10 Best Play Gyms Reviewed and Tested
In the never-ending search to buy your children the best of the best in outside entertainment, we are here to help you narrow it down. When it comes to buying a new play set, whether it’s for inside or outside, this is a big investment that you don’t want to take lightly. Playsets are an integral part of your child’s playtime, and these fun contraptions can provide your family with hours of entertainment, and provide your child a healthy, active alternative compared to sitting inside. We composed this list of ten different options that will help you in narrowing down exactly what you’re looking for in a play gym, without breaking the bank or buying a low-quality product. We have sifted through tons of different products, their reviews, brand reputations, and quality of product materials to bring you the top ten kid play sets, below are our findings!
Our Top 3 Picks
10 Best Play Gyms
1. Lifetime Adventure
Fun free standing playset for kids aged 3-12; includes 9-foot wavy slide, 2 swings, 1 trapeze bar, a climbing wall, cargo net, propeller swing, and activity board
Constructed of high-density polyethylene and powder-coated steel; durable, weather-resistant, and will not warp, rot, crack, or splinter like wooden playsets
Designed for safety; hard edges are rounded or covered with plastic caps; soft rubber grips on swing chains prevent pinching
Total area of unit is 13' 11" x 15' 9"
Free Standing; no cement or anchoring required; backed by a 5-year limited manufacturer’s warranty
Safe and Strong Steel Construction: Passes Playground Performance and Safety Standards.
Play Options Include:
Sturdy 3-D Climbing Wall
A-Frame Swing Bar
Clubhouse with Hardtop Roof
9-ft. Wavy Slide
UV-Resistant - Retains Strength and Maintains Color
Low Maintenance - No Staining or Painting Required
Free-Standing – No Need for Cement
All-Weather Resistant – Will Not Crack, Warp, Rot, or Splinter
Passes Playground Performance and Safety Standards
No Lead-Based Material
Hard Edges are Rounded or Covered with Plastic Caps
Ships Wheel and Binoculars
1 Trapeze Bar and 2 Swings
This is one of the best play gyms on the market, and the price reflects just that. It comes with so many features that it is hard to ignore the immense value in the product. It is a great investment and sure to last you for years to come.
To buy, or not to buy
This product is one of the best on the market today. It comes with so many features, it’s hard to go wrong. The only set back is the price, but it still isn’t the most expensive play gym on the market. The high-quality materials and the long-term warranty ensure that you are getting your money’s worth. This attractive option has multiple factors including quality materials, endless play options, and a beautiful design, making this play gym the top of our list.
Backed by a 5-year warrantee
Quality design and materials
Promotes healthy physical activity in children
Can be used by multiple chuldren
Safe and strong
2. Backyard Discovery Sky Fort II
Front porch with sun balcony
Lower deck with snack stand and picnic table
Three-position swing beam
Rock climbing wall
10' ft. wave slide
Overall, this is a great product. It is one of the more expensive options, but for good reasons. With over ten different play options included, the value is great for the money. This is a good buy for a buyer that wants to entertain multiple children.
To buy, or not to buy
This product is quite the investment, so people who are settled in their “long term” homes are more suited for this play gym. It is quite large, and bet suited for multiple kid use. There are certain amenities that are challenging, so kids under two are not recommended without close supervision. Overall, this product requires a good investment, but comes with many unique features allow children to have challenging, rewarding fun. It is a great buy for large families looking to keep their kids entertained outside for hours!
One of the largest play areas on our list
Extra items such as a picnic table and a sandbox are included
Perfect for multiple kid use
Offers the most amenities on our list
Complicated set up
3. Backyard Discovery Woodridge II
Large raised fort with panelized wooden roof
Covered porch, sand box area, and sun deck
Shaded lower fort with bench
Two belts-swings and one acrobat bar
10 ft. Speedy Slide
This play gym is a bit of an investment, but comes with a one year warrantee to ensure that you absolutely love this gym. It is large and has amenities for every child. Overall, this is a great play gym that your kids of all ages will enjoy for years to come.
To buy, or not to buy
Overall, this play gym is for the people looking to purchase a long term, deluxe set that can be used for years to come. The most children the better! This product is large and offers multiple unique amenities that will suit the likings of many children. It's large, so home owners with bigger yards are more suitable in comparison to people that are renting a home/ have a smaller space in their yard. The set-up is complex, but the instructions provided are resourceful. This brand offers a one year money back guarantee to ensure that you love the product you pay for. Overall, this a great gym set that can fulfill the needs of many families.
Great for a wide range of ages
Easy to follow instructions
Assembly may be complex for beginners
Not the best product for toddlers
4. Backyard Discovery Thunder Ridge
Large upper fort
Side porch with pergola top
Lower fort with front door
Snack window and built-in bench
Two belt-swings and one ship-themed glider
10 ft. Speedy slide
This play gym is an extremely reasonable price for its size, amenities, and material. The pre-coated wood is extremely weather resistant making it durable and a great long term investment. This is one of our best priced outdoor wood play gyms.
To buy, or not to buy
This is a great value for your money. Its multifunctional amenities are sure to fit any child’s interest, and its large size makes it suitable for multiple child enjoyment. It’s beautiful stain and durable wood make it the perfect accessory to any yard. Assembly may be time consuming, and it is recommended that two or more work on assembly. Overall, this is great for the family looking to invest in a durable play gym for children older than two.
Nice Play Features
Easy to follow assembly directions
Fun for the whole family
Already weather proofed
Reasonably priced compared to other options available
Assembly is time consuming
Must be restrained every year
Not suitable for toddlers without parent supervision/assistance
5. Swing-N-Slide Cedar
features a lifetime warranty against cracks and breaks (slide requires additional wood for mounting)
2 swing seats and back-to-back glider for multiple swing options
Recommended for ages 3-10 years
Climbing rock wall with 8 colorful rock holds
Durable wood roof with sunburst gable accent
Wooden picnic table with bench
Metal monkey bars with powder coated finish
Another reasonably priced play gym, this one sits right in the middle. It is still an investment, so long term homeowners are best suited to this product. Overall, you get quality materials for a reasonable price.
To buy, or not to buy
As seen on the NBC’s Today show, this play set it one we couldn’t leave off our list. Loaded with play activities the whole family can enjoy. This product is a great purchase for those looking to invest some, but not go overboard. This ply gym still overs multiple amenities that are sure to fit a wide range of child interests.
Multiple play options
Good bang for the buck
Easy to follow instructions
Multiple tools needed for assembly
Recommended for children three years and older
6. Backyard Discovery Montpelier
Lower play area with a swing set wooden sandbox for kids, a snack stand and a built-in bench
Two standard belt kid swing set swings and a Wave rider boogie board swing. An 8 foot kids slide - super safe but speedy
Standard playset ladder on this cedar wood swing set
Raised fort with door and sun porch
8 ft. speedy slide
Snack stand with bench
Two belt swings and 2-person glide
Contains all hardware needed for assembly
4 ft. Upper deck
This set sits right in the middle of our price range. A good investment for families looking for a long term set up. This is a fair price, for fair quality.
To buy or not to buy?
This is a great purchase. It is a reasonable price compared to other play sets, and still offers multiple fun features that will keep your kids entertained for hours. The only set back is the extensive set up required, if you have no experience in building, this may be a difficult project, and may be worth the extra $500.00 USD professional assembly.
- Attractive set up
- Multiple fun features
- Multiple swing options
7. Backyard Discovery Somerset
Snack stand and bench
Solid rock climbing wall
Standard step ladder
8' speedy slide
Two belt swings and trapeze swinging bar
Upper deck height: 4'
Lumber pre-cut, pre-drilled, and pre-stained
Includes all wood, hardware, swings, and slide
This is one of our most valuable buys. The brand has a great reputation and specializes in all types of play sets. You still get the same high quality product in a smaller size with a very reasonable price tag. This is a great value.
To buy, or not to buy?
This is a great buy for shoppers on a budget that don’t want to sacrifice any amenities. The brand has a quality reputation. This is perfect for the smaller yard. Overall, this is a reasonable buy for families on a budget and looking to fill a smaller space.
- Smaller size makes it perfect for smaller yards
- Reasonable price
- Multiple fun play options for the kids
- Attractive design and color
- Instructions are complicated
- Wood isn’t as study compared to other brands
8. Cedar Summit
100 percent cedar (Cunninghamia Lanceolata) lumber
Multi-colored arched roof canopy
Rock wall with multi-colored rocks
Screen-printed chalk wall tarp (chalk sold separately) with lettering and border on outdoor reinforced vinyl
Although this set is a more of a basic set up compared to others, it is still a good quality and offers multiple play options for the kids. Overall, this is a not a huge investment, but still a nice buy if you are looking for a basic play set.
To buy, or not to buy:
This is a great buy for people looking to get a basic swing set without breaking the bank. This small size is great for smaller yards, or people without much room for a massive play gym. It still offers great amenities, and is sure to keep your kids entertained. The price is reasonable, and the quality is fair.
- Will fit in smaller yards
- Multiple different play options
- Good for young children
- Set up is difficult
9. Step2 Clubhouse
Dual windows, skylight and rotating steering wheel
5ft x 8ft
Two slides for energetic fun
Climbing ladder and sure grip hand rails assist young climbers
Bridge connects to look-out tower
Hide-out area underneath and crawl-thru tunnel
This product will land on the higher end of our price spectrum, but for good reason. This product is easy to assemble and is made of high quality, durable plastic. It is larger in comparison to other play sets, and doesn’t not lack amenities. Overall, the price is reasonable for its high quality.
To buy, or not to buy:
This product is for the family who is looking to spend a little more. A multiple child family would greatly benefit from his product due to its larger size. It's good for children ages 2-6, so families with older children may not enjoy this product as much as families with children who are younger. It's made completely of plastic, although not exactly eco-friendly, it does make for an easy clean up. Overall, this is a more expensive product, but the quality you are receiving is high. Families with young children will greatly enjoy this product.
- Indoor and outdoor use
- Wide range of amenities
- Easy to assemble
- Multi kid use
- Safe for young children
- Not eco friendly
10. Step2 Playhouse
Climber has roomy deck with balcony railing
5 1/2-foot slide
Secret playhouse with door and crawl-through portals
Swing extension with two strap swing
Less expensive compared to the previous option, although you aren’t getting as much play space. This product boasts two swings, giving it some distinguishing qualities. Overall, this product is a good value for your money, but isn’t anything overly special.
- Double swing set
- Easy assembly
- 100% durable plastic
- Some reviews found instructions unclear
- Cannot be put indoors
Criteria for Evaluation
Before making a purchase as large as this, with a minimum investment of a few hundred dollars, we go through hundreds of different options to compose this list. We look through reviews, material quality, processes of assembly, and so on, to ensure that you are knowledgeable on what you are getting. We narrow down our top ten list by picking out some key aspects that heavily influence the quality of your purchase. I will explain what we look in to in more depth below.
The build quality is an extremely important element of any product that needs to be assembled. The first thing you want to ensure is the quality of the materials. Wood and steel are two of the most common materials. If you are buying wood, you are going to want to ensure that you are buying quality wood that is going to be weather resistant and won’t knot and crack within the first couple years of use. Wood products are easy to customize and tend to be more cost efficient while remaining sturdy and pleasing to the eyes. If you are going to go the steel route, things to look for when purchasing include the durability of the product. Steel, in general, outlasts wood, but there are other factors that need to be taken in into consideration before purchase. Make sure they are also painted with a lead-free paint that will withstand weather and won’t chip. Whatever you chose, it always boils down to one thing: quality. Do a quick search on the specific materials before you make your final decision. It may be worth to spend that extra couple hundred dollars, in the beginning, to ensure your product is made of quality materials, instead of purchasing a low-grade item that won’t last.
Ease of Maintenance
With all the wonders of children, come all their germs. When many kids are using one space to play, it is bound to become full of germs, and cleaning these areas are necessary for keeping your children and others, healthy. It also is necessary for ensuring that the lifespan of these products isn’t shortened by neglect. If you are buying plastic, an antibacterial spray and cloth wipe down will suffice, but when it comes to the much larger steel or wood gyms, it gets a little more complex. Wood needs to not only be cleaned but also treated (waterproofing, etc.). Normally this is done before it is sent to you, but different wood requires different upkeep, so educating yourself on the certain type of treatments each wood needs is important in the preservation of the jungle gym. Regular cleaning is also a must to ensure longevity, and it keeps insects and weathering at bay. Gyms are easy to clean, and soap and water will suffice. Wet down surface, apply soap, leave for a few minutes, and rinse. Anything harsher can speed decay up. Make sure you are removing all dirt and grain, and are thoroughly spraying off any cleaning agents when finished. Pressure washing is okay, but what we have mentioned above seems to work better. Give it at least a full day to dry before use.
Safety for the Child
The most important factor when buying a gym is your child’s safety. Adult supervisor always is one of the main ways to avoid injuries. Proper surfaces are also a great way to avoid injury, and placing your gym near concrete, asphalt and blacktop is NOT recommended. Proper assembly is important. If you are unsure or confused on how to assemble, please reach out to your brand’s help line, or hire a professional. The greater height of the gym, the greater chance of injury by fall. Make sure you are following age guidelines. It is best to separate younger and older children’s play areas. Finally, regular maintenance and inspections should be done on all play gyms. Fixing all broken equipment, replacing cracked or splintering wood, treating the materials for weathering, and checking and replacing all equipment or objects that are sticking out or can cause tangling of the clothing.\
Kids Play Gym Safety Tips
Deciding to purchase a play gym for your kids will provide them with hours of fun play as well as help improve physical fitness, coordination, climbing skills, and stamina. Keeping your child safe is also very important. You will want to consider the age and developmental stages of your children when deciding what type of play gym is best suited for them. It may be an outdoor Jungle Gym with slides, monkey bars, and swings, or it could be an indoor plastic toddler gym with a small slide and easy to climb steps. It could also be something in the middle like a plastic outdoor gym geared for younger elementary ages. You will need to decide what space to put the Play Gym in that will be safest for them. The construction materials of the play gym are important also, as well as what kind of material will be underneath the area where the kids will be using it. You may also want to consider what safety rules you will set up for the children to follow while playing on the gym. Adult supervision should always be the #1 rule. Then you will want to be sure that you properly care for and maintain the Play Gym so that it can still provide fun yet safe play for years to come.
Age and Developmental stages: Your first consideration is the ages and developmental stages of your children. An outdoor Jungle Gym is more appropriate for older elementary or preteen age kids who have good coordination, balance, and ability to jump and run. A smaller toddler gym for either outside or inside your home will be more appropriate for children who are still learning coordination, balance and are less steady on their feet when jumping and running. There are also more moderate models that will be best for younger elementary age children who are more physically advanced than a toddler but still not ready for the bigger Jungle gyms. You will want to do your homework and make sure the Gym you purchase is appropriate for your children.
Where to put the Play Gym: You are going to want to make sure that you put the Play Gym in a place that is free from debris, junk, sharp objects, stones, sticks, water, or any other material that might injure a child. A good rule of thumb is to make sure there is a 6-foot space around all sides of the Play Gym that is free of any other objects. Putting the gym in a place where there is some shade will help the equipment, especially the slide, not to get too hot.
Construction Materials: The construction material of a Play Gym is also an important consideration. Metal can get very hot in the sun and burn bare legs, sharp edges can injure children, and untreated wood can cause splinters. You will want to check for sharp edges, broken pieces, poles, or bars that could injure a child. Hardware that is recessed will be less likely to snag hair and clothing or scratch a child’s skin.
Material beneath the Play Gym: Material that provides a soft landing is highly recommended. For outside Jungle gyms, soft wood shavings, sand, or rubber mulch can provide a soft place to land as well as make the area ascetically pleasing. You will want to avoid areas with concrete, stones, or tree roots. For an indoor play gym carpet is preferable to tile or hardwood. Foam floor tiles are available at most hardware stores and can add a soft surface to thin carpets or hard floors.
Safety Rules: Having rules for the children to follow will help to keep them safe while they have fun. Here is a list of common safety rules that you should consider.
- Always have adult supervision.
- Do not wear hoods, scarves, purses, necklaces, or drawstrings on clothing.
- Always wear socks and shoes.
- Take turns
- Never push or roughhouse on or near the equipment.
- Never climb on top of monkey bars.
- Never jump from the top of the slide, the swings, or the monkey bars.
- Wear long pants if Play Gym is in the sun to prevent burns.
Care and Maintenance: The first thing you will want to do is make sure you follow the instructions for set up when you first put the set together. Then, on an annual basis, you will want to see to the care and maintenance of your play gym. Clean indoor plastic play gyms with warm soap and water. Also, be sure to check them periodically for damaged or sharp spots.
Outdoor Gyms may need a bit more maintenance and it is a good idea to do that in the spring. Always check for wear and tear or any damage to the equipment. You will also want to tighten the bolts from time to time that may become loose with extended use. Rough spots or sharp edges on wood sets should be sanded smooth, and you should consider resealing the wood every spring. Be sure to replenish the mulch, sand or whatever material you have decided to use, every spring also.
Buying your child a Play Gym can provide lots of fun and physically beneficial play. Following these safety recommendations can also help ensure that play time is injury free. Consider the age and physical development of your child before deciding what kind to purchase. Place the gym in a safe spot with at least 6 feet of free space on all side. Be sure they have a soft place to land. Make and enforce safety rules for the kids to follow. Be sure there is always adult supervision. Lastly, make sure to periodically care and maintain the Play Gym to keep it in good playing condition for a long time to come.
How long does assembly take?
Depending on the size of your gym, and your experience, your gym can take anywhere from a couple hours to a couple days to set up. Some gyms are very complex, and people with no experience could potentially damage their product or disassemble. Damaged and misassembled gyms could be dangerous. Please consult your brand to see assembly options if you are unsure of your ability to put it together.
Can you customize your play gym?
Each gym is customizable to an extent. This is where experience is necessary. Please don’t take risks. Experienced craftsmen can customize to their knowledge. For example, It is very common to see slides moved and ladders switched.
Are tools needed for assembly?
Yes, ensure you have/ can get all tools necessary before purchase. You don’t want to be in the middle of building and realize you don’t have a certain tool needed to move forward. The more complex the structure, the more tools you will probably need. Take this into consideration before buying.
Does my play gym need maintenance?
Yes, all sets need maintenance. Please consult your brand for their recommendations, and see our recommendations above.. All bolts and materials need to be inspected periodically.
Can I set up a play set alone?
You can, but it will be much more time-consuming. It is recommended that at least two adults work together for assembly. It could take anywhere from 4-8 hours minimum, depending on size.