Ahh summer! The time of year when the kids roam free. Hours in the backyard are pure bliss, and a great playset can make all the difference. Not everyone wants a giant cedar swing set though. Here some great alternatives to a wooden swing set- from metal swing sets to teeter totters and more. Affiliate links are shared in this post for easy shopping.
We recently moved to a house with a big back yard. At our old house we had a very small back yard but wanted to have something fun for the kids to play on.
We found the perfect small metal swing set for our (then) toddler and preschooler. In hindsight I wish it came with the flexible swings instead of the hard plastic ones- we did end up buying the flexible ones.
So… we had our swing set. Nothing fancy, totally practical. Great for our small kids in our small yard, with our small budget. When we moved to our new house, we left that swing set in the yard for the new owners who had young grandkids.
This spring, after almost a year at our new house without our own swing set, we decided it was time to explore our options. Our neighbors had been very generous in allowing our kids free access to their yard but it was time for us to take the plunge.
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There are SO many swing sets, play sets and playground sets for your back yard these days. We've spent time in the back yards of a lot of friends and family and sampled many a playset!
We were really on the fence about what we wanted. Wooden or metal, metal or wooden.
We have more room now and wanted to get something that our kids would be able to use for years. We had saved up to afford one that would be really durable. After great consideration and many store visits, we did settle on a wooden swing set. But I know that it means we will have to maintain it to get the longevity we are looking for.
Whether you want to avoid the large footprint or the ongoing upkeep of a wooden swing set- or the price tag of one- there are some awesome affordable alternatives that will give your kids endless hours of energy-burning entertainment.
We had a big list going of metal swing sets and other backyard play equipment we were considering. Here are the top alternatives that we found for a wooden swing set.
- Large Metal Swing Sets
- Small Metal Swing Sets
- Tree Swings
- Stand Alone Backyard Play Equipment
Large Metal Swing Sets
Got lots of room? Let's fill it with fun! Check out these large swing set options. Be sure to click through for details, prices and reviews.
The Lifetime Monkey Bar Adventure Swing Set with Wavy Slide was our top choice in the metal category. With hundreds of 5 star reviews and a taller size that means our kids would really get years of use from it, it was a serious contender. It has a larger footprint though, so if you're looking for something smaller, keep reading.
Lifetime was actually the metal swing set brand that I was most attracted to when we were looking this time around. If you want a large, premium metal swing set with some really unique features, I highly recommend looking through their products. Here are the Lifetime Outdoor Playsets on Amazon. The reviews are crazy good.
Another cool line with unique features is Skywalker Sports. Their lineup is more modular, allowing you to customize your swing set to fit your needs and your space. Start with their Skywalker Sports Jungle Gym and add on the Swing Set Module or the Monkey Bars Module, for example.
For an entry-level brand with a wide range of basic metal swingsets, Flexible Flyer seems to be a solid brand. We did need to anchor the small set we bought from them, but most of these types of swing sets need anchors.
The larger (but still super affordable) version of the metal swing set that we had at our old house is the Flexible Flyer Deluxe Trapeze Swing Big Adventure Metal Swing Set. For the price, you really get a lot. If we had a bigger yard at our old house we would have gotten something like this for sure.
At a slightly higher price range, you can add in a couple cool features with a set from Sportspower Limited. They have two main models, both with a cool saucer swing. The Sportspower Mountain View Metal Swing, Slide and Trampoline Set has a small single person trampoline while the Sportspower Rosemead Metal Swing and Slide Set does not.
If you really want to go big or go home, Sports Play has a line of heavy duty, playground quality equipment which is available to the public. We are talking permanent, anchored full size playground stuff.
On the other hand, for families with pretty young kids, or young multiples, you might check out Step2 Swingsets. The same company that makes cute plastic ride-ons and plastic play kitchens also has a line of outdoor playsets. Reviews are pretty solid and although the price point is higher than other sets for young kids, you may have a decent resale value.
Their sets range from tiny to large. The top of the line Step2 Naturally Playful Adventure Lodge swing set surely fits in the Large Swing Set category, and would have kept my kids busy for hours on end. I think they'd be too big for it now though.
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Small Metal Swing Sets and Wood Swing Set Alternatives
Small spaces can still mean big fun! Check out these smaller swing set options and be sure to click the links for features, current prices and reviews.
For a super small footprint check out this basic metal swing set with just two swings and a slide.
If even that is too big- I would LOVE this Jump Powered UFO Swing Set. Unique, small and simple.
A newer option is the simple but sweet Movement God 4 Seat Metal Swing Set. Aimed at kids younger than 8 years old, it is a great option for families with young twins or multiples who want a compact play set. No slide here, for better or for worse.
If you have very young children or young multiples and want a compact play set, the Step2 Naturally Playful Playhouse Climber has a small footprint with cute features. Little Tikes also has a couple very small swing sets for younger kids.
For people who like the look of wood sets but wants to avoid the maintenance, you could try a set made from polymer encased wood beams. These have wooden beams that are coated with a rubbery polymer to protect the wood from the elements. There is a small, two-swing encased wood swing set and a simple two swing plus one trapeze encased wood swing set.
Got sports-minded kids? Check out this 6-in-1 Swing Set that converts from a swing set to a soccer goal, badminton net and more! Although admittedly it is technically made of wood beams, it is not your average suburban, cookie-cutter swing set (says the girl who just moved to the burbs and bought a wooden swing set!).
Tree Swings and Other Stand Alone Back Yard Play Equipment
Sometimes you don't even need a whole swing set. Sometimes less is more. Whether you want a cool, unique tree swing, a teeter totter or climbing dome, check out these non-swing-set options:
Click the links for details and reviews:
Some of these come ready to be hung, while others may need special tree hanging equipment. Be sure to read through to see if it matches your needs.
A simple Daisy Disc Swing attached to a strong tree would bring joy to any kid's life.
Duuuude! The swurfer skateboard style tree swing looks totally gnarly!
Tire swing lovers should check out the Vortex Spinning Ring Swing, which seems like a cross between a tire swing and a disc swing- very cool!
The Summersdream Standup Swing Kickboard is another cool option, which can be added to an existing swingset or to a tree branch.
Free Standing Backyard Play Equipment
No swings needed? No problem! Check out these ideas for good old fashioned back yard fun!
I already mentioned Lifetime products above, but in case you didn't look through the Large Metal Swing Sets section, their offerings fit in this category too.
For example, the Lifetime Geometric Dome is a classic playground piece that we have found in a few of our friends' yards. The kids flock to it every time!
If your kids love the rock climb walls becoming popular at the newer playgrounds, check out the Step2 Skyward Summit.
Another backyard option for climbers would be the SportsPlay Net Climber.
The Gym Dandy Spinning Teeter Totter gets awesome reviews and is total tw0-fer. It's a teeter totter that goes up and down but it also spins so you get a bonus merry go round. FUN!
The Jr. Squirrel House is one of the most unique outdoor playsets I've seen. I think it would inspire loads of climbing and imaginative play for sure.
Younger kids will love the simplicity of the Pure Fun Rocker Seesaw.