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10 Backyards That Redefine ‘Building Something Cool For The Kids’

If you build your kid a treehouse or a swing set, you’ll be a hero. If you build what these 10 guys built, you’ll be a legend — at least until your backyard becomes the center of the neighborhood and little Tommy from down the block twists his ankle and his dad tries to sue you. Then, you’ll just be stressed out. So, maybe don’t let your kid see this list.

Little Fenway Parkfatherly_little_fenwayOther mini ballparks exist, but none more detailed than Patrick O’Connor’s. The guy scraped paint off the actual Fenway dugout to match the green color for his walls and took real Fenway dirt to New England quarries to find the right hue and texture for his infield. O’Connor’s fields also do the greatest good; wiffleball tournaments at his backyard stadiums have raised more than $4 million for charity since 2001.

Bunton’s Backyard Rinkfatherly_bunton_backyard_rinkSince 2008, the Bunton family has spent thousands of hours building a 13′ x 30′ ice patch into a 34′ x 98′ hockey rink with 4-foot boards, flood lights, a penalty box, and heated dressing room. They’ve received memorabilia and gifts from Sidney Crosby, PK Subban, and 58 teams or companies. It is truly the greatest backyard rink in Canada, and therefore the world.

Wipeout Kids Obstacle Course [youtube expand=1] Mike “Crazy Legs” Conley was so moved by getting on Season 1 of Wipeout Canada that he built a backyard version for his kids. After the first Wipeout Kids video went viral, Ol’ Crazy Legs turned his whole street into an epic obstacle course so the rest of the neighborhood parents could stare daggers into his back while wishing they lived in the U.S., where they could have sued him over it.

Coaster Dad’s Roller Coasterfatherly_coasterdadAfter a trip to Six Flags, Will Pemble’s son, Lyle, asked if he could have his own roller coaster. Pemble’s Backyard Hero Hall Of Fame-worthy response: “I couldn’t think of a reason to say no.” Lyle became the coolest kid in town, and Pemble became CoasterDad; he’s been profiled by all the major outlets and recognized by Maker Faire for supporting science education for kids.

Golfkon Mini Golf Coursefatherly_golfkonBehind an unassuming suburban California home lies the 7,000 square-foot, handmade 9-hole mini golf course of your backyard dreams. What started as a playground for Adam Kontras’ kids now mostly hosts charity events for overgrown ones, but for $200 you can get a private ride to this putt-putt speakeasy — in Kontras’ uncanny replica of Doc Brown’s DeLorean, the centerpiece Golfkon’s seventh hole, “Golf To The Future.”

The Waterslide Of Doom [youtube expand=1] Is it a rickety death trap, a marvel of redneck engineering, or the most fun on 2 tarps you’ll have all summer? Yes.

The Pizza OvenThere’s not much detail available on these guys, but here’s all you really need to know: over the course of 9 months, this father-son duo built a 1000-pound wood-burning pizza oven into a backyard hill, aided at least in part by a model they built out of LEGOs. The only thing keeping this from being your exact childhood fantasy is a couple of Ninja Turtles.

The Giant Pool Tablefatherly_knokkersFormer semi-pro football player and cage fighter Steve Wienecke was likely already the ballsiest guy in his neighborhood, but he made it official by inventing a new sport called “Knokkers,” a combination of bowling and billiards played on a pool-sized pool table. It took 200 hours, 38 railroad ties, 5 truckloads of gravel, 4.25 yards of concrete, and 16 used bowling balls from the local alley to bring Wienecke’s 25-years-in-the-making idea to life.

The Luge Track
[youtube expand=1] If you’ve utilized your natural surroundings to show your kid a good time and groom a future Olympian without spending a dime on construction, you sir are a backyard hero.

The Backyard Skateparkfatherly_tony_hawk_backyard_skateparkIt feels kind of unfair to include this one, but Tony Hawk’s 5,000-square foot private skatepark wasn’t just about self-indulgence. His backyard concrete playground is where his son Riley (now a pro skater in his own right) learned the family trade, and where his daughter Kadence learned to troll overprotective parents on Instagram.

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