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The Best Water Toys for the Outdoors: Summer 2021

Water balloon slingshots for the win.

We love water toys for kids. As the summer deepens, skies turn a brighter blue, and the heat sets in, few activities are more fun for kids (and affordable for you) than loading a few backyard water toys and releasing your children into the backyard for some aquatic entertainment. Bonus: It’s also great for your grass.

Whether hitting a ball, building a fort, or getting sprayed by a ginormous dinosaur sprinkler, there’s just nothing better than an afternoon of exhausting outdoor play, especially if the best water toys for kids are involved — ideally ones that involve team play and group interaction. The same goes for projectile play, which helps kids to hone their hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness and also gives them a crash course in gravity and other principles of physics. To help you enjoy the fun, here are some of the best backyard water toys for some splashy fun in the sun.

Water Blasters, Soakers and Launchers for Kids

This sleek water gun lets you go full undercover, and holds 40 ounces of liquid; it has a range of 32 feet.

Sure, we miss those heady days of Super Soakers too, but this latest, which piggybacks off the popular Fortnite series of games, will be cherished by your kiddo. Keep the hose handy, however: It holds less than eight ounces of water.

Summer is funner when you’ve got a friend to play with, and the Goliath hydro zoom ball is designed for besties to have a blast. We think of this as a wetter version of hot potato. Stash a water balloon inside, have two kids grab the respective handles, and their own arm movements send the payload back and forth. It’s all fun and games until time runs out and someone gets a balloon’s worth of water down his or her front.

Ostensibly marketed to girls, though we're not sure why the brand has to play the gender card, this is one great blaster. For anyone who likes water. It's easy to use: You just pump to shoot it. Submerge the barrel in water to reload. The key here is the surprise factor: It's tiny, fits in the palm of a hand, and really has the element of surprise.

This inflatable water blaster looks cool and works in and out of the pool. Great for kids 5 and up, this hybrid spaceship blaster shoots water up to 15 feet holds 1.5 ounces of water for shots taken outside the pool. In the pool, just keep shooting.

Sure, these blasters have cute critter heads. But don't be fooled. They're 14 inches long, lightweight enough for younger kids to wield, and blast out a nice, icy stream of water.

The concept of turning on a sprinkler in the yard and running through it has been practiced by overheated youths for generations. The Tidal Storm spinning sprinkler maxes out this discipline, sending water in all directions: Connect the unit to any standard garden hose and the Hydro Swirl shoots a column of water from its center while six neon tubes wave outside with secondary streams. It’s chaos. The kids will love it.

We honestly cannot think of anything more fun than hurling water balloons at one another, except for doing it faster and farther. This water-balloon slingshot sends your cargo soaring 100 feet. You've been warned. The balloons are biodegradable and recyclable.

Launching things into low orbit is as much a part of summer as the sound of cicadas. All you need is the Aquapod launcher, a bicycle pump, and a 2-liter bottle from the recycling bin. Find a safe area, and get to pumping while you explain to your son or daughter how forcing more air into the bottle builds pressure. Once the water inside is released via a 15-foot pull cord, the bottle rockets up to 100 feet in the air, and then floats gently back down to the ground. It’s a ton of fun and also offers valuable lessons in physics. As you might expect, this requires close adult supervision for any child under 14, so it’s import to explain the potential risks to kids and keep it out of reach when you’re not around.

Gentle Water Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers

An inflated beach ball that sprays water. Really, what more do you want? It's basic, beautiful, glorious, watery fun.

One of the most cool and fun and all things awesome summer must-haves we've pretty much ever seen: An at-home foam machine. Use simply set it up, attach the hose, add the foam solution (refills are easy to find when you run out) and let it rip. Each bottle provides about two hours of play. But parents, remember, this is foam, so please supervise your kids when they're rolling around in it.

A bath toy that can be used in any water: These boats float, and in warm water, the hulls change color.

A classic sit and spin toy, but make it watery: Kids spin around and around, and when parents attack a garden hose, things get really wet and even more fun. Kids can change the water spray direction by touching a button.

This magical aquatic unicorn connects to a garden hose and shoots water 12 feet high and 16 feet wide, which is plenty for little kids trying to get wet.

Think of this as a miniature water park for your little kids. There's a sweet little slide, and the water flows to palm tree sprayer and the waterfall adjusts with control valve. Kids can throw the balls (which are included) into the dinosaur's gaping maws.

Great for younger kids, this sweet sprinkler shoots water out of the characters' spouts when you attach it to a hose.

This inflatable kids pool is perfect for kids 2 and up — the rainbow lives up to its name, once attached to a garden hose, and sprays a cooling mist into the colorful pool.

This utterly, insanely amazing backyard aquatic paradise lets your little kids (or you) pay water polo, soccer, volleyball , or basketball. In the water. It's 96 inches long, 66 inches wide, and 32 inches tall. Because of its size, it's best for kids 4 and up.

A kiddie pool that doubles as a mini water park with circular fountain and sweetly decorated with marine plants and friendly sea creatures.

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