It’s easy to determine the world’s best swing set when you’re a kid. It’s always the one you’re playing on, no matter the location — your backyard, the school playground, a friend’s house, or someplace else.
Parents don’t have it as easy. Shopping for the best swing set requires striking the right balance between several variables, starting with the size of your budget.
Plastic or metal? Swings only or slide too?
How big should it be? Which part of the lawn is best?
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Sifting through the choices to find the world’s best swing set is one of those milestone decisions in the life of a family. Get it right, and it will provide unforgettable moments of fun, laughter, and love. Do your homework, and you’ll be sure to deliver priceless backyard memories.
What’s the best swing set? You’ll know it the first time you hear your little ones gleefully cry: “give us an UNDERDOG!” Some things never change. Other things, like swing sets themselves, do.
On This Day in Swing Set History
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The backyard swing set is a relatively recent phenomenon. But the urge to swing — to experience flying, without wings — definitely is not.
The first examples of swings “may have been fashioned from plant fiber and woody vines of tropical jungles,” according to the National Toy Hall of Fame at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York,
The first swing sets in the United States date to the early 1800s, but were anchored in nature, the Toy Hall of Fame indicates. If you had a tree, you could establish a swing for your children.
The concept of public playgrounds began spreading toward the end of the 19th Century and into the beginning of the 20th Century. A key milestone was the formation of the Playground Association of America, which advocated for play spaces to help with the physical and emotional development of youth.
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The popularity of backyard swing sets came into its own in post-World War II America, according to Backyard Discovery, a maker of playsets.
In the decades since, home swing sets and playsets have evolved to feature different materials and different configurations to capture youthful imaginations.
The sets provide more option and are safer than ever, but there’s still plenty of think about before you buy.
How to Pick Out the Best Swing Set
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The first and most important factor in selecting the best swing set: Know your child.
Today’s swing sets will clearly state the age ranges they support. But even then, consider your child’s unique personality before you decide. What activities will he or she most enjoy? Do you just want swings, or would you like to add on a slide or a rope climb or a jungle gym?
You’re also going to have to know your yard. You want to place the set on flat ground with enough clearance at the front and the back — sometimes this is required. Children are known to appreciate the flying forward dismount, after all.
Consider what materials fit your style and budget. Plastic and metal sets tend to be lower on the price range but are geared toward younger and lighter children. Wood sets tend to be more expensive but will usually last longer.
The material you choose will impact the challenges of installation. If you’re someone who wants to do it yourself, and you choose a wood set, you’ll need skills with a measuring tape, a hammer, a saw, and other tools. Or you’ll need some extra budget to hire professional installers. Metal sets tend to be a little easier to construct.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, you should take time to think through issues of safety. Swingsets have their hazards, so you’re going want to make sure you read reviews and consider the safety recommendations and record from the manufacturer you choose.
Follow the directions to the letter — for instance, one company stresses that you should use only commercial-grade hardware. You don’t want protruding bolts or screws to create scratches, or worse!
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Safety is essential even after building the best swing set for our family.
You’re going to want to teach your kids and their friends to follow some basic safety rules. This may well impact which set you choose as the best swing set.
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Even with a buffer zone, make sure your children know to avoid walking near friends and family who are swinging, either in front or back.
As well, kids shouldn’t stand on swings (though they will try to — didn’t we do that when we were young too?) The swings are made to be operated from a seated, balanced position.
One element you can control as the adult owner of the playset is ongoing maintenance. Make sure you regularly examine all the nuts and bolts on a swing — perhaps as often as twice a month during peak months, according to PlayNation.com. You want to spot any situations early-on where bolts have come loose.
Also, as the years go on, look at swings and other parts of the set for cracks or other signs of wear. Sometimes aging from the weather can catch up on you.
All that said, don’t go into the world of swinging with fear. Follow a few basic rules, such as these from Good Housekeeping, and the best swing set will give you memories to last a lifetime.
How We Selected the Best Swing Set
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Americans love their playthings. And so do publications and media organizations established to keep parents informed of the smartest choices. To build our list of best swing sets, we consulted reviews and recommendations from publications both in the lifestyle category as well as those focused on parenting and the family.
Our list of resources included Family Living Today, Good Housekeeping, The Spruce.com, Gardener’s Path, and Heavy.com. We also looked at reviews in mass-market publications such as the Chicago Tribune and others, as well as Amazon.com — with a particular emphasis on customer feedback.
From our analysis, we selected swing sets that will appeal to various age groups. And we’re confident you’re going to find one that fits your definition of the best swing set.
The Best Swing Set for Priceless Backyard Moments
Plastic. Wood. Metal. Surprisingly enough, the best swing set could come from any of these materials.
Notably, some might just offer positions for swinging. Others provide an all-around experience involving slides, and climbs and clubhouses. For older kids, there may even be an opportunity to go back to nature and use a tree branch as you anchor.
The best swing set will always be the one you have in your backyard. Follow our advice, and you’ll be a backyard hero in no time.
Backyard Discovery Skyfort II All Cedar Wood Swing Set
- Elevated play: Backyard Discovery offers a large, raised clubhouse on the Skyfort II featuring a wooden roof, trimmed…
- Crow’s nest: the elevated crow’s nest with telescope provide a rare feature that will bring out imagination and…
- Lower fort: a lower deck packs in ground level fun by including a snack stand picnic table as well as a sandbox area,…
Why settle for swings when you can build a fort in the sky? That’s the question behind the Backyard Discovery Skyfort II Wooden Swing Set. This set will allow your kids to move their play to another level.
The Skyfort II offers three swinging positions – two for belt swings, one for a two-person glider swing. But that’s just the start of the fun.
As the name suggests, the centerpiece of the Skyfort II is a raised clubhouse, complete with a wooden roof, bay windows, a covered entryway, and – get this – a porch! It provides a place for kids to escape the sun or enjoy a snack.
The set also comes with a crow’s nest with a telescope to encourage imagination and a rock wall for climbing skills.
- Multiple play options
- Three swing positions
- Clubhouse for shaded rest
- Footprice – set requires a big lot
- Assembly – not a one-person job
- Cost, this is not a budget item
Lifetime Monkey Bar Adventure Swing Set, Primary Colors
- Featuring 3 Belt Swings 9-ft. Wavy Slide All-Weather Resistant – Will Not Crack, Warp, Rot, or Splinter
- Fireman’s Pole, Free-Standing – No Need for Cement, Gym Rings
- Hard Edges are Rounded or Covered with Plastic Caps
The Monkey Bar Adventure features three swing positions, all of them for belt swings. But it also offers a set of other activities –- primarily a 9-foot wavy slide that the company promises will not “crack, rot, warp, or splinter.”
While there is no clubhouse in this set, your kids can also climb across a set of monkey bars, use the fireman’s pole, or get acrobatic on a trapeze bar with a set of rings.
- Three swing positions
- 9-foot wavy slide
- UV resistant
- Pretty pricey
- Lower-quality hardware
- Slide too high for young children
Gorilla Playsets 01-0021 Nantucket Wood Swing Set with Wood Roof, Two…
- Tongue and Groove wood roof protects from the elements
- Recommended for ages 3 to 11 years old
- 3-stations provide space for the belt swings and trapeze bar
Additional features in the Nantucket Swing Set include a rock wall with climbing rope as well as a separate safe entry ladder to the clubhouse.
- 10 separate activities
- Three swing positions
- Cost, not a budget item
- Assembly – took one customer eight hours to build
- Inconsistent customer support
Step2 Naturally Playful Playhouse Climber & Swing Set Extension
- Climber has roomy deck with balcony railing
- 5 1/2 foot slide; Adult assembly required
- Secret playhouse with door and crawl-through portals
Not every parent is up for a neighborhood-sized construction project. That’s not to say they couldn’t do it, but sometimes either the budget or the age of the kids won’t allow them to go big. If you’re in this category, consider the Step2 Naturally Playful Playhouse Climber and Swing Set Extension.
The Naturally Playful Playhouse combination set is made of plastic, allowing it to come together (or apart for moving) reasonably easily. The Playhouse includes two belt-swing positions and a more manageable 5.5-foot slide. This alone makes it a contender for best swing set.
Your kids will enjoy the mystery of a secret below-deck playhouse as well as a ladder that leads to a deck (with a safety balcony railing.) The playhouse offers portals and windows for fun escapes to work out your kids’ fine motor skills.
- Lightweight for relocation
- Appeals to younger children
- Assembly directions hard to follow
- Tight space for kids to maneuver
- Inconsistent service
KidKraft Appleton Wooden Swing Set
- Clubhouse: The playset features a clubhouse with a shiplap roof, windows, and a working door, providing a space for children to play and imagine.
- Sandbox: The sandbox is located under the playset and includes a cover to keep the sand clean and dry.
- Size: The playset measures 14.75′ L x 10.42′ W x 9.41′ H, providing plenty of room for children to play and explore.
The KidKraft Appleton Wooden Swing Set/Playset is a fantastic choice for families with young children who are looking for an engaging outdoor activity. With its swings, slide, rock wall, chalk wall, clubhouse, and sandbox, children will have hours of entertainment and opportunities for imaginative play.
The playset is made from high-quality wood and is designed to be sturdy and long-lasting. Ensuring that it will provide a safe and enjoyable play experience for years to come. The adjustable swings and challenging rock walls provide opportunities for children to improve their coordination and motor skills. The clubhouse and sandbox offer spaces for creative play, and the chalk wall encourages artistic expression.
- Safe – heavy-duty construction
- Swing set can accommodate up to 6 children
- Assembly: This playset requires assembly, which can be time-consuming and may require specialized tools. Some reviewers have reported that the assembly instructions can be confusing.
- Limited swinging options: The playset only includes two swings, which may not be enough for larger families or groups of children who want to play together.
Backyard Discovery Beach Front All Cedar Wooden Swing Set
- CLIMBING WALL: 5-foot tall climbing wall to aid in the development of balance and motor skills the Endeavor features a climbing wall featuring hand/foot grips.
- EASY ASSEMBLY WITH OUR INTERACTIVE BILT APP: Pre-cut, pre-drilled, pre-stained, and supported by the step-by-step interactive BILT app.
- LONG LASTING, WITHSTANDS IN SEVERE WEATHER CONDITIONS: Why Cedar. Cedar thrives in damp climates, enabling it to withstand many conditions. Our durable cedar wood is rot-resistant from the elements.
The Backyard Discovery Beach Front All Cedar Wooden Swing Set is a wonderful option for families looking for a high-quality playset with various features. Firstly, with its sturdy construction, safe design, and range of play options, children will surely have hours of fun and imaginative play.
Additionally, the large upper deck with a canopy provides shade and a cozy spot for children to relax and enjoy the view. Furthermore, the ship’s wheel and play telescope offer educational opportunities and encourage imaginative play. Moreover, the sandbox and snack bench provide spaces for creative play and socializing. Lastly, the rock wall offers a fun challenge for children to improve their motor skills and coordination. With these features, the Backyard Discovery Beach Front All Cedar Wooden Swing Set offers a range of benefits for children’s physical and cognitive development.
- Adjustable swings: The playset includes two belt swings and a two-person glider, all of which are height-adjustable to accommodate children of different ages and sizes.
- Sturdy construction: The playset is made from high-quality cedar wood, which is known for its durability and resistance to rot and insect damage.
- Variety of play features: The playset includes a large upper deck with a canopy, a ships wheel, play telescope, sandbox, snack bench, and rock wall, providing a variety of play options for children to enjoy.
- Limited shade: While the playset includes a canopy on the upper deck, it does not cover the swings or other play areas, which means that children may be exposed to the sun during playtime.
- Limited swinging options: The playset only includes two swings and a glider, which may not be enough for larger families or groups of children who want to play together.
- Age range: The playset is recommended for ages 3-10, which means that older or larger children may find it too small or not challenging enough.
Backyard Discovery Lakewood Cedar Wood Swing Set
- LOWER LEVEL: Features a front wall, window, and real door to enter into and an attached built-in bench for more social activities.
- EASY ON THE WALLET: Our swing set was created for every family that is looking to give their kids a place to play and pretend, while, being easy on the wallet.
- PERFECT FOR SMALLER YARDS AND CHILDREN: Created for a smaller backyard without compromising on the fun features of a larger swing set. This playground is an ideal starter swing set and the most fun for children ages 3-6 years old.
The Backyard Discovery Lakewood, Cedar Wood Swing Set, is a fantastic investment for families looking to create a fun and safe outdoor play area for their children. Firstly, made from high-quality cedar wood, the playset is sturdy, durable, and naturally resistant to rot and insect damage. In addition, children will love the covered upper deck with a white trim window, providing a cozy and shaded spot for play and relaxation.
Moreover, the slide with rails offers a fun and safe way for children to slide down, while the lower fort area with a door and attached bench provides a great space for socializing and imaginative play. Additionally, the swing belts and trapeze bar provide additional play options and encourage physical activity. Finally, the stair ladder makes accessing the upper deck safe and easy for children of all ages. With these features, the Backyard Discovery Lakewood Cedar Wood Swing Set offers a range of benefits for children and parents alike.
- Stair ladder: The stair ladder makes accessing the upper deck safe and easy for children of all ages.
- Swing belts and trapeze bar: The swing belts and trapeze bar provide additional play options for children and encourage physical activity.
- High-quality construction: Made from durable and sturdy cedar wood, this swing set is built to last and can withstand years of use.
- Limited weight capacity: The swing belts and trapeze bar have a weight capacity of 115 pounds, which may not be suitable for older or heavier children.
- Maintenance: As with any outdoor play equipment, this swing set requires some maintenance, including regular cleaning, staining, and sealing to keep it in good condition.
- Assembly required: Like many swing sets, this product requires assembly, which can be time-consuming and challenging for some customers.
(Bonus) Who needs a swing set to swing?
You don’t necessarily need to invest in a full-fledged swing set to give your little ones the thrill of swinging. That’s because sometimes the best moments are made from spur of the moment inspiration — particularly for children at the younger end of the spectrum.
For those little ones, we offer the Little Tikes 2-in-1 Snug ‘n Secure Grow With Me Swing. This is a safety swing with a T-bar that can be made portable — attaching to a sturdy tree branch, for example, or taken to grandma’s for the afternoon.
Notably, one of the nice things about the swing is it can adapt according to the needs of your child. If necessary, you can secure him or her with a T-bar and straps, but you can also remove these as the child gets older.
For less than a family trip to McDonald’s and some ingenuity, you can have instant swing fun.
Swinging and Singing
As we have previously mentioned, accessibility is a top priority for children when it comes to selecting the best swing set. However, in recent years, swing set designs have become increasingly sophisticated, offering a range of exciting play options for children. Selecting the best swing set is a highly personal decision, as it requires an understanding of your child’s interests and abilities, as well as the ability to anticipate their growth and the space available for the set.
Ultimately, the swing set is a meaningful part of your child’s development and represents cherished memories of their childhood. When making your decision, prioritize safety and fun, but also consider the long-lasting memories it will provide.