Backyards and patios have been working hard all year because of the pandemic, and this summer they can provide new ways to cool off and have fun in the water.
Whether you have a lot of space or a little, there’s gear ranging from water tables and tubs for kids to floating loungers with drink holders for adults.
One company, Minnidip, makes inflatable “adult kiddie pools” that aim to transport you to some exotic travel destination. Patterns on the Marrakesh pool reference Moroccan architectural details, while the Amalfi is a nod to the blue, yellow and white tile of the Italian coast.
“Because for me, having a pool on our urban Chicago rooftop felt like being transported to another place,” says company founder Emily Vaca. “I wanted to capture that feeling through design and pattern. “
Minnidip also offers inflatable drinks coolers and glam pool balls filled with gold confetti, among other offerings.
Let’s dive in to some other backyard water toys for the summer:
A multipurpose picnic table from Best Choice Products has a removable top section with a little sandbox and water tub below; four kids can sit together, and there’s an adjustable umbrella, too.
The only water table that lets you make waves, Little Tikes’ Island Wavemaker has a water wheel, plus cute sea creatures and a wee pirate to send paddling around the waterway or down the waterfall. Toddlers can practice their fine motor skills with Little Tikes’ Spinning Seas Water Table; small balls, a cup, a funnel and a water wheel set up the fun.
Step2’s two-sided Waterfall Discovery Wall has adjustable toggles, spinners and chutes to send the water tumbling in lots of different ways. And Lakeshore Learning’s Watch It Flow water table features three plastic logs that can be configured however you wish. Fill the logs using a hose or bucket; gates control the flow and can close up to make long tubs.
Foamo, also from the folks at Little Tikes, creates mountains of easy-to-clean-up foam when you add the nontoxic, biodegradable foam solution to water.
Turn on the hose and attach it to West Elm’s inflatable rainbow or giant shark mouth sprinklers. Fat Brain Toy’s Hydro Twist Pipeline Sprinkler has a couple of fountains, plus a bunch of wiggly worm hoses. Or hook up to BigMouth’s giant 6-foot-high unicorn, who shoots water out of her horn. There’s a ginormous ape, giraffe, dinosaur and giraffe here as well.
SWIM AND PADDLE
Giant inflatable water wheels let you find your inner hamster. You can find ones online for toddlers, while Wow Watersports has a grownup version they call the Aqua Treadmill.
Don’t forget the family pets; a nonporous, puncture-resistant floating dog bed at Frontgate comes in a bunch of colors and three sizes.
Chewy has ZippyPaws Floaterz sturdy turtle-shaped water toys for dogs, as well as rope-handled bumpers and a variety of floating balls.
A hard-sided kiddie pool can be a good non-inflatable option for cooling off; just hose it out and stow away. Other pluses: The doggos will also have fun splashing around in it, and it makes a great sand or snow play zone in colder weather. The Sun Squad Wading Kiddie Pool is inexpensive and has an embossed bottom, so it’s less slippery.
SLIDE AND RIDE
A basic heavy-duty plastic water slide or “slip and slide” can be set up in most backyards; if yours doesn’t come with an attached barrier at the bottom, make sure to put something soft there.
Studio 21 Graphix’s slide has a crash pad at the finish line, plus two lanes for racing and a sprinkler curtain to pass thru on the way down. Wow Watersports’ Strike Zone Water Slide is 25-by-6 feet of slipperiness; zigzag sprinkler patterns assure a wet ride, fat pontoons on either side keep riders inside, and two sleds are included. Got a really long yard? Get two; they can be interconnected.
If you’ve got lots of space, consider Costway’s inflatable Bounce House and Water Slide, with a bounce area, water gun, two slides, a basketball hoop and several balls. It comes with a storage bag for easy transport.
Marisa Issa of Los Angeles says her family’s favorite pool games are corn hole and a floating basketball hoop, but her favorite is a floating mat from Frontgate "that only mom can use,” she says. The sleek, minimalist white float has a headrest, and is made of marine-grade dense foam, suitable for chlorine or saltwater pools.
If you prefer sitting up a little, Frontgate’s got a floating armchair with attached ottoman. Choose from aqua, blue or flamingo pink. Or splash out on a full-size pool chaise kitted out with drink holders.
Want to hang out with a handful of friends in a backyard pool? Funboy has a 9-foot-wide floating metallic crown with drink holders. Or lounge luxuriously in the company’s Bali Cabana Lounger, with a curved integrated shade, a tropical leaf print, cup holders and handy grab ropes.
BigMouth has some food-related inflatables like a giant ice pop, pizza slice, donut, watermelon slice, cheeseburger and taco.