5 Mind-blowing Backyard Playsets

Better Than Swiss Family Robinson
The play structure for those who prefer life amid the leaves Photo courtesy Barbara Butler Artist-Builder Inc.

A lot of us spent our childhoods scraping our knees climbing trees and picking small splinters out of our hands, hoping we could get a taste of the Swiss Family Robinson lifestyle. But perching precariously in grandma's maple tree and warding off squirrels wasn't exactly living like Tarzan.

Enter the kind of tree houses that are a lot more house than tree. Seriously, for the cost of this Tree Top Inn designed by Barbara Butler, you can buy a median-price home in Illinois [source: Illinois Association of Realtors]. Because this tree house costs $156,530 (in 2013). Of real money. To spend on a fraction of your child's overall playtime.

But is it worth it? The structure incorporates several different trees and levels -- along with handwoven rope railings -- to create spaces for a clubhouse, deck, balcony and spiral staircase. With ladders and wooden footbridges, there's no pretending here: You are straight-up living in the trees. Even the clubhouse has a gable roof and laminated glass windows and doors, lest you begin to feel as if you're roughing it a bit too much.