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 20 cool kicks for boys and girls of all ages. Scroll through our picks below.
Trail Quest from Merrell
This new all-terrain sneaker from Merrell comes in three different color combos, is machine washable and has an easily-managed hook-and-loop closure for young kids.
Available at merrell.com, $50.
For your fashionista who still loves to swing, jump and play, these hi-top fringe sneakers fit the bill. They wipe clean, have an inner zipper and a rubber outsole. Available in youth sizes 1-6.
Available at joyfolie.com, $54.99.
Puma x Sesame Street
In honor of both iconic brands 50th anniversary, Puma teamed up with Sesame Street to launch an adorable line of sneakers featuring your kids' favorite characters, including Cookie Monster and Elmo.
Available at puma.com, $39.99 and up.
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.
Available at kamik.com, $64.99.
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.
Available at amazon.com, $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.
Available at clarksusa.com, $29.99 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.
Available at rothys.com, $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.
Available at saucony.com, $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, $34.99.
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, $39.99
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. $40.99.
JMPR v1.0 Neptune
Super Heroic has launched a new line in collaboration with NASA. A great sneaker for the playground and beyond, each shoe is designed for needs of a child's foot—rather than restrict movement it enhances balance, grip and aids running skills. They fasten with simple elastic lace and toggle, plus, each pair of sneakers comes in a reusable, silo-shaped package.
Buy them at superheroic.com for $69.
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.
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, $14.23 & up.
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, $22.50 & 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.