The idea of summer camps being closed, vacations postponed, and the continuation of general pandemic-worry is not a pleasant one. It's okay if you're feeling pretty bummed by the whole thing. But, it's also important to remember that just because it may look different, summer is not canceled.
Blissful days playing outside and magical evenings catching fireflies are still possible—and let's face it: We need that infusion of joy now more than ever. Even if it's all just happening at home.
We rounded up some of our favorite products to help turn your home and backyard into a summer camp haven (and yes summer camp is for adults this year, too).
Summers are meant for magic, and we can't think of anything more magical than running under a giant rainbow sprinkler. You can sit back and relax, but we won't be surprised if you're up and running under the rainbow with them before you know it. Psst: Don't forget a pump if you don't have one!
Rocket ship sprinkler
If your little one is into rockets and space, help them blast into summer with this amazing rocket ship sprinkler from Funboy. It is huge, easy to inflate and set up, and leads to hours of entertainment.
Inflatable kiddie pool
Going to the pool may not be an option, but why not bring the pool to you? It's soft edges are great for little ones, Plenty of room for multiple kids to splash and have fun. (Don't forget that kids need to be supervised in water at all times, even in inflatable backyard pools.)
Banana leaf inflatable pool
Inflatable pool meets designer decor in the Minnidip pool! It's big—over 5 feet wide—so it fits up to three adults and is ideal for children age 6+! (Don't forget that kids need to be supervised in water at all times, even in inflatable backyard pools.)
Nothing feels better than being wrapped in a big, warm towel after hours of swimming or sprinkler-running. We love the fun prints at Target. They are made of 100% cotton so they dry quickly, and from experience, they are super durable and soft.
For a grown-up towel that doubles as a blanket, we are obsessed with Teema. They are luxuriously woven in Turkey, and their intricate and unique designs are sure to become an instant favorite.
Sunscreen is an absolute must all summer long (all year long, really). This year, I'm excited to use this Boho Beach Mineral Shimmer Sunscreen. It's SPF 30+, PABA and paraben-free, and it has a little bit of eco-friendly shimmer added in.
Keep little heads and faces protected from the sun with a sunhat. You can't go wrong with anything from Hanna Andersson, and this adorable striped hat is no exception.
Since summer comes with sunshine and rain, it's good to be prepared for both. An awesome pair of rain boots that your toddler will love to wear will come in handy when puddles and mud take over your oasis.
If you can't go camping, bring the (best part of) camping to you—the fire, or as we call it, the marshmallow roaster! This outside fire pit set includes a beautiful copper pit, mesh spark screen, a 26-inch fire poker stick and a built-in wood grate. Just be sure to keep your little ones at a safe distance.
Take the heat of summer cooking out of the kitchen and onto a grill. This adorable grill from Weber has near-perfect reviews. We love that it includes a removable ash catcher for easy cleaning, and you'll love how delicious the burgers taste. (Just keep your little ones away when it's hot.)
Rattan patio furniture
Turn your outdoor area into a true haven with comfortable and durable patio furniture. This set has everything you need: A table, loveseat and two chairs, plus cushions. Happy relaxing!
This stunning outdoor pouf makes a great foot rest or extra seat destined to brighten up your space in an instant. It's weather-resistant, though it will look just as good in your living room as it does outside.
Excuse me while I spend the entire summer in this chair. This beauty complements any outdoor scene (and can be moved indoors in the winter), and the cushions are deep and fluffy. Plus, it gets stellar reviews!
Kid's lawn chair
Kids will feel like kings and queens in their own outdoor chairs. These are water-resistant, stackable, and, most importantly, super comfy.
Stay cool and protected from the midday sun under a patio umbrella. This one angles as you need it, so you'll have shade no matter where the sun is. We can see so much fun happening under this umbrella—say yes to all day crafting, snacking and cuddling, and no to sunburns and overheating.
Keep bugs at bay with a citronella candle. We love this beautiful hand-poured soy candle in a farmhouse style pot. It's the perfect patio accessory for evenings spent outdoors.
Outdoor string lights
Outdoor string lights transform an ordinary space into a festive oasis. We love to use them to help define a space (like over the eating area). Plus, you know, they are lights! And more light means more memory making, even after it gets dark.
True story: When we moved into our home, this was the first thing I bought for it (#priorities)—and it's still one of our favorite items ever. It's a stylish and convenient way to keep your favorite snacks and drinks cool and close by. And yes, that is a bottle opener attached to the side.
Iced tea pitcher
Pass the iced tea, please. This 2-quart pitcher chills freshly brewed tea in seconds and can be used with loose leaf or bagged tea. It's also shatter-proof.
Kids water bottle
Keep your little one hydrated with an insulated thermos. We love ones with lids and straws to keep the bugs out.
Acrylic glass set
Drinks just taste better when they are in pretty glasses, especially when there is no threat that they'll break when (not if) your toddler knocks it over. These acrylic beauties are dishwasher-safe and BPA-free. Pass the margarita (virgin or otherwise).
Melamine chip + dip plate
Is there any snack more quintessentially summer than chips and dip? This dishwasher-safe melanin serving tray will look awesome on your patio table to picnic blanket (or your lap, let's be real).
Turn every meal into a picnic with this gorgeous cotton picnic blanket. It is machine-washable and it even comes with ground pegs to keep it from blowing away.
This foldable, portable mat is made from heavyweight, waterproof, vegan-leather. It's perfect for spreading out wherever you find yourself. Whether it's for picnics, naps or play this mat will ensure you get to do it in style.
Keep the outside, well, outside, and have your little clean off their shoes on a bright and cheery doormat.
Just looking at this canvas hammock makes me want to take a nap. Its solid fabric bed makes it easier for kids to climb into that a traditional woven style—so many stories are about to read in this beauty.
Steel stand hammock
If you have dreams of hammock naps, but lack the trees to hang a hammock from, try a hammock on a stand. It's portable and every bit as comfortable.
Raised garden bed
The pandemic has many people learning how to homestead—but #farmlife isn't for everyone. This raised garden bed grow box kit is perfect for someone who wants to do a little gardening but without all the work. It can sit right on a patio or balcony and has wheels so you can move it as you need to. Its self-contained watering system automatically waters plants.
Kids gardening tools
Kids love dirt. Let them enjoy it to the fullest with these colorful garden tools. The set includes a spade, hand rake and trowel, plus a cute gardening tote for carrying around as they go through their busy days.
Butterflies are fascinating and now your child can have the fun of raising them! (We won't tell them that they're actually learning a whole lot in the process, too.)
Bring the beach to you with this cute sandbox. It has built-in seats for two and it is weather-resistant—no soaking wet sand to wake up to after a stormy night.
Platform net swing
Who says swings are just for kids? This fun tree swing can support up to 660 pounds on a resilient nest of hand-braided spider webbing.
Fact: Bubbles make everything better. This bubble machine creates cascades of fun bubbles for your little ones (ahem, and you) to run through. It's designed for indoor and outdoor use, meaning you'll never have to spend a day with the festivity of bubbles!
Here's what our Lifestyle Editor, Deena Campbell, thought about this tent: "For starters, I'm not the camping type. I love the outdoors, but spending time in a hot fabric shoebox doesn't always appeal to me. Then I met the Kelty Tallboy tent. I originally thought it would be cool for the kids, but it turns out it's MY new favorite space. The classic X-pole construction makes for easy setup, and the colors are very warm and inviting. Date night getaway, anyone?"
Adventure tent and tunnel
This lightweight tent can be used inside and outside. It has an (easy to set up) tent with a detachable tunnel for hours of adventure and fun for a wide range of ages!
Here's what our Senior Manager of People Operations, Carla Mariotti, said about the CROSSNET: "As soon as we got it, we set it up and have been having a blast! Such a creative spin to the traditional volleyball game, and I love how easy it is to set up and take down. It's also a bonus that we can make it shorter so the little ones can join in on the fun (which is almost impossible in a normal volleyball game). And to top it off, it comes with an awesome backpack, so everything is put away neatly and tidy without the risk of ever losing a piece. In under 10 minutes, you can set it up and start having fun!"
Duck pond water table
One of the best gifts we have ever received was a water table. My kids still use it years later, and it provides hours of entertainment. This adorable pond-themed table includes two decorated ducks and a frog squirter.
Anyone else have fond memories of all kinds of games with a parachute? Well, you can bring those memories back to life with your own backyard parachute! This one is made of eco-friendly and durable non-toxic polyester material and is both rot- and waterproof.
My kids are little, which means during the summer, they are (ahem, usually) in bed while it's still light out. And that means that they often miss the magic of the summer night sky. The planetarium projector lets me bring the sky to them! They love looking at the moving stars as they dose off, and we'll also get to spend time learning about the planets!
Turn your backyard into an outdoor movie theater with a projector! This projector gets rave reviews and works with multimedia players, iPad, iPhone, Android smartphone, TV box, Chromecast, and PCs.
This playhouse is cuter than my actual house—and just as realistic. It has a working doorbell, a clock with moveable hands, double-sided chalkboard walls, little flower boxes, and even an adorable play kitchen complete with two pans and a spatula hanging on cute little pegs.
For tremendous bang for your buck, sidewalk chalk is an absolute must. Kids seem never to get tired of the wonder of drawing on the driveway (and everywhere else we'll let them). We love that it's washable and affordable, and they'll love how many colors come in the pack!
Tie-dye shirts and summer camp have been a dynamic duo for as long as summer camp has existed—and that doesn't have to stop just because camp is happening at home. The whole family will love turning their old shirts into works of art. And don't worry if you're new to ir—this kit includes a step-by-step technique guide featuring more than eight looks to choose from.
Kites will never get old. This one has stitched, reinforced seams, heavy-duty rip-stop nylon, and flexible fiberglass struts for countless hours of flying time.
This beginning T-ball set includes an easy-to-use oversize bat, two oversize baseballs and tee. Its adjustable height "T" adapts to a child's developing skills, which means it will be a favorite for years to come.
My kids are gatherers—they roam around picking up random stuff in the yard, and at the end of the day, present me with pockets full of treasure that I am not, under any circumstances, allowed to let out of my sight for a minute. Enter: plastic jars. They are perfect for containing all those treasures, and make great homes for caught ladybugs (just punch a few air holes in first).
'The Big Book of Bugs'
Speaking of catching bugs, this gorgeous book is filled with scenic compositions and explores the world of moths, beetles, worms, spiders and more.
First aid kit
Backyard fun means the occasional scrape or bruise. Be prepared with a first aid kit!
Does your little on love imitating you? Let them have a blast cooking pretend food on a grill that sizzles and smokes just like yours. We love that the built-in wheels make it easy to transport indoors when it rains.
We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.