As a mother, father or grandparent shopping for an outdoor playset for your little ones, there are many important safety considerations and material choices you’ll need to contemplate. But once you’ve decided on the basics, it’s time to think about the fun!
That means picking from lots of accessory and activity options. We’re here to help you mull over the choices and give you some advice. With more than 22 years’ experience in the industry, we’ve got a pretty good idea of the essentials that all the best swing sets have.
First, here’s a rundown of some common swing set activities and accessories:
· Clubhouse and/or playhouse — The clubhouse is the center of the swing set. It’s where the kids play with toys (more on that later); use their imagination to take them out of the backyard and into the helm of a ship; or stay “safe” at home base during an intense game of Tag. If you really want to go all out, add a bottom playhouse for extra fun.
· Rock climbing wall — The best rock climbing walls challenge children and help them become stronger. That’s why the rock wall should be a reasonable size. It should also allow for hand grips to be added or removed, so the wall can grow with the kids.
· Slides — Whether you go with a wave slide, a scoop slide or a spiral slide, a slide is a necessity. The best swing sets sometimes have more than one, with different styles, colors and sizes.
· Swings — No playset is complete without swings. And because soaring through the air on a swing is more fun with a friend, we recommend at least two or three swing positions. This is an enjoyment that even adults treasure, so make sure your backyard playground is strong enough to support all of your family members. And keep in mind that it’s always better to have more swing positions than fewer, as you can switch out the classic sling swing for a baby swing, horse glider swing or gym ring trapeze bar combo, depending on who is playing on the set.
· Tire swing — Forget the idea that a tire swing has to hang from a tree. There’s no reason your playset can’t accommodate one (all of our Angled-Base swing sets do). Keep in mind that a good tire swing will use an actual tire. This means the surface will be soft rubber instead of hard plastic. And a three-chain suspension system means it can accommodate up to three kids.
This wooden swing set features a tire swing, a horse glider swing, two sling swings, a slide, multiple ladders, a clubhouse with toys and a rock-climbing wall. It offers the kids so much to do!
· Horse glider swing — This swing allows two kids to sit back-to-back while they rock and glide. It is a favorite among young children.
· Picnic table — With a wooden picnic table built in to your playset, you really add to the investment. Now your swing set isn’t just a place to play, it’s a place to take a break and eat lunch, too!
· Sandbox — Whether you take the DIY route and add the sand yourself, or you purchase a sandbox with your swing set, a sandbox adds a little variation to the play area. Not only will the kids enjoy it, but mom and dad will appreciate how it keeps the little ones entertained for even longer.
· Toys — Steering wheels, ship’s wheels, telephones, binoculars and telescopes. These are just a few of the toys all the best swing sets have. We say, the more the better! Don’t be afraid of doubling up. There’s no reason you can’t have one telescope in the clubhouse and one on the post near the sandbox.
· Ladders — From step ladders to steel rung ladders to Jacob’s ladders, kids love to climb. With a ladder and a rock wall, the children will have more than one way to access the clubhouse. And don’t forget about overhead ladders (also known as monkey bars)!
Now that you have a good understanding of all the options, it’s time for us to give our recommendations.
Eastern Jungle Gym’s top five accessory and activity picks for the best swing sets are…
(drum roll, please!)
3) Clubhouse and/or playhouse
5) Rock climbing wall
Since nearly all of our swing sets include a slide, swings, a clubhouse with toys, and a rock climbing wall, these choices probably won’t come as much of a surprise. Our longtime experience in this business has told us that this is the right formula for a swing set the kids will love for years and years. Just look for these essentials and you can’t go wrong, especially if you add in a bonus activity or two.