The state of playgrounds in the US today is decidedly lackluster, so unless a move to Denmark is in the cards, you’re going to have to take matters into your own hands to show your kid what a true playspace is all about. You probably don’t have anywhere to put a tire Godzilla or a pair of reclaimed Cessnas, but you should be able to fit at least one of these in your backyard. That’s a win for you and the neighborhood kids, because around your house you don’t have to answer to the clowns who are trying to deem grass an unsafe playground surface.
Springfree TrampolineWhile the grass thing is ridiculous, steel springs sticking out of a backyard trampoline while uncoordinated kids fly about seems like a reasonable thing to worry about. Enter Springfree, which replaces the springs with super bendable fiberglass rods that you can’t fall through and lose all your skin. It’s weight-rated to 250 pounds so you and your kid can both be like Mike with the included basketball hoop. Just don’t show them Slamball highlights beforehand. Wouldn’t want either of you getting any ideas.
Springfree Trampoline ($2,045)
Playkids Climbing HoldsSee that old tree? Congratulations, it’s now a climbing wall. Better yet, now you’ve got a stairway to the treehouse. Kids have remarkable upper body strength for their tiny stature, so they won’t mind the climb. They will, however, dominate you in a pull-up contest.
Playkids Climbing Holds ($29)
Slackers Night Riderz Zipline KitBetter yet, install this bad boy at the top of that tree and watch your kid’s friends start lining up to ride. Hell, with a backyard playground this cool, you could charge admission. Even cooler, this kit is covered in LED lights for night zipping, so your kid will 1) feel like Batman, and 2) be able to practice enough to one day scare the crap out of you with a stunt like this.
Slackers Night Riderz Zipline Kit ($233)
HearthSong Rope LadderYour tree climbing alternative is this good old-fashioned rope ladder. It’s ultra sturdy and requires no hardware to hang, either indoors or outside. Although it’s recommended that you keep it firmly affixed to a tree and promptly burn it as soon as your kid’s old enough to consider hanging it out of their bedroom window.
HearthSong Rope Ladder ($20)
Lifetime Geometric Dome Climber Play CenterIf your kid’s gonna climb, wouldn’t you rather them do so over 10 feet of heavy duty steel than, say, your dining room table? The 600-pound total weight capacity makes this dome sturdy enough for multiple kids to play on at the same time, whether they’re 3, 10, or 40.
Lifetime Geometric Dome Climber Play Center ($170)
Swing-N-Slide Monster Web SwingThe backyard tire swing just got a whole lot cooler. No, like, actually cooler. Have you ever tried to sit on one of those things on a hot summer day? This version is made of a high-strength polypropylene rope netting that can comfortably hold up to 3 kids and doesn’t retain ambient heat, so you’ll have find a new punch line for your “You know what really burns my ass?” jokes.
Swing-N-Slide Monster Web Swing ($144)
KidKraft Activity Sandbox With CanopyThe sandbox is the perennial staple of any backyard playground. It teaches kids fine motor skills, how to play nice with others, and that crunchy dirt is still dirt and should not be eaten. It will also prepare your kid to graduate to castle building in the world’s biggest sandbox — all while you lay in the shade. Canopy for the win!
KidKraft Activity Sandbox with Canopy ($196)
Lifetime Portable Tetherball SystemSet this up in your backyard now and your kid will be ready to go Napoleon Dynamite on all challengers in the schoolyard when the time comes. Check that, all human challengers.
Lifetime Portable Tetherball System ($103)