Outdoor Play

Nature is the Best Playground – Quotes to Inspire Outdoor Play

Last Updated: February 21, 2023

The “Nature is the best playground” quote is one of the truest statements of outdoor play. Even when our kids have access to fancy playgrounds, parks and new outdoor toys – there’s nothing like the pull of nature. After the newness of some new toys or things, nothing holds the attention of kids like outdoor play. And yes, non-natural toys like digging, transporting, building or imaginative items can elevate their outdoor play. Because nature is the best playground and they’re simply bringing their tools! So here’s a collection of our favorite outdoor play quotes.

Nature is the best playground quote

Outdoor Play Quotes

There are so many quotes about children and nature. My favorite go-to quotes are often by the great nature writers and explorers – Emerson, Thoreau, Muir. And some authors who have written more recently about children, nature, and outdoor play – Linda Akeson McGurk and her book There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge), Lenore Skenazy’s Free Range Kids How Parents and Teachers Can Let Go and Let Grow, and Richard Louv’s “Last Child In the Woods”. Outdoor play is the ultimate in open-ended play!

“Nature is the best playground.”

your mom
great adventure to a small child quote

Not every nature experience must entail a grand adventure to a scenic national park – watching a caterpillar make it’s way across a sidewalk or simply lying in the grass and watching the clouds go by in the backyard can be a great adventure to a small child.

Linda Akeson McGurk, There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather
all good things are wild and free
Lake Crescent dock in the rain, Olympic National Forest

All good things are wild and free.

Henry David Thoreau

I think the best thing a parent can do, when raising a child, is simply get out of their way.

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Lose yourself in nature and find peace

Ralph Waldo Emerson
bad weather always looks worse through a window. tom lehrer

Bad weather always looks worse through a window.

Tom Lehrer

Every child needs nature. Not just the ones whose parents appreciate nature. Not only those of a certain economic class or culture or set of abilities. Every child.

Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods

I love this quote about nature. Sure some kids are going to be more inclined to the outdoors because of their natural physical abilities, their constitution, their exploring nature etc. However, all kids need nature. And all kids can grow to love time spent in nature, even if it seems they’re not “outdoorsy” to start. Here’s a look at camping with toddlers, and my first time solo backpacking with a toddler.

Now I see the secret of making the best person: it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.

Walt Whitman

Kids don’t remember their best day of TV.

of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. John Muir quote

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.

John Muir

Remember, for kids – it’s not the destination, it’s the journey. But here are some tips for hiking with toddlers!

Your kids will remember the adventures you went on, not the stuff you bought them. Kids outgrow stuff, we never outgrow adventures.


If we provide enough space and possibilities for moving freely, then the children will move as well as animals – skillfully, simply, securely, naturally.

Dr. Emmi Pikler
people are good quote

Mostly, the world is safe. Mostly, people are good. To emphasize the opposite is to live in the world of tabloid TV…, not the world we actually live in, which is factually, statistically, and luckily for us, one of the safest periods for children in the history of the world.

Lenore Skenazy, Free Range Kids

The books Free Range Kids and There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather both make my list of the best toddler parenting books that I actually enjoyed!

Between every two pine trees is a doorway leading to a new way of life.

John Muir

There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.

Alfred Wainwright, A Coast to Coast Walk

Being prepared for the weather is the most important factor to keeping your kids happy outdoors. We like to get outside rain or shine – year round. Living in the Pacific Northwest, if we didn’t play outside in the rain or cold, we would be indoors for 10 months out of the year! Check out our list of best kids winter gear for cold-weather adventuring.

Life is a journey, not a destination.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Live in the sunshine. Swim the sea. Drink the wild air.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature. Most persons do not see the sun. At least they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child. The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

Let the children be free; encourage them; let them run outside when it is raining; let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water; and, when the grass of the meadows is damp with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet; let them rest peacefully when a tree invites them to sleep beneath its shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning as it wakes every living creature that divides its day between walking and sleeping.

Maria Montessori

In nature, children learn to take risks, overcome fears, make new friends, regulate emotions, and create imaginary worlds.

Angela J. Hanscom Balanced & Barefoot

Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

I love the kind of tired that comes from a lot of fresh air and a little too much sun.


If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it.

David Sobel

We cannot protect something we do not love, we cannot love what we do not know, and we cannot know what we do not see. Or hear. Or sense.

Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods

And finally, I’ll leave you this final quote that I always think of after a particularly messy adventure – like a trip to a pumpkin patch or farm, mud puddle splashing, or digging in a river.

The mud will wash off, but the memories will last a lifetime.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at our favorite outdoor play quotes. Remember: nature is the best playground. :)

What are your favorite quotes about children and nature?

outdoor play quotes for kids - nature is the best playground.

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