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Outdoor Playhouses for kids [A Great Review]

Pretend Play Toys

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive compensation.  My reviews are based on my personal own experience and research.

Are you looking for outdoor playhouses for your kids?

Both Step 2 playhouse and a Little Tikes playhouse are common options.

Playhouses can encourage imaginative play and spark your children’s creativity.

Why is imaginative play important to child development?

Importance of imaginative play to child development

Imaginative Play (Pretend Play) is important to child development in a number of ways.

1. Social development

First of all, it has the greatest impact on the development of key skills. When your kids engage in creative play with friends, they learn to co-operate with each other. Imaginative play encourages your kids to participate in social activities and help them understand social relationships.

For example, when your kids are playing in playhouses, they play as if they are visiting their friends, cooking for guests, having a party, etc.  They take up different roles in the imaginative play. This helps them understand the roles of guests, hosts, shop owners, etc.


Taking on different roles allows children the unique opportunity to learn social skills such as communication, problem solving, and empathy (Hughes, 1999).

2. Emotional development

Imaginative play can help kids express their own feelings. They are understand both negative and postitive feelings.


3. Problem solving skills 

Imaginative play provides a lot of opportunities for kids to try out different new ideas, ways of thinking and solve different problems.

For example, when they are playing with a toy cashier, they may have to think about the roles. ‘Who will be the cashier?’ ‘Who will be the customer?’

When they are playing in the playhouse, they may create different roles, e.g. one kid will be the host, the other will be the neighbours, etc. Or they have to look for extra toys to use for the food in the playhouse. Or use different materials to use for a chair, etc.


Little Tikes Playhouse

4. Language development

Imaginative play encourages your kids to pick up new vocabulary quickly and practise new words. E.g. When they are playing in the playhouse, they can act in different scenarios and re-act stories they read before. Through playing with peers, they imitate others to express their feelings. This fosters their language development.


5. Developing creativity and imaginative skills 

Imaginative play sparks your kids creativity and imaginative skills. During imaginative play, they have to come up with some new and fun scenarios and act them out. For example, when they are playing in the playhouse, they can create their own imaginative world and objects. Sometimes they can use different toys or materials in their playhouses to expand their play and add additional fun.

KidKraft Modern Outdoor Playhouse

The following playhouses are some of the better options I would recommend.

1. step2 Playhouse Neat & Tidy Cottage

Suitable for 1.5 – 5 years old

Price: $131.55

If you like Step 2 playhouse, I would recommend this one and the second one.  This one is the most popular Step 2 playhouse on Amazon.

With so many features, such as the door bell, the built-in kitchen area, your kids can enjoy imaginative play in different scenarios. Your kids can play with open and close the windows, pretend talking on the phone, visiting his/ her friends by ringing the door bell. They can also use the kitchen set and have an outdoor play grill.

I like the small seat (near to the sink), your kids can sit there and pretend cooking food. Also, the area is enough for 2-3 kids to play inside and move around. But it’s not too big, you can put this inside your house and teachers can put it in classroom.

Another interesting feature which I like a lot is the doorbell. It actually rings but it is not too loud.

Many parents said their kids particularly like the swinging door and shutters on the window.

The colour is gender-neutral, so it’s suitable for both boys and girls. It can also fit your backyard without looking too odd.

Product features

Dimension: 46.5 x 35 x 51.2 inches

Maximum weight on seat: 35 lbs. (15.88 kg)

Things included in the playhouse      Step 2 Playhouse

  • Doorbell
  • Built-In Kitchen
  • Flower Box
  • Play Phone
  • Mailbox


1. It’s very easy to set up.  (Takes less than 1 hour)

2. It’s made of sturdy materials.  It can withstand sunlight and rain.

3. There is a built-in floor.  Even in the rainy days, your kids can still play in the house without getting dirty.

4. The size is big enough for 2-3 young kids to move around.

Little Tikes Playhouse



1. AA batteries are required.

2. It’s better to create a few drain holes on the floor.

3.  Your kids cannot be more than 36 in high to stand up in it.


Check the price



2. Step2 Neat and Tidy II Playhouse


This is another popular Step 2 playhouse on Amazon. This one is almost the same as the previous one. But the rooftop colour is different.

Product Features

Inside Dimension: 44″ wide, 26″ deep, 48″ tall (at the peak)

Maximum weight on seat: 35 lbs. (15.88 kg)

Step 2 Playhouse

step 2 playhouse

3. Little Tikes Princess Cape Cottage Playhouse

Suitable for Age 1.5-4

If your daughter likes pink, this playhouse can be a more suitable choice.


The Differences between the Step 2 Playhouse and this one, you can refer to the below table.

Differences between Step 2 Playhouse and Little Tikes Playhouse

About the size, this one is smaller than the previous Step 2 playhouse.

And this Little Tikes Playhouse does not have built-in floor.

However, I like the modern design of this one, it looks like a real house.

Product Features

Product Dimensions: 35 x 43 x 49 inches

Price: $110.79

The door was about 18-20 inches, the opening was 35-40 inches.

The measurement of the inside of the house: About three feet square

Little Tikes Playhouse


1. It’s easy to assemble.

2. It’s cheaper than Step 2 Playhouse.

3. It’s sturdy.

4. It’s easy to move.



1. Size is a big small.  Better for smaller size kids.



1. How to assemble? Click this website. 




4. Little Tikes Cape Cottage, Tan

Suitable for age 1.5-4



Product Features

Product Dimension: 42.8 x 35 x 49 inches
    Inside : 38″ wide X 30″ high (48″ at center peak)

The door height opening is 38 inches. 

This Little Tikes Playhouse is slightly smaller than Step 2 Playhouse.  The dimension of the first Step 2 Playhouse is 46.5 x 35 x 51.2 inches.

This one is colour-neutral.  So it’s suitable for both your girls and boys.  The design of this one is more contemporary than Step 2 Playhouse.

Price not on Sale: $129.99


Pros                                                                                    Little Tikes Playhouse

1. It’s durable and sturdy. (made of thick plastic)

2. Neutral colour.

3. Easy to assemble.

4. Relatively cheaper than Step 2 Playhouse


1. 38 – 40″ tall would be comfortable in the play house.



What are the differences among these best selling playhouses? See the below Table.

Comparison between Step 2 Playhouses and Little Tikes Playhouses



5. Step2 893199 Seaside Villa Playhouse

Seaside Villa Playhouse Step 2 Playhouse

Product Dimension: 38 x 40.5 x 45 inches. Height: Approximately 45 “

Price: $149.99 (not on sale)

Suitable for Age 1-5

This Step 2 Playhouse is less popular than the above 4 playhouses.  It is relatively smaller than other Step 2 Playhouses.  This playhouse does not contain shutters on the windows.  Comparing the features, this one has an extra sitting bench outside the playhouse.   And it’s a bit more expensive.

If you are not a big fan of fancy, tacky colours, you may like its simple styling and soft colors.

Your kids can pretend to be the mailman and delivery packages.  Or they can use the kitchen and play as if they are inside a fast food restaurant, selling food. I like its classy style.


sitting bench

kitchen set

front lamp post

mailbox slot




1.Very easy to assemble. (Within an hour) The instructions are clear and easy.

2. It is sturdy.

3. Added feature: Sitting bench

4. It’s lightweight.  Easy to move.



1. The mail slot doesn’t actually fit letter size envelopes.



1. A drilled is needed when you assemble it.






6. Step2 Sweetheart Playhouse, Pink and White

Sweetheart Playhouse -Step 2 Playhouse

Suitable for Age 2-6

Product Dimension: 53 x 47 x 58 inches 

The interior of the house is intended for children 55.5 inches at its tallest point.

The height of the full-sized door is 40.5 inches tall.

Price: $313.93


If you have daughters who love princess and pink colour.  You may consider between this one and the Little Tikes Princess Cape Cottage Playhouse.  I definitely like the fine details of this one more than Little Tikes Princess Cape Cottage Playhouse.  And there are more features as well.  But the price of Little Tikes one is more reasonable.

This Step 2 Playhouse is bigger than Little Tikes Princess Cape Cottage Playhouse, but it’s a lot more expensive. 

Since this one is bigger than Little Tikes one, your  daughters can play with this one for more years.


  • a full-sized door
  • working shutters
  • decorative roof with skylight
  • decorative heart shaped flower pot
  • Convertible table top flips over to become a pretend outside barbecue grill with clicking knobs
  • Clock with movable hands
  • Electronic doorbell and phone 

Step2 Sweetheart Playhouse Review

The barbecue grill outside the house, makes it really fun for outside play as well with cute play patio chairs/table set.  There is a lot of space  to store play dishes and other play items on the table.


1. Big enough for 3-4 kids to play inside.

2. It’s durable.

3. Cute and beautiful design

4. A lot of added features.



1, The instructions are unclear. There are no words just pictures.



1. AA and AAA batteries are needed for the phone and door bell.


A comparison Between Step2 Playhouse Neat & Tidy Cottage, Little Tikes Princess Cape Cottage and Step 2 Sweetheart Playhouse.



Final Thoughts

For the other playhouses which are rated below 3 stars on Amazon, I don’t really recommend them. For example, Backyard Discovery Timberlake All Cedar Wood Playhouse and KidKraft Modern Outdoor Playhouse.

They are  relatively less value for money and less durable.  Also some customers found them hard to assemble.

If you are looking for a more durable playhouse and don’t mind higher price, opt for Step 2 Playhouse because your kids can play for more years.

If your girls are fond of princess style and you prefer something cheaper, Little Tikes Princess Cape Cottage Playhouse is the best choice.

If you are looking for cheaper options, the above 2 Little Tikes Playhouses are better choices.

If you prefer more features, Step2 893199 Seaside Villa Playhouse and Step 2 Sweetheart Playhouse are suitable for you.

  1. Wow, these playhouses look amazing! I wish I had one when I was a kid.

    I think I will buy one of these for my 2-yer-old son. He will love it!

    Thanks for a very well written review, Fiona! Reading it was very useful for me.


  2. Good morning from a sunny Staffordshire in the UK. I’ve taken up the challenge of looking over your website article about ‘playhouses’ for kids and will give you my insight, comments, review and feedback from a transparent and honest approach.

    First off, you’re website looks generally pleasing and has a tone for children, parents and all things toys. It’s bright, clean looking and clear enough with various uses of coloured and styled fonts, teddybear icons and clear child-friendly bold images.

    Your article obviously showcases some of the playhouse options out there for people on the look out for one. Your bullet points, information, pros and cons and features are what people want to see, all presented in a non-pushy but informative way.

    People can read what’s in front of them and make their own decision based on either their budget, what features they want or how much room they have, adding the dimensions of the playhouses is a key feature as much as the price and these factors could possibly be enhanced, larger or bolder. What do you think?

    Another suggestion would be to find more brands that offer playhouses and add them or feature other models from Step2 and Little Tikes in order to give more choice for your audience.

  3. Very nice, this is a good niche. I have had suggestions to do kids stuff and this site is well put together. Very informative, very nice layout. Looks like you put a lot of thought into it.

  4. Your list of points of ‘Importance of imaginative play to child development’ should be enough to get every parent to invest in learning toys for their children. There is no excuse good enough for a parent to sit their impressionable young kids down in front of a TV or video game for hours every night knowing the damage it will do to them later on in their lives.
    Creative learning through role-playing and social interaction is a much more positive way to raise children to become healthier and happier adults.
    thanks for sharing.

    1. Now a lot of children spend too much time on Ipads, and other electronic devices. Parents should encourage children to play with educational toys. Thanks Andrew for your comment.

  5. Hey ! I really like how you described the importance of kids using their imagination and playing time for the development of their character at an early age.I think it is true that kids should be allowed to act out their imagination when playing so they can learn new things.I think that some of these playhouses are really cool, I remember my sister had one when she was 4 years old and it was a really big one and it was her favourite thing to play in, a couple times she wanted to sleep in it haha.

    1. Daniel, thanks for your sharing here! Children should be encouraged to explore their imaginative world. I know that children are very good at imagination.

  6. That’s a really interesting article. I very much like that you have references and citations, this is good information on the need for imaginative play, which I’m all in favour of.

  7. You know, I have always thought of a play house being fun instrument for kids, but knowing now its benefits on them has struck me and I completely agree. They learn to build themselves mentally, socially and physically in their own small way which prepares them for the real world.

    Thanks Fiona for sharing.

    1. Sylvia, you are welcome. Playhouse is a really fun place for children to play inside. They can learn a lot through playing with imaginative toys, such as improve their language development, social development and creativity.

  8. I always wanted these when I was a little girl! During then, these are not easily found at all. It is really enjoyable role-playing and and through playing, like what was mentioned, kids can develop social skills. Honestly, I prefer my kids to play with other kids rather than spending their time on watching TV programs or playing with the Ipad or mobile phones.

    I am seriously thinking of getting one for my son whose current ambition is to be a chef! However, as I stay in an apartment, I am a little concern if my place can accommodate the play house. I will take a detail look at the measurements again. Also, thank you so much for providing the comparison table for the play houses. It will be helpful for me.

    Thank you very much for the detailed info!

  9. This is a very useful article for the development of our children both mentally and physically. Our children’s mindset should always be kept occupied through a series of learning sequences and this is where the outdoor playhouses come into play.
    Yes, I agree that imaginative plays can spark their social development and problem-solving skills as they undergo taking various roles during such games.
    While engaged in such a game, they are more than happy to perform what they do and take it a fun ride which also ultimately boost healthy growth and a stress-free environment.
    Your review has much more useful benefits than what has been discussed.

    Thanks for sharing this article.

  10. Oh, how I used to love having a cubby house or play house when I was young. Now, to see my little ones playing in them brings me so much joy as well as seeing their imaginations act out is just so adorable. These play houses really are valuable in a little person’s world, helping them role play and have fun with their friends, siblings, even on their own. I can vouch for the little tykes brand as these are very solid and safe and last for years! Easily resellable too once the children grow out of them. Great collation of these fun playhouses.

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