9 Fab Play Forts Kids Will Love

Two cheeky boys peeking through fort window

Photo credit: timlewisnm via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-SA

What kid doesn't want a fort (clubhouse, playhouse, whatever you want to call it), a special place they can call their own, where all kinds of adventures can happen - a grown-up-free zone, except by invitation!

Different kids, of course, have different interests and different needs. And parents have different-sized backyards and different budgets. So, what suits the tearaway twins of your neighbors down the street may not necessarily be the best choice for your own intrepid little angels. So far, so obvious...

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If you're happy to grab a hammer, a few spare pieces of wood and a handful of nails, and knock together your own masterpiece from scratch, that's fantastic! You'll create something unique and wonderful, made specially for your own kids.

If you're not able to embark on such a venture, here (in no particular order) are a few great alternatives. Be aware that assembly is still required, though - for some of these more than for others.

1 This fort has all the extras

Skyfort 2 swarming with kids

Backyard Discovery Skyfort II All Cedar Wood Swing Playset

This is no shy, retiring wallflower of a fort. The Backyard Discovery Skyfort 2 flaunts its finery center-stage, demanding attention. This popular playset definitely requires space.

There are actually two forts: a ground floor clubhouse with a picnic table, and another on the upper level. Then there's a swing beam and monkey bars stretching out on either side, a slide, climbing wall and all sorts of other features kids will love - even a crows nest! For more info, see our detailed Skyfort II review.

Get  the current price for Skyfort II on Amazon by clicking here.


2 Lots of features but smaller footprint

Backyard Discovery Shenandoah playset

Backyard Discovery Shenandoah All Cedar Wood Playset Swing Set

The Backyard Discovery Shenandoah playset has two cute wooden forts, on two levels, with a snack area on the ground level.

The ground floor snack area includes a play kitchen with three essentials: a stove, a sink and a cordless phone! (Your kids can always ignore/remove these if they're not perpetually enthralled by domesticity and prefer to create their own arenas for play...)

There's a slide (10 feet long), climbing wall and swing beam, but no monkey bars, so it will fit into a smaller space than the Skyfort 2.

The deck is 5 feet high, so kids won't outgrow this playset too quickly as they get older and, inevitably, taller.

It's not obvious from the image above, but the forts are more open at the back. You can see see this clearly in the video below.

Your kids might be fine with that, but on the occasions they want something more cozy and enclosed, it would be easy to fill in a wall with a blanket or towel - or perhaps even do something more permanent if you prefer.

There's divided opinion on the assembly instructions. Some people have found them confusing, others say they're easy to follow! To be on the safe side, read and reread extra carefully.

Unpack and check all pieces well before you plan to build, so that if any are defective or missing, you can request and receive replacements, to ensure all is in order when you begin. You don't want to find out there are parts missing or damaged when you're all geared up to put the playset together.

I think it always makes sense with any wooden play equipment to treat the wood sooner rather than later.

As with the Skyfort 2 - and many other wooden playset structures - it might be a good idea to sand and smooth where/if necessary and apply a sealant (with or without a stain, depending on your preference) right at the start. Anything to maintain condition and increase lifespan must be a good thing!

Some say that the individual pieces seem a bit flimsy, but once the Shenandoah is installed it feels nice and sturdy. It's definitely a hit with the kids, and the general feeling is that this playset offers good value for money.

Get Amazon's current prices for the Shenandoah playset here.


3 If the words "Low Maintenance" are music to your ears...

Lifetime Adventure Tower playset

Lifetime Adventure Tower Playset

This freestanding swing set gets very good customer feedback. It's not made of wood, so no staining or treating is necessary.

The Lifetime Adventure Tower 90440 playset may not look as pretty as a wooden one, but it has cute upper and lower forts, rock wall, swings, slide and all sorts of other goodies. And there's a Deluxe version too (model 90630), with monkey bars.

The UV-protected high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and powder-coated steel construction makes it easy to maintain - no potential for splinters, fading etc.

And it's free-standing, so doesn't need to be anchored in place. The parts are good quality and the finished structure is sturdy.

Generally, customers say the only thing not up to scratch is the instruction manual... and the time it takes to put it together. But once it's up, you're laughing!

Click here for Amazon's latest deals on the Lifetime Adventure Tower Playset.


4 No room for swings?

Gorilla Playsets Chateau Treehouse Tower with kids

Gorilla Playsets Chateau Treehouse Tower Swing Set

This is a great option if you want a fort playhouse that comes with playset accessories, but your backyard is too small to fit a swing beam.

The ground floor fort in this model (01-0062) has a neat picnic table with a built in bench​.

NOTE: There are also Chateau versions with a swing beam if you particularly like this design and can accommodate the whole caboodle. There are several variations available on Amazon: you can check them out here.

See Amazon's current deals on Gorilla Playsets Chateau Treehouse Tower here.


5 Oh so cute - but teeny-tiny

Merax® Children's Indoor Outdoor Wood Playhouse

Little kids will adore this delightful lopsided playhouse. There isn't much room in here, so it's single occupancy only (preferably for someone who's no more than 3ft tall).

It has a coating of environmentally friendly waterproof paint, which means it's safe for residents as well as being rain-resistant. And it does come with a floor, which is an unusual bonus for a one-story play fort.

It's intended to be used outside but it's small enough to have indoors if you prefer. Either way, most people find it's quite easy to assemble.

Once your kids have outgrown it, you'll be left with a delightful mini-shed. Apparently it makes a great duck, goose or dog house!


6 Toddlers of all ages love this one!

Little Tikes Classic Castle

Ideal for young knights and maidens. There's a tower, slide, a secret door, and lots of places to hide - all in packed into a small space that should fit in any backyard or patio.

You don't need a screwdriver to assemble this castle (hurray!) - the pieces just snap together.

(TIP: Make sure the pieces are positioned at the correct angles and, if necessary, use a bit of muscle.)

Once the castle is built, it's sturdy and durable.

It's made from heavy-duty plastic, so it's easy to clean and pretty maintenance-free.

Apparently it's possible to take it apart and reassemble without too much trouble - you just need a bit of time. This makes things a whole lot easier if you're moving house and want to take it with you.

Be prepared: the Classic Castle is a magnet for all ages. Plenty of satisfied users say their kids can't stay away, even when they really get too big. Seems it's a keeper (not just a keep!)


​7 No backyard? Come inside...

Toydle Fort Kit

This is a fort the kids can design and build themselves - whatever the weather and even if there's no backyard.

It's a step up from using chairs and tables and blankets - the way we did it in the old days!

At first glance this kit might look a bit overpriced, but it has a lot to offer. It includes toxin-free PVC tubing and hardwood connection blocks - and there's a lifetime warranty.

What's particularly nice is the versatility - there are endless possibilities for fort designs, great opportunity for children to exercise their imaginations, inventiveness and creativity.

Check out the video below to see it in action. TIP: You might want to mute the sound (or at least keep it low)!

There are two sizes, Huge and Colossal (IMHO a bit of a misnomer on both counts!) If you're just getting one kit, consider going for the Colossal. I think a single Huge might not give enough flexibility for creating different structures - which is really half the fun of a kit like this.

Yes, it's a simple idea, but it's good quality and it works!


8 And here's a real budget option

Pacific Play Tents Club House Tent

If you want a fort that's small, movable and budget-priced, this could be it!

A sweet clubhouse fort tent that's put together in a trice. This is easy to put up, take down, move around. Great outdoors (in fine weather) and indoors (come rain or shine).

Don't expect it to last for ever, but it might be the ideal option for now.

For extra excitement, you could add a tunnel [link] to the porthole door, and even use it to connect with another tent!


9 Just seen this and had to include it

Backyard Discovery Scenic Heights All Cedar Playhouse

I love the look of this rustic fort playhouse. Great for a small yard.

It's on two levels but still safe for little ones - the deck is only 3ft high. The space has been cleverly utilized to the max, so there's plenty of scope for different kinds of play, lots of  flexibility in a small footprint.

As well as a ladder, there are real stairs (with safety rails) - great for all kinds of games, could even come in handy for extra seating.

The fort has swing doors. Inside, there's a play kitchen, padded bench seat and wooden storage boxes.

And then there's the whole of the ground level underneath to play with!

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