If you’re on the hunt for the perfect outdoor toys for your 2-year-old boys, you’ve landed in the right spot! As a mom of two toddlers, my garage is a treasure trove of backyard toys I will share with you.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and I believe that outdoor play allows young children to explore the world around them through various toys, games, and even everyday items discovered within their backyard and nature.
Outdoor play catalyzes their physical, cognitive, and emotional growth. Outside, toddlers have the chance to practice their gross motor skills, develop hand-eye coordination, and engage in imaginative and pretend play. The sensory experiences are limitless as they can explore different textures, sights, sounds, and smells.
Outdoor play is at the top of my summer bucket list for toddlers! Some of my most fun and vivid memories with my children have come from being outdoors and partaking in outdoor play. So, I’ve gathered a list of the best outdoor toys I’ve found for my children from friends and family.
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Water Play Fun
As a mom who understands the incredible value of water play for my two energetic toddlers, I am constantly on the lookout for the best water toys that can engage their senses, promote their development, and keep them happily entertained. Water play not only offers a refreshing escape on hot summer days but also provides endless opportunities for sensory exploration, and imaginative play.
Water tables are great for promoting sensory experiences (think water, bubbles, foam, sand, etc.) and hand-eye coordination. We own 2 water tables, but my kids have played with several different other types.
4. Toddler Sensory Kids Table with Lid
Instead of a water table, you could opt for a sensory table that is a little more conducive to materials other than water (like sand, dirt, beans, rice, etc.). This sensory table has two compartments for two children to individually play, or to have two separate materials for them to explore. This table has a lid which is perfect for easy storage. They can keep whatever they are working on safe (no spills) day after day.
Splash Pads, Pools, and Sprinklers
Splash pads, pools, and sprinklers are all great ways for 2-year-olds to cool off on hot summer days.
Pro Tip: I know your 2-year-old is awake at 7 AM, and it is way too cold to be playing in the water at that time. But, by the time the prime sun rolls around, they are napping away… Consider investing in sun rings to warm your inflatable pool, or even just getting a sink faucet adapter and a shrinking hose so you can run warm water directly from the tap to your pool. Play in warm water any time of the day!
5. SplashEZ 3-in-1 Splash Pad
This is a splash pad, sprinkler, and wading pool all in one. Make sure your little one has grippy water shoes so they don’t slip and fall on the mat.
8. Banzai Aqua Drench 3-in-1 Splash Park
Afraid of buying something that your little one is going to grow out of next year? We got this water splash park this year, and I can see the kids playing in it for many years to come. Today, the water slide and the sprinkler are the top attractions. In a few years, the pool and slip and slide will be.
9. Intex Kiddie Float
If you have a larger pool, a kiddie float is a must. My little man loves to pretend he is driving while we push him around in the water.
Parent-to-Parent: Remember that no amount of water is safe for kids to play in unsupervised. Whether they are floating in the pool, splashing on a pad, or just running through the sprinkler, you should be within arm’s reach at all times to prevent injuries and drowning.
14. Water Balloons
Once a year I think it’s a lot of fun to still have a regular water balloon fight. Even little kids will love collecting water balloons in pails (like Easter eggs!) and experimenting with popping them on hard and soft surfaces. Throwing them with their hands, or squishing them with their bums!
Pro Tip: If you’re only going to do this once in a while, grab yourself some self-filling, self-tying balloons like Bunch O Balloons. Fill and tie up to 100 balloons in just 1 minute.
15. Water Hose
You probably have one of these lying around your house somewhere. It’s time to break it out for your little one(s)! They can fill buckets, water plants, splash around, and explore whatever their imagination desires. My son will play for *hours* with a hose. He has done this since he was old enough to stand and hold one. The possibilities are endless, and you don’t even have to go out and buy anything.
Pro Tip: Avoid shrinking hoses for kids. Those types of hoses “build up” pressure when the water isn’t being sprayed, so every time your child starts and stops spraying the water is going to come out at full force. A standard 25 or 50-foot hose is perfect because you can set the water speed at the hose bib and it will stay consistent for your child while they are playing.
16. Hose Sprayer
A sprayer that has a bunch of nozzle settings can provide hours of entertainment for your kids. There is something about the power of squeezing the trigger and watching the water fly out that is mesmerizing for a toddler. I like the nozzles with the trigger (as opposed to the lever that you slide) because it is more intuitive for kids to understand on/off.
17. Kitchen Gadgets
Another freebie here. Grab whatever interesting kitchen gadgets you have (bowls, funnels, ladles, spoons, scoops, basters) and let your kid explore the outdoors with them. They can play in the garden, the grass, and the sand, or even make their own kitchen.
18. Foldable Pool
Want Fido to join in on the pool fun? Or tired of inflating and deflating your pool? Or worse yet, patching the endless holes? Grab a hard PVC pool that folds down just as quickly as it pops up. This model even has a drain so you don’t have to worry about trying to tip the pool over to empty it.
19. Step2 Car Wash Splash Center
A cross between a ride-on toy and a water table, this pretend-play toy is a hoot for little ones. This isn’t one that I personally own, but my good friend does and our kids play on it for hours. My son’s favorite part? The steering wheel moves the “windshield wipers” when turned.
☔Rainy Day Alert
You’ve come looking for outdoor activities, but keep an eye out for my rainy day icon ☔ specifically for modifying outdoor toys for inside play.
I also highly recommend investing in some indoor play toys that aren’t screen-related. I have toy guides for babies here, young toddlers here, and even screen-free music players for babies of all ages here.
Gross Motor Skills and Physical Activity
Ride-on toys are great for promoting physical activity and enhancing gross motor skills. More advanced toys can also help with developing balance and coordination skills,
20. Balance Bike
☔ If you’re little one has mastered walking, they are ready to start on a balance bike. My youngest was only 18 months when we started him on his balance bike, and I’m not exaggerating when I say we ride it everyday rain, shine, or snow. A balance bike is my top toy for a 2-year-old boy. Read about all of the benefits of a balance bike versus a tricycle or bike with training wheels here.
21. SmarTrike Toddler Tricycle Stroller
If you’re in between a stroller and a bicycle, the SmarTrike was an amazing investment. We love it for so many reasons including one-handed steering, a reclining seat, parent-driven and child-driven modes, compact folding, a sunshade, a 5-point harness, and a storage bag. We take this everywhere with us, especially outdoor places like parks and zoos where our toddler wants to feel like they are riding a bike, but we can enjoy them being sat down in a seat.
23. VTech 2 in 1 Learn and Zoom
Another one that we own. This is an excellent ride-on toy because it offers steering. Something that many other ride-on toys don’t have. This prepares them for riding bikes and trikes as they get older. You can also switch the wheel position on this toy to become more similar to a balance bike instead of the trike position. The “ignition” switch and “dashboard” are interactive and my son loves to pretend he is really driving like mommy and daddy. Highly recommend.
Just because your little one is, well, little, doesn’t mean they can’t start playing their favorite sports like they see their older friends and relatives playing. Here are some of my son’s sporting favorites.
25. Golf Set
My son can’t get enough of golf. And I love it because the little balls really can’t cause too much damage to our surroundings. This little set has a fun cart, two clubs (a putter and a driver), a few balls, and a “hole.” They can practice their hand-eye coordination and Happy-Gilmore shots all day long.
27. Soccer Net
Imaginative and Pretend Play
Let your baby’s imagination run wild with these toys that encourage creative play and sensory experiences.
31. Little Tikes Cozy Coupe
🥇Both 1 and 2-year-olds love the Cozy Coupe. If they aren’t quite tall enough or strong enough to pedal forward, they can sit in the car and pretend to drive it. Once they get moving–take it from me 🤣–they won’t stop. My little guy pretends to drive and get groceries and gas, visits friends and family, and takes his stuffed animals to the vet or doctors. It is actually a riot listening to him as he drives around. I think they should rename this the Crazy Coupe after seeing my speedy nugget race around in it.
33. Little Tikes Easy Store Picnic Table
It’s definitely worth getting the table with the little umbrella for shade in the summer. Encourage imaginative play at a pretend restaurant or having an outdoor tea party. If you have multiple kids or friends that come over, this is a great picnic table for outdoor use to encourage social interactions with older children and young kids alike.
34. A Stick
You heard it here first folks, kids like sticks. Give my 2-year-old boy a stick and he will play with it all day. I will have to pry it from his wet sticky hands at nap time. Kids can make up all kinds of games and act out scenarios with the simplest of toys.
Kids love to mimic their parents and copy everything they are doing. Get your kids engaged in outdoor chores and pretend to play with these gardening favorites.
We have slowly acquired ours over time, but Melissa and Doug have a great selection of well-made garden tools just for kids.
35. Melissa & Doug Lawn Mower
We have played with tons of different lawnmowers (my toddler is obsessed with lawnmowers and vacuums 💁♀️), but the Melissa and Doug lawnmower can’t be beaten. It has a slider, a dial, a functioning pull cord (that even makes a sound like a real mower starting up), a gas can, and a spot to “pour” the gas in. The wheels also click and make a noise when you push them, so they are really interactive for little kids.
Pro Tip: Our little one loves pushing the lawn mower so much in the summer that we clean it off and bring it inside for the winter ☔.
37. Sunny Days Weed Wacker
We don’t own one of these, but we have thought about it so many times! My son has a stand for his vacuum toy that he flips on its side and calls a “weed wacker.” He weed-wacks the whole neighborhood walking up and down the street 🤣. While we definitely could get him the real thing, we love to see his creative imagination at work.
38. Bubble Toy Leaf Blower
Another recent addition to the garden tools set this summer is the bubble leaf blower. Until recently my son used this bubble gun that he called his “leaf blower” all the time. We were gifted this bubble version and he is thrilled with it! It does require batteries, unlike the bubble mower.
Open Ended Play and Versatile Toys
Open-ended play just means using toys in different ways. Open-ended means there is no “right” or “wrong” way to play with a toy. Children can take every day items and turn them into the best toys just by using their imagination.
42. Ball Pit
No need to buy a separate ball pit, just grab some balls and fill your swimming pool! This is a great open-ended toy for days when younger children want to “swim” but it’s too cold ☔.
43. Little Tikes Turtle Sandbox
You probably had one of these when you were a kid right? Why change a good thing? I know sand has gotten a bad name over the years for harboring bugs and whatnot. If you are routinely cleaning it, keeping it covered, and keeping it dry, the sand is a great sensory tool for your little one to dig in and run their fingers through. Not a fan of lugging pounds of sand around all summer? Fill your sandbox with ball pit balls instead ☔.
44. Little Tikes Swing
If you have a place to hang a swing, they are such a great classic toy for little ones. Both of my kids (15 months and 3.5 years as I write this) still love this exact swing. Bring the park to your own backyard with this great outdoor toy. Just make sure to take some safety precautions like following the manufacturer’s instructions for mounting the swing, and following the age recommendations and weight limit.
45. Little Tikes Swing Set
If you don’t have a place to hang a kids’ swing, but you’re not ready for a full-blown swingset, this Little Tikes mini swing set and slide combo is perfect for 2-year-olds to play on. They can make a little fort under the slide and crawl all around. It can also be assembled with no tools required… So you can impulse buy one of these and have it up and running by the weekend!
46. Tiny Land Kids Fort Building Kit
This is a perfect outdoor toy that can definitely grow with your child. You might be doing a lot of the building at 2 years old, but by the time they are 3 or 4, they will be putting their problem-solving skills to use and creating all kinds of interesting structures. Bring it inside in the winter to keep the fun going all year long.
47. Step2 Playtime Patio
Every summer I come back to this set, and I haven’t bought it yet… But one of these days I am going to break down and give it a try! It’s a little outdoor kitchen/sensory table/water table/picnic table (if you have a couple of little chairs) all in one. I love that the canopy provides shade when my yard certainly doesn’t have any. Your kids can serve up mud patties and make a “mud kitchen” with the water table and make-believe grill–a great sensory experience for little hands. Another plus about the full canopy? Kids can play rain or shine ☔.
48. Step2 Neighborhood Fun Center
If you’re looking for something a little more robust and interactive for your kiddo, consider an outdoor play structure like this one from Step2 (one of my favorite brands). Just like with some of the other toys listed here, this fun outdoor toy can be cleaned up and brought inside during the winter for year-round play ☔.
49. Little Tikes Jump ‘n Slide Inflatable Bouncer
Bounce houses are all the rage this summer. I don’t personally own one, but I saw firsthand how the whole family could enjoy a bounce house at a friend’s birthday party this summer. If you have space in your house, you can even bring this inside on rainy days!
Fine Motor Skills
When I think of outdoor play, I see my kids running like crazy and blowing off energy and steam. It’s true that a lot of outside time is focused on these gross motor skills like running, hopping, hitting, kicking, ducking, climbing, and more. But just because that’s why a lot of the toys are made for, doesn’t mean you can’t hone in on some fine motor skills outside as well. Let’s take a look!
50. Nature Bracelets
Have a blast on a “nature walk” around your house or neighborhood using a supply I know you have at home: tape! Put a piece of tape on backward (so the sticky side is out) like a bracelet on you and your little ones. Now walk around and see what things you can find in the wild to decorate your bracelets with (small flowers, leaves, grass, etc.). You can decorate yours or let your kid decorate it for you.
51. Outdoor sculptures
If you live in a more woodsy area, you could take your outdoor crafting a step further and make sculptures of animals or toys from twigs, pinecones, nuts, and anything else you might find along the way.
Ok, you might have started to think I forgot about them… But is it even summer without bubbles?! Not only are bubbles one of the kids’ favorite outdoor toys, but they also practice fine motor skills like holding and pinching the wand and blowing air from their mouths.
Mamas, it’s Sun Squad bubbles or bust.
I’ve tried a million types of bubbles, and nothing compares to Sun Squad at Target. Buy them by the gallon (seriously!). And get them early in the season, because they do sell out and it’s tragic every time.
Pro Tip: Grab yourself a gallon or two for the winter months. Bubbles are awesome to play with when it’s freezing cold outside, but you can’t buy them anywhere in the winter.
53. Bubble Blower
It shouldn’t be a surprise then that my favorite bubble blower is also from Target’s Sun Squad collection. I like this one because it doesn’t automatically fill with bubbles and guzzle bubble solution by the second. I also like that it only requires one battery. And of course that the “fan” blades are foam, so they aren’t hurting any fingers.
Parent-To-Parent: You might think I’m being a little biased on the hurting little fingers front, but honestly my 1-year-old has gotten his finger pinched in so many bubble machines. Sometimes simpler really is better.
54. Spill-Proof Bubbles
New to the summer bubble collection this year are these spill-proof bubble buckets. They are awesome. And they really don’t spill! Even if you tip them completely upside down. My husband thinks that one did leak a little because it was sitting on its side for a long time… But I think one of our little rascals just spilled bubbles from one of the other bubble toys. Time will tell 🧐).
55. Bubble Machine
My kids have never been fans of stand-alone bubble machines… Their favorite toys usually involve some kind of button (like a bubble blower). That being said, I know plenty of 2-year-old boys who have a great time playing in the bubbles from a bubble machine. You can also save this for when you have big kids for a fun birthday party bubble party.
56. Crayola Sidewalk Chalk
Draw shapes and let your kids color them in. Let them come up with their own masterpieces. Or let them shamelessly eat it in the corner of the yard when no one is looking. The world is their oyster when it comes to chalk. Don’t forget about classic games like hopscotch and four square that you can start teaching to older kids.
57. Concrete Water Painting
Let’s wrap up with a freebie, shall we? Grab a bucket of water, and some heavy-duty paint brushes or sponges, and get to drawing on any concrete you have around. Sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, whatever is close by. Kids will be fascinated watching the concrete change to dark and back to light again as it dries. So much fun!
A twist: give them the hose on a “jet stream” setting but at low water pressure. Let them use the hose to “draw” on the concrete!
No matter which toys you pick for your 2-year-old, outdoor time is the best way to challenge and engage your child at each developmental stage. Just as a word of caution: when picking toys for your little one this summer, make sure to buy high-quality toys with durable plastic that are free from sharp edges and small parts.
Now it’s time to soak up the sun and fun and make your own outdoor play memories with your little ones!