Parents have an obscure view of playhouses: Where you see an oversized plastic toy that adds to the clutter or a wad of dollars disappearing from your wallet, your child sees endless possibilities. To invest in a playhouse is to encourage your child to create a world all their own, albeit one confined to your front lawn or patio deck. At the end of the day, that’s pretty priceless.
They say home is where the heart is but the best playhouses are where children’s imaginations thrive, and finding the best one for your little dreamer will ultimately come down to their tastes. For example, if your child is essentially your shadow in the kitchen, you’ll want to look for a playhouse equipped with a kitchen. If they love the outdoors, they’ll feel right at home in a petite cottage that wouldn’t look out of place in the forest. For the child whose imagination is, well, out of this world, a play castle inspired by space might be more suitable.
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It’s pretty hard to choose wrong when you’re providing your kid a clubhouse of their own, but the following picks are a great place to start.
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1. Backyard Discovery Timberlake Playhouse
This wooden playhouse from Backyard Discovery reminds us of a magical treehouse sans having to actually climb a tree for the experience. The imaginative structure is made from cedar wood and features a number of homey details, such as the wide-open vista viewing windows, and the half front door with side windows. The playhouse even comes with flower pot shelves on both sides of the door (though flowers are not included with the set).
The playhouse was designed to be exactly that: A space where your child can play house outside the home. Inside, your child can pretend to whip up a meal in the kitchen, equipped with a play stove and sink. They can also give you a (pretend) call from their cordless telephone. Though they might invite you over to play, remember mom, this space was designed for kids and kids only, so if you want in, you’ll have to crouch.
2. Step 2 Neat & Tidy Cottage II
Step 2’s playhouse might be made of plastic, but don’t underestimate its value: kids love this pick, and you’ll love how it keeps your little ones occupied for hours. The Neat & Tidy Cottage is made with an open concept design so parents, grandparents, babysitters and the like can do yard work or lounge and have a clear view of the kids at all times.
The structure might be made with cold, hard plastic, but your child will feel nothing but warm and cozy in this playhouse, thanks to little details such as a wall clock, fireplace decal and flower box for real or fake flowers (plants not included with your purchase). The interior also includes a kitchen seat, table, play phone and shelves so they can make the place their own with additional toys or decor. And unlike other plastic playhouses that don’t include a bottom, the Neat & Tidy Cottage II includes a floor with drain holes for when it rains (or someone spills). You can even leave your little one letters in their mailbox, and anytime you want to visit, just ring the doorbell to announce your arrival.
3. Homfu Tent Playhouse
Whether you’re looking for a play space that’s a little less pricey or you don’t have a backyard to house a more outdoorsy structure, Homfu tents make excellent playhouses indoors, outside and even on apartment balconies. We especially love its castle tent with a space pattern for kids whose imaginations are out of this world.
Not only can this playhouse hold up to three children comfortably, but it can also fit an adult who remains seated while their little ones give them the grand tour. The castle features two windows for ventilation, and a floor mat for comfort and crawlers. It only weighs 2.7 pounds, so it’s incredibly travel-friendly if you’d like to bring it along on vacations, to the park, birthday parties, etc.