a kitchenette, a fold-down kitchen table and fireplace. A clickable faucet and stovetop make play more realistic and a moveable cuckoo clock and shelves add charm. Our pros loves that the spacious interior easily fit multiple toddlers inside at once, encouraging social play. The durable earth-toned plastic structure is built for the outdoors, colored to seamlessly fit in with most backyard landscapes, and it meets ASTM safety standards.

Age: 18 months and upAssembled dimensions: 4’7 x 4’2.5 x 5’4.25

Cute fairytale styling with a kitchenette, table and fireplace inside
Multiple toddlers can play inside together
Meets ASTM safety standards

7Best Indoor Playhouse

Timeless 5-in-1 Crib and Playhouse


This product will grow with your child from the moment they’re born, starting as a crib and concerting to a daybed, a toddler bed, a full-size bed with a headboard and a playhouse. Its simple design is aesthetically pleasing, and our experts found the wood frame to be well-constructed in tests. It is certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) and meets ASTM safety standards.
Age: Newborn and upAssembled dimensions: 4’8 x 2’7 x 2’11

Converts from crib, to daybed, to toddler bed, to full-size bed and playhouse
Aesthetically pleasing and well designed
JPMA certified and meets ASTM safety standards

8Best Wooden Playhouse

Modern Outdoor Playhouse

$336.58 (21% off)

This playhouse takes full advantage of the space around it with a built-out picnic table and extended windowsill grill station. In road tests, our pros loved the interactive elements, like a chalkboard and mailbox, as well as the detail-oriented design, including window framing and fabric curtains. This wooden playhouse is well-built with reinforced panels and a water-resistant roof, plus it meets ASTM safety standards.

Age: 3-10 yearsAssembled dimensions: 5’11 x 4’1 x 5’2

Detail-oriented design with interactive elements
Well-built for outdoor use
Meets ASTM safety standards

9Best Fort-Building Playhouse

Crazy Forts

Add some structure to your kid’s DIY forts with this open-ended building toy. Use the rods and toggles to make one of the five suggested structures, including a castle, an igloo and a house, or test spatial skills and creativity by going off-book. Then, throw a sheet on top to bring creations to life. In tests, we found designs to be pretty durable and our pros loved that the pieces were easily portable.
Age: 5 years and upAssembled dimensions: Varies

Gives structure DIY forts
Pretty durable and easily portable

10Best Cardboard Playhouse

Fire Truck Playhouse

Melissa & Doug

A previous Good Housekeeping Toy Award winner, this fire truck playhouse features colorful realistic artwork and fun interactive details, like a spinning steering wheel, a gas tank and a freestanding fire hydrant. At four-feet long, lots of kids can help save the day inside the roomy interior, and the corrugated cardboard design makes this truck easy to set up and move.
Age: 3 years and upAssembled dimensions: 2’9 x 4′ x 3’3

Good Housekeeping Toy Award winner
Realistic, colorful artwork
Large interior with interactive design elements

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