To make the most of this endless summer, local moms have to get creative. With a little help from Amazon and our Facebook mom group, we came up with these awesome picks for 21 splurges and budget-friendly toddler staples that will make this an epic—and super-memorable—summer.
Little Tikes Cozy Coupe$62 BUY NOW
Every kid likes having sweet wheels, and the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe is sized just right and comes in a variety of colors and themes. You push it Flintstone-style with your feet, and it rides well on grass or sidewalks.
Radio Flyer 3-in-1 Folding Wagon$119 BUY NOW
Whether you go for a luxury ride like the Veer Cruiser or a more budget-friendly model like this Radio Flyer 3-in-1, you need a wagon. They're big enough to tote your kid and all their gear, and they're a handy accessory for all sorts of toddler situations, from naps on the go to zooming through the splash pad with friends.
Step2 Unicorn Up & Down Roller Coaster$160 BUY NOW
Slides are great, but kiddie roller-coasters are magic. Toddlers love wheeling the car up the track almost as much as they love racing down the ramp. The Step2 Unicorn Up & Down Roller Coaster separates into stackable pieces for easy storage.
Costzon Ride On Sand Digger$59 BUY NOW
Find a patch of gravel, sand or dirt and watch kids emulate their heroes: construction workers. On this ride-on digger, kids control the levers and can ride, pivot, scoop and dump to their heart's content. Pro tip: Break out these wheels again in the winter after a big snowfall.
Strider Classic Balance Bike$119 BUY NOW
Your toddler can cruise with the big kids on a balance bike. These rides help your child find their balance, which makes the transition to a big-kid bike easier than it is from a trike. We like this Strider model designed for kids 18 months to 5 years, but do your research to find the right one for your child. Things to consider: the bike's minimum and maximum seat height, the frame material (aluminum is lighter for kids to carry; steel is durable even with rough-and-tumble toddlers) and whether the bike has a hand brake, which is important if you plan to venture out to hilly areas.
Costzon Foldable Triangle Climber$149 BUY NOW
Provide a safe surface for climbing and sliding with this climbing triangle ladder. It strengthens motor skills and balance and is stable enough to support kids from 6 months up to age 6. Great for indoor or outdoor activity, this Costzon ladder folds away when not in use.
Best Choice Products Wooden Sandbox$119 BUY NOW
If you can't get to the beach, bring the beach to your backyard. Build a sandbox to save money or splurge on this one from Best Choice Products. Made from cedar, it has a lid to protect the sand from rain, debris and bugs, and the lid converts to chairs with backrests. The bottom is a liner, so moisture drains out of it.
Hey Play Bubble Lawn Mower$33 BUY NOW
Tire out your toddler before nap time with bubble makers and a good-quality solution (we love Gazillion Bubbles). Buy a machine with a fan to blow them out and get wands for kids to create their own floaters, and you'll have a rockin' party in no time. For a solo child, bubble lawn mowers like this Lydaz one are always a big hit.
Hey Play Saucer Swing$119 BUY NOW
If you have sturdy trees, you need a tree swing. This one from Trekassy seats more than one and grows with your child so you'll get years of use out of it.
Crayola Sidewalk Chalk$12.99 BUY NOW
Get creative without leaving behind a giant mess. Let your child draw what they like with this Crayola sidewalk chalk or create a chalk obstacle course with things to hop, jump and walk on. We like to draw our course near the street so kids walking by can have fun with it, too.
Babymoov Anti-UV Tent$49 BUY NOW
Pop-up tents are great for limiting exposure to the sun and strong winds while still staying outside. Stock your child's tent with books, toys and water for chill-out time or naps al fresco. Pop up this Babymoov tent in the backyard and take it with you to the beach or park. At 1.5 lbs., it's easy to bring along on your outdoor adventures.
Intex Kiddie Pool$19 BUY NOW
A kiddie pool means hours of fun for kids of all ages, and this Intex one has served us well. If splashing around in the pool isn't holding their interest, dump in their bath toys and beach toys and watch them go to town. When the weather isn't cooperating, drag the pool indoors (empty the water first) and fill it with ball pit balls for a whole new way to party.
Little Tikes Water Table$60 BUY NOW
We like the looks of this Little Tikes wave-making water table, but there are lots of themes and accessories to choose from. Add a watering can, measuring cups and other water toys and watch the science experiments and imaginative play begin. To keep kids interested, add dish soap to the water to create tons of bubbles (and sneakily give the water table and toys a good cleaning).
BigMouth Giant Inflatable Dinosaur Sprinkler$69 BUY NOW
When kids are cranky, add water. Preferably in the form of a sprinkler. Run through the water with your child or let them invent their own games of keep away. And if you're getting a sprinkler, why not get a BigMouth inflatable dinosaur that's over 6 feet tall?
KEEN Unisex Closed Toe Water Sandal$48 BUY NOW
Whether your choose Crocs or Keens, a sturdy shoe that kids can run in and get both wet and dirty are a must to protect feet and prevent falls while enabling maximum outdoor fun. These Keens will take you from climbing on rocks to the lake to the splash pad and back again. Hose them down when the day is done (some brands can even be cleaned in the washing machine).
Crazy 100 Rapid-Filling Self-Sealing Water Balloons by ZURU$7 BUY NOW
You know playtime is on when someone busts out the water balloons. We like these rapid-fill, self-sealing balloons from Bunch O Balloons so you can get them into eager toddlers' hands more quickly. When the water balloon fight is over, set up a contest to see who can pick up the most balloon bits. Like all balloons, you'll want to dispose of them so wildlife doesn't eat them.
U.S. Art Supply 25-Piece Paint Brush Set$9.99 BUY NOW
Give your child some paintbrushes and a cup of water and watch them paint the sidewalk, rocks, trees, pets, really whatever is around them. It's amazing how much little kids like getting to do what adults do, and painting makes them feel important. This is an especially good activity for kids while you're doing yard work or some exterior painting yourself. Try this set from U.S. Art Supply so your child can find the size and brush shape that suits them. Save the other brushes for art projects.
Stearns Kids' Basic Puddle Jumper Swim Vest$24.99 BUY NOW
Stearns Puddle Jump life jackets are sized for little kids and help keep them safe in the water with your supervision. Always stay within arms reach of a young child who can't swim. Cute designs and bright colors encourage kids to want to put them on.
Helistar Popsicle Mold$22 BUY NOW
Make healthy treats with your child with Helistar's silicone popsicle molds. Keep 'em hydrated and get some vitamins in them with fruit juices or by blending up fruit and spinach smoothies to cool down with on a hot day.
OXO Tot 2-in-1 Go Potty$16 BUY NOW
If your child is getting the hang of potty training, you'll want to store this Oxo travel potty in your car or in a large backpack for emergencies when you're out and about. Fold legs down and you have a sturdy seat kids can use in the car or on the ground, or fold legs up and place it over a public toilet to keep things more sanitary.
Babiators Kids Navigators$24 BUY NOW
Sure, you can get cheap kids' sunglasses that are all kinds of adorable, but you'll want to choose a pair that provide 100% UVA and UVB protection to keep eyes safe. These Babiators protect kids' eyesight and help them see well when they've whipped off their sun hat, as you know they will.