Outdoor Activities for 1 Year Olds

Check out these fun outdoor activities for 1 year olds! From places to go, to sensory activities at home, discover the perfect ideas here.

Outdoor Activities for 1 Year OldsWhen my kids were really little—as in, barely learning to walk—that still didn’t stop us from trekking outdoors. Of course, we’re not talking miles-long hikes, though I’m sure plenty of families can pull that off. I’m talking about the simplest activities, like collecting pine cones or digging in the dirt.

Heading outdoors did more than fill our day. Just being outside was enough to calm a my 1 year old’s tantrums, get extra energy out, or drive their curiosity. Living in an apartment made us yearn for the outdoors, with our patio as our only option.

While plenty of activities cater to older kids, that doesn’t mean you and your 1 year old are stuck indoors. Thankfully, young toddlers don’t need much to enjoy themselves outdoors—the simpler is usually the better. But you may need to make a few changes to accommodate their age and stage.

Take a look at my favorite outdoor activities for 1 year olds, perfect for the next time your little one itches to get out of the house. As one parent said after reading the article:

“Thank you so much!! This was super useful for me and my little ones. I am going to go play outside with my 1-year-old and she’s gonna be so entertained with all of your ideas! Thank you again!” -Emmalee

1. Water activities

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  • Swim in a pool. And by “pool,” I mean anything from weekly mommy and me swim lessons to an inflatable pool in the yard. (Take a look at these children’s books about swimming.)
  • Squeeze water squirters or bath toys. Toss bath toys into a bucket full of water and bring it outdoors!
  • Splash around in the sprinklers. Let your toddler play in the sprinklers when you normally run them.
  • Squeeze washcloths. Fill a bucket, water table, or inflatable pool with water. Then toss in a few washcloths or sponges and let your toddler squeeze the water out.
  • “Paint” with water. Want your little one to paint, but without the mess? Grab a bowl of water and show her how to dip a paintbrush and paint on a “canvas.” A sidewalk surface or your driveway can do, as can a chalkboard stand (just make sure to dry the board after, or else it might start to peel).
  • Play at a water table. Once your little one can stand well, a water table is a great activity she can explore.

2. Backyard or park

  • Play “chase.” Take advantage of large, grassy space and chase your 1 year old. Take turns chasing each other, though I bet that she just might want you to chase her more often than not!
  • Sidewalk chalk. Grab chunky sidewalk chalk and show her how to make marks on the ground.
  • Dig in the dirt. Let her get her hands dirty by finding a patch of dirt and exploring what’s inside. Add water for mud play, too.
  • Play with a ball. Grab a small ball and play catch, bounce it, or roll it back and forth.
  • Picnic. Pack a few finger foods or even your dinner and eat outdoors! This is a fantastic way to transition into playtime outdoors after you eat.
  • Blow bubbles. She may not be able to blow as well, but she’ll love chasing the bubbles all day long. Check out these bubble bottles.
  • Put a tent outside. Whether a camping or beach tent, set up a tent outdoors for fun playtime. Bring toys, books, and snacks inside, and let her roam in and out.
  • Explore a sandbox. Fill sensory bins (or even just a large cardboard box) with sand. Then, place small toys, trucks, shovels, or bowls for pouring and encourage her to explore and feel.
  • Collect leaves. Take a walk around the block or park and collect fallen leaves. Bring them home and talk about their differences, from color to size to texture.

3. Places to visit

  • Watch outdoor plays. Visit your city’s website and find out if they’re hosting seasonal outdoor plays. Usually in the summer, these plays are often free and catered to kids. I’d take my family, along with a picnic blanket and goodies, for a fun family event.
  • Visit gardens. In Los Angeles, we have different gardens to visit, from botanical to Japanese to rose gardens.
  • Attend a local festival. Many cities host local festivals that include rides, petting zoos, and entertainment for your little one.
  • Hit the beach. Spending a few hours at the beach is a perfect way to be outdoors.
  • Shop at the farmers’ market. Besides supporting local economies and eating nutritious food, shopping at local markets is a great way to spend time outdoors.
  • Pick fruits and veggies at a farm. Live near a farm? Check if they offer seasonal fruit picking. Strawberries, for instance, are perfect for this age, since they sit low to the ground. Plus, picking strawberries is less expensive than buying them ready to go. Many farms also have petting zoos.
  • Go to the zoo. Learn all about the animals you read and sing about by bringing your toddler to the zoo.
  • Go on a (short) hike. Find a low-key hike. Set a timer so you know when to head back—that way, you’re not walking too long. Or simply bring a baby carrier for hiking or a jogging stroller when he gets tired. (Definitely don’t bring a “regular” stroller on a hike!)


Spending time outdoors is a must, even for your young toddler. Hopefully, these outdoor activities have given you inspiration for your next outing. And remember, simple works—collecting pine cones at a park can be all it takes to keep your little one happy outdoors.

Free printables: Want more ideas and activities for your 1 year old? Join my newsletter and grab your printable calendar of fun and simple play activities! Check them off as you go along, or use the blank template to add your own ideas. Get it below—at no cost to you. As one parent says:

“Thank you! I’m glad I came across your list. It is age appropriate, inexpensive, and not messy. We really appreciate it.” -Sally S.

1 year old activities

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  1. Thank you so much!! This was super useful for me and my little ones!! I hope you are staying safe!! I am going to go play outside with my 1-year-old and she’s gonna be so entertained with all of your ideas! Thank you again!

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      Yay, so glad to hear that, Emmalee! Thanks for the well-wishes, and same to you and your fam! Stay safe and healthy.