Built for ThrillsMinnesotaTreehouse

Adventuring kids can’t resist the idea of being high up, closer to the sky, and the challenge of getting there makes it that much more exciting. San Francisco-based artistic builder Barbara Butler has been creating custom playhouses, forts, and treehouses since 1987, and her structures are built for every child who loves to hide, jump, slide, climb, pretend, and play. Made from all-natural sustainable-growth redwood, her structures are never treated with chemicals and are painted using nontoxic tung oil stains. And, when they install a treehouse, Butler’s team use arborist-approved methods to ensure the health of the tree, so that it and the treehouse are designed to last from one generation of monkeys to the next.

Every play structure Butler builds is site-specific. If you live in a small space, on a steep hill, or beside thick trees, all the better—you and your kids still have all the potential for a safe little getaway—plus ambiance. Take Butler’s “Hillside Hamlet,” featured in House Beautiful, with four towers and four connecting bridges built into an ivy-covered hill. Or her “Hillside Tree Forts”, supported on the limbs of giant trees, with monkey bars, clubhouses, net ladders, and zip lines built in. While this sort of attention to detail doesn’t come cheap (prices start at about $5,000 and can climb upwards fast), it’s a worthy investment for any neighborhood lacking in a top-notch playground. Get ready for your kids to forget about the Wii and head for the great outdoors.