You haven’t met a playground that your kids won’t climb, jump off, or swing from. From the sandbox to the slides, the best kids shoes will survive serious play time, and (hopefully) last a season or two. We found 21 cool kicks for boys and girls of all ages. Scroll through our picks below.
The Scout from Kamik
The new Camp Shoe collection from Kamik is perfect for boys and girls who want to play and move from one activity to the next in a flash. The easy-grab lace lock gives younger kids "real laces," and the quick-dry insoles and breathable nylon mesh exterior means they can go from the splash pad to the climbing wall without skipping a beat. Check out all the different colors at kamik.com, $49.99.
ikiki Squeaky Shoes
Choose from 15 adorable different animal shoes that come with names like Sascha Narwhalski (the narwhal) to Leo Longfire (the dragon). Each pair of shoes comes with ankle support for new walkers, and the squeaker, which is located in the heel, is an orthopedic aid for kids who are prone to toe walking. The best part? You can turn the squeaker off if the sound isn't appealing. Check out the whole collection here. $29.95.
Clarks Kids x National Geographic Sneakers
In honor of Earth Month, Clarks Kids has partnered with National Geographic to release a collection of sneakers that are not only comfortable but are also inspired by some of nature's most spectacular prints, like those of the leopard and the harlequin filefish. And, these shoes are eco-friendly—with recycled insoles and fabric made from 100% recycled water bottles! They zip on the side for easy on-off action, and the broad toe bumper is perfect for playground action. See the whole collection here, $45 and up.
The One That Works for Everybody
Brand-new from Rothy's, this gender-neutral slip-on sneaker has been tested out by active, busy kids. The sneakers are washable and offered in 10 different colors and prints inspired by the bright colors of the 1970s. Like all Rothy’s shoes, the sneaker has an athletic outsole, and the stretchy knit is made out of recycled water bottles. Check out the entire collection here, $55.
The Classic That Never Gives Up
The Saucony Kinvara shoe is ideally suited to bigger kid feet and has been going strong for the last 10 years! New colors this year include blue/black, lilac, and rose. Just released in January 2019, check out the entire collection here. $55.
Comfort & Sustainability All in One
Allbirds uber comfortable and sustainable footwear has a cult grown-up following and now with their Smallbirds line of kids wool runners, these shoes are making a statement on the playground as well. Smallbirds shoes are designed just like the adult collection with comfort, sustainability and practical design at the core of each pair of kicks. You'll love that the shoes can be easily thrown in the washing machine for a quick and easy clean. Plus, if your kiddo isn't happy with the fit or feel, you can return within 30 days no question asked.
Available at allbirds.com for $55.
Time to Plae
Plae shoes are designed with the super active kid in mind. New in 2019 is The Elise—a slip-on knit design that makes for a super light sneaker, which means your kid can run, jump and swing without missing a beat. It's offered in fun colors like fuchsia, gray, teal and navy. They are customizable and made with a knit poly/soft buc that's sourced from vegan raw materials. And, every pair comes with the option to sign up for a Growth Spurt Guarantee®.
Available at plae.co, $59.95.
For Little Mermaids
Why confine their mermaid obsession to faux fins and storybooks, when you can navigate the clear waters of any playground wearing these exceptionally cute new shoes from Saucony.
Find them now at saucony.com, $45.
Boots That Feel Like Bare Feet
The new Merrell Bare Steps line includes these super cute berry-sued booties that give little feet the feel of barefoot goodness with plenty of grip for the soggy days ahead. Also available in brown.
Available at merrell.com, $50
Cutest Collab Ever
One of the sweetest collabs we've seen, Sperry and vineyard vines have teamed up to create multi-season shoes that make you think of summer, even in the spring. We love these little boat shoes because they're easy on and off (and even come in baby sizes!).
Available now at sperry.com. $65.
For Super Kids Everywhere
Get ready to blast all over the playground with the Saucony Baby Jazz Light in Red/Blue Superhero. These lightweight and super comfy shoes made for little feet also come in grey.
Buy them here. $45.
Galactix by Super Heroic
Gender neutral Super Heroic's Galactix is the perfect sneaker for the playground and beyond. Designed to fit the need's of child's foot—rather than restrict movement it enhances balance, grip and aids running skills—this sweet sneak and its galactic star pattern is a stellar choice for kids who play hard and explore big. Plus, each pair of sneakers comes in a reusable, silo-shaped package and is equipped with a unique heroic-themed sound effect when opened. Inside, kids will discover a complete utility kit fit for any Hero’s mission, including a backpack that morphs into a cape!
Buy them at superheroic.com for $59.
For Kicks with Major Style
These sweet high-tops are part of the collection from Billy Footwear, shoes that are designed for kids including kids with autism and sensory issues. They're like Converse and VANS having a perfect shoe baby, and they are easy on and easy off, with side zips. Created by Billy Price, who himself is paralyzed, and wanted to invent a shoe that any kid could rock.
Snag a pair at billyfootwear.com, $55
Keen offers a wide variety of kids shoes, from sandals to snow boots, in sizes as small as 6 months, but we're crushing on the Hikeport for that hybrid hiking-book-that-fits-like-a-sneaker, essential for fall and winter play. Waterproof and lightweight, they come in four color combos (all gender neutral) and feature easy-on/off hook-and-loop closure. You can choose from sizes 8-13 in Little Kids and 1-7 in Big Kids.
Available at keenfootwear.com, $75.
Light It Up
Yup, light up shoes are still a huge hit with kids. These sporty sneaks from Carter’s are affordable, comfy, and the velcro fasteners equals easy-on and easy-off capabilities for tiny hands. And, the light up soles will make it easy for you to keep an eye on your little player during those twilight hours at the park this summer.
Available at carters.com, $18.99.
We love the built-in Flex Fit System™ of the Adrian sneaker. This cool feature allows insoles to be added and removed as little feet grow, which can reduce a shoe size by half a size and extend the shoe's lifeline. The flexible rubber sole is perfect for long days spent climbing and playing, and these shoes are machine washable so you won’t have to worry when your playground king finds a pile of dirt worthy of his toy trucks.
Available at pediped.com, $49.99.
For active kids, pick a tried and true brand like New Balance Kids. This throwback design is a long-standing favorite that'll make it easy to transition from kicking around the soccer field to climbing on the monkey bars.
Available at amazon.com, $194.82 & up.
Comfort Is Key
This sporty, stylish low top sneaker is perfect for kids on the move. The soft ankle padding and rubber overlays reinforce the heel and toe, which makes this shoe ready for anything, anytime. It’s got Cleansport NXT™ for natural odor control, a hook and loop strap design, and comes in two dark color combos, which help to keep the shoes looking newer longer.
Available at keenfootwear.com, $43.99
If your kid’s idea of an afternoon at the playground includes a skateboard, a few vert ramps, and a bowl or two, these Etnies are a good fit. The lightweight, comfy STI Evolution Foam midsole enhances cushioning. Plus, the full-length flex grooves in the rubber outsole add flexibility, and the fused-on rubber toe cap is practically impossible to wear through. Time to grind!
Available at etnies.com, $49.99.
These adorable sneakers from Chooze come with a flexible outsole, cushioned insole, comfy canvas uppers and fun prints with names like Amaze and Groove, which means your little player will have both comfort and style. And, with every purchase, a percentage of the proceeds is donated to those in need—you and your kiddo get to pick the cause.
Available at mychooze.com, $27.99 & up.
The airy cutouts in this an airy sandal are perfect for those times when it's not quite cold enough to strap on the big boots. Think of them as elevated Crocs. It’s available in both toddler and big kid size is machine washable and is offered in three different color combos: blue/aqua, gray/purple, and purple/coral.
Available at amazon.com, $21.60.
—Gabby Cullen & Amber Guetebier
All images courtesy retailers.